Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

Ben And Kate Nat FaxonIt isn’t every TCA session that features an Oscar-winning screenwriter on the panel promoting the new comedy series he’s starring in. But that’s where Nat Faxon found himself this morning, doing his best to draw attention to the forthcoming single-camera Fox comedy Ben And Kate on which his character helps his sister raise his niece. Of course, the first question out of the box was, essentially, what a guy who won an Academy Award this year for adapted screenplay for The Descendants (shared with writing partner Jim Rash and Alexander Payne) was doing slumming it as an actor on a sitcom? “I literally got this (role) the day after I won the Oscar,” Faxon admitted. TCA Ben And Kate“I don’t necessarily think I’m going to be handed acting roles because of something I did in the writing field.” Interjected Ben And Kate creator-showrunner Dana Fox: “Let me clarify. We locked (Faxon) in before he had a chance to realize he’d made a huge mistake.” And what’s it like having an Oscar-winning scribe starring in your show? He was asked if he ever stops by the writers room with his Oscar and asks if they’d like help. “Every single day, I’m like, is there anything you’d like to change?” Fox says, “and Nat is just like, ‘Oh no, you did a great job.’ I’ve asked him to just show up with his Oscar one day but he won’t do it.”

Faxon admits that winning did jump-start another area of his blossoming career: as a director. He’s currently co-directing with Rash the dramedy feature The Way, Way Back that stars Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Amanda Peet, Toni Collette and Allison Janney. He describes it as being “in the same line as The Descendants in tone, a coming-of-age story, though not quite as dramatic.” It’s presently shooting in Massachusetts and is expected to wrap in a week. He believes that winning the Oscar helped provide momentum for moving the film forward after having been scripted some seven years before. Not that Faxon expects to give up acting anytime soon. He says he’s having way too much fun being a multi-hyphenate. “I love the balance acting provides,” he said following the panel. “Directing has been wonderful too. And writing was something that Jim and I used to create more interesting roles for ourselves, because we’d been going on auditions that weren’t fulfilling or exciting. Writing became a way to write things for us to be in.” And then he and his partner won an Oscar, which hadn’t really been part of the plan. Kind of like a couple of guys named Affleck and Damon. “Yeah,” Faxon agreed. “Like them.”

(Photo: Getty Images) 

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