For the first two seasons, Scavo was a rather clueless Mr. Mom to the four small children he has with his ambitious advertising executive wife Lynette (Felicity Huffman), as well as a thorn in her side as a co-worker at the agency. This past season, Tom fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening a pizzeria, but nearly lost Lynette after a severe back problem led to surgery and convalescence at home.
Savant, 43, first came to fame in the early 1990s on Fox's prime-time soap, "Melrose Place," as Matt Fielding, one of the few openly gay characters on series TV. He's also appeared in such films as "Masquerade," "Hanoi Hilton" and "Godzilla" and as a guest star on the TV series "24," "According to Jim" and "CSI." Savant is married to his "Melrose Place" co-star, Laura Leighton.
So you had knee replacement surgery after the show wrapped production this season.
That is how I spent my summer vacation. Isn't it glamorous?
How did you ruin your knee?
Mine was from high school football in 1979. Felicity liked to make fun of the way I walked on the set. I am doing extremely well in terms of the recovery curve.
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Well, with your knee out of whack you probably enjoyed the fact Tom spent a lot of the season injured and on his back. Did the writers dream that up because of your knee problem?
The irony is the writers had none of that in mind. They just wanted to get me out of the pizzeria, so Lynette would hire the new manager who ultimately she would have these feelings for. And [the back problems] put me in the position where I was more of a nuisance than a loving partner, so they could somehow feebly justify her emotional life for this guy!
Opening the pizzeria brought out a different side of Tom's personality.
I think during the first couple of years, people thought Tom was simply the ideal husband, a little browbeaten and certainly catering to her whims and desires. But in this season, we saw the character follow his dream -- as absurd as it may sound -- of opening the pizzeria, and he asserted certainly more of himself. We saw these characters, I think, on more of an equal footing.
The change in Tom made Lynette more vulnerable.
I think that dynamic is there and that was one of the reasons I was very pleased. . . . When they said they were bringing in this other character and that Lynette would have an affair of the heart, if you will, I said I hope he's a worthy opponent because I really thought it was an opportunity for the audience -- I don't know if we have fully investigated this -- to better understand what it is that Tom provides Lynette she can get no place else. I think we are starting to see some of that dimension. And I think starting next year when we start to move into her cancer. . . .
Tom still will be dealing with his anger over Lynette's affair of the heart while taking care of her.
Absolutely. I am glad you brought it up. I think that is an issue that will resonate into Season Four. If you asked Felicity, she would tell you she believes staunchly that [Lynette] has done nothing wrong. And she didn't cross a physical line, but it's interesting -- and I have certainly felt it out in public -- as to where that line is of fidelity.
I think that Tom ... specifically, that this issue is not over for him and that he needs much more closure on it. I think it is one of the beautiful things and ironies of marriage and why I am very passionate about it for Tom and Lynette. Tom fights for his wife to get her back and she doesn't in any sort of dramatic way select him. She doesn't say, 'Rick, get out of my life, I'm choosing my husband.' She sort of sends him away because it could ruin her life.
Tom has to find out about it and sees her emotional loss and finds out Rick didn't go away after Tom told him to; it was indeed Lynette who asked him to go away.
And in the same moment, he asks, 'Did you fall for him?' And she has this very emotional moment where the answer is quite clear, though it's not verbal. Then the doctor comes in and delivers this news. He just fought for this woman who barely chose him and now he is going to have to take care of her in her time of need.
Emmy nominations are announced on July 19 -- are you submitting yourself for a nomination?
I am submitting under best supporting actor in a comedy, though much of what I do is not comedy.
I have always said this, and I really believe this -- to me the gift is the job itself. I have been an actor for 24 years and this is my favorite job in 24 years. I act opposite an Emmy Award-winning actress. It is the most rewarding work I have done on TV and the most fun I've had. I already feel like a winner.
If the voters so inclined to sort of recognize the guys on our show, that would be fantastic. But if it doesn't happen, it will not for a second diminish my appreciation and love of having this job.