Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) GAME OF SILENCE #GameOfSilence is the most exciting one at the moment. It’s airing Thursday nights 10/9c on NBC. Then we have the film Wild Oats coming out with Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange, and I’m in a few films in the festivals now, including “Last Call At Murray’s” and another called “Monty And The Runaway Furnace,”which I helped produce.
Q) Please tell us the premise of your show “Game of Silence” and about your character Alice Anne.
A) The premise of the show is that a bunch of kids attempt to rescue their friend Jessie (Katie Kelly plays her as a kid) from her alcoholic, abusive mother (played by me). They get into trouble by crashing a car and the boys end up going to prison. Twenty-five years later their lives are still impacted by what happened that year. The show goes back and forth in time to reveal what exactly happened, and how it effects their lives. I play Alice Ann, Jessie’s mom in the 1980’s and in the present so you’ll get to see me age 25 years! Alice Ann is a piece of work! Jessie and Alice Ann have survived a lot through the years, so they are tough, and rough around the edges. Alice Ann has been scarred by life, but that makes her fearless, or reckless, and possibly dangerous. She really has nothing to lose, except her daughter (Bre Blair).
Q) What made you want to be a part of the show?
A) This project from the start was exciting for me. The audition scenes for the character were so wild and fun. I’m really drawn to wild characters, as you probably know from “Sons of Anarchy” and “Hung”, etc. I’m a risk taking actor and trained for so many years at the Actors Studio with the best people in this industry. They are always pushing my boundaries, all the time, and I’m not afraid of trying anything. So, I welcome of these kinds of outrageous, crazy, dark, and sometimes ugly roles that can be daunting to some people. I love these kinds of roles and the writers on this show are fantastic. The creator, David Hudgins, has done a bunch of shows. He did “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood.” He’s a really talented, experienced writer and a thoughtful, compassionate and kind human being. I think that really opens up the mind to create really full characters. He really considers what people are going through and puts that into his writing, so the characters are not just one level, typical characters. They are very rich, full, deep characters who have a lot of range, and a lot of life.
Q) What is it about these strong dark roles that make these characters so appealing to you?
A) I’ve lived a wild life! My life experience has been an adventure, truly different than almost anyone else’s on the planet. I’ve lived an intense, challenged life since childhood. I guess my spirit, having gone through all the things I’ve gone through, would be bored with normal. Maybe when your barometer has been pushed so far, you don’t ever really go back to average. That’s my life. I’m a fighter. I’ve had to fight really hard to be alive and moving. I’ve been through a lot medically and been challenged a lot by people because of it. And that makes me a fighter. My spirit is very strong from all that and it has been since I was a child. I used to ask my mom, “Why me? Why did these things happen to me?” And she would say, “Because you are the one with the spirit strong enough to beat it.” I was in a wheelchair because I was paralyzed from a vaccine when I was a child. It was supposed to be for life, but even after doctors gave up on me, I somehow managed to figure out how to get out of that chair. Even with my legs messed up, I originally wanted to be a cheerleader, so I kept pushing and pushing to do what everyone else was doing. And I did! I was the captain of my cheerleading teams. When I was fourteen years old, I started to have to have surgery after surgery to rebuild the broken parts of my legs. So, it’s been a lot. Also, my parents died young from cancer so I had to deal with that and then in my early 30’s I got cancer, too, from all the x-rays I went through as a child. It goes on, but fighting has always been a part of my life. Then, I’m in an industry that has been very averse to imperfections and people with challenges. I was a little surprised by it when I first came to LA and I had a real problem with the gatekeepers of the industry. I wear a brace on my life leg, but I can do everything. Fortunately, I had a manager Lin Bickelmann who had the idea for me to go for the “rough” roles because then they wouldn’t care if I had a limp. Here was this innocent woman suddenly playing drug addicts, crackheads and alcoholics! I was able to put my fire and fierceness into these roles. I believe they sort of took off because of my passion. I was willing to do anything, be ugly, be scary, because I wanted to work as an actor.
Q) Are there still roles you would like to play?
A) There are! It’s still not all open doors for me out here. There are always bigger roles and leads on TV shows. I’d love to play all kinds of characters and do have a lot of fun with comedy. I played every possible range at the Actors Studio. For a years, I was playing those sexy, sultry characters, roles that were written for the likes of Marilyn Monroe. I love all kinds of roles. I’ve never gotten to play a cop or detective, and in my world I’d make an excellent detective. I don’t think it would be an issue for a detective to have a limp. I’d love to do a romantic comedy sometime or a great mother-daughter story. I’ve written a few things and have a couple of projects going out in the world. And in those I write great characters for myself, things I’d like to play. So far, this role on “Game of Silence” has been my favorite so far, but yes, there is a whole lot more I want to do.
Q) How might dynamics shift as the season of “Game of Silence” continues?
A) It’s a very gripping drama that unravels over a twenty-five-year span of time. Because the nightmare of their life was nine months of their lives as children and they buried the worst of it in their past, an event comes up in the present that forces them all to look into the past and their secrets start to come to light. The series spends most of its time in the present day, but it looks at the damage that the past did to all their lives. A lot of people still try to care about and love their parents in their older years in spite of what they have been through. So, you do get to see that dynamic between Alice Anne and Jessie.
Q) What was it like for you working with the cast?
A) I love Bre Blair (Jessie) so much! We had a blast working together, and everyone helped each other do their best. We all got to go back to Atlanta, which is my hometown. I moved there in college and started my career there. So, it was really fun to go back home to work. One of the series leads is Michael Raymond-James (Gil), also from the Actors Studio. So, I already knew him and he knew me. We have the same sort of fire, spirit and life force that we throw into our work. So it’s a blast working with him! I met Bre when I got onto the studio lot where we shoot and she has just been wonderful from the start. We all ended up going out and hanging out in Atlanta. We had karaoke parties thanks to one of the producers Deran Serafian, and everyone got to hangout. This cast is amazing because everyone is so kind, wonderful and open to each other. There were no diva mentalities, which can happen a lot with stars on things. But our leads are all so kind and welcoming and so much fun to play with, and that shines through on screen.
Q) Will you be live tweeting any of the episodes and sharing behind the scenes pictures?
A) Yes, yes, yes!!! We will continue live tweeting and sharing photos. In the second half of the season when my character comes back in strong, we’ll be doing more events like that with Twitter parties, live tweeting and sharing photos. We do intend to bring our fans into the mix.
Q) Are you looking forward to the instant fan feedback you will be receiving?
A) Yeah, I love that! We already have the greatest fanbase. Especially on Twitter & Facebook, they are fantastic. They make pictures for us, send happy birthdays and retweet all of our show stuff. They are very active and not imposing in any way. They are super positive and it’s an amazing fanbase so far. I know that my fanbase on Facebook is super, super supportive and they are excited about the show. I love the fans and love interacting with them. I think it is important because they are the reason our shows happen and succeed so it is really important to bring them into the fun, and hear what they have to say.
Q) Is there anything else you want us to be sure we share with viewers?
A) Stay tuned for Alice Ann #AliceAnn and wait until you hear the stuff that comes out of her mouth! When I first read the script I was like, “Whoa!” The writers are really pushing it and Alice Ann is going to come in with a bang. I think the fans will get a kick out of her. A lot of people who have followed me from “Sons of Anarchy” are already on board. They are excited. I think it is a good show for that fanbase to follow. They seem to love my strong, wild, unpredictable characters.
By: Lisa Steinberg