“Harry’s Law,” like other series produced by David E. Kelley, doesn’t shy away from controversial topics.
In “Bad to Worse,” the episode airing Wed., Oct. 19, on NBC, lawyer Harriet “Harry” Korn (Kathy Bates) takes on the case of a biology teacher (Jason Alexander) who flunked a student that rejected Darwinism. To defend her client, Harry faces off with Pastor Darcy (David Dean Bottrell), the spiritual leader of the student in question, who led the charge to get the teacher terminated.
But the pastor is no pushover.
“My dad is a minister,” Bottrell tells Zap2it, “so I have a sort of inside track on that. I don’t personally agree with Pastor Darcy’s politics, but I appreciate his passion and his commitment. I’ll say that, I’ll go that far.
“There’s a contingent — I don’t know how large a contingent it is — who have conservative religious beliefs, who feel they are almost being legislated out of existence. Any time society applies that kind of pressure to a group, they’re going to get mad, and they’re going to start lashing back.
“In this case, Pastor Darcy felt strongly enough to go after Jason Alexander’s job.”
According to Bottrell, there’s a line in the script referring to GOP presidential contender Rick Perry, the Texas governor who shot to the top of the polls shortly after announcing his candidacy in August.
“We shot this,” says Bottrell, “I think, soon after Labor Day. … David’s certainly not afraid to have his politics front and center. He’s always able to do it in a really entertaining way, which I always appreciated.”
Luckily for Kelley, Perry is still in the race, even if his numbers have taken a nosedive.
“I don’t think he’s going to drop out by Oct. 19,” says Bottrell.
Although both Bottrell and Alexander are in the episode, they didn’t have any scenes together — but Bottrell did get to see Alexander’s recently acquired head of hair.
“I saw it on set,” he says. “I did see Jason in his new look. He looks terrific, but I didn’t actually work with him. All my scenes were with Kathy.”
As a theater actor, Bottrell was thrilled at the chance to go toe-to-toe with Bates.
“It was fantastic,” he says. “It was really fantastic. I’ve been a huge fan of her for many years. She was very gracious. We hit it off right away, laughed a lot. I discovered, in the course of talking with her, that we actually had the same acting teacher.
“Sh couldn’t have been more gracious. We had some really, really tough material to do. It was very adversarial, and some of the scenes were quite charged.
“There’s a very unexpected plot development about halfway through this episode that changes the stakes for everyone involved.”
There’s another reason Bottrell is a big Bates fan.
“Kathy Bates is a real hero to the character-acting community,” he says. “She became a star because of what an incredible actor she is. Those of us who are the character actors, who play the friend or the goofy person in the office or the strange, creepy villain, to see one of our own actually become a star and be the lead in a series — that’s a victory for all of us.
“Kathy Bates is so well-loved in the acting community, it’s fantastic.”