It's been a while since Thomas Haden Church did television. The 56-year-old actor starred in sitcoms in the 1990's like the hit "Wings," and the short lived "Ned and Stacey," before hitting the big screen for his Oscar nominated role in2004's “Sideways,” where he played a washed up actor on a road trip through wine country.
But it was a call from long time friend Sarah Jessica Parker that brought Church back to TV with HBO's "Divorce," which chronicles a married couple's long road to breaking up officially and makes its premiere this Sunday on the network.
Church chatted with us from his ranch in Texas about moving out of LA, why he decided to tackle the role of a husband being cheated on by his wife (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) and what it's like working with one of television's most beloved stars.
Where are you calling from today?
I’m at my house in Texas. I don’t know if you know Texas very well, but it’s in a town about an hour from San Antonio and then my ranch is about 35 miles from Kerrville.
That’s interesting, you don’t live in LA.
I moved away from L.A. five years ago and just sort of made friends with the idea that it might be better to not be seen and just be heard from periodically. I do my press obligations and then I come back home. A lot of the movies don’t happen in California. They happen everywhere else.
So how did the opportunity with “Divorce” come about?
Sarah Jessica and I worked together on a movie called “Smart People” years ago and we hit it off. They were ready to start putting the cast together and she reached out and asked if I would consider it. I had not done T.V. in a long time, and turned down a lot [of roles] since “Ned and Stacey.”
What made you decide to accept this role?
It was definitely working with her. If I am going to go back to television, HBO is really the place to do it. I felt like they were kind of leaving every conceivable door and window open to where the story was going to go, and where the characters were all going to go. I just felt that it was a very unique examination of divorce.
What’s it like working with Sarah Jessica?
She is supremely professional, disciplined, funny, thoughtful and she treats everybody exactly the same. Whether it’s the director, a cast member ... One of her brothers is a Teamster in the New York local. I say that only as an example of just how grounded she is as an individual. The thing that’s probably more astonishing than anything about her is how she’s absolutely crack-a-whip smart about storytelling.
So the pilot was emotionally confusing for me — but in a good way. Would you classify this show as a dark comedy?
Excellent observation. It’s apart of the culture now. Everything needs to be defined. Take reality television. They say it’s “softly scripted.” If it’s scripted it’s no longer reality. I’m happy to say I can’t define “Divorce” in a conventional way. There are some funny human moments and some dark human moments. It’s the human experience.
“Divorce” premieres on HBO this Sunday, Oct. 9 at 10 p.m.