Happy ‘Fosters’ Tuesday! HollywoodLife.com chatted EXCLUSIVELY with the show’s own Danny Nucci about directing the July 18 episode, what’s coming up for Mike, and more!
Danny Nucci, 48, is going from being in front of the camera to being behind the camera. The actor, who plays Mike Foster on The Fosters, is making his directorial debut on the July 18 episode. HollywoodLife.com got the chance to talk to Danny ahead of the episode about directing. For Danny, getting to direct an episode was so “rewarding” for him, and the cast couldn’t have been more encouraging. How sweet!
The synopsis for Danny’s episode reads: “Callie gets control of her life and applies to audit art classes at a local college. Jesus distances himself from Mariana and Brandon so he can build his treehouse with Gabe alone. The Fosters get a new neighbor.” Check out our full interview with Danny below!
Tell me a little bit about how directing one of the episodes came about.
Danny Nucci: Lots of begging. I begged them often. I dropped a lot of hints that were really obvious like, “Hey, can I direct? When can I direct? Hey, can you guys find it in your heart for me to direct? Hey, I don’t know if I made this clear, but I’m just saying that it’d be nice.” That’s basically how it came about.
What was the experience like for you being behind the camera?
Danny Nucci: Overall, I don’t recall ever being as engaged and excited and just energetic. I just loved it. You know, I just really enjoyed the part of dealing with all the different departments. As an actor sometimes, the nature of the way it works is once they call “action” you know it’s really all about you and your work and your part of the puzzle. But as a director, you notice how many people and how much input and how their hard work, focus, and dedication really contributes to the final product. It was just great collaborating with all the different department heads and realizing that it’s this whole village of people that are trying to put these moments onscreen. It was really cool.
So it gave you a new perspective on the making of TV?
Danny Nucci: It gave me a personal perspective, you know? I mean I had an idea that that’s how it worked, but once you’re actually doing it… I remember I was talking to the head prop master and we were having a laugh because we were literally trying to figure out the exact salt shaker that might work for this particular scene. We were just laughing at how specific we were.
Would you consider directing it again?
Danny Nucci: Yeah! Very much so. Unfortunately, I think I’ve been ruined. Now that I’ve had it, forget it. I just can’t wait to do it again. Having been on the other side of the camera, being able to influence the scenes as a director is so rewarding.
What can fans expect in the episode?
Danny Nucci: As I watched it, I felt like it was a respite from the intense family difficulties, and I found a lot more brevity and humor in it. Just in terms of the situations. Even in the things that were emotionally difficult for the characters, I kind of felt like they had a little bit of a sense of humor about what they were going through.
What can you say about Mike’s return to the fold?
Danny Nucci: Well, he’s definitely got a different role moving forward, and the best I can tell you is that some of things that have been really challenging for him in the past I think he starts to find his way a little bit. David Lambert [who plays Brandon] makes fun of Mike. He says we should do a spinoff called Try Harder, Mike. And so, I think this season it’s as if that’s happened.
Will Mike and Brandon’s relationship continue to evolve?
Danny Nucci: I think just the dynamics continue to evolve. Brandon decided he wanted to stay with me and now his rooms taken by AJ, so there’s that.
Tell me a little bit about AJ and Mike going forward.
Danny Nucci: I think it’s progressing! I think now that AJ feels this is his home, I think it’s not all about am I going to be out on the street again? It’s about how I can deal with this version of family.
Mike hasn’t always been Callie’s biggest fan. Could they get to a good place this season now that she’s trying to turn it around?
Danny Nucci: You know, it’s funny. It’s hard not to look at the circumstance from Mike’s perspective because I play Mike. But I feel Mike’s perspective on Callie and his feelings about her and the way he views her are misconstrued. I think his focus was much more on being hyper-worried about Brandon and AJ rather than specifically about Callie’s character.
It’s like tunnel vision. He’s only looking at Brandon and AJ.
Danny Nucci: Yeah, I think to a certain degree what was cool was Mike being able to help get the confession out to really help her. It’s nice as a character feeling like you contributed to her well-being.
What are your hopes for Mike? Is there anything you want to happen for him?
Danny Nucci: I would like Mike to find love and have it work. The guy’s had really bad luck. I mean, really bad luck. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed about playing Mike is that sense of isolation and loneliness that I think everybody deals with at some point or at some stage of their lives. I feel like I got to put a lot of that in Mike and explore that. So hopefully that will start to balance out. There’s the possibility with Anna and how that plays out, so that I’m hoping that he finds a love that works.
What was it like directing the cast? Was it a little weird to have you behind the camera for them?
Danny Nucci: I can tell you that one of my favorite working moments in my career was… we go around the room at the table read and they announce who’s the writer and who’s the director. When they announced me, they cast went apesh*t. They were so gracious and cheerful. I feel like, because I’m one of them, they just all stepped it up. Teri [Polo] being the most veteran of the group. She has just been working and doing this for a long time. She was just so great with me. I had most of my stuff with Maia [Mitchell], and this kid take after take after take, no matter what I asked her to do, she would just be like, “Yep, let’s do that.” I don’t know if you’ve spent any time with her, but she is no bullsh*t. This kid tells it like it is. She does not pull punches. She is blunt, she is straightforward, it’s one of the things I absolutely love about her. So if something wasn’t working in a take, she felt really comfortable saying, “That sucked. Let’s do it again.” So that was great. Just being able to let them do what they do and one of the gifts for me was that — a lot of the times — I really didn’t have to do much as a director. I just tried to create a setting where they do what they do, and they do it well.
The Fosters airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.
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