Scott Bakula is proud to be one of those 'Men Of A Certain Age' Special

Posted May 31, 2011 by Earl Dittman
He's leapt through time, warped through space, taken on Southern Belles and was Chuck's dad, but Scott Bakula enjoys his current gig as an out-of-work actor dealing with his mid-life crisis with his best buds in Season 2 of 'Men Of A Certain Age.'
Scott Bakula in  Men Of A Certain Age
Scott Bakula in 'Men Of A Certain Age'
Scott Bakula, the veteran star of such television series as Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise, Murphy Brown, Designing Women and a recent recurring role on Chuck, is back as Terry Elliot in the Second Season of the dramatic comedy Men Of A Certain Age (on the TNT Network in the US). Along with his costars Ray Ramono (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Andre Braugher (Homicide), the three longtime buddies are experiencing the pain and joy of hitting the big 4-0 together in Men Of A Certain Age. The brilliant and sensationally funny series chronicles their midlife transitions -- both on their own and as a threesome. Joe (Romano), Owen (Andre) and Terry have been tight, close friends ever since they met in college. Now fortysomething, the three pals have each led very diverse and wildly different lives since the end of their carefree days at the university. But fate and friendship have brought them all back into each other's lives. As Joe Tranelli, Bakula plays a laidback, unemployed actor whose days of wine and glory appear to be way far behind him and he has ended up taking a job selling cars for Owen, who has become a husband and father (always under intense pressure) and has become the general manager at his rather oppressive father's car dealership. Amicable, but slightly neurotic, Joe, the formerly married dad (his teen son suffers from severe anxiety attacks) spends his Saturday mornings having breakfast at the diner with the guys, while discusses the trials and tribulations he must endure at the party store he owns. A wonderfully witty and incredibly thought-provoking, Men Of A Certain Age is for TV lovers from any generation. Scott Bakula spent this particular Southern California morning talking about the Second Season of his mid-life gig on Men Of A Certain Age.
Ray Romano  Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher in  Men Of A Certain Age
Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher in 'Men Of A Certain Age'
Before you had actually started filming Men Of A Certain Age, Andre (Braugher) said he felt like the three of you would probably have really great chemistry on screen. Can you talk about the camaraderie you've developed between the three of you having done the show for a while now?
"Well, you know, that really was the big issue before the show started was finding these three guys and it was really important to Ray (Romano) and Mike Royce, but obviously you want to appear to have that kind of chemistry on screen and that’s why we auditioned and we met and we had meetings and everything -- to try to find out if that would all work out. And I have to say that I think a lot of it is a credit to the writing in a funny way because we ended up with three guys who’ve all have their own shows, have their own, you know, level of success. As Ray will always remind us, (laughs) his did far outshine both Andre’s (Homicide) and mine (Star Trek: Enterprise). But we all have kind of been there. So there’s not a competition, there’s not any kind of any of that energy on the set. We all have so many similarities in our own personal lives outside of the workplace. It just kind of fell in and then the words that they gave us to say just added to that. And it’s just we all get, you know, we have really a really great time. And you can’t plan that and sometimes you just get lucky."
In the beginning stages of the new episodes of Season Two (beginning June 1), your character starts to spiral out of control. Can you talk a little bit about that aspect being added to your role -- the kind of unkempt, scruffy friend who needs help?
"Well, I mean, it’s the joy of the role for me because Terry’s a complete opposite -- direct opposite of who I am in my life and what I’ve tried to be in my life. So I like to get to play somebody like him, who is spiraling out of control and continues to and who has the best intentions but can’t help but put his foot in it more often than not. And he’s dealing with falling in love for what feels like the first time for him in his life and how that gets bundled up and what he does to that, it’s really so much fun to. When the script comes in each week and you’re getting to do more and more things like that, of course, it presents all these issues for them as friends and it’s just it’s good writing."
Ray Romano  Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula in  Men Of A Certain Age
Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula in 'Men Of A Certain Age'
The rare thing about a show like Men Of A Certain Age is that you have three leading men with basically equally-sized roles. That's unique in this business, because usually the show has one leading man with two backup guys. This seems pretty equal, which must be great for all of you.
"Going into it this show, it was presented that way. Ray said that you've got to be honest when you get the script because it’s Ray Romano’s return to television, so you're thinking, 'Well am I going to have anything to do in the show and what would it be like?' (laughs) They’ve said from the beginning and they’ve held it up that they want it to be a three-hander and everybody has their own equal weight to carry. And, it’s been great. Selfishly, as an actor, we’re all kind of -- you hand the ball to somebody else and you go home and you’re not worried about it, because you know their stuff is great and they’re great. And again, there’s no issue on the set about amount of work and, 'Oh, you know, I don’t have enough scenes this week' or we all trust in the situation and I just think it presents this very interesting feeling, a kind of a unique kind of a show that people feel like they haven’t seen before about guys presenting their lives and their issues and talking about them. And people have found it appealing."
I mentioned to Ray that Men Of A Certain Age kind of feels like it is The Wonder Years where everybody has grown up and Daniel Stern isn’t narrating it, anymore. (laughs) Describe what being able to connect to that show, because for a lot of people, it connected with them. And now, people that was our age -- kids during the hey day of The Wonder Years -- are having those same kind of connective feelings with Men Of A Certain Age. Do you see the parallels with audiences -- it's like Men Of A Certain Age has kind of created its own niche?
"Well, you get the best feeling about it when you’re on the street and people are coming up to you and that are my age and around my age and saying how much they love the show, going, 'Hey man, it’s so great to have a show about us, you know, on television something that we can watch it’s about us. And it’s directed, you know, it’s aimed at us and people are really appreciating that.' And you feel good about that. I liked that there’s a great sense of reality in our show and the way they’ve written it and how we shoot it and how they encourage it to be acted because life comes at you in every different direction all the time and you can be in the middle of a wonderful high about something that’s going on great and gets some bad -- the phone rings and you get some bad news. And that’s how the world is and they found a way to kind of capture that in a theatrical way but in a way that doesn’t -- look, there have been some shows in the past where I’ve been like, ‘I can’t watch that show, it’s too real, it’s too heavy, it’s too...’ you know, all the time it’s these big huge problems. Our show is -- to me, it’s everything. It’s light, it’s poignant, it’s emotional, it’s ridiculous, it’s all the things and it’s all told through this kind of, you know, Ray and Mike Royce filter which is unique to them and unique to kind of standup comics. They all have their own filter and I think that makes it special is to kind of make it stand out."
Scott Bakula  Ray Romano and Andre Braugher in  Men Of A Certain Age
Scott Bakula, Ray Romano and Andre Braugher in 'Men Of A Certain Age'
When the series’ line-up was first announced, I had real reservations that a comedy featuring Andre Braugher with Scott Bakula and Ray Romero. I thought, ‘How is that going to work?’ But once you watch it, your thoughts are ‘That’s the most incredible chemistry between actors. That is the most incredible pairing of three first-class actors that works with such ease.' It’s like we can’t believe you as best friends, but we can believe you as guys that have known each other forever. Did you all feel that immediate kind of chemistry was going to be there when you all started doing it?
"You know what I have to say is we pretty much did, and I couldn’t tell you why except that the writing is great and that we all came into it with the same intentions, you know, which was we believed in the script and we wanted the show to work and we understood that it wasn’t a show about us -- and most importantly, none of us are divas. So there wasn’t a question of somebody pushing that to the side to make the show work. We just kind of all approached the work the same way and it just fell in. And, the very first day we shot the diner scenes with everybody in the net -- the network was there and it was kind of big day of ‘Oh my gosh, look at these guys sitting around talking and people couldn’t get enough of it. And you felt, all of a sudden that day, that however magically we all ended up on the show -- in the same show at the same time it was going to work.
That must have been a great feeling?
"It was a great feeling. I mean, they were literally letting Scott Winant (director) direct it and they were loading up the cameras with film and letting them run until they ran out and then we’d stop shooting."
How close is Terry, your character, to you in real life or are you like him at all?
"Not at all."
Ray Romano  Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher in  Men Of A Certain Age
Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher in 'Men Of A Certain Age'
"And that’s been the most fun about getting to play somebody like him because he’s so opposite of me. I’m in a long-term committed relationship, I have four kids, I have a mortgage, I was divorced once, I have, you know, all these thinks. I have a big full life and Terry has none of that. And, you know, he’s afraid of commitment, he’s afraid of -- he’s afraid of growing up, basically. It’s just a blast to play somebody like Terry. I mean, don’t we all want to be Peter Pan..."
All the time.
"Yes, we do, and this guy has found a way to hang on to that and it’s not always pretty. And you’ll see in the rest of the episodes this summer and it gets really ugly. But he’s found a way to hang on to that, hang on to his friendship with these two guys and keep all of his parts attached to himself."
Before I let you go, are we going to see you on as Chuck Bartowski on Chuck anymore?
"Not that I know of. Our first goal was to get Chuck picked up for another season and it did. I had my fingers crossed that they we were going to come back. And I just heard that it is happening."
So you’re not going to be at the big Chuck wedding scene then?
"I don't know if I'll have the time to do anything. We will see, though."
The Second Season of Men Of A Certain Age begins airing June 1, 2011