Brian D'Arcy James, better known to "Smash" fans as Julia's faithful husband Frank Houston, gave an emotional performance on Monday night's episode.
In the appropriately titled "Hell On Earth," Frank discovers the truth about Julia's affair with actor Michael Swift. After flying into a rage that leads him to hunt Michael down and throw a punch at him, Frank packs his bag and leaves his wife of 18 years.
The day after the episode aired, James spoke with HuffPost TV about his character, the critical reception of "Smash," and more.
Smash is hitting the Season 1 homestretch. Do you feel like the Broadway community is supporting it?
Absolutely. All my friends that I've worked with over the years are chiming in, and they're giving me their reports. You definitely get the sense that there's this excitement from the community that their story's being told on television.
It seemed like Frank pretty much moved out last night. Is this it, or will he be in the final 5 episodes?
This isn't it for Frank. There's definitely a return that he makes, and without giving too much away, there are circumstances that bring their family together. It's certainly not an easy thing to do -- to kind of address what's happened with Julia's affair -- but there is a reason for them coming back together and perhaps, slowly rebuilding their family.
What about Season 2? Will Frank return then?
I sure hope so! I honestly don't have any idea, but I'm lobbying hard for that to be the case. What's a good Broadway show without a Chemistry teacher?
There was a lot of critical buzz around the "Smash" pilot, but after 9 episodes it seems there's been some backlash. Why do you think viewers and critics are turned off by it now?
Oh boy, that's impossible for me to answer really! What I've learned from this experience -- and I've never done a network television show before -- is that there are a lot of people watching this show. With that comes a lot of opinions. Honestly, even if we were an unadulterated, no-holds, complete, unmitigated smash hit, people would still have problems with this or that. It's impossible for me to tell what people are responding to, either positively or negatively.
I feel like anything that's a big deal is going to be criticized.
I think what's most important is that the network has given the show, and the fans of the show, a chance to believe and be bolstered by how the storytelling is occurring, and how it will continue in the future. Regardless of what people have to say about it negatively, the positive aspect of it is that it's going to come back, and it's going to have a chance to bring in more viewers.
Now that Frank and Julia seem to be splitting, is this the end of the adoption storyline?
I think it's completely sidetracked by this bigger fish to fry. I do think the idea of the adoption served the purpose in the pilot of being a touchstone for the family, especially for Julia and Frank, in terms of what they think about their family and their dreams about it. These are their professional and personal goals. As a concept, I thought it was a great way to delve into the family psychology, but I don't think it's going to be a major part of the evolution of the family story.
I know most of the season was shot before the show aired. What's it like to go back and watch something you shot so long ago?
It's very odd. But what's interesting to me is the immediacy of how you were feeling or what was occurring in the scene. Scenes with Debra [Messing, who plays Julia] were so grueling to do, and it was very immediately palpable what I was feeling while were doing it. To see it played out was obviously different than doing it. It's a very disconnected thing. You almost get to the point where you're just following along like a fan and you think, "Oh my god, Frank! Frank! You better hit that guy!" And then you're like, "Oh, good job, Frank!"
I know you're also guest starring on "The Big C." Can you tell me a little bit about your character?
His name is Tim, and he's a psychotherapist. It's a very interesting role because he invites Sean, John Benjamin Hickey's character, into a three-way relationship with my character's wife, played by Tammy Blanchard. So he invites Sean to engage in a three-way relationship, which is quite interesting. It's very dramatic, and for me, it was a very unusual and [laughs] illuminating thing to play.
How do you like TV compared to the stage? How is it different for you?
I love it. I've been theater for the last 25 years, so just getting a chance to work on something consistently, like a series -- the novelty of it is still very potent for me, to be able to learn something new about my trade. The difference of it is significant in terms of technique, but how one goes about achieving the goal is the same, to tell the truth. It's just the mechanics that are a little bit different, and it's great for me to hone those skills.
What else are you working on?
I'm focusing on a concert I'm doing at a new venue called 54 Below in June. It's a new space. Patti Lupone is going to inaugurate the first couple weeks of June, and I come in after her for a week of songs. Right now I'm aiming for an eclectic mix of pop songs that influenced me growing up, so that's what's next on my calendar. It's a good time for me, and I'm really appreciating it.