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August 1, 2014

'United States of Tara' Returns: John Corbett Talks Season 2

by Anna Dimond, posted Mar 22nd 2010 6:00PM
Showtime's 'United States of Tara' debuted last year with executive producer Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody ('Juno') at the helm. As the show kicks off its second season (Mon., March 22 at 10:30PM ET on Showtime), it's established itself as both a ratings winner and a critical success.

The show stars Toni Collette as Tara Gregson, a suburban mom with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which leads her to experience multiple personalities (known as alters on the show). In season 1, viewers got to know Tara's alters -- from the teenage "T" to the tough-talking Buck -- and saw how her husband Max (John Corbett) and their two teen children dealt with such circumstances alongside the everyday issues that average families face.

'United States of Tara' was nominated for a handful of recent awards, and Collette scored an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance. And while Tara is still the driving personality in the show, Corbett's character reveals new components of his personality this season as the consequences of his wife's disorder begin to take a toll.

Corbett chatted with AOL TV to give us a glimpse of what to expect in season 2, what his reaction was to Max's arc, and why you'll never hear a 'Sex and the City' reference in his other on-camera projects.Showtime's 'United States of Tara' debuted last year with executive producer Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody ('Juno') at the helm. As the show kicks off its second season (Mon., March 22 at 10:30PM ET on Showtime), it's established itself as both a ratings winner and a critical success.

The show stars Toni Collette as Tara Gregson, a suburban mom with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which leads her to experience multiple personalities (known as alters on the show). In season 1, viewers got to know Tara's alters -- from the teenage "T" to the tough-talking Buck -- and saw how her husband Max (John Corbett) and their two teen children dealt with such circumstances alongside the everyday issues that average families face.

'United States of Tara' was nominated for a handful of recent awards, and Collette scored an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance. And while Tara is still the driving personality in the show, Corbett's character reveals new components of his personality this season as the consequences of his wife's disorder begin to take a toll.

Corbett chatted with AOL TV to give us a glimpse of what to expect in season 2, what his reaction was to Max's arc, and why you'll never hear a 'Sex and the City' reference in his other projects.

How will the second season unfold?
This season, we take it up a couple notches with the drama in the family, and we introduce a couple new alters for Toni [Collette]. My character, Max, he was the rock last year. He tried to keep the family together, and ... Max tried to hold the fort down, but he definitely unravels a little this year, which is fun to play. It sometimes can get a little boring playing the good old rock.



Last season your character's equanimity was almost unbelievable. What was your view when you first learned of Max's arc this season?
They changed up show runners from last season, so that can always throw a little tension into the works. But we had to really concentrate on Toni so much last year and making all these moments believable. I think they start with a general outline when they start writing the show, [but] I'm not even sure they have an end when we start filming the first couple of episodes; they find it as they go. I don't want to say I was bored last year, because that's a hard term to [say], but I was a little bored last year. The same thing every week.

Max was a fount of understanding.
Every episode for me, anyway, started to be the same performance. Toni was getting to have all the fun. I knew that's what I signed up for, and I wanted to be part of this show that I thought was great, but I was really excited when the new show runner caller between seasons, and said, "We want to fray your edges a little more." That was a really good phone call to get. So they did, and they gave me more stuff to do, throw some water on the fire.

What was it like, personally and professionally, growing into this new side of Max? There's some new aggression that comes out and a little bit of action.
Yeah. I get to beat a guy up, I have to deal with my wife cheating, which is a current topic right now with some of our national heroes, and it hits home ... How do you deal with that if your wife becomes a beer-drinking truck driver and sleeps with a waitress? [Even if she] doesn't do it constantly, it still affects you emotionally.



What was it like coming back together as a cast this year? I'd imagine it's a different comfort level than the first go-around.
Well, we didn't know what kind of a year we were going to have. Cable's just different than network TV. In network television, all you need to do is open up any magazine that has the TV ratings there, and you now where your place is. You have some idea how many people are watching your show. But with our show, we don't know if 30 people are watching us, or 30 million. So when we started the second season, we had no idea that Toni was going to take home the Emmy and the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy. It was a big shock, and big boost for our egos around the set. If we get lucky enough to get picked up and go into a third season, we're going to go in with our head held high.

John Corbett BandThere's a great musical scene with you and Toni in one of the early episodes this season. Is that a one-off, or will we see more of your musical talents? [Corbett is also in the John Corbett Band.]
That's a one-off. Toni didn't fight it as much as I did. It didn't feel right -- because I have a band -- we just did a big show this weekend in Phoenix. It was a big night for Muhammad Ali, a big fundraiser for his Parkinson's foundation. ... It's an amazing night of music, and we got to play a big after party, and really rocked it.

But when they wanted me to sing on the show ... I said [no.] You know, Toni also has a band, and puts records down. [I thought they were] in some weird way making fun of us, or I don't know -- I was really against it, but Toni said it would be ... fun. We did a little Air Supply. They tried to do it again in the last episode ... and that's when I said "Nope!" One a series. Old Max will never sing again.

Why did you decline? Do you not like to mix your metaphors?
I don't like having my real life sneaking in to what I'm doing. There was a line in the show last year that they didn't even think about, but somebody said, "That's just like what they do on 'Sex and the City.'" After the table read, I went to the writer, and said, "I was on 'Sex and the City.' It feels a little weird ... that you mention [it]." I think it would make other people go, "Oh, they're doing a little in-joke." But I don't like those shows where they do those in-jokes. I like to watch them, but I don't like to be involved in them. ... I like to keep it separate. Bo Derek's my girlfriend, right? I don't want them to mention Bo Derek on a TV show I'm on, because it's an insider thing, you know? I don't do that.

I spoke to [former 'Tara' producer Alexa Junge] last year about her view of Tara and her range of alters as representing the roles that women are expected to play in their daily lives -- from their domestic sides to their sexy side and tough, more masculine side. What's your view of that, or thoughts on the show as some other type of metaphor?
Oh, God. That's why Alexa's a genius, and I stand around in other people's clothes memorizing somebody else's lines. [Laughs]. That sounds good to me. I didn't think that deeply into it.

I didn't think of it either, but I was curious because on some level, that's a very female perspective.
Well, I don't know if this is a metaphor, but here's something my [girlfriend] just said to me: I just bought a brand new, $5 little tub of custom-made blue cheese dressing from this gourmet ranch. I was going to dip some lettuce in it before we talked. ... As I opened the lid, it just dumped everywhere -- a pint of custom blue cheese all over the kitchen counter. And I went, "Motherf---er!" I was down there trying to mop it up [but] it was just getting greasier and greasier. [My girlfriend] came and said, "You're lucky you that don't have your period, because then ... all you'd want to do is crawl in a ball and cry."

[Laughs]. I don't know if that means anything, but I'm glad I don't get my period. It's a metaphor for me not getting [it] ... The moral of the story is, I still wanted to crawl up in a ball and cry, because I was pissed off at myself for losing $5 and having the privilege of having to clean up the mess.

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