Awards Daily’s Megan McLachlan speaks with Mark Duplass of AppleTV+’s The Morning Show about complicity and how Chip really feels about Alex (Jennifer Aniston).
As the ever-stressed producer on The Morning Show, Chip (Mark Duplass) looks like he lives and breathes his work, mostly through his unshaven look and tired expression on his face. He wears the pressure on him like the tan suit he sports for 24 hours in the final episode of the first season—unable to take it off even after he leaves the job.
When a tragedy takes place within the staff of his show, Chip is hit hard by it and realizes that by doing nothing, he actually may have done something to contribute to actions that led to the trauma. Once the yes-man who doesn’t ask and only whispers to reporters, Chip has a full arc by the end of the first season, culminating in an outburst in the middle of the streets of New York.
Chip is his job and he’s one of the rare characters on the AppleTV+ series where audiences don’t get to see what his life is like outside of the show within a show, which adds a bit of mystery to him. Duplass revealed a lot about his character, including the most revealing—what he really means when he says, “It’s all for you” to Alex in the final episode.
Awards Daily: We never see Chip outside of the office throughout the first season. What is his home life like? Is he married?
Mark Duplass: I feel like that was a choice on the part of the writers. It’s not my job as a performer to give that backstory. But he’s one of those guys who sleeps at the office and has a bunch of extra suits in the closet there. I think everyone knows someone like Chip.
AD: I actually wondered if eventually there would be something between him and Bradley. They have a love-hate relationship, which in other workplace TV shows spells romance. Could you see that happening?
MD: On any given show, anything can happen. These writers did what a lot of writers do—let’s throw all of these interesting characters together and see what happens. I know since we had to halt production on Season 2, they’re reworking some things to address where we are and build off of the things from the first season. I know he has an intense emotional attachment with Alex, but he also has a fiery dynamic with Bradley.
AD: Do you think he’s ever had a workplace romance at the show? Mitch says in Episode 2 something along the lines of Chip and all of the other normal schmucks are next to be accused of sexual harassment. He even hugs Bradley at one point, and then you can see kind of feels weird about it when she rejects him.
MD: I leave more of that stuff to the writers, but I think what you do see is that it’s less of a romantic overture and more of a calming her down as a friend/producer. My effort to calm her down may not have been the best thing. When Mitch tells Chip that every schmuck is going to be accused at some point, I think in that moment Chip sees himself as different than Mitch. Mitch is some version of a conscious predator. Chip is on the right side of history, but just because he’s not doing anything bad, he’s still not doing anything good. He’s still way behind and passively complicit. My favorite thing about Chip is that he’s rested on his laurels for so long and it all comes crashing on him with extreme consequences.
AD: Alex betrays Chip and gets him fired in order to move ahead, but even in his last phone message to Alex, Chips says, “It was all for you.” What does he mean by this? Why does he need her and why is there this loyalty?
MD: I think Chip would like to believe he called the New York Times out of a sense of morality. But the truth is he is probably deeply in love with Alex and codependent on her for a lot of things. The only way he could save her was to get rid of Mitch.
AD: Wow! What a revelation. When Bradley calls him and tells him Hannah is dead, the plan is off, for a split second, it looks like he still wants to go through with it. If she would have said, never mind, let’s do it—do you think Chip would have gone along with it?
MD: I don’t think he would. He’s programmed to stop people from being nervous and make sure the show must go on. That’s what’s getting him to that place. I think Chip is already awake in that moment.
AD: That makes perfect sense, since the reason why he seems like he wants to move forward with it is only out of habit. I love the scene where he fights Mitch. How much do you think this fight is involving a fight with himself? I almost see Chip as lashing out at his own actions at staying silent and being silently complicit.
MD: I think that’s really good insight. He has a tremendous amount of anger at Mitch, but I think deep down he’s mad at being complicit. It’s a great wake-up call. It hurts, but it’s good.
AD: During the season finale revelation on air, do you think Chip sees it? One of our last views of him is sobbing in the street alone and then in Time Square as the feed cuts.
MD: Yeah, I don’t think he’s aware. He’s having this emotional moment based on his own complicitness. It is not enough to be not bad. We all talked about that, and I think we all felt that Chip is just a zombie at that point. He never imagined the world would stop for him. He thought that the show would go on without him, and then the show did not go on.
The Morning Show Season 1 is streaming on AppleTV+.