While talking to Bucatinsky about bringing the docuseries back now, TV Insider also had him look back on a couple of his memorable roles (Scandal!), discuss working with Kudrow, and address whether or not he could return to A Million Little Things after guest starring last season.
James’ death is still one of the hardest to take on Scandal.
Dan Bucatinsky: It wasn’t an easy one to take even behind the scenes. [Laughs] But it certainly made for good television and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Getting to play him was such a gift, I have no regrets.
Speaking of that, when you look back at Scandal and James now, what do you remember about the show and your character besides the death?
I really connected to that character for so many reasons. I am a dad, I have adopted kids. James was aspiring to be a dad. There was a lot of things about the character that were similar to me. A writer. So I really connected to James, particularly the part of him that aspired to fatherhood and was an adoption advocate and really valued trying to build — amidst a really tumultuous and dysfunctional marriage was trying to build a family. That was one of my favorite aspects of that character to play.
Ron Tom/©ABC/courtesy Everett Collection
And then looking at Will & Grace, it’s not often you can go back to a character 18 years later, especially after the show was off the air.
Yeah, that was really fun. To get to come back when the show came back was really fun. And I think when I got to play Neil the first time, it’s always fun to play a really annoying cloying character, because I don’t think of myself that way, although my kids might argue that I am … One of the things I loved about coming back as Neil was the backstory. The idea that [since] the first time you saw him ‘til almost the second time you saw him, that Neil had been trying to dog Will [Eric McCormack] that entire time, that made me laugh instantly. And I thought how funny that he’s been trying to avoid this guy for this long.
And the writers on that show are so funny and Max [Mutchnick] is a dear friend of mine. So it was a delight. And I’d become friends with everybody on the show, so to come back and revisit later was really just about felt like an opportunity to just have a really fun reunion with friends. Plus there was a little bit of my personal, real backstory. My parents are from Argentina and in the time from when Max didn’t know me so well when I first played Neil to the time that I played him again, he became a dear friend of mine. So he knew my background and he was like, I want Neil’s mom to be from Argentina and I want you to play that in the episode. And that was a lot more fun to do.
Jordin Althaus / © Showtime Network / Courtesy: Everett Collection
Talk about working with Lisa. Because you’ve worked on Who Do You Think You Are? but also onscreen in things like Web Therapy, The Comeback …
We’re very, very good friends and we have been for so long. We both went to college at Vassar, but we didn’t know each other at college. And then it took my husband casting Lisa in The Opposite of Sex for us to really become friends. She cameoed in my movie All Over the Guy in 2000, and then by 2002, we were talking about starting a company together. Working with a really close friend was such an advantage because we were able to collaborate both in front of the camera and behind the camera and really make shows that we care about, both funny and also a show like Who Do You Think You Are? and now we produce 25 Words or Less, who would’ve thought a game show about to launch its fourth season.
So Lisa and I have a really good friendship and I think that’s at the basis of all of it, but getting to act on screen with her in The Comeback, in an arc that she played on Scandal, and of course in Web Therapy, improvising with Lisa, who’s like a genius at improv, felt like such a gift that I’ve had for the last 17 years. And we continue to love Who Do You Think You Are? so much that when we come together around making these episodes, it’s like two friends getting to do something that they love with someone that they love. Not everyone gets to do that. I think it’s a real gift.
They wrote a really funny character for such a quick introduction. I have a sneaking suspicion that we haven’t seen the end of Harrison, but I can’t confirm that or deny it, but it felt like he had a little bit, he had, at least for my opinion, too much personality to just waste on one interaction with James, who I just adore. So that was a really fun opportunity.
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I was going to ask about the chances of seeing you again, and it sounds like it’s possible?
I would like to. I’d like to think it’s possible, but you never know with these things.