Jake Weber is “not interested in inviting scrutiny.” But when you’re the co-star of a successful TV series, that stuff happens.
Sure enough, while he’s eating lunch in a Los Angeles cafe, two young women can’t resist coming over to say how much they admire Weber’s work and enjoy “Medium.”
He’s amused that the interruption comes just at the moment when he’s talking about the “recognition aspect” of a TV star’s life, which he says is “disingenuous for actors to complain about” even though he’s not someone who would ever want to see details of his personal life in print.
“Medium,” now in summer reruns on NBC (Mondays, 10 p.m. Eastern), attracted an average 13.9 million viewers weekly in its first season. Patricia Arquette, who plays a crime-solving psychic who communicates with the dead, was nominated for an acting Emmy earlier this month.
Weber, who plays her husband, is adamant that “it’s Patricia’s show,” and he’s full of praise for Arquette’s talent. Yet he concedes the great strength of the series is the couple’s feisty but loving relationship.
“Two people with a different sense of reality, a completely different perspective on the world. That doesn’t sound unfamiliar,” he says, noting they are, in many ways, not that different from many husbands and wives who try to find common ground to love each other and raise a family.
“I think that’s what makes (the show) a cut above — the writing of a metaphor, the writing about a fantastical world and bringing it into a real life context that is accessible,” Weber says.
Couple has chemistryThe series is produced by Glenn Gordon Caron, previously known for the popular romantic detective series “Moonlighting,” which ran for five seasons on ABC in the 1980s, and for the 1999 romantic sci-fi series “Now and Again,” which aired for one season on CBS.
“Medium’ is inspired by real-life research medium Allison DuBois and her aerospace engineer husband, Joe, who live in Phoenix. But Weber says he doesn’t need to know much about the real Joe.
“I don’t see any point. I’m not sort of playing him as much as I am Glenn’s interpretation of him,” says Weber. “Both Joe and Allison’s personalities act as springboards for Glenn’s imagination. I don’t think we are meant to ape them, or ape their lives.”
Caron concurs, adding the show is an allegory that provides “another way for me to do a sort of sneaky romance, which is what I always seem to be drawn to.”
Caron cast Weber on the recommendation of co-producer Ron Schwary, who had produced the 1998 movie “Meet Joe Black,” in which Weber co-starred.
“I absolutely believed in Jake next to Patricia and luckily they just seemed to have this terrific chemistry together. They both act in the same range,” explains Caron. “We do shoot an awful lot of scenes where they are in their underwear and their hair is messed up and the bed’s unmade — creating that intimacy is what they are both great at.”
A plot cliffhanger and an emotional impasse between Allison and Joe concluded the first season of “Medium.” Caron says this fall’s second season will pick up “almost precisely from that moment, but we then immediately do something unexpected, which I don’t want to give away.”
He will reveal that there are plans for an episode with a musical number because Allison “literally gets a song stuck in her head.” Also, he says, “we are desperately trying to put together the financing and technology to do an episode in 3-D ... what better show is suited to that than our show!”
Weber, 42, has avoided typecasting. “My whole career is slow and steady ... the limited choices I do have I try to change, try to choose to play a variety of people from different backgrounds. That’s where the juices flow.”
His other notable TV role was the loutish serial philanderer, Jake Berman, in “The Mind of the Married Man,” which ran for 20 episodes on HBO in 2001-02.
Weber was born in England, but moved here as a teenager, and there’s only an occasional, very faint trace of his heritage in his speech.
“For years I would never tell anyone I was English because I had sort of reinvented myself in this country,” he says. “Now I’m candid about it, because you have to shake hands with your roots.”