Tough economic times will be hitting Craig T. Nelson hard this fall – on big and small screen. He plays the CEO in John Wells’ forthcoming “Company Men” corporate downsizing drama, with Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and Chris Cooper also in the cast. And on “Parenthood,” he reveals, things will be going from bad to real bad for his family patriarch character, Zeek Braverman, who’s been having money trouble.
“It’s something that I talked about with Jason,” says Craig, referring to series creator Jason Katims. “It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s going to. With the finances, the counseling he and his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) are going through, and some of the other things that are going on in the family, they’re trying to weather the storm.”
Even as Zeek wades through his traumas, Craig is enjoying himself immensely on the acclaimed NBC show. He obviously gets along better with his series grandkids off camera than he does as Zeek, who tends to make the kind of remarks that start family feuds.
“You try to make it comfortable for the kids, you know, because shooting a TV series — it’s a very unnatural situation for the younger ones,” he says. “It’s fun to mix it up and hear what they’re thinking. I love it. I love listening to their music. I asked Miles Heizer to make me a CD of music he likes so I can listen to it,” he adds, referring to the 16-year-old actor who plays Lauren Graham’s son on the show.
And he likes talking current events and such with 22-year-old Mae Whitman, who plays difficult teen Amber: “I spend a lot of time getting her viewpoints.”
The affable star of vehicles ranging from his “Coach” series to “The Incredibles” is, of course, known for having some very strong opinions himself. He’s remembered for his appearance last year on Glenn Beck’s program, talking about refraining from paying taxes to protest out-of-control government spending, you may recall. So one might think talking politics on set could get dicey.
“I think as long as you don’t escalate it into something that becomes very personal and vitriolic, you’re fine,” says Craig. “There’s a lot of hate speech out there. There’s a lot of viewpoints that instill rancor, and that’s just not right. It’s about being able to garner a lot of different viewpoints, I think, and then find a center that’s going to work for everybody.”