Monday, May 23, 2011

David Sutcliffe's "Group" Needs YOU: The WLS Interview, Part Three

In Parts One and Two of our interview with David Sutcliffe, the acclaimed and beloved actor discussed the relevance of his Kickstarter campaign for his new docu-webseries GROUP, his personal emotional struggles, as well as memories of starting on GILMORE GIRLS.  In Part Three below we continue to discuss the impact of his role of Christopher on the show, why his character's anger challenged him, and what it was like to film the fight with Scott Patterson.  Is there a reunion movie coming soon? Read below! 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Lorelai and Rory came alive whenever Christopher was around, and that was part of what made him so lovable for the audience.  However, there is an unnerving scene in Season Two where all his charm and finesse comes to a screeching halt.  At the end of the episode titled "It Should've Been Lorelai," Christopher suddenly flipped on Lorelai and displayed a capacity for intense anger.   That was one of the first times we saw that this show could get very dark.
David Sutcliffe: That was a tough day for me.  I remember resisting wanting to play that scene.  I didn’t want to go there.  I didn’t want it to be that intense, I didn’t want to be that angry.  And to be honest with you, at the time I didn’t completely understand it.  I remember Amy and the director of that episode (Lesli Linka Glatter) gave me a strong direction to keep moving into the anger, into the intensity, into the overreaction.  It was uncomfortable for me.  Now when I see it, I see why they wanted that, and why it works from a psychological point-of-view.  As an actor you can’t see everything that is going on.  There is a limit as to how much you can understand the scene.  There has to be an element of letting it go, letting it be, and not trying to understand it.  That’s one of those scenes where I surrendered and let it go.  Now I can see why it works.  

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You mentioned that Core Energetics helped you to get in touch with your own personal anger that had been uncomfortable for you.  Do you think that blockage from your anger was what made doing that scene so challenging?
David Sutcliffe: I think that is right.  I wasn’t comfortable with my own anger, I didn’t want that part of me to be seen.  I think that is why I resisted it.  I knew I had a lot of rage inside me.  I knew I didn’t want to own it.  I definitely didn’t want people to see it.  So the last thing I wanted was for people to see in on TV! That is one of the things Core Energetics work has helped me with, that is, to get in touch with that part of myself.  Now it comes a lot easier to me.  And I actually think that Core Energetics is a brilliant training tool for actors.  I am going to start an acting class using some of those principles.  What greater skill can an actor have than to have complete and utter access to all of their emotions?  That is really what actors want and need.  That is what Core Energetics trains you to do. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In season seven of the show there was a climatic nonverbal scene between you and Scott Patterson.  Christopher and Luke battled it in the Town Square in a very tragic, yet comedic scene.  What was that like?
David Sutcliffe: It was fun.  They wanted a real intense fight.  They did cut it down much shorter than how it was originally written.  It was quite a battle.  It was like working on an action show.  We had stunt coordinators in there, we were all padded up.  Scott is a big strong guy, and an athlete.  I’m a big strong guy, and an athlete, so we were having a ball with that.  We wanted to get into it.

It was also interesting because Scott and I were friendly, but we knew what our roles were on the show.  There was a subtle rivalry between us, not as people, but as our characters.  The opportunity to play that out in the fight was satisfying for both of us.  Ultimately it bonded us.  I think Scott would say the same thing.  I always say that fighting is intimacy.  I’ve always said to women who ask me about wrestling that wrestling is intimacy. That is often the way men express their affection toward each other. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: There were a lot of story arcs that seemed unfinished by the end.  One of those was Christopher’s emotional development.  Christopher basically had the emotional capacity of a 12-year-old.  He covered every uncomfortable emotion with alcohol, or sex, or both, and then toward the end thought that having another baby was the solution.  His journey didn’t get tied up. 
David Sutcliffe: I think that was a circumstantial thing.  I don’t think they were entirely clear on what they wanted to do with the character and where they wanted him to go.  I don’t think they were clear on how they wanted to end the series.  This is all my speculation, I don’t have any knowledge of this.  But that was my sense.  And with Amy gone, the captain of the ship was gone, and there was a real responsibility to want to finish the series right for the fans who loved it. I think there was a lot of uncertainty about how to do that.  The focus was clearly going to be on Lorelai, Rory, and Luke, and in that sense Christopher just got lost in the shuffle.  There are some ways that was disappointing, but it’s also kind of how life is.  Some people in our lives just kind of disappear unresolved. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And some people just never attempt to heal or look at uncomfortable feelings.  Actually, most people don’t. 
David Sutcliffe: Christopher was certainly not  a guy who was ever going to look at that stuff. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Anything you can share with us about a reunion film?  You know that every few weeks the fans clamor around a new rumor.
David Sutcliffe: I don’t know.  My sense is that it is up to Amy.  I get no word of that, I get no sense of those conversations.  I have no idea if Amy would be up for it, if Alexis would be up for, if Lauren would be up for it.  There are a lot of people who would have to agree to it. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Would you be up for it?
David Sutcliffe: Of course, yes! It would be fun.  I love those girls, I love all the people on that show.  When you’re in the middle of something, creating 22 episodes a year, and you are there 14-15 hours a day, it’s so difficult to have perspective on what it is you are accomplishing and how special it is.  I remember to both Lauren and Alexis, “You’re going to someday look back on this and realize ‘holy shit, we really did something here.’ But it will take some time.”  I think that feeling might be the thing that allows them the space to consider making a movie. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You have done many projects that are beloved by viewers years later.  I would strongly encourage anyone who has felt their lives to be enhanced by watching GILMORE GIRLS or UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN to go to your Kickstarter page and give something back.  Tell me about your brief but memorable role at the end of UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN.
David Sutcliffe: I feel really fortunate in my career that I’ve been able to be part of something that people are going to show for a really long time.  GILMORE GIRLS is one of those classic shows people show to their kids.  And UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN is a beloved book, a beloved movie, I get comments from that all the time.  It feels really good to be part of those projects that are going to live on. 

David Sutcliffe: That was fun.  All of my stuff was with Kate Walsh and Grant Show.  Grant is great, he is a very under appreciated actor.  He is really funny, really savvy.  I was impressed with what he brought.  I had worked with him on THE JENNA ELFMAN SHOW and he was great on that as well.  Kate is great.  She is really open, really available.  She is gorgeous, and funny. We had a blast.  The stuff we did was fun and sexy.  I had a great time there, in large part because of her. 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Please come back for the final part in which he talk his about his courageous gay role in TESTOSTERONE, those controversial videos on YouTube, and his decision to eliminate "should" from his vocabulary.  What was it like to make out with Antonio Sabato Jr? Come back to find out! Until then, please take a look at Sutcliffe's Kickstarter campaign and donate to GROUP.

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist in New York City who specializes in treating  depression, stress management, HIV/AIDS related concerns, and grief/loss issues. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at For more information about scheduling an appointment or a speaking engagement, please email him at [email protected].

1 comment:

  1. What kind of example is it for young mothers not able to make up their mind as to which man she wants in her life. Add onto that, she bed hops from man to man to man in all her confusion. I just never thought Gilmore Girls was a good example of young independent mothers trying to make it in life. CHristopher, was a guy that just wanted what was good at that moment. AN hour later, his attitude and opinion changed. Lousey example of a father, perfect example of a typical inmature male.