Aaron Sorkin (creator and writer) I dreamed up the appearance at a time aback you didn’t allocution about backroom and adoration at the banquet table and you absolutely didn’t do it on TV. We talked about both in the aboriginal 10 minutes. I didn’t anticipate there was activity to be a additional episode.
John Wells (executive producer) Not abounding bodies anticipation it was the adapted time for a political drama. It was about the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I anticipate the aspersion concluded up actuality actual useful, because we could admonish the admirers of what affectionate of candor should be accepted of our leaders.
Richard Schiff (communications administrator Toby Ziegler) Aback I auditioned, I saw Allison Janney sitting there. I thought: “Oh my God, if they casting her, these guys apperceive what they’re doing. But they’ll never be acute abundant to.”
Allison Janney (press secretary CJ Cregg) I kept seeing Richard at my callbacks. Neither of us anticipation we’d get the roles. I wasn’t alike abiding I was anytime activity to do television. So to again get the allotment was mind-blowing. These bodies about became added my ancestors than my family.
Wells We were already acrimonious a difficult subject. Again NBC started annoying that the casting weren’t adorable enough. Would admirers appetite to see these people? It is advantageous in those conversations to accept a cine brilliant like Rob Lowe [deputy comms administrator Sam Seaborn] on board.
Stockard Channing (First Lady Abbey Bartlet) I was about to go on a five-day hiking cruise in a alien allotment of Canada aback I got the alarm alms me a part. I had to get beeline on a even to Los Angeles. So I accustomed there in abounding hiking accessory and boots. It was 95 degrees and I didn’t apperceive what I was doing, added than I had to abrasion an black gown, which afraid the applesauce out of me.
Wells Martin Sheen was alone partially absorbed to activate with. We told him Jed Bartlet would alone be in six episodes. Then, afterwards the pilot, everybody capital Martin in every episode.
Channing I had never met Martin before. Aback I accustomed for the aboriginal shoot, he was alfresco this abode in white tie accepting a cigarette breach with 500 account all dressed up. Aloof afore our aboriginal take, I said: “Hi, so how continued accept we been married?” He said: “Oh, I anticipate 25, 30 years.” Again they said: “Action!” Afterwards booty one, he said: “And we accept a grandchild!” “A grandchild?” I said. “What do you beggarly we accept a grandchild?” And they alleged “Action!” The canicule were like that.
Lily Tomlin (executive abettor Deborah Fiderer) Martin is a angel man. Afore every scene, he would booty off his absolute bells ring, absolve it and put it in a drawer.
Dulé Hill (the president’s claimed aide, Charlie Young) I alone had a ages and a bisected of hire money larboard aback I got the job. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) had had an activity with the accomplished casting on the appearance actuality white. Thankfully, they batten up, thankfully the absolute aggregation understood, and thankfully they fabricated some changes.
Sorkin Afterwards an adventure in the aboriginal division area Zoey Bartlet (the president’s daughter, played by Elisabeth Moss) kissed Charlie, I got a letter from an affronted woman that read: “Lincoln alone meant to chargeless them – he didn’t beggarly to acclaim them.” I went aback and alternating about whether to appearance it to Dulé. It acquainted amiss not to, so I took the letter to his trailer. He taped it on the wall. It was the aboriginal of many.
Hill I can vividly anamnesis Aaron account those belletrist out loud at read-throughs. It was like Zoey was the absolute president’s daughter. The abstraction that bodies could acknowledge that way absolutely abashed me.
Sorkin I already knew there would be an assassination attack at the end of the aboriginal season, but the abhorrence mail gave me an idea: they weren’t cutting at Bartlet – they were cutting at Charlie.
Channing I was on the set aboriginal on 9/11. I was in the architecture bivouac and they had the TV on aback the Washington being happened. Everyone was beatific home. Everyone was hysterical.
Sorkin The abutting day, I asked NBC to adjourn our division three premiere indefinitely. Josh and Donna flirting, CJ annoyed over her role in the camouflage of the president’s assorted sclerosis, Bartlet’s re-election attack – it would all assume such babyish potatoes if it wasn’t set adjoin the aforementioned accomplishments the blow of us were active through. The arrangement wasn’t able to, so I wrote the standalone adventure Isaac and Ishmael. We didn’t acknowledgment 9/11 or Bin Laden, but there was a faculty article abhorrent had happened. Looking back, I’m abiding I wasn’t cerebration clearly. Eighteen years on, I still don’t accept any bigger ideas.
Joshua Malina (Will Bailey, assorted positions) It’s a adventurous allotment of television that addressed a civic tragedy in a amount of weeks. And a lot of adults today say: “I was adolescent aback it came out and it explained a lot to me.”
Channing Afterwards 9/11, aegis was anchored up at the studio. There were metal detectors to browse beneath the cars.
Sorkin Brad Whitford (deputy arch of agents Josh Lyman) and Dulé enjoyed a applied joke, but aback Joshua Malina joined, all bets were off.
Hill Joshua already put a accomplished agglomeration of West Wing memorabilia in the block of Brad’s car, again aegis chock-full him on the way out.
Malina It was low-level humour: abrogation a allotment of angle hidden in Allison’s trailer, an onion actuality and there, tweaking the Post-its Brad would put up in his bivouac to say: “Don’t worry, the camera absolutely takes off weight.”
Schiff I was the affliction blackmailer of the cackle fit. My accident it usually had to do with Martin flubbing a line. The president’s aboriginal arena – area he comes in and says, ‘I am the Lord our God’ – was this grand, admirable entrance. He absolved annular the room, again tells the Christian adapted to get their fat asses out of his White House. He has a antic side: amid every take, he would go to the accouterment table and being his face with chicken. There’d be bodies aggravating to do his touch-ups and both his cheeks were abounding and he had grease all over his mouth. I’d accept to run to the abutting allowance to let out the laughter.
Janney Already Richard started laughing, it was trouble. Sometimes, on Air Force One, I would say, “Come on, it’s consistently a bland ride. Let’s pretend it’s bumpy!” So Richard and I would act like there was turbulence, which would set us off.
Schiff On Friday nights, we’d all get giddy. One Friday, it was Allison’s altogether and all of her accompany came to the trailer. She showed off her lip-syncing aptitude and we all got complex with air guitars and air drums. Aaron came over at two in the morning to listen. That’s how CJ concluded up lip-syncing to The Jackal in one episode.
Whitford Aback we were accomplishing the Christmas adventure in the additional year, Yo-Yo Ma absolved into a allowance abounding of hundreds of account and capital us to authority and blow and comedy his $6m cello. In amid takes, he started improvising and Dulé – who is one of the best tap-dancers in the apple – started borer along.
Sorkin The best surreal moment complex Prince Andrew. He was in LA and he’d requested a bout of our set, so the British admiral set it up. In one allotment of the West Wing, the walls are busy with affected photos of the admiral with apple leaders and active of accompaniment – the admiral with the pope etc. I was arch Prince Andrew bottomward one of our hallways aback I saw that he’d chock-full and was staring at a account he couldn’t amount out. It was Martin Sheen as Admiral Bartlet affianced in a chat with the prince’s mother, the Queen. I got to acquaint him what Photoshop is.
Sorkin West Wing scripts weren’t accomplished – they were confiscated. Tommy Schlamme (executive producer) would appear into my appointment and say: “Pencils down.”
Schiff I capital Toby to be addition who didn’t allege unless he had to. I don’t anticipate they’d anytime accomplished an amateur who didn’t appetite added lines.
Janney Aaron did an amazing job autograph for women. He’s had a bad rap for that – and I anticipate it’s unfair. The Women of Qumar was a key episode. I admired it any time CJ batten accuracy to ability or dressed bottomward a four-star general. I continued to be like that in absolute life.
Schiff Towards the end of his tenure, Aaron was backward with scripts. Sometimes we wouldn’t be able to shoot. And that’s expensive. The burden of acceptable a branch is tough.
Malina Aback I abstruse Aaron was leaving, my jaw was on the floor. It was such a bomb. I bethink Richard’s articulation breaking.
Whitford I cried like a baby.
Janney It acquainted like our parents were cogent us they no best capital to be our parents.
Wells I didn’t appetite Aaron to go but he was exhausted. Taking over was daunting. I alleged him and said: “What was activity to appear next? Because I accept to address the additional allotment of this two-parter afterwards Zoey got kidnapped.” He said: “I accept no idea.”
Sorkin In accepted culture, our leaders, by and large, are portrayed as either Machiavellian or dolts. I capital our characters to be competent and committed, like the doctors and nurses on hospital shows and the detectives on abomination shows. I capital the appearance to be adventurous and idealistic, but additionally agilely subversive. For an hour every week, I capital to accost the chat “patriotism”.
Schiff The aboriginal time we got arrive to the correspondents’ banquet in Washington DC, it was like Elvis had appear aback to Memphis! We were amidst by hundreds of reporters, congressmen, senators and ambassadors who couldn’t get abundant of us. I absent a clandestine affair with Admiral Clinton because I couldn’t get through the crowd.
Janney Bodies would say “Mr President! Mr President!” and Martin would put up his fingers in a accord assurance like Nixon.
Channing I bethink accepting on a even to Washington with Martin and bodies were like: “We adore you so much.” I was like: “You don’t apperceive me! You adore Abigail Bartlet.”
Hill They gave us a absolute celebration in DC one time. For me and best of the cast, it was absolutely exciting. Martin didn’t like it at all. He anticipation we bare to never balloon we were actors.
Tomlin In the aftermost episode, aback Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) is about to booty over as president, I cried.
Wells Our political consultants all said a “minority president” was abundant added acceptable to be adopted afore a woman was. Bodies started advertence this amazing inferior agent from Illinois. So Santos was modelled on Obama afore Obama was Obama – and that fabricated us attending absolutely good.
Schiff In 2007, I was out campaigning. I’d be amidst by 300 Obama bottom soldiers at anniversary stop in the conclave states. They would say: “You’re the acumen we’re here.” And aback you attending aback at that election, the aberration was in those states. Maybe these bottom soldiers, who were there because of The West Wing, are the acumen Obama pulled off that primary achievement and became president. That’s appealing awesome.
Wells John Spencer [chief of agents Leo McGarry] died aloof afore Christmas in 2005. He was the cement that captivated us together. His abrupt afterlife came aloof as we were aggravating to adjudge whether to continue. We were all afflicted and it seemed the adapted time to end it. We could accept done several added years, but sometimes article happens and the affection goes out of it.
Whitford Bodies acclimated to ask: “Could you accomplish this appearance about a Republican administration?” I consistently say no: a) because Republicans aren’t adult or funny; and b) you could never accept characters high-fiving and saying, “We got a tax cut for the 1%! We’ve got casual accouchement in cages!”
Wells The aftermost day on set, they acclimated these little mini-bulldozers to breach aggregate down, which was decidedly brutal. They adored the Oval Appointment though. Within weeks, it had been angry into the Ocean’s Thirteen casino.
• The West Wing is accessible on Sky Atlantic. See the West Wing Weekly podcast alive on 18 December at the Eventim Apollo, London.
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