Thrillist: Tom has done horrible things, but I keep finding Tom's story more and more tragic. Seeing him break down after that testimony was really heartbreaking in a strange sort of way.
Matthew Macfadyen: It's quite sad, isn't it? It's quite scary because he sort of knows that he really hasn't done well in the congressional hearings at all. Even though he's sort of saying "I didn't get enough media training" and "I'm the patsy," I think he knows that the cruise stuff is coming back to bite him. And also the whole thing with Shiv: I think he suspects that he can't really trust [her], and the idea of their open marriage doesn't work. As much as he would like to say it's an enlightened way to be married, it's sort of killing him, I think. And Greg trying to break up with him... So I don't know where Tom's breaking point is, but he's heading toward it, I'd say. It was really fun doing that episode. You really don't have to use your imagination when they build a set like that. It was all in the studio. You walk on your heart starts banging because you think, Oh my god. I've been watching the C-SPAN, and the stuff with [Michael] Cohen and Elijah Cummings and all that stuff. It was really like, oh wow, if you really were testifying in front of all these people and you really didn't know what you were talking about, like Tom, it's scary.
The testimony is so funny, but it's the scene afterward that hits you hardest. Tom's so full of bluster so much of time that seeing him in this state of panic is scary. How did you embody that panic?
Macfadyen: Like anything, it's all there in the writing and the storytelling, so even though we shot those things out of sequence, I could remember the feeling of horror after the car crash of the testimony, after the cross-examining. I just pushed it as far as I could. That's a horrible feeling of walking into a room. You don't really have to do much. You allow it to affect you. I walked in and there was the man that Tom's most frightened of, Logan, sort of gazing balefully at him and Kendall, and all these really clever people, and Gerri, and Hugo the PR guy, and Shiv, as well. He thinks maybe she's stitching him up. Can he trust her? Does she care if he takes the bullet for the company and all that stuff? Whatever came out was a consequence of seeing all those people. It's a sort of controlled panic.
There's that moment where Brian Cox looks at you and it's completely terrifying. How terrifying is that in the moment?
Macfadyen: It's terrifying and it's brilliant. It's just really lovely. The funny thing about acting is, as a thing to do well, it's quite hard because it's so simple. Really the simplest thing and the loveliest thing is just paying attention to the people you're working with. What you have to say is not of any consequence. It's your response to what people are saying to you. When you are lucky enough to work with Brian [Cox] and Sarah and Jeremy [Strong] and Kieran [Culkin] and Nick [Braun], they tell you who you are in a funny way. And then you tell them who they are. And if it works it all sort of clicks. It feels like a company of actors doing the show. It's sort of lovely. We all sort of gel. There isn't an awful lot of rehearsal or anything. We just sort of jump into it.
I think I squealed when I first heard "You can't make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs." The fact that Tom emailed that to Greg 67 times over the course of a night...
Macfadyen: And you can just imagine somebody do that. It's just delicious, isn't it? I shouldn't say this, but there was a scene that was cut. I might get in trouble for saying this. When I go to this apartment and get the papers that Greg's stashed, or demand the papers, I say, "I'm going to stay here tonight with you because I can't trust you." We shot a scene where I sleep in his bed and I make him sleep on the floor and I say, "You can't make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs." We shot that. I think it's funny in the reportage.