This morning, Kevin McKidd, the star of "Journeyman" on NBC and the former star of the critically-acclaimed series "Rome" on HBO, stopped by to chat with Meredith. WATCH VIDEO
After the segment, I sat down with McKidd, a Scotsman, to talk about time travel, American football and haggis.
For full disclosure, I'm a huge "Rome" fan. And at the end of the interview, he mentioned that there are talks about creating a "Rome" movie.
When McKidd asked executive producer Bruno Heller if he would be in it, since his character is dead, Heller told him, "Oh, you're not dead."
Here's the rest of our conversation:
Q: Before we get into "Journeyman" and "Rome"... I saw you were at the Giants/Eagles game last night at the Meadowlands. As a Scotsman watching American football, did you have any idea what you were looking at? Go to any Scottish Claymores games in your youth?
Kevin McKidd: You know, it's funny. In the late-'80s, there was a big push to make American football big in Scotland. The Super Bowl was on TV, but it didn't really catch on. When I was a kid, though, I became a big Miami Dolphins fan. I don't really know why -- I just liked the logo, I guess. I didn't really know what was going on -- I was like 10.
Q: I'm not a sci-fi guy, but I watched the first episode of "Journeyman" and enjoyed it. What is it about this show that will keep me coming back?
KM: The thing I love about it is that it's not like anything I've read for TV before. People have tried to compare it to other time travel shows, like "Quantum Leap," but it's not like "Quantum Leap." It really can't be pigeonholed.
The center of it is romantic. My character, Dan Vasser, is trapped between these two worlds, dealing with the emotional struggle of seeing his presumably dead fiancee and also being a devoted and loving husband and father.
I think that's part of the magic that will engage people. In the first episode, you see his transition of going from an average guy to a guy with this strange power. As we go through the season, it becomes more of an adventure story and less of a sci-fi story.
In that first episode, you see that he gets it, that he's here for a reason. But it's hard to reconcile that with his regular life, that he still has to figure out how to deal with his wife and his son.
I think people are going to be really excited about the adventure and romantic side of it...the ticking clock aspect...and not get bogged down too much in the sci-fi part.
Q: Speaking of the romantic side of it...it's so emotional and almost gut-wrenching to see Dan in scenes in the past with his ex-fiancee. Obviously, none of us can relate to having the chance to talk to a loved one who has died. So how do you get into the mindset to play those scenes?
KM: Right, that's one thing I've never experienced -- nobody has. I guess I've just gotten into the magic of the "what if?" and used that as a point of reference. I guess it's just the classic Stanislavski theory, to just step into the moment.
Q: A lot has been made about your accent. You played English in "Rome" and now you're playing American in "Journeyman." Are you dying for the chance to play a Scotsman?
KM: Well, I've actually just completed a film with Patrick Dempsey called Made of Honor. It's coming out around Easter 2008. It's a romantic comedy, and I play a Scotsman who owns half the whiskey distilleries in Scotland. Michelle Monaghan plays the female lead, and I get jilted.
This is the first time in about 10 years that I've gotten to work with my regular voice. I actually love working with accents. I don't know, something about it unlocks something in me. It makes me concentrate on getting into character a little more, helps me find a focus.
With this movie, it was a little hard to be myself because I'm so used to using accents.
Q: Going from a character like Vorenus on "Rome" -- a Roman warrior, hot head and brooding tough guy... to Dan on "Journeyman" -- a confused, average American -- what is the toughest challenge?
KM: One thing I'm starting to realize is that audiences and critics expect you to deliver the same thing when you play different characters. But to me, playing different people is the whole point of being an actor. I love the challenge of playing different characters.
I could have made Dan a hot head like Vorenus, but I'd get bored. I loved the character of Vorenus, but by the end of the show, I was a little worn out. He had such a hard, single-minded line of vision.
Dan's a guy with problems. He's not the perfect American. He's had a gambling problem in the past, and one of the interesting things that happens is that Dan has to go back and be himself at the tables. So the older Dan, who has gone through rehab, has to go back and play poker again.
He's a brave guy. He steps up to the plate. If that were me, I would probably just curl up in the fetal position. But he's got to come to terms with this mission, with this affliction, really. He can't drive a car, can't be left with his son, so this affliction curtails his life, forcing him to change his existence.
One of my complaints with American TV characters is that they all have a particular schtick, a hook. This guy has no schtick. He's living a normal life until this thing changes him. He's got all kinds things happening to him that he has to come to terms with -- later in the season, he's going to have to kill a man. So that's really exciting for me.
Q: Any chance that Dan will go back in time to keep Niobe, Vorenus's wife, from falling off that ledge?
KM: It's funny, for now, we've decided that Dan will only go back to earlier points in his own life. But hopefully, if we have some success and can expand things, we can go back to Rome and work on the sound stage there. I would love that.
But during that second season of "Rome," they wanted to give Vorenus a love interest after Niobe had died, and [executive producer] Bruno [Heller] and I really dug in our heels against it. They wanted Vorenus to end up with Niobe's sister, [Lyde]. But he will take his grief to the grave.
Q: What is the most quintessentially Scottish thing about you?
KM: I love whiskey and haggis. I can't get enough of either.
Q: Now that you're living in Los Angeles, have you gotten to eat any haggis?
KM: Not yet, but there's a place in Santa Monica that has it. On Burns Night, which is in January, when we honor the Scottish poet Robert Burns by drinking whiskey, eating haggis and reciting Burns poems, I'm going to cook for everyone on "Journeyman" and force feed them haggis.
Q: Last thing -- a trivia question. Do you know who utters the first words on the first episode of "Journeyman"?
KM: I do, right?
Q: Nope, it's actually Matt Lauer. The first shot pans across Dan's bedroom, and the TV is on, and there are Matt and Meredith welcoming the viewers to the latest edition of TODAY. Matt is talking.
KM: You know, you're right!