There was a scene during this week's The Riches that struck me as being one of the most beautifully executed pieces of theater I’ve ever seen on TV. Eddie Izzard, as Doug Rich’s lawyer, relays Doug’s heartfelt apology to his jilted ex-wife while Doug is ostensibly on the other end of his phone.The words he uses are fairly generic apologetic fare, yet Doug’s ex is capable of reading whatever it is that she needs to hear into those brief statements.
The person who is truly on the other end of the phone, however, is Minnie Driver, as Dahlia Malloy, who began by feeding her husband apologetic lines to repeat, all the while apologizing herself. The beauty of the scene is that Izzard can play two characters at once–both the lawyer and Wayne Malloy–and participate in two different conversations using the same words for both. He hears what Dahlia is saying, interprets it as coming from Dahlia, and responds both to Dahlia and to Doug’s ex.
Every one of the actor’s utterances in this scene is imbued with dual meanings. It is an elegantly simple television moment.
By Liz McKeon