Jack Davenport Promises Never to Sing on ‘Smash’

by | February 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Interview, Smash

Jack Davenport on Smash (NBC)

When it comes to the musical performances on “Smash,” Jack Davenport says leave the singing to the trained professionals. The former “Swingtown” star, who plays Marilyn director Derek Wills, vows he’ll never expose his self-described less-than-stellar pipes.

“America’s not ready for my singing,” the Brit jokes. “My shower isn’t ready for my singing.”

What you can expect from Davenport is “a little dancing,” and a lot more scene time between Derek and his newfound Marilyn lead-Romantic Partner, Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty).

We caught up with Davenport to discuss Derek’s motivations for hopping into bed with Ivy Lynn so quickly in Episode 2, how there might be more than meets the eye when it comes to their budding relationship, and why he’s so adamantly opposed to belting out tunes on TV.

You and Megan Hilty share a pretty steamy sex scene in Episode 2. Were you surprised to read that script for a network TV show?
Ehhh…No. I’ve done sex scenes on network TV shows before. Outside of that element of the story we are kind of striving for a certain kind of authenticity and it would be sort of ridiculous if we sort of…

What — cut to a train going through a tunnel?
That’s very Hitchcockian. But if we avoided the idea that this doesn’t happen in this world, it would be absurd. And also in the case of those two, when two ambitious, narcissistic, calculated people get together it can be kind of interesting.

Preview Monday’s Episode of “Smash”:

Is there a romance that continues to build out of it?
It certainly doesn’t play out how you think it might. That’s a credit to the writers. Almost every element of the story – aside from the actual making of the musical – it takes you by surprise and it feels very real. Just ’cause, you know, she gave it up on the first date doesn’t mean to say that she’s not a human being – or him.

It seems like he does have a certain level of integrity, but you wonder if he took advantage of her.
It’s not that. I don’t think he’s that base. Above and beyond anything, at the risk of sounding a bit high highfalutin, he’s about the work. And about creating the best show that they can make. If there are romantic interludes in the course of that, that’s secondary. And he wants the best person doing the best job they possibly can in his show because until a certain point it is his show – and then it isn’t. He’s in charge of making some very big decisions – particularly with Anjelica’s [Huston] character – for a long time. He’s too ambitious to get sidetracked by…

The next pretty face.
Yeah.

What specifically do you mean it’s not his show anymore? Is that a part of the plot that develops?
Well the show eventually goes up. Film and television are a director’s medium. They shoot it and then they get to play God in the editing room. Theater is an actors medium because it’s live and because they have to go out and do it every night. They can do what they bloody like if they want to. So, at a certain point, especially with a new musical like in our show, there’s a long period in rehearsal and in constructing it… But you know a musical number on the page is an incredibly abstract thing. It’s just words and music. The lyricists and composers might say otherwise – but you can do anything with that. Whereas with a straight play it’s like, We have a chair and a table. Obviously it’s a bit simpler. For a long time a director of a show like that is like a weird combination of Sergeant Major, Abstract Painter and Ballerina.

So is that what you based it on? Baryshnikov?
A little bit! It’s Baryshnikov meets Gomer Pyle. And then he has to let go. So, he will fight to the death about the decisions that have to get made. His name is on it. Their [the director, writers and producer] names are on the marquee in a big prominent place but their ownership of it is over. He’s about that. But he has a libido and he spent his working life around attractive young women in dance clothes…come on!

So forgive him if he has eyes.
Exactly! Forgive him if he has a pulse!

Joking aside, did you actually create this character based on any others you’ve seen before? In a way he’s reminiscent of Vincent Cassel’s character in “Black Swan.”
Oh God – the French guy? Well, that doesn’t do me any favors in this context! Well, I’ve seen “All That Jazz.” I’ve seen “A Chorus Line.” [But he's] not really [based on anyone], and I’ll tell you why. Because the writing is so good, it’s kind of there. It’s like they’ve done it for me, really. I just have to remember it, really, and not bump into sh-t!

Is there any chance you’ll perform a musical number this season?
Oh God. I can’t sing a f–king note. No, no – you won’t see me singing…You don’t need that!

“Smash” airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.