There's a scene in the second episode where you interview a witness named Kevin as he sits in the back of a truck and you sit in the front seat, and it's so dependent on your reaction. It's just you listening. How do you approach a scene like that?
McCallany: When I first read that scene I thought it was one of the best scenes in the episode. It was written by a writer named Courtenay Miles, who emerged as our lead writer for Season 2, and I thought it was one of the best scenes of the season, one that frankly didn't change a tremendous amount from the early drafts. They nailed it.
You used the operative word, which is "listening." So often in television, you're always cutting to whichever actor is talking. If it's my line, the camera's on me and then it's your turn to talk, so we cut to you. But so much of what's interesting about a scene or a moment is what happens between the lines. I have to remain available and open to be able to process internally the things that I'm hearing. OK, I'm a detective, I'm conducting an interview. In this particular instance, I can't look at the person I'm interviewing, but there's still a lot of things I can glean from the tone of his voice, the phrases that he uses, the emotions that I hear. I'm trying to process that and make as many determinations as I can. Do I believe him? You're listening very carefully, and that's an activity. You have to keep it active and keep it alive. It's something that actors should always do in every scene.
Before Mindhunter, you worked with David Fincher on Alien 3 and Fight Club. He has this reputation for being a really physically demanding director who does many takes of certain scenes. Do you like that process or can it be frustrating?
McCallany: It's exciting! He really cares and he really wants it to be good. He wants it to be the best it can possibly be. He's going to stay there until he gets what he needs, and he doesn't want to get into the editing room and find that he's missing something that he really could have used. So we're going to do more coverage and we're going to do more takes. I also believe that David feels that the longer an actor inhabits a particular scene and becomes more comfortable in that scene, he begins to discover things. It's not that we're not shooting what we rehearsed. But it is true that certain things might be apparent to me in take 25 that are not apparent to me in take 2.
To be honest with you, having worked so closely with David, I sometimes become disappointed and even frustrated when I work with directors who really just want to run and gun. Get one in the can and they're moving on. One or two takes, one set-up -- boom, boom -- and you see a lot of that. Why do you see a lot of that? Well, the filmmaking process is expensive. People have budgetary constraints and time constraints. Also, not everyone cares as much as David. Having been in situations where I'm working with people who don't care as much, I can tell you it's a lot better to be with somebody who cares.