James Wolk stars as the ambitious son of a former president and the current secretary of state, played by Sigourney Weaver, on USA's Political Animals. James first caught our eye on the critically acclaimed but short-lived series Lone Star, and he brings a heavy dose of conflict to his latest character, the idealistic but control-hungry Douglas Hammond. We caught up with the actor recently in Beverly Hills to find out what's ahead on the drama. James also talked about his character's complicated relationship with his fiancée and how being an actor can introduce its own challenges to maintaining a romantic life. Watch our interview, and see the latest episode of Political Animals this Sunday at 10/9 Central.View Transcript »
I love politics and I'm definitely not a political junkie but I follow it .The most troubling thing for Anne, is that she is dating someone who, his whole world is politics. She often gets sidelined because of that. I really hope I never do that to my girlfriend. Hey everyone, I"m Lindsay from PopSugar, and I"m here today with James Wolk who plays Douglas Hammond on Political Animals. So the show we're all obsessed with is The Office. Oh thank you. And it's got an amazing cast. So, tell me what it was like to find out that Sigourney Weaver is going to be playing your mother. So the cast is unbelievable, It's really like an actor's dream come true to be able to play with all these people. You have Sigourney Weaver, Ciaran Hines, Carla Gugino u know, Ellen Burstyn, Sebastian Stan. And all these actors just incredible. Is there a little bit of a different feeling or tone on the set doing a show like this in an election year? Yeah, you know I think that we're all excited to be part of something that's really timely, you know? To be part of something that's in the conversation. Whether you love politics or hate politics, I think everyone really cares about this year, in particular. and the candidates, and everything thats going on, so to be part of a show that's tapping into that is exciting for us, for sure. And speaking of real life politics, I know a lot of people have compared the character of Elaine to Hilary Clinton. yes. Do you think that's a little bit overblown. You know, I've hear that before, and I think that's its actually somewhat appropriate, I mean I think that the inspiration for character comes from, listen you have Bud Hammon, who's you know, committing infidelity, you have Elaine who's the Secretary of State. It's not, there's some really obvious parrallel besides being about family and politics, it really does focus so much on powerful women. You have, you know, Sigourney, and then you have Ellen, who's playing This kind of matriarchal character and Carla's character who's this tough reporter, but all really real powerful women really exist in the world, so I think its really a wonderful show in that way. We did also see in the first episode a hint that Ann might have an eating disorder. yes. is that something that Douglas is going to find out about what sort of secrets do those two keep from each other. I mean, Anne has an eating disorder. You can see in the pilot episode. I think she actually feels like she needs to control things a lot. Right. Which I think is where the eating disorder comes from. Douglas has no idea. Right. She does a really good job of keeping that a secret and he has his own secrets. They have this beautiful relationship relationship that I think the audience is gonna wanna watch. And I think it becomes even more interesting when they kind of, open up these doors and they let each-other see exactly who they are. Well she puts up with a lot from Doug. Yeah. Late night visits from his inebriated brother, the family rescheduling their engagement party. Every time they try to make love it gets interrupted by- It's true. -a phone call from his mom, was having to be terrible and un-sexy. Not sexy. She does put up with a lot and when they formed their relationship I think that he was trying to escape that family dynamic. He's trying to get away from that whole political world. But as the series goes on, what you're going to see, is he kind of gets like sucked right back in. Well it's got to be hard. I know I was reading an interview with you in Elle until recently. You said you're seeing someone special. So, but I mean it's a lot of the same pressures that Doug, this character, is facing in his relationship with Anne. Whenever you're dating someone whose life is so integrated into their profession, it's like, hey, well, where do I fit into this, and I think that's how Anne feels. I don't think my girlfriend Well that's good. That's good. If you're watching. There you go. Well, it is interesting because so much of the drama on the show has to do with this family being in the public eye at all times which, you know, is very much what it's like to be an actor too. Right. Being a politician these days is like, it kind of comes with being a celebrity, which is often what we see when you have a certain amount of success as an actor, you deal with that. It's definitely something that I thought a lot about, but I think that a lot of the inspiration that comes through these characters and the way they behave is really more like a family pressure that happens, it's like trying to keep that family together and trying to keep them united. I think that's where Douglas comes from a lot is trying to save that family. If Sigourney's character's campaign goes forward, how do you think your character will fit into that world? That is such a tough question, because of things that I can't tell you. Lets just say this, that I think, as you'll see in this mini-series, I think Douglas' and Elaine's relationship kind of comes into question a little bit as far as how much he does support her as opposed to what he's saying he's supporting her. Right. The way that Douglas feels is that the last time this family was in the White House, a little bit maybe like the Clintons, you know, something happened and it tore the family apart, and he doesn't want to see that happen again. And so he thinks he's doing the right thing in trying to stop that, but I don't know if the audience will necessarily feel that way.