Warning: This article contains spoilers about the season 1 finale of The Morning Show.
And in the end… it was Chip. In the season 1 finale of The Morning Show, the show’s beige-loving executive producer (played by Mark Duplass) revealed that he was the one who leaked the Mitch story to the New York Times, all in the name of saving Alex’s job. And then he punched Mitch (Steve Carell) in the face. It was a roller coaster of a finale that ended with Chip losing his job and Alex (Jennifer Aniston) and Bradley (Reese Witherspoon) essentially blowing up their workplace — not literally, of course.
EW spoke with Duplass about Mitch’s journey this season, that finale, and what could possibly come next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you know that Chip was the one who leaked the story from the beginning?
MARK DUPLASS: Yeah, I knew from the beginning. The two clearest things that I knew I needed to understand to play Chip correctly is that he’s definitely in love with Alex Levy — he’ll do anything to protect her — and I knew that he was the one that leaked it to the Times. That helped me kind of create the barometer with which to do his trajectory.
On a show like this, throughout the season, the audience is looking at everyone going, “Is anyone a good guy?” So I imagine it was important for you to know that Chip at least isn’t the worst guy.
He’s definitely one of the better guys on the show and in that world. I personally think that Chip was in way over his head. He was not expecting this movement to come along. I think that the producer of a live morning television show is thinking about everything that could go wrong every day. You’re a little too focused on the minutiae of just keeping that ship afloat. And I do think Chip was probably guilty of turning a blind eye to some things that he didn’t want to see so that he wouldn’t have to deal with them, so that he could keep his show going. And I don’t think you can do that anymore. They figured that out in the course of the season.
All season long, Chip felt like he was one step away from a heart attack. What was that experience like, of playing someone so on edge all the time?
It is very fun. I really like the idea that someone who’s producing live television is already at the capacity of their stress, and then you throw in a scandal like this and it just puts them over the top. But also as someone who has a lot of experience producing independent film, which is admittedly not nearly as stressful as what Chip does, I do know what it’s like to try to have to smile for everybody while you’re secretly having emotional diarrhea. So that was something I could connect to and just hyperbolize for Chip.
In episode 8, you got to play Chip before the scandal, so one layer of stress had been pulled off. How did that change the character?
There was definitely a levity I had to add in and I had to kind of take my foot off the gas, and luckily we had good directors to remind me of that because, yeah, it was only less than a year before him, but it’s definitely a whole new world from where they were back then and where they are in the current state of the show.
I thoroughly enjoy how much Chip loves a beige suit.
Oh, he loves a beige suit. Our costume designer and I talked about this early on, like, “Let’s just give him a wardrobe where we never go plus or minus 20 percent away from beige and some comfy sweaters.” Sometimes he sleeps at the office and just switches one out. And also we knew there are so many characters in the show, we were like, “Let’s just stamp the world of beige for Chip.” I planted my flag on beige and I didn’t f—ing move.
What was your reaction to finding out that you got to be the guy who punched Mitch in the face?
Steve and I broke it down with the choreographers and did something very, very simple. I loved the idea that Chip doesn’t really know how to throw a good punch, so it’s 100 percent emotional impact, 38 percent physical power. And then it was great because Steve’s actually really strong, and he did a really good job, when he tackles me, of grabbing me and taking the fall and kind of holding me like a little doll and protecting me. He was like a very good older brother to me in that scene. And he smells good, which is also helpful when you’re in a fight scene.
On a show that requires such intensity all the time, was there a particular scene that was the most difficult for you to shoot?
The scene that I was afraid of was Chip’s real big emotional breakdown scene at the end of the show. I was thinking about it forever. I’m one of these people that has real performance anxiety when it’s time for a big emotional outpouring, because I’m like, “What if I don’t get there?” Then there were other scenes that were more nuanced and we did a lot of different versions of. I remember this really nice scene between Chip and Alex in her trailer while they’re out in Los Angeles for the fires and she’s bringing up all this stuff with her soon-to-be ex-husband and he’s trying to comfort her, and we shot that a lot of different ways because we weren’t sure how much we wanted to telegraph how much of a torch Chip really is carrying for Alex at that point. So that one was a fairly simple scene we actually spent quite a bit of time on. It was fun, but it was definitely a challenge.
Knowing you have a season 2, is there anything in particular you’re hoping you get to explore with Chip?
Oh my God, there’s so many things I would like. I am really interested in where things are going to head with Chip and Alex in season 2, and I really love working with Jen and I think that we have a really nice rapport and dynamic. I want to see some new characters come into the mix. That could be interesting.