Smash Preview: Adultery Bombshell Will Be 'Quite Damaging,' Says Brian d'Arcy James

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.

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  1. Jack R says:

    This has been the single biggest turn off in watching the show… I don’t know what made me roll my eyes more: that a woman who has everything (and there by absolutely no reason to cheat) AND despite the fact she’d already made the choice to end this years before.. would have no self control what so ever.. Or that after they’d cheated, the show subliminally promoted the adultery by having them meet on the street and act all giddy and wide eyed while plucky, flirty, music played underneath.. I’m no prude.. but I found all this fairly ridiculous.. i find myself DVR’ing this show and fast forwarding through these scenes..

    • misha says:

      agreed. The whole adultery plotline left a very sour taste in my mouth and ruined Julia as a character for me. Seriously could she not exhibit ANY self control!?!? Whenever there are kids involved I carry no sympathy for adultery.

    • J. Norman says:

      Pretty much agree. This affair combined with Debra Messing characters (Julia) lack of backbone in handling the sleazeball assistant (Ellis) got me to quit the show after 4 episodes.

      I also found no real reason for the character of Julia to rekindle an old affair.

    • Joseph says:

      Actually , I think the affair was more real then most want to agree. A man or a woman can have a loving spouse and a wonderful life and still cheat on the love of their life. What makes SMASH work is that it lets the actors bring to the screen some of the ugliest aspects of humanity and yet it is balanced so that it is not over whelming.

    • danielle says:

      Except the whole point of the affair plotline was to show the internal struggle of desire versus obligation to a woman who DOES have everything. Or who appears to have everything, anyway. Yeah, Julia has a son and a husband she loves, but she’s also a flawed fictional character who’s constantly battling with herself and what she wants. I mean, what’s so ridiculous about an adultery plotline? As if adultery is the biggest sacrilege in today’s society. People cheat with their spouses/have affairs all the time. I’m not saying it’s right, morally, but fiction isn’t about ethical righteousness. Without moral ambiguity this show would be hella boring.

    • Gloria says:

      Totally agree with you. My heart sank when they “went there”. It was not needed and was in fact rather distracting from the other good things going on. Very disappointed.

      • Gloria says:

        Was agreeing with the “did not need that plotline” comment, not the other one. Yes, people have affairs in real life…isn’t that bad enough? I don’t want to see it on tv, especially when it was almost glorified. However, I am glad they are showing the consequences of that sin. Nobody ever wins in that scenario.

        • danielle says:

          “Yes, people have affairs in real life…isn’t that bad enough?” So you’d rather have television depict idealized, unrealistic scenarios rather than the gritty and unpleasant but REAL events of human life? Television’s job isn’t to gloss over every minor detail of reality. If affairs happen in real life, it should make sense that affairs will be depicted in television programmes. If you don’t want to see it on tv, fast forward or change the channel. Nobody can make you want to see something you don’t want to, but to deem the subject unnecessary because you “don’t want to see it” makes no sense.

  2. jess says:

    lol @ last comment. I’d watch that show! I mean, Breaking Bad .2

  3. me says:

    Love Brian D’arcy James. Wish I loved Smash. Part of the reason I can’t love it is that they criminally under use Brian. What a waste of his talent. Hope he actually is given something to do on tonight’s episode.

    • Kaymack says:

      Could not agree more. He is a huge talent and thus far his character could be played by any one of a thousand serviceable actors.

    • danielle says:

      Last time I checked, Brian d’Arcy James plays a character that is entirely separated from the Marilyn Musical plotline. I… I don’t get then why people are surprised that he’s not getting much screen time/is underused on the show?

  4. DB says:

    I have absolutely no interest in this drama now, they ruined it with those preposterous and gross adultery scenes (not to mention the unnecessary Julia at home stuff, just awful). I think the writers entirely misfire with a lot of aspect beside the musical on this show, and it’s no longer enjoyable to watch. Lastly, seeing character I don’t care for fighting is not my idea of entertainment, it’s a chore.

  5. Ivy says:

    Well I personally love the show. And Julia and Michael’s storyline. Haters go hate somewhere else, you’re all being faaar to harsh on this show, seriously guys, its tv, it doesn’t have to be morally ethic or right – it never has been!
    And to those who keep going on about Julia not having any self-control, the adultery ruining her character blablabla, all I gotta say is sometimes, in real life, people fall in love, and trust me, most of the time the circumstances these people find themselves in are everything but perfect.
    Besides, I love how so many of you keep criticizing the cheating but somehow appear to be fine with the idea of living an unhappy lie for the rest of your life. Yeah. Good thinking. Whatever, cheers.
    Go Smash and go Julia and Michael. Yes, I ship them, hard.

    • Willa Downs says:

      Bravo…someone who spoke up (positively). You managed to state most of how I’ve been feeling. This world is full of flaws, quirks, emotional/physical attractions…and people all over the world, in every walk of life, find it difficult to simply “walk the line”, “stay the course”, “stay true”.
      Until we are opened minded enough to allow a t.v. show give us a bit of our imperfect lives, we won’t appreciate what we’ve got.
      I don’t mind the side stories, it helps us to understand that even in the product of our work lives, we allow a certain portion of our mistakes unfold because we hope to see the story line overcome the struggle our real lives danced with, or perhaps we want to validate our poor decisions by allowing them into the story and then they find a way (in the story) to “do the right thing” as the plot moves along.
      This is supposed to be a portrayal of the way things are, with real live characters trudging through the sea of life.
      Play on! Live on! Learn on! SMASH us with the true word! I know I’ll watch it without having to DVR it.

    • Pia says:

      But Julia is NOT “living an unhappy lie.”

      • jenna says:

        Agreed. From what we’ve seen so far Julia is isn’t unhappy with Frank and the son. From what i’ve gathered from the show she rekindled her affair with michael out of infatuation ( i.e. when she was talking to Tom about how Michael was singing one of their songs and she mentioned how she was so in love with his talent) in which case all of the comments about Julia’s lack of self control are quite valid.

        • danielle says:

          Yeah, I’m with you on this. I don’t at all see Julia as someone living in an unhappy domestic environment. Her marriage with Frank may not be the ideal, blissful, All-American marriage of society’s dreams, but it wasn’t unhappy. If it was, why would they even consider adopting a child? I really like Michael and Julia together, and I agree that the affair roots in part from Julia’s lack of self control, but when people that are so caught up with Michael and Julia’s relationship start distorting information to fit what they want to see, it’s like taking away the grey levels that make up these characters and the complexities that make them so interesting.

      • Oh please. To state that Julia is not living an unhappy lie means just not having watched this show at all. Ever heard about denial? She sure loves her son, but that does not mean she’s in love with her husband at all. There’s domesticity and affection there, and that’s where it ends. And hadn’t it been for Leo, the marriage would have been over five years ago when she met Michael, that’s for sure.

        Despite the fact that this column in particular keeps trying to hate on Michael and Julia, there are heaps of people who love Michael and Julia and who enjoy ALL the side stories, including theirs (see replies above, because when it gets too much even those of us who avoid replying are compelled to just say a word). If some still haven’t gotten that 1) Will Chase is coming back, obviously (and he is simply terrific as Joe Di Maggio), and 2) that Michael and Julia are meant to be together, you need a pair of glasses and to take off the ear plugs as well. NOBODY who has a happy and fulfilling life at home behaves the way Julia does. She’s just in utter denial over her feelings, and also, what part of “she has been lying to her husband and son for FIVE years” aren’t you getting? If you think that’s living happily at home, well then I guess we have a very differing concept of what living happily at home means. And it was made very clear how the original affair between her and Michael was a BIG deal and it lasted for a long time.

        It irritates me to no end that people try and pull the moral card OVER A TV SHOW. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! It’s TV!! Most couples are born out of affairs or less than morally-sound decisions or situations. And that’s what makes it exciting to watch. We all love a good Hollywood affair. Does that mean we condone cheating in real life or we are cheaters in real life? Hell, no. But I also don’t condone living a marriage that’s just a lie, and has been for five years, only because a child is involved. So yeah, I’m super glad this takes center stage and I’ll be even happier once Frank is out of the picture (which he will be, as clearly his character was kept completely detached from the main storyline for a reason) and Michael is back (which will happen in episode 14). All these people hating on the storylines are better off just not watching the show, I think. Because those are the main part of the show. The musical is just the excuse to set the drama.

    • Angel says:

      OMG you’re my god lol Your post just making my day *clap clap clap* And I ship them hard too <3 they're so cute and so in love

    • @Ivy completely agree. Well said. I’ll repeat, the moral card over a TV show is just infuriating. And ridiculous. Julia and Michael fell in love in less than ideal circumstances. So what? It happens, and I have many cases similar to theirs (cheating on spouse included) in real life that I’ve witnessed. Does anyone want to see that happen in real life? No. Does it happen? By all means, yes. And nobody who is happy in their marriage has an affair in general and particularly not an affair as big as Michael and Julia’s. It’s clear this is about big feelings, not simply about sleeping with someone, and Julia explained this very clearly when she first spoke to Tom about the affair. I find it much worse to settle for unhappiness (and there is no way Julia is happy as is or she wouldn’t have done what she did. TWICE. Not to mention it’s clear and obvious that while she has affection for Frank, she is not in love with him at all) than to divorce and be with the person you’re actually in love with. Five years of lies are no way to have a family, let alone raise a child.

    • Udjatmm says:

      Thank you for spelling this out and saying it right! Love Smash, Julia and Michael, can’t wait to see where writers take us.

  6. Charlene says:

    I have to agree I love this show and all the stoeylines. I can hardly wait for Monday nights to get here.

  7. secret says:

    Love the show, but can definitely do without the guys kissing. YUK!!

  8. History Teacher says:

    I pretty much only watch the show now for the musical numbers. It was good the first couple of episodes but then it just turned into a who’s having sex with who show and I’m sorry but I can’t stand to see two men lying in bed together. It’s one thing to know they are gay but totally a whole other thing to SEE it. And I don’t want to see it! If I had children in my home this show would not even exsist anymore on my DVR!

    • Sexuality Equality says:

      I’m sorry, when did it SHOW them having sex? They were lying in a bed together. That’s incredibly homophobic considering how you didn’t even mention when Karen was in only a towel with Derek, the multiple times Ivy was shown sleeping with Derek or when Karen and Dev were having an intense make-out session. The most Tom and his BF ever did on camera was kiss and lie in a bed. Is that so wrong?

      • Karol says:

        Just cause we don’t like to see it, doesn’t make us homophobic. I am sick of this….homophobic this, homophobic that. It is NOT the norm and I sure as hell don’t want to see two guys kissing on TV. BTW, I have LOT of gay friends from when I lived in San Fran. Give it a rest, pal.

        • Sexuality Equality says:

          Not until you realize the double standard you JUST set. Seeing Ivy’s boobs during a sex scene is fine but seeing too gay men kiss? Heaven forbid.

        • Phizpop says:

          And if I said I was repulsed by a man and woman kissing on TV you wouldn’t think I had some underlying issue with straight people? Don’t use our defense against homophobia as a way to excuse your problems. Maybe you should go see a psychiatrist and sort the obvious issues in your own life before commenting on what other people should do so as not to offend you. I can also guarantee that if any of your gay ‘friends’ in San Francisco were real they would be offended by your opinions.

    • Brad says:

      I really pray that your screen name has not a damn thing to do with your profession, because the last thing we need is another small minded, homophobic teacher in the school system.

    • Teacher , I get that you have issues but I suggest you just bite the bullet at times , I have the same issue watching a straight man attempting to be sexual and being beaten down by their frigid / controlling wives who uses sex as a weapon.
      This has probably been one of my biggest issues with shows like DH where women act superior because they can trick a man who is in love with them into doing what they want and yet not realizing that the husband often gives in with the hope his wife will grow up.
      What I love about SMASH is that it shows aspects of gay life a lot closer to reality then most shows. I friggen cracked when Neal Bledsoe and Christian Borle went on a date where sex was considered a given even if they were not connecting. Even better , LOVED , how they had sex and then laughed about how bad it was.
      What most straights don’t get is that for some in gay society , sex is just another interaction two people can have , and is no different then running together, or hitting a local cafe and relaxing together as you read the paper and split a scone.

  9. Linderella says:

    I love the show but I don’t care for Michael as a character. He’s kind of stalkerie and not in the “we belong together” kind of way. He just pegged my creep-0-meter big time. As for Julia, cut her some slack. They have not divulged what was going in her marriage when she and Michael were together years before; those facts might explain a lot about she was vulnerable then. As for the soap opera elements – there is soap opera elements at play in almost every work situation. Some folks need to get out more. Life is part tragedy, part comedy and lots of soap!!!

  10. Angel says:

    Okay haters to the left please, I LOVE Michael and Michael & Julia and I don’t care completely about Frank or Leo, for me these two characters are the most boring of this show and unnecessary (like Ellis). I don’t even understand why they’re still on the show, they just need to get out of my screen.

    And PLEASE people it’s a TV show, it’s not real life okay. And Michael and Julia are meant to be together cheating or not and face it because Michael will coming back at somehow and it’ll be FANTASTIC to watch.

  11. Cailin says:

    I’m actually more disgusted at the blatant homophobia I’m seeing in these comments. You guys are horrible.

    • Agreed. Can’t believe it. And I’d like to know how someone homophobic even started watching Smash in the first place, given the number of gay characters on the show. Did they think the gay characters were going to remain celibate? Unreal.

  12. Steph says:

    Julia is going to end up being pregnant due to the impromptu hook-up on the couch in the studio w/Michael.

  13. Dr says:

    People watch this show? People care about it?

  14. Donovan says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party. I’m pretty damn put-off by the homophobic comments. Not only because I am a gay guy myself and I don’t go around complaining about all the straight scenes (in fact, I tend to love a lot of straight pairings and scenes), but moreso because this is a show about MUSICAL THEATER. Really? Are you kidding me? You’re telling me you didn’t expect it when you first decided to watch? Excuse me while I tilt my head and scratch it in confusion.

    Now for the real reason I’m here. Michael and Julia (see? Gay guy and my favorite pairing is a straight couple so quit the ignorant remarks of disgust about some quick same-sex kisses and bed scenes where nothing happens). Yes, I realize the circumstances of their romance were less-than-stellar. But you know what? IT’S TELEVISION. It’s meant to be overly dramatic and explore themes that get people talking. We may not commend such behavior and decisions in our daily lives but to say you’ve never enjoyed a good Hollywood affair is just absurd. Ever hear of guilty pleasures? Makes for good tv people. And I’m sorry but Michael and Julia belong together. It’s clearly not just some fling. And it’s easy to see that neither Julia nor Michael are entirely happy with their lives as they are (as in, without each other). Sure they may be content but who wants to just be content in their life? Isn’t everyone’s goal happiness? And I mean true happiness – which is much harder to find and hold onto. The fact that Julia couldn’t help herself only proves that she wants something more in her life and had she not had Leo to think or care about there would not have been 5 years of lies and denial. That marriage would have ended and I’ve seen marriages fall apart over far less severe circumstances. It just so happens that Michael is the one who has what she really wants and what will truly make her happy (and vice versa).

    And not for anything but it’s not like this sort of thing never actually happens because it does. People fall in and out of love all the time. Somewhere down the line some lose that spark they’d once had and eventually they lose the happiness and flutters and just become comfortable and satisfied with what they have without even realizing it – or maybe they do but they’re too scared of being alone or starting over again (I’ve been there, not the cheating but the content-without-happiness part of a relationship). People don’t choose who they fall in love with, the heart does and it doesn’t exactly take into account the factors in ones’ life – like timing for example. Just because you’ve found someone to love doesn’t mean you’ve found the ONE you’ll always love (soulmates). So yes, I believe Michael and Julia will be together it’s just a matter of time and I can’t wait for it because it will be something special. I AM HERE AND I LOVE THEM AND I WILL NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT SO YOU ARE STUCK WITH ME. MICHAEL AND JULIA LOVE. Enjoy.

  15. Em says:

    The chemistry between Michael/Julia is sizzling. It’s amazing! Since it’s a tv show and I watch it only to be entertained I want Michael/Julia together since I believe they have the best scenes.

  16. Julia's son :-) says:

    What I found most upsetting was MIchael’s wrongful dismissal. The workshop did not go well and they were looking for a scapegoat to blame. While Tom strongly defended Ivy and told Derek they should not be blaming her, he had no qualms about throwing Michael under the bus. How unfair is that? Do not make Ivy the scapegoat, the problem is Michael Swift. Stupid Tom, and now he’s going to chuck John aside just because he’s a republican for that boring choirboy Sam.

  17. Ashton says:

    I have enjoyed watching Julia’s character go through all she does. This stuff happens. To leave it out would not be doing the story justice. It’s not totally unrealistic either, she spends half her time away from home. These things happen.

  18. Linda says:

    I LOVE Julia and Michael together! The scenes with her husband are BORING! Will and Debra are together in REAL life…they have real chemistry…I hated tonights episode where they made Julia run away from Michael and then be with her boring husband. This show is really good…but come on…people do fall in love with other people after they marry the wrong person….let Julia and Michael be together!!!