From 1972 until 1983, the cast of the classic TV series, MAS*H became some of the most recognizable faces on TV.
And, one of the show’s biggest stars, Alan Alda, discusses what it is like portraying his popular sitcom series character on the series for over a decade. Alda also touches on the importance he felt to keeping this character, Captain “Hawkeye” Pierce during the 11 years the series was on the air.
“There were probably dips in attentiveness,” Alan Alda tells The New Yorker in a recent discussion. However, the longtime actor tells the outlet that there were ways to avoid these dips in attentiveness. Including a process that saw Alda and his fellow MAS*H co-stars followed regularly while filming the series.
“One of the ways that we avoided that was the process we developed [off-camera],” Alda explains.
Alan Alda Discusses The Techniques He Used To Keep His M*A*S*H Character Fresh During The Show’s 11 Years On The Air
Alan Alda tells the New Yorker that he and his costars had a process before shooting an episode of M*A*S*H. And, the West Wing star says that it was a process that worked very well during the years the show was on the air. According to Alda, while the M*A*S*H cast would bond together between takes and while the cast was “waiting to do the shots.”
“Instead of going back to our dressing rooms, most of the time we sat around in a circle of chairs and made fun of one another,” the star quips.
“And laughing together, having a little party, gave us a connection,” Alda explains. Then, the cast would simply just continue this “into the scene.”
“Sometimes we would keep talking while they were calling for quiet on the set,” Alda recalls.
“And just before the first line of dialogue we’d get quiet,” the actor says. “It sounds undisciplined, but it was a discipline of a different kind. We were keeping the connection going.”
The Show’s Success Saved The Series From Censorship As The Series Grew In Popularity
During its 11-year run on TV, MAS*H would show the effects of war in some intense storylines. And, Alan Alda who also wrote and directed a few episodes of the hit series, knows well how this process worked.
“We weren’t ever in danger of political censorship,” Alan Alda has said. However, the star adds, the series was “subjected to other kinds of censorship all the time, every day.”
“The network not only would censor you, they would get you to collaborate,” the M*A*S*H star explains.
“They would get the artists to collaborate, the writers, directors, to collaborate in that self-censorship,” Alda adds. However, he says the “funny thing” about this is that the more popular the show was, the less censorship they had to face.
“We were censored much more stringently in the beginning,” the actor relates.
“All of a sudden,” Alda adds, as soon as we were successful, we could pretty much do or say anything we wanted.”