After a thoroughly exhausting, relentlessly grim third season, Nip/Tuck has returned appropriately nipped and tucked itself, ditching the serial killers and neo-Nazis in favor of juicier characters-driven arcs—including organ theft, sex tapes, infidelity and even Scientology—that slices deep into the superficial world of Troy/McNamara. Star Julian McMahon shares cutting remarks on the show’s refreshening with Hollywood.com.
Hollywood.com: What captivates you about Christian Troy?
Julian McMahon: I think that it's partly his arrogance. I think that it's partly his unattainability as a match, as a partner, and I think that he kind of lives by his own rules. He's very gregarious in his own manner in the way that he lives his life and I think that's kind of fascinating, and not just fascinating to women, but fascinating to everyone. I like all of those things. I love the fact that he's extraordinarily honest. I like that he's honest about his manipulation. I like the fact that he says things that we'd all like to say and don't actually get the opportunity to, or don't feel like we have the right place to, or don't feel like we can say it to that person. Playing him is sometimes a good cleanser, because you get to get a lot of that stuff out of your system. As shallow as this guy seems, if you really kind of go back and look at that people and the path that he's traveled, then you get to see a guy who's been many different people and not just the shallow women-crazy, fast car-driving guy.
HW: You’ve said publicly that you weren't very happy with last season. Did you discuss that with the producers going in to this year?
JM: Yeah. We're very open. Everything is open for discussion. That's one of the great things about working on the show: we've had an opportunity to voice our opinions. I usually love what Ryan [Murphy] does. I love all of his writing. I just felt like last year just got a little depressing for me, that's all. I feel like Nip/Tuck is deep and meaningful and sexy—I think that it's always that way. I don't think that we had to just be depressing.
HW: As Christian gets farther and farther out there, how do you keep from bringing him home at night?
JM: Just so you know, one of the reasons that Christian has gotten so far out there is because that's what I wanted to do. I felt like—and I don't know if this is just a result of doing things for three years and playing that character, and also particularly after last year—I just wanted things to be sexier, wilder, more out of control. I wanted to push that envelope as much as possible. I wanted to rip it up and throw it to the wind. I still want to do that, and we've done that. We're back to the good romping fun that I like. How do I not take it home? I just don't take my work home with me. You learn after a period of time that you switch it on when you need it, but it's not just that you don't take it home—you can't take it to the trailer. You can't take it to lunch. You need to have those little breaks so that you can perform properly. If it's encumbering you throughout the day, for me personally, I don't get the opportunity to perform properly when the camera is rolling.
HW: Are you continually shocked when you hear about some of the real-life plastic surgeries that inspire the show’s plotlines?
JM: Obviously, the more you do the show the less shocked you kind of become, but I'm never not shocked. Surgery isn't my life except for the show, so to think about opening someone up and putting their loved one's ashes in their breasts sounds out of control to me. So I'm shocked, but it wanes a little after four years. Look, I love reading this show because I love what I get to play.
HW: Do plastic surgeons ever try and talk “shop” with you in real life?
JM: A couple have. It was funny because when we first started the show I remember that there was this whole thing about the Plastic Surgery Board being up in arms against us, because we weren't depicting surgery properly and so on. And every surgeon that I've ever met has done nothing but say positive things and that they love the show and the way we depict the surgery. I think the funniest thing I ever heard from a plastic surgeon was that one of them came up to me and said, “I think that your character was modeled on me.” I was like, “Well, you've got a couple of tickets on yourself, my friend.” You have to remember what these guys do. I mean, they save people's lives. Plastic surgery goes in many different directions. There's such an evolution of what's happened over the last 20 years and they are the Gods of our universe. So I think that in a way they've got that kind of God Complex which I think that Christian has a little bit.
HW: Do you think that the end of Christian's story will be redemptive or self-destructive?
JM: I think it'll be both. Although if you do really go back into Christian's past it is continually redemptive, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't destroy it in the next five minutes. But that's kind of part of the show and I like that part.
HW: Now that you’ve got Larry Hagman on the show, you’ve made no secret of your love of his I Dream of Jeannie co-star Barbara Eden. Any chance you’ll get to work with her, too?
JM: That'd be tough, trust me, but as long as she could come out of that little bottle in that outfit, I'm all for it.