Tonight on Smash (NBC, 10/9c), as things between rivals Ivy and Karen turn harmonious (via a Times Square two-hander), there’s discord aplenty in the Houston home, when Frank realizes that Julia carried on an affair with leading man Michael Swift. Will the brouhaha beget an unhappy tune from Frank? Will he come to blows with Michael? And will this bad news for the marrieds translate into good news for viewers? TVLine spoke with Brian d’Arcy James about stepping into the freshman drama’s spotlight.
TVLINE | Frank’s been largely in the background thus far, but it sounds like this week he finally steps forward.
Yeah, a lot of his storyline is coming to fruition. Material-wise, it’s really fantastic stuff that I get to do.
TVLINE | How does he find out about Julia’s affair?
Over the last couple of episodes, you’ve seen Frank witness the working relationship that Julia and Michael have, and I think subconsciously there’s always a kind of radar that one has for these types of things. There is an interesting way that he puts two and two together – it’s born out of the world in which we live, and by that I mean the information I receive comes in the form of Julia’s work and themes that she perhaps has written about. Let’s put it that way.
TVLINE | Does it come out that he suspected their original, years-ago affair?
No, but that’s a great point, because that is a very pivotal revelation that is made. Frank is having a hard enough time believing it’s one thing, and the revelation that perhaps there is more to the story… is quite damaging.
TVLINE | I saw an interview where you seemed to hint that maybe Frank hasn’t been a Boy Scout this whole time himself. Or were you just being coy?
I was being coy. I don’t remember how the question was posed, but very explicitly I said, “Well, I didn’t say that [he's also been cheating].” There’s definitely no road that he goes down that is wildly out of step with the character we’ve met.
TVLINE | Is Will Chase around, so that Michael can get clocked?
He’s definitely in this episode, and we do have a showdown, for sure. I love that scene. Like I said, it is unfortunate for Frank — the story is quite heavy for him — but for me as the actor, it’s what you live for.
TVLINE | Do you get a song out of it – hopefully one without a Wii guitar and jaunty hat?
[Laughs] No, nothing like that. I’m still waiting to get conked on the head so I can go into my big dream sequence. But that has been an interesting thing for me, because it’s a “challenge” to play a person who is not necessarily a singer.
TVLINE | Right — I was waiting for Tony nominee Brian D’Arcy James to let loose with his first song on Smash, and then I was like, “Oh. Frank can’t sing.”
[Laughs] Well I don’t know if I was going for that, but …. This is an incredible problem to have: How can I split the hair of what my background and experience has led me to in terms of singing, and what the job requires for the role? The irony doesn’t escape me. But it’s also kind of a neat twist on my reality.
TVLINE | I’m sure it’s no news to you that the consensus on the adoption storyline is it’s a clunker. Will this marital imbroglio table the topic for the time being?
Yeah, that’s safe to say. It definitely becomes not high on the list of things to take care of…. We are heading down a rocky road.
TVLINE | Remind me, what does Frank do for a living ? I mean, is there a way to weave him into the larger Marilyn production storyline?
He is a chemistry teacher, so…
TVLINE | Ah, so that’s not going to happen.
Yeah, exactly. I know at one point they were considering having him be someone who used to be in [the theater] world, and that’s how he and Julia met, but they made the choice to not do that — which is smart, because not everybody is in that world.
TVLINE | Wait, I’ve got it figured out: The issue of who plays Marilyn is pretty contentious, so somebody gets poisoned — and Frank comes in to identify the compound.
[Laughs] I love that. What I’m hoping for is a spin-off in the Breaking Bad mode, where Frank just goes crazy and moves to New Mexico to open a meth lab.