Is money the root of all evil and does it always corrupt? Time Out met Peter Krause to talk about his current series Dirty Sexy Money and the crooked billionaires it satirises. Interview Matt Pomroy
In your previous series, Six Feet Under, you were a son that didn’t want to do the same job as his father, and now you character has the same struggle.
I think that’s a pretty common theme in the world – the desire to differentiate yourself from your parents. You say, ‘I am not going to be that way,’ and you find yourself magnetically being drawn towards those very things which you so abhor, and then fight to be somebody else when you encounter the same set of circumstances.
In your personal experience, is it the same?
I suppose every now and then with my son I’ll say something and I’ll feel like my father’s voice is coming out of me, but I try not to. I was the same – I didn’t want to become my father…
Six Feet Under was about death – is it easier dealing with a less dark subject?
I don’t know that money is any less dark than death.
Your show does portray money at its obscene worst.
Yes there are moments in the show that do that. The use of wealth is shown to be obscene, for example, through the children and their birthday parties. I mean, can the disparity of wealth be anything but obscene in the world that we live in? It’s kind of crazy.
Is money the root of all evil?
It just might be. We talk about it a lot here on set. It is fascinating, it’s imaginary. I was in New York and a friend of mine is a trader of natural gas on the Merck Exchange. I thought, wait, you don’t provide anybody with gas. You don’t deliver it to anyone. And yet you’re making the most money of anybody dealing with natural gas. You’re basically working at establishing the price by continually buying and selling this thing. But you’re not in the business of providing. Do you know what I mean? There are people out there in the world with giant nets collecting our money.
Has the importance of money to you changed as your career’s evolved? Have you taken gigs just for the cash?
More so early on when I just needed the money to pay the rent. Now I look for good writers first of all. And in television I look for the potential for telling many stories over time and without spoiling the project. With more work and greater success, the responsibility of what you do with more of that raw potential, that imaginary value, certainly has become a part of my life, yeah.
We’ve seen lots of very rich families on television like the Carringtons in Dynasty and Ewings in Dallas. How do the Darlings compare?
I would say the Darlings are much wealthier than those other families. Craig [Wright, series creator] put them at a worth of about $30billion, which is definitely upper tier in the world these days. I don’t know where Bill Gates is at now. I think it’s over $40billion these days.
As the Darling’s lawyer and confidant, is it inevitable Nick will become corrupt as well?
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. All of Nick’s intentions will ultimately be good, but I think that he is, on some level, interested in wielding that sort of financial power or potential to see if indeed he can do better than his father or Tripp [Darling] or other people who command those sorts of fortunes.
He seems to be the moral core of the show.
Well, Nick George has a specific agenda. He certainly wants to find out what happened to his father. And Craig has created a very complicated psychological world where, in life, Nick’s father was dead to him practically already. He doesn’t want to see him, he doesn’t want to talk to him. And then when he dies, of course, out of guilt he feels that he should somehow be responsible for finding out exactly if something did happen to his father. The world Craig has created is a very confusing place.
Craig said he wrote the role just for you. Nick is moral and altruistic, so is that how you personally are seen?
I try to do the right thing. I actually think most people do. I think that we get confused by the rules that are presented to us in life and the rules that we adopt. If we were to psychoanalyse George Bush and Osama Bin Laden or whomever, side by side, I think they would provide us with rationale for why what they’re doing is the right thing to do. And I think that Craig wants to ask some very basic questions, like do the ends justify the means? That is something that will be asked several times throughout the course of the show – does power corrupt?
For Time Out Magazine, November 2008
For original PDF click here – PETER KRAUSE