The author covers some of the highlights of his brother's career on stage and screen -- much of which you can read about here -- and notes that Brad began to be typecast as "yuppie scum." About this, Brad says, "If you do an asshole well, you will be an asshole. When you get into features, the best parts are taken, and what's left are the assholes. Every movie needs a villain. It used to be that villains were Nazis. Now villains are white guys with receding hairlines and jobs, and that was something I could do." Fortunately for us, Aaron Sorkin was able to see past the typecasting.
David suggested renting Billy Madison, but Brad didn't want to; he's never seen it and has no desire to see it. ["Hey! We own that video. It's funny!" -- Wing Chun] David reveals that Brad has not seen a number of things in which he's appeared, including "many episodes of The West Wing." (Wonder if he's watched "Noel"?) David ascribes this in part to Brad's inability to get over the "creepiness of seeing himself on film." Brad claims, "I'm not used to seeing myself from behind. It's really odd to see objectively what that looks like. It can be totally unnerving." I think I hear a not-so-quiet murmur of estrogen-fueled agreement about the "unnerving" part, but it could be my imagination. David adds, though, that Brad's concerned about falling into what he calls a "shame spiral," and I hope he got that phrase from the "Do what you feel" episode of The Simpsons, because that's the only place I've ever heard it, although it could easily be common self-help jargon for all I know. Brad was apparently recognized by a homeless man on the streets of New York: "I know you. You play the asshole in movies." Brad gave the guy some money (aw) but rushed home and told his agent, "You have to do something. People without VCRs -- people without heating -- are typecasting me!" That is kind of pathetic.
In 1990, events transpired that would eventually culminate in Brad's becoming one of the stars of The West Wing: he was cast in the Broadway version of Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men. He first played the Marine prosecutor, but went on to replace Timothy Busfield in the lead role when Busfield returned to whine through another season of thirtysomething. Whitford and Sorkin would socialize occasionally. Sorkin states, "I would always think to myself, My God, why isn't anyone using Brad Whitford for something big?" When Sorkin was in New York in the fall of 1997, Brad was performing in a play called Three Days of Rain in Manhattan. Sorkin was there working on the pilot for Sports Night, and explains that as soon as he finished the script, he got himself to a Kinko's to print it out, and then hustled over to the stage door of the theatre where Brad was working, because he wanted Brad to read it. Sorkin wanted Brad to star as one of the anchors, and Brad did love the script. But he thought it was a long shot, and worried that Sorkin would eventually hand off writing duties to a team of writers and move along to some other glorious project. Brad also already a bird in the hand: a role in a new sitcom directed by television veteran Jim Burrows. Brad passed on Sports Night. Well, you can probably guess the outcome from here, even if you haven't followed either fellow's career closely: Sports Night was a critical success, and you've probably never heard of The Secret Lives of Men. ["I've heard of it, but I never watched it. Peter Gallagher -- another actor who could use a Sorkin -- was also in it." -- Wing Chun]