HBO - What have you been up to since the last season?
Peter Krause - Not much really. Being a Dad and going mountain climbing and surfing and fishing. I spent a lot of time over the summer reading scripts that I wound up choosing not to do. I chose to stay at home and be a Dad. I did have some adventures though, did some traveling. I went to New Mexico and Minnesota. I was up in the mountains quite a bit.
HBO - It sounds like a real change from working on the show.
Peter Krause - The show is psychologically exhausting so that when I'm not doing it - it's not like a movie or a play or something like that. Nate Fisher has a life that moves on a parallel with mine. It doesn't mean that my life is exactly like his, but during a television series that is as meticulous as this one is about behavior and about character and emotional life. Psychological life. You can't help but get wrapped up in it, and so it's good for me when the show's over to spend as much time as I possibly can just being me and focusing on what I've got going on in my life rather than thinking so much about Nate and his world.
HBO - Are you surprised at all by the success of the show?
Peter Krause - Not really. Honestly. I think that the age of P.T. Barnum has come and gone. I think that now, you can't underestimate the appetite of the American public for something that's thought provoking and evocative of their own lives. And I think people like to sit around thinking about themselves. I think people at this point in time are very introspective. And looking at the Fisher's is a little bit like looking at your own family. Obviously it's not the same, but there are some pretty striking similarities I think in the relationships portrayed on the show and the relationships that we all experience; even the relationships with ourselves, which is something you don't see on TV too often.
HBO - Last season there was quite a bit of sex, drugs, babies, and death.
Peter Krause - That's life, man. [Laughs]
HBO - What can we expect from this season.
Peter Krause - More sex. Fewer drugs I believe. Actually, I think that season three will be a more...How do I put this so that it won't sound boring? Season three is less dramatic on the big canvas in terms of what happens, but it focuses on what people go through. You know, I think we're working a little bit more finely this year than we were the previous two seasons. I think what you're going to experience about character and about behavior this season will be more in-depth, more specific.
HBO - What do you like about your job?
Peter Krause - I like a lot of things about my job, but in particular I like that the actors get to come to work and explore behavior, explore people's life rules. The rules that we set up for ourselves to live by, when do we break them? When do we change them? Those are the things that turn me on about acting, and I think this show is an exploration of identity; how our identities are fashioned both from within and without. What happens to us in our lives when there's a big identity shift? Of course that is the great thing about leading a human life. You get to fashion an identity for yourself and help other people fashion theirs. Additionally, working on this show we do a funeral a week, so we deal with death all the time. Life is important and the choices that you make are important.
HBO - What is the most challenging thing about working on this kind of material.
Peter Krause - The most challenging thing for me is devoting myself to somebody else's life in this fashion. Again, it's not like doing a play where it's a two hour performance and there's a definite arc and that's the character's life and that's what it does. Nate's life continues. That's the most difficult thing, because I do devote a certain portion of my psyche and my mental energy to thinking thoughts that Nate would think. There was a period last year where I actually started to dream in character and I had a recurring dream where I was standing on a ladder outside the Fisher family funeral home painting the house. That was it. I was just on top of this ladder painting the house. And I don't know what that's about. So the show tends to be something that my mind ends up spending a lot of time on, which is frustrating at times but I take great pride in how much time I actually devote to the character. So it fucks me up a little bit but it's all right.
HBO - How does the cast get along? Are you a dysfunctional group?
Peter Krause - Everybody gets along great. We get along better than the Fishers do. We communicate a lot of more than the Fishers do. It's sometimes frustrating because we all feel so much affection for one another that we'd like to be able to do that on the screen. And you know, the characters sort of keep each other at arm's length except at certain moments when they do come together. I've always found it interesting how the Fishers don't really talk about each other behind each other's backs, which is what families do. I don't know anybody who doesn't do that in their own family. And in some ways, that's how we end up fashioning our idea about how somebody is. By checking with other people - "do you experience the same thing with that person?" "Have you noticed how David is doing this?" "Have you noticed how Claire is doing this and there's not a lot of that going on." Maybe we'll bring some of that into at some point.
HBO- How is Nate dealing with fatherhood and responsibility in general?
Peter Krause - Not well. No, he actually does well. Internally there's a lot of churning for him, but having a child come into your life can be a real surprise and the energy that it takes and the care that it takes is a definite life change. And I don't think it's something that Nate was necessarily prepared for. What's that Jim Croce song - sometimes we eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. You know I think that for a while Nate was eating the bear. He left home at seventeen. He was out there doing his own thing for a long time. And now a lot of things are happening to him and he's having to deal with them. If we stop sometimes in our lives and think about the circumstances that we find ourselves in, some of these things are just thrust upon us. And it's an interesting test. I think that Nate deals with fatherhood rather heroically. And I guess I can't talk about the other aspect of that family relationship right now.
HBO - Nate runs everyday. He's obviously concerned about his health. Yet his father wasn't. He smoked all the time. Then Nate had AVM. Is there some kind of irony in that fact?
Peter Krause - You know, that's definitely ironic. I think that it's interesting that in this third season we find Nate reaching for some of the same things that his father did in order to deal with the stress of his life. I think that those things happening go back to a statement I made earlier that the rules we set up for ourselves are sometimes too hard to live by. And so I think that even with all the pressure Nate puts on himself to be a certain way, there's a period of time in this third season where he has thoughts and feelings he doesn't think he should have. They're not the right thoughts and feelings that he should be having. And so he tries to force himself to feel differently, to think differently. And he finds himself reaching for some cigarettes, just like his father did. It's easy for him when he's younger and he's not dealing with all the responsibly that his father is. But then when he finds himself in the pressure cooker himself, he winds up, oddly enough, behaving just like Dad. Not just with the cigarettes but concerning a lot of things.
HBO - What can people look forward to in season three...without giving stuff away.
Peter Krause - I think that they can look for a more subtle and sublime journey, but at the same time I think that the dramatic peaks are going to be greater than they were the first two seasons, because we're really getting into relationships in season three. And also getting into some internal problems and flaws that people have. So it's going be a very personal season.
HBO - Great. I read some place that when you first read Six Feet Under, you read for the part of David Fisher...
Peter Krause - Yeah it's true.
HBO - ...And that you liked that part and you wanted to play that part.
Peter Krause - Yeah, I'm pretty political when it comes to human rights and things like that. And so the opportunity came along to play a character that's disenfranchised by the world he lives in. We live in a country where people still get beaten to death because of their sexual orientation. The role was important to me. I wanted to stand up for that character, for disenfranchised people. It was also a more comfortable role for me because it was further away from who I am, and I haven't been that comfortable in the past playing roles that are close to myself. But Nate's very close, so it's been a great exercise and journey for me. It's difficult because of the nearness of Nate. But it's part of the journey of being an actor. You have to share some personal things once in a while that you you'd rather not.
HBO - I also read a story where you had not personally met Michael C. Hall, you had only kind of met him, indirectly...
Peter Krause - Right. I had never met Michael. I was still doing Sports Night, and TV Guide had some sort of interview upstairs at the old Studio 54 building in New York and Cabaret was playing downstairs. So I was smoking at the time, and I got off the elevator there was no No Smoking sign anywhere in the hallway, so I lit up and of course the alarms went off. Michael was downstairs on stage performing Cabaret with fire alarms going off. Apparently they blamed some woman who was burning incense in her dressing room, and it wasn't until we actually met on the show that I asked him about the incident. I said, "Did a fire alarm go off when you were on stage performing Cabaret back in whatever it was March or whatever?" He said yeah and I said I set it off. Unfortunately they had to perform through it, they didn't stop the show. He had to go on with the show while the fire alarms are going off. I feel really guilty about that.