Shiri Appleby's 'Life Unexpected'
By Jenna Busch Posted Feb 1st 2010 02:16PM
Now she has to learn to be a parent, deal with Lux's father (Kristopher Palaha), her co-host/fiance (Kerr Smith) and learn how to let people into her heart. 'Life Unexpected' has been getting some great reviews, being called the new 'Gilmore Girls' with a dash of 'Juno' for good measure.
I got a chance to talk to Appleby about her role, how it won't follow the usual formula, being only 12 years older than her 'daughter' and her fear of animals. She's got more reason than most! She also lets us know if she'd be willing to do more sci-fi. Check out our exclusive interview after the jump.
You guys have been getting some great reviews. Have you been reading them?
"Yeah, we've been checking out some of them and we feel the response and the excitement from everybody. We're all thrilled and at the same time, nervous that it sustains itself."
What do you think it is about the show that's grabbing everyone?
"I think it's a show about people actually caring about each other and trying to do the right thing. The struggles...to actually grow up at any age. So hopefully people are having a good time watching it."
You have a very interesting character. I think one of the things I like about it is, no one is really a bad guy, but everyone is flawed.
For people who haven't seen it yet, tell us about Cate and what she's all about.
"Sure. Cate is a radio talk show host with her fiance Ryan (Kerr Smitn), and in the first episode, we realize that she gave a baby up for adoption when she was in high school. And she got pregnant the night that she lost her virginity in the back of a mini-van to this guy Baze, played by Kristopher Polaha. And when her child comes back to find them, her life gets turned around 180 degrees. But at the same time, what we find out later on in the season is that the day that she gave up Lux for adoption was the day that she totally shut off to the world. So that, now that Lux is back in her life, it's like waking up again. She has a lot of issues trusting people and feeling like...she feels totally responsible for all the pain and the unstable life that Lux has had to go through. She has a lot of issues to work through herself."
The scenes that you guys have on the radio cracked me up. Playing 'sex, marry, kill'...
"[laughs] 'Sex, marry, kill.'"
I spoke to Kerr Smith and he says he never plays it.
"[laughs] I've never seen him play it. But we definitely get crazy on the radio. We were shooting it the other day. We had this great director...who made up improv before we would even start what we were talking about. The two of us just sort of banter and it gets crazy and so, by the time they say 'action' for the actual scene, we sort of flowing and ranting."
I wanted to ask you about the job...I don't want to give anything away, but having a kid and getting engaged...how does that affect Cate?
"Well, in the last episode that aired already, you see that the radio station, at the beginning of the show, Cate and Ryan are not together on the air, but they're together in real life and hiding it from the audience. And then on the air, we get told that Cate has a kid. So the second episode, the radio station comes to her and says, 'We need you to lie.' And so she lies, and Lux finds out...she goes back on the radio and she admits to it. And later on in the season, we have to deal with the consequences of the fact that they're a real life couple and people find out. And what does that mean? How they've been behaving on the air, how does that change?"
What made you go back to series television after 'ER' and 'Roswell'?
"Since 'Roswell' ended, I definitely took a break for a little while, in terms of wanting to do episodics, but then you realize that, if you can tell a story that people are still relating to week after week, that there is a lot of power in that. Not any kind of...[laughs]...just to connect to so many people week after week. It's a very special thing. And having a stable life. I think that's something I'd love to have for myself, and I wanted to work really hard. You know, when you come into somebody else's show, you're having a really good time, but there's not so much weight on your shoulders. I wanted the experience of working really hard day in and day out, and I'm definitely getting it on this job."
I know you brought up 'Roswell', which I loved. I had read that you would be interested in doing more sci-fi. Is that true?
"No. I mean, I would do it, obviously. If James Cameron came calling, I would do whatever he wanted. [laughs] But it's definitely an interesting genre, but I definitely connected more to the love story aspect on that show, as I do with this one."
Not a bad love triangle you've got going there with Kristopher and Kerr.
"No! Not a bad day at work."
It's really interesting, though...in a traditional series, this would be set up so Kerr's character isn't the one you root for and would end up being forced out. From what I've seen so far, that isn't the case here.
"The love triangle is, you end up with the stable guy that you know is going to be there for you...or, do soul mates really exist, and if they do, is it the guy who knocked you up in the back of his mom's mini-van? You know? At the same time, both of them are really great guys. You see both of them be really involved and care for her daughter. And she would be really great with either one of them. I just think she's so confused and she's so conflicted that the idea of making a choice is like mind-numbing."
The age difference between you and Brittany who plays your daughter is only 12 years. Does that feed your acting at all, in the sense of not being ready to be a parent to a teenager?
"Yeah, but the thing is, twelve years, from nineteen to thirty-one is a big difference. She hasn't gone through her twenties yet. So there are a lot of ways that I am very parental with her. And we do live together, which is really funny. You know, when 'Roswell' came out, I was nineteen. When I shot the pilot I was nineteen and she's nineteen now. And it's a totally different life. It was a totally different, younger version of myself. So there are a lot of things that are very parental, but at the same time, if I have questions or something that's irking me at work or in my personal life, I can ask her, because she's a very old and wise soul. I can ask her questions and she has great advice. But I think the fact that she's still in her teens and I'm in my thirties...I don't know. I feel sort of parental with her."
I had read something about you going on Animal Planet's 'Emergency Vets' to get over a fear of dogs. Is that true?
"Yeah. I was doing a cover for 'Teen Magazine' years ago, and they said you could come up with anything you want to do. When I was three years old, I was bit on my face by a dog. The scar over my left eye is from being bit by a dog. And so I went to work for the day on Animal Planet. It was great. I still haven't gotten over it, [though]. I've tried to get over my fear of animals, but about a year and a half ago I was horseback riding and I got thrown off and broke my pelvis and my tailbone."
Oh my gosh!
"I know! So I'm not really...[laughs]...I'm not one of those people who jives with animals that well."
I can see why! Did you know there is a thread on IMDB saying you should have played Bella in 'Twilight'?
"[laughs] The Kristen Stewart role?"
"That's funny! I think she's doing pretty well for herself."
Can you give us some info on the next episode?
"Sure! In this episode, the one that airs on Monday, we meet Cate's family, her mom and her sister, and Baze's parents. We have a big family dinner, and it's completely uncomfortable. And for the first time, Cate and Baze meet Lux's boyfriend Bug (Rafi Gavron)."
Everyone's had that dinner!
"Yeah, her mom is drinking a glass of wine that's filled to the brim. That was the highlight for me."
'Life Unexpected' airs Mondays at 9/8c on the CW.
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