Logan Marshall-Green Talks the Good, Bad & Ugly in Mac Conway

The actor behind Quarry’s flawed and brooding Mac Conway opens up about his approach to violence in a show about a hitman, his inspirations for the role and how he crafted the quintessential “ugly” ’70s look.

Cinemax: What intrigued you most about Quarry as a project?

Logan Marshall-Green: I think what drew me to Mac and to the world was an opportunity to find a very flawed character in a very flawed world, and earn the audience’s emotions. I knew I wanted him to be an anti-hero. I knew I needed him to be messy inside and out.

Cinemax: Do you see any relevance in Quarry’s political climate and storyline to the present day?

Logan Marshall-Green: Well, first and foremost are the veteran affairs, which unfortunately haven’t changed as much as you would want 40 years later. So dealing with a vet is something that is quite germane to today. And, of course, the election, which I don’t think was meant to be concurrent, but now is. Throw in the Olympics and boom — it couldn’t be more pertinent.

I think the elephant in the room is gun violence. That’s where the razor’s edge lays for the audience, whether they’re going to be able to digest it at this point. We have to deal with the ramifications of what it means to be violent and to kill.

Cinemax: How did you approach the violence in Quarry? For instance, in the scene where Mac targets Eugene Linwood (the guy who attacked Marcus’ friend) in Episode 6, “His Deeds Were Scattered.”

Logan Marshall-Green: It was important for me that Mac doesn’t just pull back and fire a gun and blow up a bus. He misses. He is shaking with anger and has to calm himself. So we’re not glorifying it. It has to push the story. It has to push Mac. And there has to be a spiritual penalty, a chink in his emotional armor, with every single hit.

You’ve got to remember, Mac’s not just frustrated with his life — his wife cheating on him, his best friend killed, the position that he’s been put in by The Broker — he’s pissed at his country. He’s pissed at his fellow man. The country didn’t roll out a red carpet for these vets. They threw eggs and s**t. So he’s frustrated with the world, and that also has to live in the story. I tried to always infuse his purpose with that. He wants to make it right.

Cinemax: What’s your take on Mac? How did you go about developing him as a character?

Logan Marshall-Green: I wanted to use my dad as a model. My father actually is much older; he flew in World War II. That said, the ’70s was the ushering in of the feminist movement, women’s rights, and a more sensitive approach to the male’s role in society. And one of the things I actually quite loved about Mac, what I sought to find, was of a dinosaur in this changing world. He is not a sensitive, “New Age” guy. He’s very hard around the edges, and his temper is short. He has the morality of the ’50s: He would never let his wife pay, but he’d always stand when she leaves the table. There’s something about that gentlemanly, anti-“New Age” guy that was incredibly appealing. For me, it’s somewhat romantic because of my father. I loved the opportunity to find that older generation in Mac.

Cinemax: Why do you think The Broker is so interested in Mac and enlisting his services as a hitman?

Logan Marshall-Green: Mac is not really playing The Broker’s game — not as much as The Broker would like at least. Mac has that switch that gets flipped on and flipped off, both involuntarily and sometimes voluntarily. I think it’s his ability to act in the moment. I don’t know [laughs] — hopefully I’ll never know — but I think in the world of hitmen that’s probably a good attribute.

Cinemax: What was the production process like while filming Quarry?

Logan Marshall-Green: We were crossboarding this entire series, sometimes shooting three to four different episodes. While I’m not one to toot our horn, I think there needs to be a pat on the back when it comes to the logistical approach, especially with these storylines that are so emotional and sometimes physical. There had to be a very crisp understanding of what we were attempting. It had to be approached like a movie — a 600-page movie. You had to continue to ask questions, and look around and take mental pictures. The other thing with crossboarding is you’re making decisions the first week that will affect the shooting for the rest of the series. It’s a tightrope, but if you’re prepared, and I think we were, it shows.

Cinemax: How did you work out the relationship dynamic between Mac and Joni?

Logan Marshall-Green: Joni and Mac certainly come together quickly in the show and then are torn apart. It becomes about circling each other to find what was real and what was pure between them. Jodi [Balfour] and I did not necessarily work together on how we were approaching it. We were in our own worlds, which reflected what was happening in Mac and Joni’s life. They’re on islands, trying to get to each other. There’s just so much hurt, betrayal and disappointment, and resentment and regret. It’s about juggling all of that to see if Mac can find Joni and Joni can find Mac. Everything had to be earned. We couldn’t move past the problems until we earned it.

Cinemax: What was your favorite part of Mac’s ’70s look?

Logan Marshall-Green: The ‘stache.

Mac has this look, his “done-up” look. I call it “the shell.” It’s a gorgeous, ugly ’70s look, almost like he borrowed Joni’s hairspray. I didn’t want him to be perfect, I wanted him to have that ’70s ugliness. He doesn’t know how to primp himself. He has one suit and one tie. He still smokes Pall Mall unfiltered. He is not a perfect man. I think it’s the job of the audience to not like him — but it’s my job to make them love him.

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