If you have been tuning into the hit new ABC primetime soap-ish series, GCB, you of course notice that it is centered around a bunch of high society women from Dallas, who have what we call a little “clique”, and many of whom have an ax to grind. But there are some integral men to the canvas too that give the show some heat and spice! One is television favorite, David James Elliot who plays, wait for it, Rip Cockburn, the husband of series lead, Kristin Chenoweth, Carlene Cockburn. And as we learned, Rip will figure prominently throughout the first season of the show!
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with the former star of JAG, to get the lowdown on what is going down in Dallas with the Good Christian Bitches, his new role, a preview of this Sunday’s episode, (1oPMEST, ABC) what it’s like working with the petite Chenoweth, and much more! David James was charming, hilarious and direct. Three things that are A+ in our books. We hope you will feel the same.
When you heard the character you would be playing name was Rip Cockburn, what was your first thought? (Laughs)
DAVID JAMES: That was not enough for me and that was the seller. I mean, Rip Cockburn, that name, really. (Laughs)When they described to you what a Rip Cockburn was, what was he supposed to be? Has that changed at all since the original character description with you taking on the role?
DAVID JAMES: I read the pilot, and the pilot changed a little by the time we shot it, and they added a little scene for me. My concern was that Rip Cockburn was not going to just become an object of Carlene’s (Kristin Chenoweth) desire, and then that would end up being the be all and end all of the character. I wanted to know that they were going to explore this man on a greater level. Our executive producer, Robert Harling assured me that they had big plans for Rip. He went into things. I don’t want to spoil the arc of the story for the ten shows that were shot so far, but they are definitely going to delve into who Rip is and how he ticks.
Your on-screen leading lady and co-star Kristin Chenoweth … you tower over her! That sight gag is one of the hilarious parts of this. How is working with Kristin?
DAVID JAMES: You know it’s funny; we can do some funny stuff together. There is an enormous talent pool on our show, and we all have a lot of fun. The height difference gives us another comedic angle to play with. She is 4 ft 11 inches, and I am 6 ft 5 inches!
So the big question, does she stand on boxes in love scenes with you, or do you two just then play the height difference?
DAVID JAMES: Yeah, sometimes I pick her up and put her on a table. (Laughs) Sometimes, I have to pick her up and hold her at eye level! You move Kristin like you move furniture and bowls and things. (Laughs)
Do you think there are any other ladies on GCB that has caught Rip Cockburn’s eye?
DAVID JAMES: I don’t know, but people came to me after seeing the second episode and said, “Oh! You and the Leslie Bibb (Amanda) character … there is something there.” They hinted at it. Like I said, I don’t want to give anything away, but it could happen, I guess? There are some twists and turns in there, but we will see!
Newt Gingrich’s comments about GCB have gotten a lot of play on the Internet and from our site visitors as well. Newt stated that, “GCB is Anti-Christian”. What did you think when you heard his remarks?
DAVID JAMES: This is a guy who looks at a title and passes judgment without exploring it at any level, because our show certainly is not anti-Christian. It’s about a lot of things, but there is a note of some hypocrisy, but these people are fallible human beings. It’s not about Christianity whatsoever! It was based on the book by Larry Gatlin’s ex-wife, Kim, and it was about her posse. I did not read the book because you can’t get it! I tried to get a hold of it, but it is out of print. I certainly talked to Robert Harling about it and I talked to her too. It was what her and her pals called themselves, who live in the part of Dallas. They refer to themselves as “Good Christian Bitches”. It was just a fun term that she titled their posse. The book was about just the wacky life style of the upper-crust of Dallas society. It is not a crack against Christianity. So Newt Gingrich, since he likes to caution people about so many other things that are knee-jerk reactions to concepts and political ideas of his, maybe he might want to explore some things a little further before he starts to mouth off.
“A Wool in Sheep’s Clothing” is the name of this Sunday’s all-new episode of GCB and everyone gets in a some kind of, shall we say, special outfit?
DAVID JAMES: Yes, there is a big costume party. I am not in as big a costume as some of the other people, because after all he is Rip Cockburn, and he doesn’t like to dress too far out of the norm. But … I go as Larry Hagman! (Laughs)
You were on JAG, previously, and you have been known as a dramatic film and television actor. Has this been a big departure for you doing GCB?
DAVID JAMES: Yeah, but GCB has a little bit of comedy and drama. I originally came from comedy in the theatre. But Hollywood is a place where they like to put people in a bottle, and so it’s nice to have the opportunity to show that there are more levels to David James then just a man in a uniform. And, to work on something with somebody as talented as Robert Harling, it has just been terrific. I mean, he wrote Soap Dish, First Wives Club and of course, Steel Magnolias.
So have you noticed your fan base increasing with GCB? Are you on Twitter? And if so, how do you like the whole aspect of social networking with followers?
DAVID JAMES: I am on a twitter a little bit, but I don’t tweet that much. Twitter seems to be skewed more to the females, than the males. I do engage with my fans some, but when I have something to say it tends to go a little deeper than the three sentences. But I start to tweet, and I have thought about something, and then it tells me I am out of space! And then I spend time thinking, “Well, how do I knuckle this down?” The things I read on Twitter are these little itty bitty sound bytes, and that really doesn’t speak to me at any level, but I am trying.
When you are out and about, are people coming up to you and yelling, “Rip! Rip!” Or, have you gotten any feedback thus far on the new role?
DAVID JAMES: People tell me who know me that they love Rip Cockburn, and I can tell you, I have yet to find somebody who doesn’t love it. I mean people that have not been wild about other projects I have been on, and people that I never expected to tell me have said, “Oh, I love that show! Love you. Love everyone in it.” I have to admit I have not had any strangers stop me on the street yet with this role, but I haven’t been out much.
Finally, if someone was going to watch GCB for the first time, what would you say they are going to see and experience?
DAVID JAMES: I think they would find the show wildly entertaining, and it’s a nice escape in this time of so many concerns. It’s nice to step back from it. I read an article from a university where they tested people’s white blood cell counts when watching certain forms of television. They had a group watch CNN and they had another group watch comedies. The people who were watching CNN, their white blood cell counts decreased enormously. And people who watched the comedies, their white blood cell counts increased. So watch GCB and your white blood cell count will go up! Your health will improve, and you will not be anemic and you will not suffer hypertension. (Laughs)
To watch previous episodes of GCB, some entertaining cast clips, and for all show information make sure to log onto their page at ABC.com!