AUSXIP had the opportunity to interview Jon Tenney at the TNT Armchair Detective Junket about his new
TNT show, King and Maxwell, co-starring Rebecca Romijn, premiering June 10 at 10pm.
Q: What do you feel sets your show apart from the other procedural dramas out there?
Jon Tenney: No other procedural drama has King and Maxwell as the lead characters! We have never seen Sean King and Michelle Maxwell outside of these books David Baldacci created. Now they’re flesh and blood living people, and these characters are fascinating. They love each other. They hate each other. They need each other. They don’t realize they need each other. They share a similar history but they go in two different directions. I think it’s a familiar genre, this private investigator show …but with different characters leading the way through the storyline …, and setting it in Washington DC is different, I think. You know, a lot of the cases are going to involve that whole world of politics and power and intrigue.
Q: We’ve noticed that your character doesn’t take the stereotypical male approach to solving conflict. Could you elaborate on why your character is like that?
Jon Tenney: Well, yes, they have a very different… he is definitely more the man of words, and she is the woman of action. One of the things that both of these characters, before they became private investigators, were… they worked for the Secret Service, and they were both kicked out of the Secret Service. In my case, in Sean King’s case, it was under mysterious circumstances that are, throughout the course of the first season … the assassination that got him kicked out of the service is explored in a way that he begins to understand it in the larger scheme of things that he had never thought of before. You find out throughout the course of that discovery some of the reasons he might be adverse to, say, carrying a gun like she does. He will if he needs to, but he’d rather not do that. He’d rather reason things out. So, yeah, there’s a little bit of a flip on the gender stereotypes, which is really fun to explore.
Michelle Maxwell is this ex-Olympic athlete. That’s also in her background, and she will dive in, headstrong, into a situation, which is very helpful. You have to do that. He’s much more measured, but he will sort of reluctantly go along with that, although he’s the one that gets hurt. He agrees to go into it, so we’re having fun playing with that dynamic.
Q: Feeding into that, is there a specific quirk about your character that you’ve really enjoyed playing out, and it is something we’re really going to enjoy watching you play out?
Jon Tenney: I think he’s always trying to think 5,6,7,8,9,10 steps ahead, and he’s very good at it. But he’s good at it until he’s not. You know? And I think, hopefully, the audience will enjoy going along and also enjoy when he screws up. They’ll roll with the punches with him on that because I think that, at the end of the day, his heart’s in the right place, and he wants to do the right thing.
It’s the dynamic between the two of them, between King and Maxwell. It’s this discovery of how they need each other and how they fight against that. They fight. They really need to be together, and they don’t really want to be together, and they do need to be together. And they complement each other, and it drives them crazy that they complement each other. I think that’s a really fun dynamic to explore, and hopefully the audience is going to enjoy taking that trip with them in the midst of all of these great mysteries to solve.
Q: What does being a lawyer bring to the table that’s better than just being a private investigator?
Jon Tenney: Well, each of them has a lot of skills that they bring to the table as private investigators. He’s well versed in the law, and he’s well versed in Washington from his days in the Secret Service. So he has the knowledge of the law behind him to help him solve cases, but he doesn’t have any of the restrictions of the law because he’s working for himself as a private investigator, not working for the government. So he gets the best of both worlds.
Q: It’s a different take because we’ve never seen a PI that was also a lawyer, at least that we can remember.
Jon Tenney: Yeah, no, not really because, like, Ironside was a lawyer, but he wasn’t a PI. So that is another thing in his arsenal which sets him apart, going back to that first question.
Q: We are bloggers…
Jon Tenney: Excellent. The new world!
Q: Yup, the new world. One of the things we focus on is social media.
Jon Tenney: Social media is, like, it’s crazy. It’s it.
Q: It’s the new thing. It’s very interactive with the fan base. It’s direct contact between the talent and their fans. Where is your social media? How can we find you?
Jon Tenney: I am slow to come to the social media world, but it’s happening as we speak. It’s being formulated. I wish I could throw out my twitter name right now (Jon joined shortly after this interview @JonTenney), but I will have a presence on twitter. There’s already twitter and facebook pages for the show, and we’ll interact on those. We’ll post on that.
Q: Along that same vein with social media, sometimes it’s a great experience and sometimes it’s not such a great experience when you’re interacting with your fan base, and, since it’s a new frontier for you, is there anything you’re hesitant about? Is there anything you’re hesitant to introduce about yourself to your fans as they get to know you, your character, and your story?
Jon Tenney: No. I think it’s really exciting because it makes the event of watching a television show… it makes it more of a live event. It’s not as passive in some ways. Like, I love the idea that you can live tweet during the [show] or you can have that communication with the fan base. I think it’s exciting. You know, we’re all telling stories. We’re all watching stories, and it becomes an event that we can all involve ourselves in.
I come from the theater. That’s where my first love was as a performer.
Q: You’ve got the hang of it!
Jon Tenney: Well, the idea that… you know, I had a great director once say to me, “Here’s this play; here’s this story. Your job as an actor is to throw it up there between you and the audience, and the audience and you create this whole event that’s bigger than everybody.” That’s sort of what … social media is. It’s an event that involves everybody.