Exclusive: FRANKLIN & BASH’s Breckin Meyer Interview

Breckin Meyer

Breckin Meyer has done almost all there is to do in entertainment. He rose to fame as stoner Travis Birkenstock in 1995’s Clueless and has since appeared in countless films and television shows. He provides many of the voices as well as some of the writing for the hit animated series Robot Chicken and will next be seen on the big screen in the comedy Geezers.

Now he’s heading to TNT for his next television series: the legal comedy-drama FRANKLIN & BASH, in which he plays Jared Franklin, one half of an ambulance-chasing attorney duo (Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays his partner, Peter Bash) recruited by a prestigious law firm.

Daemon’s TV
recently spoke to Breckin Meyer, interrupting him in the middle of playing Words with Friends with Southland‘s Ben McKenzie, whom Breckin joked was cheating. He graciously told us about his character Jared Franklin, what makes Franklin & Bash different than other legal dramas, and how he and Mark-Paul Gosselaar developed their chemistry for the show.

How did this role come about for you? Did you want to do a series?

Breckin Meyer: I’ve mainly been doing features and haven’t done a TV series in I think six or seven years. So, Jamie Tarses, who’s a friend of mine and producer sent me a script, and I think the subject line said, ‘I think this is your next gig.’ I read it and I really enjoyed it and I thought if I was going to do a series again it had to be something that I hadn’t done before which was an hour long and I hadn’t done a legal drama or dramedy before. I really responded to these characters. I love Kevin Falls and Bill Chais. I knew Kevin from before, a bit. I didn’t know Bill and Mark-Paul [Gosselaar] was all ready attached to it. We got together and read, like a screen test and it just seemed like we worked well together.

Had you and Mark-Paul ever met before?

Breckin Meyer: We met about ten years ago for about ten minutes in an airport. That was about it. We both were on some layover, I think.

Were you always reading for Jared Franklin or was there a point where you were interested in the Peter Bash role?

Breckin Meyer: No. When it was sent to me Mark-Paul was already Peter Bash, so it was sent as a vehicle for me to look at Jared.

How quickly did you and Mark-Paul click?

Breckin Meyer: It clicked in the screen test, but then we shot the pilot in Atlanta, and I think being away from our families and kind of locked in confinement at the hotel, we would basically go to rehearsal, come home, eat dinner in one of our rooms and then work.

In doing that, in just being there and seeing each other for pretty much seventeen hours a day we really got to know each other well and got to create this real safety net where it seemed like these characters had known each other forever.

Franklin likes to go for the stunts and the shock value as a lawyer. What’s the method behind that seeming madness?

Breckin Meyer: Jared grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth with a fancy litigator for a father and he never wanted to be a lawyer. He went against it, rebelled against it and eventually kind of accepted that it seemed like his calling. When going into a courtroom, unlike other lawyers who tend to think, ‘How can I get the judge on my side,’

Jared views the courtroom as a stage. If you want to see a show, he’s going to give you a show and at the end of it he might be in jail for contempt, but his point would’ve gotten across. I think Malcolm’s [McDowell] character says it the best when he says, ‘He’s F. Lee Baily meets Barnum and Bailey.’

Both these guys are good lawyers. They do know what they’re doing and care about their clients–

Breckin Meyer: Yeah. They used to say about the TV show ‘MASH’ that everything is funny but the war, and with Jared and Peter I think everything is fair game; everything is funny but the case. They take their clients seriously, but not each other.

They know how to circumvent the legal system. They know how to go around the obstacles set in their way, whether it’s Jared and his unorthodox methods in court or Peter’s ability to connect with a jury and take them wherever he wants to go. They complement each other well and I think at the heart of it they’re good lawyers. I mean, the show lives or dies by whether or not these guys are good lawyers. It affords them the opportunity to do the stunts that they do because they know they can get away with it because they know that they have a handle on the case.

Which one could better survive on his own, Peter or Jared?

Breckin Meyer: Peter would probably be better on his own, or better at a law firm, I’d say. He’d probably be better at a big white shoe law firm on his own, more than Jared because Jared–it’s tough to rein him in. He doesn’t like being told what to do. He’s the guy who if you say, ‘Don’t stand over there,’ and then turn your back he’s going to be over there and he’s going to be urinating. I think Jared on his own would definitely have to go for more ambulance chasing antics.

The trailers are playing up the comedy, but there’s also a whole lot of drama here with the fish out of water story, traditional versus the new and the friendship of Peter and Jared. How is that going to be balanced going forward?

Breckin Meyer: The one thing about this show that, I don’t know if it sets it apart, but that’s different from other legal dramas is that we go home with these characters. A lot of the show deals with their relationship with each other, their relationship with their coworkers, and the relationship at the time of these two single lawyers who are these kind of man-boys. They’re fighting not to grow up and at the same time they have to take their jobs seriously and their clients.

So we’ll continue to see them grow. We’ll continue to see them grow. I think one of the battles or challenges throughout the first season is that these guys have fought against people like Infeld Daniels, Malcolm McDowell’s law firm for their whole career and now suddenly they are a part of Infeld Daniels. They fought against the man and now essentially they are the man. How are they going to avoid letting that change them and how is that going to change this fancy, highfalutin white shoe law firm.

What can you tease about what we’re going to see in the first season?

Breckin Meyer: In the first season we see the challenge that these guys meet head on which when working for a fancy super corporate law firm like Infeld Daniels and how they’re going to shake it up. And at the same it’s how it handcuffs them by not allowing them to do the same thing that they’ve always done before because there were no repercussions, no consequences and now there are. The stakes are higher. Jared’s dad shows up. There’s an on and off relationship with Hannah, played by Garcelle [Beavais] and Peter is in the middle of getting over a broken heart from his being dumped by his fiancée Jamie, played the lovely Claire Coffee. And that guy from ‘Dawson Creek’ [James Van Der Beek] shows up.

With pilots you never know if it’ll move forward or not. When shooting this pilot when did you feel that this would go to series?

Breckin Meyer: I never got the sense that this was going to series just because having done it long enough I know that it’s totally out of my hands. The only thing that I felt while we were shooting it, while we were doing the first diner seen, Mark-Paul and I, where were just kind of riffing as friends, the only thing that felt good to me that day when I went home was, like, ‘That felt right. That felt like what the script was,’ and in fact felt a little more enhanced. I felt like we did our jobs and it was a fun show.

When we finished the whole shoot in Atlanta, Mark-Paul and I were on the flight home and we just thought, ‘I want to see what else those guys are going to do.’ It felt right. It felt fun which was the goal. So it’s out of my hands whether people like it. It’s out of my hands if it gets picked up for a series, but I know that I enjoyed what we did.

Franklin & Bash premieres on TNT Wednesday, June 1 at 9pm eastern/8 central.

You can read all our Franklin & Bash coverage here.