The actor returns with the fourth season of Showtime’s “Episodes” as the high-strung television network executive Carol, worried as ever about her position and imperfectly balancing friendships with business.
How did you get your SAG-AFTRA card?
I bought into AFTRA thinking somehow, someday SAG and AFTRA would hook up. Mind you, this was 15 years ago! But then when I realized that wasn’t going to happen that quickly, I started doing background artist work—which back then, it was called extra work—and I begged and pleaded with the first A.D. on every project to give me one of those magical SAG voucher slips, because you needed three to apply to get into the union. It was so demeaning to go up to these people at the end of the day and say, “Hi, I’m an actress—like, an actual actress,” and you had to flirt and it was so hard!
What’s your worst survival job?
I cleaned houses for a little bit, and that was rough. I also worked in a flower shop for a kind of manic-depressive boss who you would just try to avoid all the time. You just take any job you can that will allow your dream to come true.
Who do you have an acting crush on?
I love Robin Wright. Kristin Wiig! I love those two women. I did a small scene in “The Skeleton Twins” and I basically paid to be in that film because I flew myself there, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. She is awesome!
What’s your worst audition story?
I was going in for a young girl who’s a medium, and in the middle of the scene this man takes over her body. And I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to make this man a really old black man. I thought it would be a really great choice! And I was really into it and at the end the casting director goes, “OK, OK. I appreciate that you made a choice, but I think instead of going ‘Tropic Thunder’ on this, we should just make him an old man. Don’t make him a black man. Just do an old guy.” And then I didn’t get the part.
What advice would you give young actors?
First and foremost, you have to learn the lines. People think that’s an obvious thing, but it’s unbelievable how many actors show up on set and don’t know their lines. I could never work like that, because if I don’t know them verbatim I spend the whole time worrying about getting the lines right and never getting anything out of the scene.
What do you wish you’d known before you started acting?
I didn’t know anything business-wise. I graduated with a degree in musical theater and no skill in anything else to make money; I wish I had gotten a massage therapy kit or something where I could have made my own money. Trying to get a job in L.A. and lying to every employer saying, “No, I’m not an actress,” is just painful! I worked at Merrill Lynch from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. and I thought, Well, I can still go on auditions in the afternoon. That’s not when all auditions happen. So I was lying all over the map, saying, “Oh, my car just broke down,” and eventually I was fired the day I quit because I finally got cast in a pilot. That Monday after I got the job I wrote a two weeks notice type of thing and was called into my manager’s office and they read me the riot act. And then I never worked a day job again!
Inspired by this post? Check out our television audition listings!