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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

Mother Mary and L.A.'s dirty bombs

August 26, 2007|Choire Sicha | Special to The Times

MARY McCormack is currently shooting a new show for USA Network. She also stars in "Right at Your Door," a film by Chris Gorak about a couple caught in the destruction of Los Angeles, which opened Friday. A veteran of "The West Wing" and Steven Soderbergh's "K Street," the short-lived experimental political series, she is married to television producer Michael Morris, former manager of London's Old Vic Theater.

I'm sorry, but are you with child?

No, I'm done with that. She's out. So I am with child, but she moves independently.

This is two!

I'm a failure in the Irish culture. Thirty-eight and [only] two kids.

Did you give them crazy names?

No! I'm the only actress who hasn't. I wanted to name them John and Sue to be aggressively different. But: Margaret and Rose.

Rose is a very good name.

And it's a normal name. Not a fruit. Not a weather front.

And where the heck are you?

I'm in Albuquerque, N.M. I've never been here before.

What have you learned about the great Southwest?

That there are enough dream catchers in the world already? That turquoise has a strong following? I love New Mexico. I'm here till December. I packed up the kids and moved to New Mexico.

You had the wedding of the summer in London in 2003. Every gay man on three continents was there.

We had like a rave. Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama DJ'ed, so we kind of had a bash. We had a crazy night.

And do you have any regrets?

About my marriage? And I've chosen now to reveal to the L.A. Times -- no, I dig my marriage. I dig it. I had to import though. I didn't intend it. I thought I was just going to have a fun shoot. And I met someone worth keeping.

What was "K Street" really like for you all? Was it just sheer chaos?

We had so much fun. Steven is so not afraid to experiment in front of people. And that's what he wanted to do. It was one of the most fun things I'd ever done in my life. We'd hop in a van and they'd say, "If we get there in 10 minutes, we can do a scene with [Utah Sen.] Orrin Hatch." I'd be on my BlackBerry trying to dig up what his issues are. I'd stay up late studying and reading the papers trying to avoid shame. When we watched it, all we could see was us trying to survive. It was panic.

It's striking that such a bold experiment has had no imitators yet.

Remember when "Hill Street Blues" happened? The snow is dirty, the cars are gray, and the show doesn't end? It was so revolutionary -- and now that's the way TV is made.

This new movie was sort of like L.A.-destruction wish fulfillment. Do you harbor ill feelings toward L.A., Miss New Jersey?

Dirty bombs all over L.A.? No, it's a nightmare. It was a tough shoot. Thank God it was only 19 days. We didn't do it for much money at all, and they shot it beautifully on film. It really feels like a big disaster movie, and it's just a couple actors in a house in Echo Park.

And your brother shows up in it!

There's a phone call -- she calls her brother when she's dying, and I thought, well, it's a hard enough shoot -- one less thing to imagine would be helpful. It made it harder and better. Harder: more sad, more tragic. But easier in that I didn't have to make another leap.

Very handy.

It doesn't come up all the time that you have to call your brother when you're dying. I figured it's not every script.

What haven't you been asked yet? Hmm. What are you reading?

Reading? I'm not reading! I called my husband once -- I was home with the baby, working on "West Wing" -- and said, "What's up tonight?" And he said, "I'm so bored, guess I'll finish my novel." And I hung up on him. He could say he was sleeping with another woman and I'd be less angry. You have to hide that! That's worse than porn! I'd kill to finish a novel.

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