January 6th, 2009
11:57 AM ET

Star unmoored by 'Damages'

“Damages,” the topsy-turvy series starring Glenn Close as a Machiavellian lawyer, returns tomorrow night on FX. The core of the cast has returned - Close in her Emmy Award-winning role as Patty Hewes, Rose Byrne as increasingly cynical assistant Ellen Parsons, and - apparently - Ted Danson as billionaire Arthur Frobisher, who was shot last season but, according to previews, is still alive (though, given the way “Damages” plays with time, it’s hard to tell).

There’s also a new addition to the cast: Oscar winner William Hurt, who co-starred with Close in “The Big Chill.” But it sounds as if he has mixed feelings about joining.

In a rambling interview with The New York Times, the loquacious and reflective actor expressed a number of reservations about television in general. “For as privileged an actor as I have been, TV as a standard is short shrift. They have to do it so quickly that they don’t stop and take a look. They just shoot,” he said.

And, though he found the “Damages” experience exciting, he also was obviously uncomfortable about what was, for him, a lack of preparation.

The show’s creators, Glenn and Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman (known around the show as “KZK”), are fond of seat-of-the-pants plot twists, and Hurt didn’t always enjoy what they threw at him, even as he admired their abilities. (He called them a “collaborative consciousness.”)

“I don’t even know what I’ve done. I can’t even tell you what the plot points are,” he told the Times’ Dave Itzkoff with a laugh. “To me, we’re laughing about it, but I tell you, it’s quite a struggle on the day.” He credits the show’s editors for combining takes to show him in his best light.

On the other hand, perhaps he’s getting used to the situation. "I'm the least equipped for this of anyone," he told The Associated Press’ Frazier Moore. "What I'm relying on here, instead of experimentation over a long period of time, is my faith in them: KZK. They know what they're doing."

Will he be back for a third season? He doesn’t know. But it sounds like season two is going to be quite a ride.

“Damages” premieres Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET.

- Todd Leopold, CNN.com Entertainment Producer

Filed under: television
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