He's starred on shows penned by two of the giants in TV writing, David E. Kelley, Aaron Sorkin. He currently acts opposite an Oscar winner, Kathy Bates.
How did Nate Corddry get here? How does he compare his experience on Harry's Law to past roles? The actor spoke with TV Fanatic about his current character of Adam Branch, The Daily Show and more...
Talk about filming Harry’s Law.
It was great. It was unusual to shoot for five months without any episodes being on the air, since it was a midseason show. You’re sort of in the dark, in a big cold room in Burbank playing pretend and there were days and weeks that I felt like nobody knew we were there or even doing this. We were so under the radar... I think it [was an] advantage to us. Over hyped shows can have an uphill battle. It’s also nice to shoot a show and not worry about ratings while you’re working. We finished shooting a week before we aired, so we could examine the ratings in the privacy of our own homes, which was probably an asset.
It was everything that I’d hoped it would be... it’s more about what she’s doing when the camera isn’t rolling. Everyone knows how wonderful and talented she is because they’ve seen her performances, but very few people get to see her process, which is something I really looked forward to watching and seeing how it evolved over five months.
The un-sexy work of an actor, which is maintaining focus, character, and energy when you’re three or four months in and it’s Friday night at 2 a.m. You’re glad you have a job, but you really want to go home because you’re fucking tired. Her professionalism bred into everyone, and every second she’s there, as an actor you have to bring everything. It’s Kathy Bates, and she deserves it, and you deserve to do your best, too. She’s the anchor of our show, and for good reason.
What is your take on Harry as a person?
I love her character. I think when the lead of your show is a 62-year old woman, you’re pushing boundaries. I love that about our show and about Kathy’s character. She isn’t sweet or charming. This isn’t Murder She Wrote, and she’s really smart and has conviction. Easy shows are shows where chicks are in bikinis and there are explosions and there’s a lot of sex and car chases and cops killing people. That’s interesting because it’s worlds that the average person doesn’t get to see. But I find that base, and too easy. The genius about David [E. Kelley], is that he does things brilliantly.
Do you think Adam made the right choice for himself in giving up his white collar job to work at the shoe store law office?
Absolutely; 110% percent. It’d be a boring show if I was still in that office. It would just be a story about a guy who’s doing just enough and knowing it. He’s in a place where he gets to take risks and fall on his face. He gets to challenge himself, not only professionally but personally. You get to see a much fuller character, and this is a world that will make him a better human being.
How is Chunhua’s assault going to affect his relationship with her?
It certainly complicates it. It’s hard enough trying to form a stable relationship, let alone trying to form one when someone has suffered a life-changing trauma like she has. It makes it more complicated, but that’s the genius of David. He throws in a trauma to add to the complications of trying to make something work, one thing isn’t enough. Most TV writers would just stick to a rape, and rapes are compelling on television and people want to see those things happen because they want to see that trauma. We’re not creating new television contend, but when you throw in the slow burn of two people trying to communicate the boundary between them.
Speaking of relationships, have we seen the last of Rachael?
No, you’ll see more. Jordana [Spiro] is wonderful, and a really sweet person. We’re very lucky to have her, she had her pick pilot season, so we’re very happy she joined us. She will be back, and you’ll be seeing not only the two of us trying to reconcile a broken relationship into a friendship, but you’ll also see us in a courtroom together.
Talk about your past experience on The Daily Show.
It was really scary. I wasn’t confident in myself as a comedian, per se. The comedy was watching my brother and taking a few classes at the UCB in New York. Getting into those writers meeting with 12 of the funniest people on planet Earth, those were really intimidating days. Very invigorating, as well, because when you play with the best, you go to the top of your game and intelligence. Knowing that I could hang with that group of people was very positive for me. I stopped being so afraid.
You talked about working with Kathy, David, and Aaron [Sorkin]. Do you take something with you from every show your work on?
Not everyone, but certainly the ones who are worth taking stuff from. I also take away bad things with me and say ‘this is how not to behave on a set’. There’s a lot to learn, not only from the performers but from the people behind the cameras. You have to keep your ears open. Like any other professional, one day this job will end, and I’ll have to move onto another job. I’m constantly thinking about what I can use from this experience to get to my next experience. For me, this one is Kathy’s behavior when the camera isn’t running. I will take that to my next job, for sure.