My most-anticipated new show of the season, ABC's "Pushing Daisies," premieres tonight, which means it's just a few hours until you all get to see the fantastical world of the Pie Hole for yourself. (Can't wait? Yum has a preview of the tasty pies).
A big part of the show's magic touch comes from Lee Pace, who plays Ned, the pie baker who learns at a young age that he can bring things back to life — including, in the pilot, his childhood sweetheart, Chuck Charles (Anna Friel). You may recognize him from The Good Shepherd or "Wonderfalls," but it's Pace's sweet turn in this show that could make him a star. At the TCA press tour in July, I chatted with Pace about working with director Barry Sonnenfeld, playing such a good guy, and — of course — those pies.
How did you get involved with "Pushing Daisies"?
I'd done movies the past few years — I know that sounds so pretentious; I just mean to say that I really wasn't looking at TV scripts. I heard that Brian [Fuller, the show's creator, whom Pace worked with on "Wonderfalls"] was doing a show, and I was just curious to see what he was doing — I wanted to read it, be like, "Congratulations, good luck, knock 'em dead, it's gonna be a big hit." And I read it, and I was like, this is actually really really good. This character is better than a lot of characters I've ever read, and I kind of want to play it. I thought about it, I talked to Brian a lot, and it just got to be too compelling to turn down, and I decided to do it. And I'm so glad I did because the cast we assembled is unbelievable. Barry Sonnenfeld is a genius, and I will work with him on anything ever. He's great.
When you read the part of Ned, what was it that grabbed you?
What I loved about him is that he's someone who gives life. He's a good guy. He's a good-hearted person. He brings positivity and generosity to people. His life is complicated, and he lives a very sheltered, funny life, but he's got a gift. He's not one of these antiheroes who's going to destroy his life and everyone around him, you know? We're putting something out into the world that is a good thing.
Lots more from Lee, so read more
The show is a romance, but it's a very non-traditional romance.
We'll never be able to touch! Chuck and Ned are soulmates, absolute soulmates. But they're also young people who are trying to figure out their life and the future, and of course they want to meet someone and settle down and have a real love life and a real sex life. But they just can't with each other.
What just killed me was the scene in the pilot where they're clasping their hands behind their backs because they can't touch each other.
Expect a moment like that every week — some kind of moment of "Oh, no, I wish they were together, but they're not!"
What are some of the factors that influence the kinds of roles you take?
Every part you get is like you get a great problem-solving mission. With The Good Shepherd it was a big complicated geopolitical problem to solve. With this one, it's a very personal love story. That's no less difficult, but it's different.
How did you prepare to be back on TV?
It's hard — TV is a very specific thing. But I was very clear-headed going into this. I think TV is a really interesting business. It's really, really interesting trying to do something that is appealing to as many people as possible. I think that's fascinating, and I think this [show] could do that.
I think Ned is one of the sweetest characters I've seen on TV.
Oh, Ned is so sweet. Barry's so funny — he's like, "Just be nice and charming!" And I'm like, "Oh no, but [Ned]'s dealing with blah blah blah," and he's like, "yeah, yeah, yeah, just smile and be nice and charming."
Are the pies real?
A lot of them are plastic.