September 16, 2014 3:24 pm
Updated: September 16, 2014 3:34 pm

WATCH: Tim Daly returns to TV in ‘Madam Secretary’

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ABOVE: Watch Tim Daly appear on Global’s The Morning Show.

TORONTO — A television show with political intrigue, a powerful leading woman, and a handsome leading man is not exactly a new idea. But Madam Secretary, starring Téa Leoni and Tim Daly, has something few shows do these days.

“Their marriage is powerful and dynamic and committed,” Daly said Tuesday about his character Henry and Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord.

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“So often we see on TV these horrible marriages and particularly when it comes to women. Like, if the woman happens to be in a position of power or she’s successful, she either has a horrible marriage or a broken marriage or there’s something horribly wrong. She’s paid a horrible price for being successful.

“In this case, not so much.”

Daly said Henry and Elizabeth have problems, indeed, but “they are dedicated to staying in there and working them out in a way that’s very passionate and, hopefully, dramatically powerful.”

The 58-year-old actor’s breakout role was as Joe Hackett in the comedy series Wings, which ran for eight seasons in the ’90s.

He followed with a string of guest spots — including a recurring role on The Sopranos that earned him an Emmy nomination — and then played Dr. Pete Wilder on Private Practice for six seasons.

Despite his leading man looks, Daly said he’s been happy to play a variety of roles.

“I’ve always felt like a character actor who’s sort of trapped in this… whatever this thing is that I have,” he explained. “Which is not a bad thing, but I’m more comfortable playing things that are far away from me.

“I’m very happy that I haven’t been typecast and it helps me in a lot of ways. I can still go to the supermarket and people don’t hound me and it gives me a chance to continue to work.”

On Madam Secretary, he plays a religious scholar whose professor wife is thrust into the role of U.S. Secretary of State.

“It shows someone who’s become involved in the political machine but who also has a real life,” Daly said of Leoni’s character.

The two stars had instant chemistry, he said during an interview with Global News. They bonded over having both studied at The Putney School in Vermont.

“We immediately had a sense of shared history even though we didn’t go at the same time,” recalled Daly. “We hit it right off and I knew that she was going to be a no-nonsense person. We have an absolutely great time working together.”

Off-screen, Daly has been divorced since 2010 from actress Amy Van Nostrand, to whom he was married for 28 years. The couple has son Sam, 30, and daughter Emelyn, 25.

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Daly said he “awkwardly and ham-handedly” uses Twitter. He currently has nearly 54,000 followers.

“I don’t really post too much,” he admitted. “I do the best I can. I try to live an actual life, not a virtual one — so I don’t spend too much time with it.”

Daly said he’s equally uncomfortable going online to read reviews.

“From time to time I’ll do that but I find if I Google something that I’ve done and there’s 20 raves and one bad review, I remember the bad one and focus on that and feel horrible.”

Daly need not worry too much about the response to Madam Secretary, which debuts Sunday on Global. (A Forbes review gushed: “We could be looking at the beginnings of the next great broadcast television series.”)

Daly said the public seems to have an appetite for shows set in the world of politics.

“Maybe because at the moment it gives us an opportunity to see fictitious governmental figures who get things done because our government is so stalled right now and we want a little relief from that,” he said. “We want to see stories where things actually happen.

“I’ve had some experience tangentially with people in politics and it’s very frustrating. Even when it’s working it’s very slow and when it’s not working it’s ground to a halt. We Americans aspire to politics that work.”

But, Daly added, Madam Secretary offers more.

“There’s an opportunity to see a really dynamic relationship between a husband and wife.”

Madam Secretary debuts Sept. 21 on Global.

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