'Hawthorne's' Michael Vartan: 'I Would Die to Have One Scene' on 'Eastbound and Down'

"The only show I've been on where I knew it would get picked up was 'Alias,' " the former star told THR.
Michael Vartan

Michael Vartan is best known for playing Vaughn on J.J. Abrams' spy drama Alias, but for the past three seasons, he has donned the doctor's jacket as Tom on TNT's under-the-radar medical series Hawthorne.

With Christina Hawthorne (Jada Pinkett-Smith) presented with a new opportunity in tonight's episode, Christina's daughter Camille (Hannah Hudson) and newbie Miles (Derek Luke) forced to evaluate their future and tension between Tom and detective Nick (Marc Anthony) mounting, things continue to progress as the season finale nears. Vartan spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Alias, Kitchen Confidential and the unexpected chaos on Hawthorne.

The Hollywood Reporter: What's going on with Tom this season?

Michael Vartan: His unraveling will only continue as the season goes on. The worst is yet to come for all of the characters. We only have 10 episodes on cable. We don’t have the luxury of having 22 episodes like they do on network TV to let stories unfold. We’ve got to hit the ground running hard and the storylines have to be given birth to and they’ve got to sort of live their lives and move on.

THR: How does Tom view Derek Luke's character Miles?

Vartan: As Season 3 unfolds, [Miles] gets involved in certain situations that my character is really not in favor of so there’s tension between the two of them. That’s an interesting tension because on the surface, they’re really good friends and he starts crossing the line here and there.

THR: Did you ever think Hawthorne would be in its third season?

Vartan: The only show I’ve been on where I knew it would get picked up was Alias. Once we were on episode 10 of the first season, I had no idea whether we’d get a second season or a third season. Every year we were just sort of waiting, to see if our numbers did enough to come back and luckily for five years they did just about. Jada’s a very shrewd businesswoman. She knows what she’s doing in terms of being more than just an actress or the executive producer of a show where she knows what our fanbase wants. She has a broader picture and a broader idea of what could make the show go for, let’s say, a fourth year.

THR: Do you ever see yourself being more behind-the-scenes in the future?

Vartan: I’d love to be involved at the ground level of a show. I’m really trying to pursue comedy a little more because comedy is what I love and obviously people don’t see me in that light because I’ve kind of been typecast as the good guy. We wouldn’t be on the phone if it weren’t for Never Been Kissed and Monster in Law and things like that.

THR: Kitchen Confidential was out of the box for you then ..

Vartan: I was sad to see that show [get] cancel[ed] because I would have liked my character to be recurring, but that was a lot of fun for sure.

THR: Early on in the final season of Alias, Vaughn was shot multiple times and was presumably dead. After filming that, is there anything that truly shocks you anymore?

Vartan: Not really. You've got HBO where certain shows are no holds bar and Showtime where cursing and nudity is allowed and it does stretch things to a completely different level. It's fun to get to be someone completely different than who you are. One of my favorite shows is Eastbound and Down and its out there with a capital "O." I would die to have one scene on that show. I love how irreverent, how completely crass it is. Compare it to Alias; it was shiny and fun. As far as shock value goes, I was certainly surprised at the direction our show has taken, like "What the hell is going on here?"

Chi McBride guest stars in tonight's Hawthorne, airing at 10 p.m. on TNT.

Email: philiana.ng@thr.com