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24 September 2014
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Burn Up
Bradley Whitford plays Mack

Burn Up

Bradley Whitford plays Mack

What was it about Simon's script that attracted you to the project?

Projects like this are dangerous; I know this from working on The West Wing – just because they are about a current event, this doesn't make it necessarily dramatically interesting.


But I liked the particular place that this character was in, a guy who fiercely believes in the 'free market' of oil production and comes up against what is happening now in public opinion in terms of climate change. The stakes are very high, not only in terms of the issue but also in terms of what this guy is going through personally.


Writing is what matters and the writing on Burn Up was intelligent, it was picking up on what I saw as that combination of personal intertwinement and the larger social stakes. It clearly had an intelligent voice behind it. Without a script, I'm a waiter.


Do you know any Mack-like characters?

I've actually met a number of guys like him – having worked on The West Wing as well as having lobbied a couple of times for various organisations in the US.


They operate in the way that some lawyers do; they are absolutely working on the belief that if they fiercely advocate one direction and if someone else is fiercely advocating another, then somehow we will arrive at the truth; that somehow their relentless, irrational, advocacy in the public arena will bring us to a wise decision.


Has filming this changed your perspective on issues like global warming?

Burn Up has certainly made me think about global warming more, yes, and it's something that my kids are very aware of certainly.


In trying to get into Mack's head I have been reading the various arguments against Kyoto, which I think are ultimately disingenuous, saying that diminishing economic development, through the limitations that Kyoto would place, is not the most productive way to deal with global warming and that we should unleash our economies to attack this problem.


You were known as Josh from The West Wing for many years – how did you find the experience of being in such a long-running drama?

You can feel like you're limiting yourself by playing just one character, but I loved the experience of playing Josh – partly because of the people that I was working with and also because of the writing.


I never felt like I was a puppet – as an actor I felt like I was firing on all cylinders, he was a guy who was infuriating and charming, funny and passionate but emotionally crippled when it came to women, but cocky in others ways.


Do you take any green measures in your day to day life? Is it hard to be green when you live in a city?

I do, but I think that but there's probably far more that I could do. My family has hybrid vehicles; we're having solar panels put in and we're teaching the kids about heating and air-conditioning, so that they are more conscious about the energy that they're using.


We have changed all the light bulbs that we're using, but I still feel like it's not enough – living in Los Angeles, you have 8 million people living in close proximity who need to get in their cars to get anywhere.


Bradley most recently appeared in Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. He's best known for playing Josh Lyman in The West Wing, a performance that earned him a 2001 Emmy Award as well as Golden Globe Award nominations in 2001 and 2002. Additional TV credits include ER, The X-Files and NYPD Blue.


His film credits include Little Manhattan, Kate And Leopold opposite Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman, The Muse, Bicentennial Man, Scent Of A Woman, A Perfect World, Philadelphia, The Client, My Life, Red Corner, Presumed Innocent and My Fellow Americans.







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