Political Animals’ James Wolk Teases Upcoming Episodes and Family Drama

James Wolk

The miniseries Political Animals is currently dissecting the relationships of a political family, and James Wolk, who plays Douglas Hammond, gave the inside scoop to TV Equals during a conference call about his relationships with his character’s father, disgraced president Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds); his mother, Secretary of State Elaine Hammond (Sigourney Weaver) and twin brother T.J. (Sebastian Stan).

What’s coming next for Douglas

Wolk spoke about what is in store for Douglas on the upcoming episode of Political Animals. “The show really takes an interesting turn for Douglas.and a lot of what the audience is going to see is where his angst and anger comes from,” he said. “[A] lot of it.comes from the anger he feels towards his dad that’s borne out of growing up as a young man watching the.rampant infidelity that went all around, his father’s dishonesty all towards Elaine. [W]hen Elaine fell to pieces, Douglas was the one who picked her up time and time again and when she was publicly embarrassed, Douglas was the one who was there for her. He really feels that his father is responsible for tearing the family apart and tarnishing his mother, who he holds in such high esteem.”

Douglas’ tumultuous relationship with his father

During the upcoming episode, things get nasty between Douglas and Bud, stemming from the contentious relationship they have had over the years.

“Douglas loves his dad, said Wolk, but he also doesn’t get what he wants from him in return. “‘There’s a thin line between love and hate,’ you know, you always hear that phrase, but that’s exactly what Douglas feels towards his dad,” he said. “He loves him, he wants his respect, which Bud doesn’t give to him at all.for his own reasons. Combined with that is his anguish for his father’s infidelity. And so it does come to him in this episode.”

The showdown occurs during one of the calmest of all events, fishing. “We have a big – you know, it kind of all comes to a point and we get into a big screaming match and it’s while we’re away fishing on this kind of fishing trip, all these memories start trickling back to Douglas because we’re kind of jumping back into a campaign,” said Wolk. “And .the last time his father really let the family down in a big way in Douglas’ mind is when his dad kind of went AWOL during Elaine’s last campaign. So all these memories start rushing back to him and he just kind of can’t take it anymore and the pop tops off, which I’m so excited for audiences to see because this kind of perfect, pristine guy is really going to crack in this next episode.”

Douglas’ relationship with Elaine

While Douglas has a terrible relationship with Bud, his relationship with Elaine is a lot more stable. However, it’s still not as great as it could be.

“[W]ith our show there’s this great dynamic between Douglas and Elaine where she loves him but she does just kind of expect him to kind of be okay with being pushed to the side because she has so much on her plate,” he said. “And it kind of really screws his act and it makes him a total head case which is awesome.”

Douglas’ dependency on T.J.

Douglas’ relationship with his twin brother is probably one of the few good relationships Douglas has in his life, according to Wolk.

“Yes, Douglas and T.J. are kind of the only people in each other’s lives who they fully trust and who they can always count on. And so it’s been a blast to play that out with Sebastian Stan, who’s playing T.J., to kind of find that brother relationship,” said Wolk.

“You know they’re twins, and so they really – they feel responsible for each other and I think they feel like either one could have gone either way. You know like had one been born before the other,” he said. “I think they feel like responsible – entirely responsible for each other. And so that will play out really interestingly in the limited series that we’ll see initially here. And it’s been a joy to play that, you know. They are each other’s rock and they are there for each other through thick and thin. They both go through some really bad shit, so it’s fun to see them there for each other.”

Douglas’ information leak backfiring

Douglas decides to make a decision and leaks information about Elaine’s plans for a presidential run in an effort to bring his family together. However, his decision is a dangerous one.

“.[Y]eah, it gets bad; it gets bad for Doug,” said Wolk. “He kind of – he is totally over the barrel and I think it’s going to be really interesting for audiences to watch him try and navigate the murky waters he’s put himself in.”

On working with Sigourney Weaver

Wolk had nothing but nice things to say about his co-star, Sigourney Weaver, an actress he’s shared the set with for the film You Again.

“She’s wonderful. She’s a consummate professional. She’s an amazing actress. What you see and what you think she will be as a person, she lives up to that and more,” he said. “It’s a real treat to work with her. I’ve learned a lot from her both behind and in front of the camera, just how to kind of carry yourself on the set. It’s a joy. It’s like being a young professional tennis player and you get to play tennis and volley with the pros, and she is a total pro and it was great to work with her.”

On political families

Political Animals is a show about a dysfunctional political family, but Wolk thinks that it is possible that even though politics can tear some families apart, it is possible to have a political family that is actually a family first.

“The first thing I think of when I think of a politician being a parent is Obama, because he’s constantly, you know, talking about his two daughters and constantly talking about his family. And so you really do get the idea that he puts family first. And I want to believe that and I think that’s true of him,” said Wolk.

Playing a part of a political family has taught Wolk about how hard it can be for some children. “What I would imagine and what I’m learning from playing a neglected son in a political family is that I think there is a lot on the plate of these politicians,” he said. “And I think that whether it’s, you know – whether it’s a self-centered thing or whether it’s just that ‘Hey, this is my profession and it requires so much of my energy,’ I do think it would be very easy for the children of those politicians to get sidelined unless they were truly made a priority. And I’d like to think that some politicians can do that.”

Political Animals airs Sundays at 10/9c on USA Network.

Political Animals James Wolk