James Marsden: ‘I love playing the ass’

In Jury Duty, an inspired new docu-style comedy series that blurs fact and fiction, James Marsden plays an obnoxiously awful caricature of himself who boasts about auditioning for a soon-to-be-disgraced director, throws a hilarious tantrum at a birthday party and gets involved in a bizarre sex act known as “soaking”. Marsden stars alongside Ronald Gladden, very much the Truman in this blend of The Truman Show and The Office, and the two first encounter each other as they’re about to enter a jury room, with Gladden eventually twigging that he recognises Marsden from his X-Men role as Cyclops. Marsden then mentions his recent part in Sonic the Hedgehog. “Oh, I didn’t see that,” says Gladden. “I heard it’s a really bad movie.”

Marsden, the real Marsden, gives a hoot as he finishes telling me this story. “That’s comedy gold,” says the actor, who also played android gun-slinger Teddy in Westworld, and the poor guy Rachel McAdams dumps at the end of The Notebook. Marsden, it soon transpires, likes nothing better than getting a laugh at his own expense. We’re meeting at a fashionable hotel on the Sunset Strip, the actor’s LA base since moving to Austin, Texas, during the pandemic. He is still boyishly handsome at 49, all piercing blue eyes and cheekbones that could cut glass, but he insists that beneath the leading man looks, he’s a clown at heart. “I love playing the buffoon and the ass,” he says. “Someone who thinks they’re great at something but are clearly not. I’d much rather do that than play James Bond.”

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