It was bound to happen eventually. Or maybe not, because this is all a far-reaching conspiracy and these two are totally the same person. Anyway: Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney — once the subject of an SNL game-show sketch, “Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?” and both former costars of Julia Roberts — will share a screen and act opposite each other in it! Mulroney will guest-star in multiple episodes of Fox’s new airplane-set comedy LA to Vegas as a rival alpha pilot to McDermott’s Captain Dave. (Their first showdown is scheduled to arrive at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Jan. 16.) Here, the 56-year-old McDermott and the 54-year-old Mulroney — whose credits include The Practice, Young Guns, In the Line of Fire, and My Best Friend’s Wedding; we’ll let you sort out which belong to who — play more than the name game.
Can you recall the first time you heard about… the other guy?
DYLAN McDERMOTT: I was at William Morris [Agency], where I think you were originally. Is that right, Dermot?
DERMOT MULRONEY: Yes, that’s right.
McDERMOTT: I remember Sue Mengers coming up to me in the hallway, saying, “There can’t be two of you. There can only be one. One of you is going to have to change your name.” So I’ve been waiting for 30 years for Dermot to change his name. [Laughs.]
MULRONEY: We’ve never had this conversation, Dylan. There was a moment while I was represented at that agency where that came up. I gave it some thought. I really did. Naturally, it made sense for me to use the last name McDermott, because Dermot’s in that last name. The first name Dermot that I would be relinquishing by changing the name. I just slipped it into the last name, McDermott, the one that you have.
McDERMOTT: So you were going to be Dermot McDermot?
MULRONEY: No — I was going to go by Matthew McDermot. Matthew was my confirmation name.
McDERMOTT: Hey, get this! I was also going to do it. You know what my name was going to be?
McDERMOTT: Mick Dermot.
MULRONEY: Oh, I’m so glad you didn’t do that. That would have been so confusing!
McDERMOTT: Yeah, right — like the 30 years haven’t been. [Laughs.]
Had you two crossed paths much over the years?
MULRONEY: Very infrequently. We’ve compared some notes when we worked together just now, but it’s in the threes or fours.
McDERMOTT: I’d say the greatest meeting of all time was when we were both naked in the Beverly Hot Springs, and we ran into each other.
McDERMOTT: How about that one for folklore? What was your recollection on that, Dermot?
MULRONEY: My recollection is as it has been ever since: What the f— am I doing in Beverly Hot Springs? [McDermott laughs.] I went running for the hills and never went back, Dylan. When you called me for the part in LA to Vegas, it called that back. I hope you enjoyed all those body scrubs that I missed, all because of the traumatic meeting at the men’s spa.
McDERMOTT: We’ve probably seen each other, like Dermot said, three or four times. But the fact that we would run into each other naked at Beverly Hot Springs, I just thought was poetic, because what are the chances? It’s really been a journey all these years to finally get comfortable with each other because you’re mad at each other that you have the similar name, people are confusing you. It’s like two countries that have been at war for 30 years finally call a truce. And finally realize we actually like each other.
MULRONEY: We can get along peacefully and share a border.
Did that naked situation offer more clarity or less clarity that there was a difference between you two?
McDERMOTT: Well, for me, it was more clarity. Absolutely. I’ll leave it at that.
MULRONEY: Let’s just say: Now, at least we know how to tell us apart.
Were you nervous that this joining of forces might not live up to the hype, that maybe it was best left as what-if legend?
McDERMOTT: When [LA to Vegas creator] Lon Zimmet called me and said he wanted Dermot for the role, I said, “I think that’s the greatest idea I’ve ever heard in my life.” So I was gung-ho, I was all for it. I thought it was just genius. Forget about the names — Dermot is a tremendous actor, and he kills Captain Steve. I was just so happy that he wanted to do it because he could’ve just shied away from it and said, “No, I don’t want to it.” The fact that we both wanted it so badly was miraculous.
MULRONEY: Dylan and the comedic genius producers he’s working with, they really called my bluff. There was no way for me to pass, because then I would’ve been the one who didn’t look him in the eye. I took it on as a privilege and a challenge.
How do we know this is true that you two are actually playing opposite each other and it’s not one of you just playing opposite for yourself à la Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black?
McDERMOTT: I don’t think that question will ever be answered. The bigger question is: Will it end the confusion between us?
MULRONEY: It’s been so rewarding. We feel that each of us alone would be but one. This way, we are like one bigger confusing mess, but we are one together.
McDERMOTT: We don’t want to put it to bed. We want the confusion to last forever. And, get this: They’re finally paying us for it.
MULRONEY: Mine’s just like a modest guest-starring type of fee, but at least one of us is cashing in on this 30-year buildup, you know? Here’s to you, pal, way to go! I’m all for it.
McDERMOTT: Thank you, brother.
What did you feel on that first day of filming? A disturbance in the force? Did the camera start malfunctioning and the lights flicker for a second?
McDERMOTT: I saw him, and I think we just hugged each other because it called for that. [Mulroney laughs.] It just called for two men with similar names to hug and finally to work together… What was really great is that the script lent itself to real life. There was this rivalry that’s happened for so long, and then the script kind of reflected that, And he looked so great too. He had a mustache just like mine.
MULRONEY: They had called me in advance and asked me to bring in a real mustache, so I did my best to do my best Dylan McDermott. Which is more or less what I’ve been doing all along.
McDERMOTT: And so have I been doing. [They laugh.]
MULRONEY: It felt pretty monumental, to be honest.
And the hug was good for you, Dermot?
MULRONEY: The hug was good. You know, he’s a broad-shouldered man. He’s a little taller. I always try to really hug up to tall guys, because I respect them. So I gave him the best manliest, broad-shouldered hug I could give back.