James Marsden knows a thing or two about being pegged as the bad-guy love interest. Hello, this is the guy who has spent the better part of the last 15 years being considered the “villain” in the modern-day romantic classic “The Notebook” with his portrayal as Lon, the non-Ryan Gosling war veteran and interim love interest to Rachel McAdam’s Allie. It’s a reputation he still challenges.
“There was nothing wrong with Lon in ‘The Notebook,’” Marsden says matter-of-factly, with a layer of playfulness. “But for some reason, he’s the bad guy. And it’s like, wait, [he’s] letting her actually go figure her stuff out. He’s understanding! But some people think he’s the bad guy.” With his role in “Dead to Me,” Marsden at least understands the animus. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)
The buzzed-about Netflix traumedy, released earlier this month, stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini in a story centered on the unlikely — and darkly twisted — friendship between two women. Judy (Cardellini) befriends Jen (Applegate) at a grief counseling group not long after the hit-and-run death of Jen’s husband, Ted. Viewers soon learn that Judy was driving the car that killed Ted. And she’s been covering it up at the urging of her smarmy, narcissistic, money-laundering ex-fiance Steve (Marsden), who was in the car with her when it happened.