Sam Daly Dishes On His Role In ‘Madam Secretary’ And Growing Up In New England

Sunday nights have never been the same since the political drama “Madam Secretary” first aired. Now in its fourth season, the CBS series stars Providence-born Sam Daly, son of actors Tim Daly and Amy Van Nostrand, who plays marijuana industry lobbyist and ‘Daisy Grant’s’ (Patina Miller) fiancée, ‘Win Barrington.”

Even though Daly grew up in a family where being seen on the big screen was the norm, he never thought he would get into show business. Daly was born in Providence, Rhode Island and received an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Vermont where he took a film class and finally caught the acting bug.

Since then, he has had recurring roles on some of TV’s biggest hits like NBC’s ‘The Office’ (where he played ‘Oscar’s’ gay love interest ‘Matt’ who works in shipping) and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Today, he can be seen on “Madam Secretary” opposite Téa Leoni and his Emmy and SAG Award-nominated father Tim.

Marissa and Sam DalyPhoto Credit: Sam Daly

The show explores Secretary ‘Elizabeth McCord’s’ (Téa Leoni) life as the determined United States Secretary of State who drives international diplomacy, battles office politics, and circumvents protocol as she negotiates global and domestic issues, both at the White House and at home. The show also focuses on the personal lives of her family and staff, including her press secretary ‘Daisy Grant’ and Daisy’s fiancée ‘Win Barrington,’ a medical marijuana industry lobbyist who learns that she has been unfaithful to him with ‘Matt Mahoney’ (Geoffrey Arend), the Secretary’s speechwriter.

Sam’s real-life father, Tim, plays Head of the CIA ‘Henry McCord,’ the Secretary’s husband of 25 years. (The series was created by Barbara Hall (Homeland'” “Judging Amy”) and is exec produced by Lori McCreary and Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe Award-winner Morgan Freeman).

In addition to his work in film and television, Sam also stars in the popular YouTube series “The Daly Show” with his father Tim.

We caught up recently with Daly to find out what it is like working on “Madam Secretary,” how often he gets back to New England and some of his favorite haute spots in Boston.

Tell us what it’s like to play the role of Win Barrington in “Madam Secretary” and what made you decide to get involved with the project.

It was easy to get involved with the show because my dad is one of the leads. When I heard about the role for Win, who was a WASPy marijuana lobbyist, I said, how funny is that? I remember going to the audition and wore a nice suit. My wife was like, why are you wearing that when you are auditioning for the role of a pot lobbyist? I was also a big fan of Patina Miller, who plays Daisy Grant, so it has been great to get to work with her.

When did you know you wanted to be a professional actor yourself?

It’s funny, I wasn’t a child actor growing up. Both my dad’s parents were actors and my parents are both actors so that is all I have known. I used to make fun of my parents growing up and thought I was going to be an economics major, but then took an American film genre class and somewhere subconsciously it clicked. I took acting classes my senior year, moved to LA and hit the ground running. It has been great ever since. My parents are the most supportive parents and would support me in anything I did. I hope to do a lot more acting in the future, but it has really been a blessing.

What’s it like working with your father on “Madam Secretary?”

We haven’t been able to work together in a scene, so I am hoping they can find a way to make our story lines align, but like I do with any job, I take my craft seriously, prepare and show up on set ready to go. When I first started on the show, it was a warm, welcoming environment.

You were born in Rhode Island, went to high school in Providence and Middlebury College in Vermont. Do you get back to New England often?  

Not as often as I would like. My family had a house in Vermont for 25 years, but my parents and sister now all live in New York. The only bummer is that Vermont is difficult to get to from LA. We would end up flying to New York and then driving for four and a half hours up to Vermont. We try to get there now as often as we can and at least once in the summer. We have a 10-month old son (Owen) so it’s a little more challenging traveling with him. I miss Rhode Island and have so many friends who still live there. It’s funny when I go back, I slip back into my Rhode Island roots saying “wicked” all the time.

Any places in Boston you enjoy visiting?

We were in Boston not too long ago for a wedding and we walked to the North End and had oysters and lobster rolls at Neptune Oyster. I remember all the good times going to random bars in the South End. I have lived in big cities and Boston is the only one I can’t navigate (jokes). It doesn’t make any sense.

You are working with Wesley Snipes and Shameik Moore in the RZA-directed post-Katrina heist drama “Cut Throat City.” What else is up next for you?

I have a funny action comedy “Office Uprising” coming up that is a riot. It stars Jane Levy, who was in ‘Don’t Breathe’ and Zach Levi and should be out next month or so. It has a great core cast and was shot in Birmingham, Alabama. To be able to see some of the stunts these guys do, I have never seen stunts on that level so it was really fun. My character is not a good guy. He’s the kind of guy you love to hate. To get to play someone who is inherently evil is really fun.