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Interview

Kathleen Rose Perkins Gets Sweet Revenge in 'Episodes'

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Kathleen Rose Perkins Gets Sweet Revenge in 'Episodes'
Photo Source: Brian Higbee
On the Showtime series "Episodes," now in its second season, Kathleen Rose Perkins somehow manages the impossible—she makes her network television executive Carol Rance likeable. That might not sound too difficult, until you consider that Carol is a habitual liar, a narcissist, and having an affair with her boss. Oh, and said boss' wife? She's blind. Still, audiences can't help but like Carol, even when she complains that her lover shouldn't bother to buy his wife a new ring, sniping, "The woman is blind, how will she know? Give her one of her old ones!"

Carol fits right into the world of "Episodes," which features Matt LeBlanc playing an obnoxious, entitled version of himself, now starring on a network comedy called "Pucks!" barely based on a British show from husband-and-wife team Sean and Beverly Lincoln (played by Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig). Carol's neuroses and her growing friendship with Beverly endear the character to viewers, and to Perkins. "You just want her to get it together because she really means well," Perkins says. "And I think she really believes half the things she's lying about!"

You've done a lot of television, so is there a kind of satisfaction in getting to play a TV executive?
Kathleen Rose Perkins: There is. It's kind of a reluctant satisfaction. Part of me doesn't want to feel empathy for this type of person and root for her, but I do. I really do. And I have actually had the chance, through this role, to kind of feel bad and grow some real big sympathy points for TV executives. That job is not easy.

Matt LeBlanc is such a good sport on the show, making fun of his own image. Is he anything like his character at all?
Perkins: He's not all like that, but there is a part of him that's very similar. The people that developed this show are really good friends with him, so some of the storylines are things that have come up in conversation and such. But as a person, Matt is just a really nice, down-to-earth guy who loves to joke around. He's a good person.

What was the process of landing the role of Carol? Was it a typical audition?
Perkins: Yeah, it was an audition. I was actually told they were looking for somebody a little bit older, but they were willing to see younger. So I thought, "There's no way they're going to cast me in this role." As a result, there wasn't a lot of weight in the first audition. But the second audition, Matt LeBlanc was there and some executives from Showtime. That's when I had to stop halfway through, because I couldn't breathe because I was so nervous. It's a nerve-wracking that process, trying to get a show. But I think I did six pilots before this one, and I had tested for many other ones, so I had been in that position before a lot of times. And this was actually the most relaxed process so far.


"Episodes" (Showtime)

Did any of those previous pilots make it to air?

Perkins: Two of them made it to air, and those happened to be the two that I was fired from.

Fired? How did you handle that?
Perkins: I'm able to laugh now. It actually happened twice in the same year. One of them was "Rules of Engagement," which is still on the air. But I wasn't alone, they recast three out of the five actors after the pilot. That was a painful one. Being fired from a show, being fired in any way, in any instance, any business is just hard. I remember someone told me, "Hey, look, Lisa Kudrow was fired from 'Frasier' before she got 'Friends'!" And that was probably the worst thing to say. People think that that's a good thing to say, how big stars were fired before, so it happens to everybody. But I'm sitting there going, "Yeah, but I'm not a big star, how does that at all have anything to do with me?"

Are you good at auditioning? Are there any strange experiences you've had you'd be willing to share with us?
Perkins: I'll tell you one that was uncomfortable for me in that I just don't know what was going on. When I walked into audition for "The Smurfs" movie, the casting director had a stuffed Smurf. One of the scenes was with a Smurf so he said, "Feel free to talk to the Smurf." I had a hard time keeping it together, because I was looking at a stuffed animal and it wasn't moving its mouth, and I knew that he was holding it and he was talking. And he wasn't on camera, so there was no reason for me to look at a stuffed Smurf. But later, I was like, "Come on, Kathleen, you're auditioning for 'The Smurfs' movie. Of course he would do that, it makes sense." Needless to say, I didn't get that one.

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