Now in its fifth season, CBS’s global hit political drama 'Madam Secretary' displays no signs of slowing down. Headlined by Téa Leoni as the firebrand Elizabeth McCord, the show has been praised for its engaging dramatic turns, poised character developments, and its eerie ability to mirror real-life political events.
Of the vast array of characters propelling the gripping show, one endearing figure is President Conrad Dalton, played by Hollywood veteran Keith Carradine. Excerpts from an interview with Carradine:
Several great actors have portrayed the US President in films and TV serials. Do you attach a sense of reverence to the part of President Dalton?
I felt from the first day that my chief responsibility was to accord this character a level of respect and dignity for the office. As a result of the political events that have transpired since we began filming in 2014, my task has broadened to taking every opportunity to reaffirm to the viewers the hallmarks of integrity in public service.
The relationship between McCord and Dalton has evolved dramatically over the five seasons of the show. What has your collaboration with Téa Leoni been like?
I cannot say enough about Téa’s unique gifts as an actress. The highest praise I can give is that there’s no discernible difference between her off-screen and on-screen manner. She brings her full self to the work. Her profound intelligence, her personal sense of justice infuses the character of Elizabeth McCord. The result is an indelible portrait of a woman possessed of those compelling traits.
Madam Secretary has been noted for weaving real global issues into the narrative. As a senior actor, how have you seen political television writing evolve over the years?
Any modern political drama demands a level of commitment to an unflinching examination of the issues of the day. Our show is no exception. There is always the risk of poking a hornets’ nest if our take on an issue doesn’t please a particular faction. But the risk is justified if the healthy discussion is the result. We couldn’t be relevant without the support of CBS to give us the platform from which to speak.
Arrange in order of your most preferred medium: television, film, theatre, music.
Music is my first love, theatre comes next. As to film and television, they are mostly indistinguishable.