It seems Eddie Cibrian, who plays smooth-talking Nick Dalton on The Playboy Club, would like to live in the “carefree” 1960s, or at least the glamorous, carefree world NBC has created in its new ’60s-set drama. We chatted with the star about what’s next for the show, comparisons to Mad Men, feminist criticism, and what he thinks it would have been like to live through Hugh Hefner’s heydey.
DivineCaroline: How did you prepare for the role?
Eddie Cibrian: [Nick] is a young, successful attorney with mob ties. I looked at a lot of photos from that era and watched Playboy After Dark to get an idea of what was happening socially when people were coming to the Playboy Club and the Playboy Mansion.
DC: What did you learn from your research?
EC: It was a carefree, fun, social environment that Hugh Hefner was creating. There were so many impromptu performances from established people like Tina Turner, Ray Charles, or Sammy Davis Jr. Then when you put on the clothes, do the hair and go on set, it really helps me get into character.
DC: How do you feel about all the comparisons made to Mad Men?
EC: To be honest, what else are you going to compare it to? It’s the only show on TV from that era. Our program is completely different because our show is a soap opera. There is more glitz and glamour when you go into the Playboy Club then let’s say, an ad agency.
DC: Why do you think we’re seeing so much 1960s nostalgia on television right now?
EC: People who live during that period in time have great memories from it. Those people, who weren’t there, wish they were. It was so carefree back then and people weren’t as aware of things as we are now. People were smoking back then, kids were riding their bikes on the streets without helmets, and there was no Internet or social media. Kids had to go knock on a door to ask for a play date and then played outside with no worries. I think people want to revert back to that time, considering all that is happening in the world right now.
DC: Do you think Playboy Clubs would be successful today?
EC: I don’t know. It is a different time now. If they were around, they would have to do something different to stand out. Back then, this was a supper club where people would have dinner and watch the top entertainers of that time. In the old days, everyone mixed and mingled. You had mobsters, politicians and so many people rubbing shoulders.
DC: Do you think the show has a feminist message?
EC: No I don’t think so. In fact, I think the show skews to women in general. I think they will enjoy the story lines these bunnies have and learn the reason why these women became bunnies. Some were running away from something while others wanted to feel empowered. We explore both sides of the equation.
DC: There are also published reports that former bunnies are upset at the things these characters do at the club because according to them, that wasn’t how things went down. What is your reaction to that?
EC: I did not live though that time. I play a completely different character and we tell two sides to every story. It is a nighttime drama, set in the ‘60s that uses the club as a backdrop. These stories are completely made-up. We are not basing them on real people. These stories are the creation of a team of writer’s not actual people.
DC: How do you feel about Gloria Steinem’s reaction to the show?
EC: That is a typical reaction and one I expected her to have. Just because the word Playboy is in our show’s title that does not mean that is what the whole show is about. It is not about the proliferation of how the whole brand got started and became what it was.
DC: Care to give any juicy details about the season?
EC: I can’t give too much away but we do have some great guest stars coming on.
EC: Javier Colon. And Billy Zane, who will play the bother of the head mob guy who was killed in the first episode.
DC: What’s in store for Nick this season?
EC: Nick is going to make a run for the state attorney but his mob ties are going to be problematic. He will however take you outside of the club by interacting with Mayor Daley. They develop a relationship with a Chicago socialite and that storyline does not turn out the way viewers would expect. Look for a big twist. That is all I will say.
DC: Will Hugh be making a special appearance?
EC: He is not. He did a voiceover for the pilot just to set the tone of the show. His character is omnipresent throughout the show but we will not have him or any actor play him.
DC: Have you ever met Hugh Hefner?
EC: I met him twice. He screened the show for us at his theatre in the Playboy mansion. He said to me, “Eddie I watched the show and I have to say I really love it. It brings back a lot of old memories and a wonderful time in my life. It was such a cool period in time.”
DC: That must have been thrilling for you to have his approval?
EC: He said it with a big smile on his face. Plus he saw the first four episodes and then said, “The show keeps getting stronger and stronger. Keep up the good work.”