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One on One with House, M.D.‘s Newest Addition: Amber Tamblyn

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Amber Tamblyn recently joined the cast of House, M.D. as Martha Masters a third-year medical student who new to House’s (Hugh Laurie) diagnostic team. No newcomer to series television, Tamblyn has starred in the CBS series Joan of Arcadia (2003-2005) as well as last year’s The Unusuals with Oscar nominee (and former House Patient of the Week) Jeremy Renner. The 27-year-old actress can also currently be seen in the movie 127 Hours. I recently had the opportunity to interview Tamblyn via phone, during which we talked about everything from her new character and working with Hugh Laurie to social media and blogging.

Tamblyn has mentioned in several other interviews that her House character Martha Masters is sort of the alter ego of her friend, a medical student. Creating the character was a “very interesting synchronistic thing,” Tamblyn explained. “When I met with [showrunner] David Shore and Katie Jacobs, they described this very vague idea they had for a character.”

Wanting Tamblyn’s input to “come up with something really cool,” she mentioned a friend “who really reminds me of this character in a lot of ways. And actually reminds me of House in certain ways.”  Tamblyn’s friend is “incredibly brilliant” like House, she noted, “but [also] the opposite. She’s not abrasive in the way that House is. She’s also sort of a social recluse in a certain way. And she doesn’t really know how to socially function, so she doesn’t socially function.”

Shore liked the idea. And while writing the script, he wondered if he might use Tamblyn’s friend’s name. “And it turns out that my real-life friend is a huge fan of House, so she was very excited to give her name to the show. I would say that this character is an exaggerated version of her.” Tamblyn doesn’t think her friend is quite as socially awkward as the Martha Masters character. “She probably is this brilliant though. That’s for sure. But I think that, again, it’s kind of an homage to her.”

Martha is like a breath of fresh air into the House mix. She’s completely different than anyone else in the cast of characters, and she brings a different dynamic and sensibility than any of the characters we’ve seen before. There’s a lot of potential to shake things up just by her presence, especially because House doesn’t quite seem to know what to make of her. “When you’re launching a character on an established show,” Tamblyn noted, “you don’t know if it’s going to go over well—especially a show that’s so loved like this. And its fans are very specific about what they like and don’t like.” But she does seem to have struck the right chord with the most of the fans. 

Martha Masters is an anomaly on House’s team. “She doesn’t relate to them. She’s not like one of the guys fitting in. I think that they kind of maybe look at her like a little sister; somebody who can be exhausting, but then also someone they’re kind of mildly threatened by in a certain way.”

Tamblyn also thinks that Martha’s insistence on honesty—as annoying to the team (and House) as that may be is also a defense mechanism. “Martha’s need to stick to the truth, her sense of ethics and the power of truth to her is something that she kind of hides behind,” related Tamblyn. “When she’s just telling someone the facts, you know, she doesn’t have to watch out for anyone’s feelings.”

But reaching beyond relaying the simple facts to patients finds Masters outside her comfort level. Tamblyn feels that “when she’s not talking to patients or when she’s being forced to say something that she doesn’t want to say that you really see it come out in her.” She’s not able to bend the truth “the way that you or I might so as to not hurt someone’s feelings. Martha’s incapable of doing that. And she ends up going off on some tirade about, you know, her period [or something like irrelevant like that]. It’s very funny to watch,” Tamblyn suggested.

In the last episode, “Small Sacrifices,” Martha has a bit of a wake-up call when her she realizes that the truth might have really hurt a patient. She confesses to House that “if I had been truthful with this patient he would have died.” I wondered if that moment may have been a wake up call for House’s young protégé. Would she begin to learn that full honesty is not necessarily a virtue?  

“In sticking with the truth of human habits and the truth of human developmental habits,” Tamblyn noted, “I think we always make the same mistakes over. It’s pretty rare that somebody completely changes overnight.”

Tamblyn believes that Martha’s backstory includes growing up in an “academic household, with a very academic lifestyle her whole life. It’s very hard to just suddenly reverse everything you’ve been, you’ve taught yourself and that you’ve been able to hold onto.”  Tamblyn does feel, however, that Masters “will continue to grow and regress, and grow and regress, as everybody does. And who knows where that will take her? And what that will reveal about her.”

There’s an interesting dynamic going on between House and Masters, something in my opinion we’ve never quite seen before. Tamblyn thinks House is “fascinated by her. She is annoying and exhausting, and she’s also very interesting to him. I would say she’s slightly off. So that is also something he’s aware of. She’s just not a straight shooter. Even when she’s shooting straight, her straight is sideways.”

Seeing definite similarities between House and Masters, Tamblyn noted that, “both of them are at least trying to get the same result, save a patient’s life, except one goes about it however he feels like it, and the other one will not do that. So you’re sort of seeing the meeting of two minds that want the same outcome, but go about it in completely different ways.”

In Tamblyn’s opinion, House is trying to give Masters a taste of real life—away from academia “It’s like he’s saying not to listen to what you learned in academia and in school. Form an opinion of your own. I wouldn’t say he’s trying to nurture her, but I would say that he’s definitely trying to help her get into the real world. Academia is not the real world. It’s studying for the real world. And so to apply everything that you learn in school to the real world is a bad habit and a bad thing to do.”

Despite the character’s quirkiness and social awkwardness–and although she can be quite annoying at times, Tamblyn likes her new character. “Even though she’s incredibly smart, and can be annoying in her smartness,” noted the actress. “There is a vulnerability about her. You feel like you could just say something about her having no friends and it would crush her. She’s actually not strong in the way that maybe other characters on House are. I mean, certainly not like [Dean of Medicine] Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), who is a powerhouse. And I feel like a lot of the female characters on House have been that way—and are that way. Olivia’s character (Remy Hadley) as well.”

Tamblyn believes, “it’s nice to have somebody [on the show] who is actually crushable and can be hurt. And though you don’t really see it, I think that if you were to get into a personal argument with her, she would lose, because she’s not capable of understanding those [sorts of] things. You get a sense that there’s a backstory to this person that we don’t know yet. And to me, the greatest and most interesting thing about being an actor is when you get to explore that subtext.”

The character stories on House are often told through layers of subtext. If Martha Masters hangs around long enough maybe we’ll learn more of hers. “Maybe you’ll never find out what all that subtext is, but it’s there,” Tamblyn explained. “Which is how it is with [the character of] House as well and the way Hugh Laurie plays him. That’s one of the reasons why his character is so delicious.”

Is House aware of Masters’ vulnerability on some level, and if so, will he abuse it? “I think he presses her,” Tamblyn responded. “But maybe it’s to a limit. I’m not really sure yet, though. And I’m happy to not know.” She’d rather have her character unfold with few preconceived notions. But how long will her character be around? “Contractually I’m here until the end [of season seven], so I would love to stay to the end,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of avenues we could explore and a lot of things we could explore, and it would be very fun.”

Perhaps even beyond season seven? “I just try to think about the work I’m doing now,” Tamblyn explained. “And when it comes to that point then, you know, it’ll be another conversation. But I think that, I think David Shore is just an absolutely scrumptious individual. And the kind of stuff that he writes for television is the kind of thing that, you know, actors look for their whole life.”

Like others I’ve spoken with on the show, Tamblyn feels the writing process is collaborative. “That’s just a rare thing. You don’t always find that.” But she really credits David Shore for developing her character “I definitely feel the blessing of working for David. And the character is great because 50 percent of it is his. The writers on the show in general are great; they’ve picked up a couple of things I’ve put in there, they start writing it into the script. It’s a very like a give and take relationship between myself and the writers.”

Landing into the midst of a long-established hit television series as Tamblyn has can be challenging in and of itself. Most of the cast has been there since the beginning. “It’s a dream come true,” she said. “You’re coming into a situation where everybody knows what they’re playing, who they’re playing. People are still really energetic and excited about who they’re playing because it’s a great show. It’s not like they’re exhausted with the characters. It’s just like a giant well-oiled machine.”

It’s been a far different experience, noted the actress, than when she’s been involved in launching a brand new show. “With new shows you pour your heart and soul into something that’s only got one wheel on it and you’re hoping you’re going to be able to get it down the highway. Who knows if it’s all going to come together? It’s a very nerve-wracking process.” It’s far more the norm to work on a show and see it cancelled in its first year. And it’s difficult to see those projects fail. “Especially when you put so much energy into it and you see it fall to pieces. I think about the shows just this year that are already gone. You think about all the energy that the writers and the producers and the actors, they all put into it, and it’s heartbreaking. It was like that with the Unusuals [Tamblyn’s last series], which I think maybe three people watched.”

So Tamblyn has enjoyed joining the cast of this long-running hit. “For me it was really great to come in and see that everyone knows what they’re doing and that it’s a well-oiled machine, but you’ve also got Hugh Laurie to just throw in the mix.”

Tamblyn has already had a lot of great scenes with the brilliant Laurie. “It’s incredible. He’s humble and funny and sweet,” she noted, confirming what so many others have revealed about working with him. “My favorite thing to do is make him blush,” she confessed. “Seriously, it’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. He’s just…he’s the best.”

Asked where she would like to see her character go, she joked that she’d like it “revealed that Martha is really Chase. The show isn’t really called House. It’s called ‘The Sequel to Inception’—and Suddenly Martha’s speaking in all the accents.” I can only imagine—although it might make on hell of a great hallucinatory episode for House (the character, I mean!).

Tamblyn said that the funniest moments she’s experienced on set have been “any time spent with Omar and Jesse and Peter. “A lot of it,” she noted, “is really just, I think, ‘boy’ humor, unfortunately, which I can’t share with you, other than to tell you that I feel at home working with all guys. That’s my favorite thing.” She recalled a similar situation working on The Unusuals with Jeremy Renner and Harold Perrineau “and all those guys was like the greatest dream for me. Just something about, you know, hanging out with dudes on set and talking dirty talk. It’s funny. So it’s lots of fun with the guys [on House]. They’re very, very funny. And we crack each other up all the time.”

Tamblyn recently began a blog, which, she admitted “is pretty funny, because I’m so against Twitter. I hate it with a visceral—I’m allergic to it.” Although she intensely dislikes social media, she loves to write and blogging is a way to stay with it. “I have written a couple of books of poetry and prose. So in order to maintain that and motivate myself to write, I started a blog.”

So what do you think of House’s new addition? Let me know in the comments section below. House returns with new episodes in January, but in the meantime, we’ll explore some of the oldies and goodies, as well as dive deeper into season seven.

For those of you in the Chicago area, I’ll be doing a book signing at Something’s Brewing in Grayslake, so stop by and chat with me about House and season seven. I’ll also be appearing on December 13 on the FOX News 2 Morning Show in Detroit to talk House and Chasing Zebras

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Elena

    Nola, I agree with you. It’s sad and it’s true.

  • Nola

    Long time reader of your blog, first time poster. So first let me say how I have always enjoyed reading your thoughts Barbara as you often bring out great points I have glanced over. But today as I sit here watching House reruns on a cable network, I have to ask myself, what happened to this great show. Have the writers just run out of good material ?
    Is the show focusing too much on relationships rather than interesting medical procedures ? Why has this past season reminded me so much of the downhill fall of Moonlighting ?

    I can understand why the rating have fallen off so much this past season and I dont think it has anything to do with TIVO or viewers watching the show on the internet at later dates. I know for me personally House is no longer “Must see TV”.

    I was very open to see the direction the writers would take the show, but now that I have seen it, I feel its lost the appeal of what the show was really about.
    House is no longer House.

    I was worried when they brought in new doctors but that was handled so well with House interviewing, eliminating and playing games. So I though, ok, the writers handled that so well, they can handle this massive change of House/Rehab, House/Cuddy. But I dont feel its been handled well at all.
    House and Cuddy at a wedding ??? Did the writers need an excuse to see the characters dressed up ? That scene reminded me of when Greys Anatomy held a prom. And that was the last time I ever watched Greys.

    Give me back my pill popping, cranky, but always on top of his game Dr.House. I dont even bother watching reruns of this past season and I am not looking forward to next season.
    And as to Amber, eh, I can take her or leave her. Loved her on Joan of Arcadia but on House, I find her character rather annoying.
    So right now as I sit here watching these great reruns, today with Det. Twitter (David Morse) it just reminds me of what a great show House was and I cant help but compare it to this past season and ask myself, what happened to this amazing show ?
    But I still love Hugh Laurie. He was recently in New Orleans right down the street from where I live, recording a blues album. Looking foward to hearing that when its released.
    And Barbara, thank you, I always enjoy readings your perspective.

  • Hey, other Barnett 🙂

    I don’t see her as alterna-Cam. She’s a very different sort of character. In ways she’s more morally rigid than Cameron, but she’s also more open minded to House and gets what he’s trying to do more than Cameron did at the start. She’s also more medically sure of herself than Cameron was at the beginning.

  • The Other Barnett

    Tamblyn is bringing us an incredible new character to House. Martha is definitely someone you want to take care of. But, I still see Martha as alterna-Cameron. You know, if she had not gotten married to the dying man…or am I just jonesing for Cameron?

  • RobF

    I am completely sold on the MMM character, and Amber Tamblyn has done an excellent job so far.

    As you said, it’s extremely risky to add a character into a long-running show (“The Itchy and Scratchy… and Poochie! Show”), but this one is a great success so far.

  • Orange450

    OMG!!!! SASSY!!!!! I’m so excited to see you here!!!

    I’ve missed you too – House just isn’t quite the same without your participation in the discussion!

  • Kat

    As an avid watcher of House…I was at first very leary of a new team member and expecting not to like her very much. But, although I’m not completely won over, she is slowly growing on me. When you see the battle she is winning to stand up to House, it makes you stop and take notice. Good job Amber…

  • Darius

    In reference to an earlier post about Asperger’s Syndrome, I would not be surprised if that was the case with Tamblyn’s character as I myself have it and thus recognize a lot of the parallels. Some have theorized that House may have it as well. Ah… not so much, unless he represents the darker side that couldn’t care less about abstracts such as love and faith. Either way, as you might imagine, I love the new character, although personal opinion about the script from her first appearance: the rambling about the house structure could’ve been much longer as in situations such as that, typically one with such a personality tends to go until they’re done.

    Referencing an earlier post about what Masters would do should House succeed, there is a third option to either corruption or burning: intelligently synthesizing the two sides together. If the character is truly honest in her pursuit, she’ll know when to be pleasant and when to do what she needs to do and discover the different dimensions of honesty that lay beyond simple truth-telling.

  • wolfchien

    I’m trying to get a message to Natalie Pope, set decorator for House. In “Office Politics” Dr. House is walking down a hallway talking to Cuddy when they pass 3 landscape paintings(the center one was half red). I’ve been trying to find out the artists’ name who painted them. I would be so greatful if someone could help me!

  • Oh Wow! Hey Sassydew. Great to see you here. Thanks much for the kind words.

  • Sassydew

    Hi Barbara! I have to catch up on your blog; real life has kept me away for a bit! Also, I see you have a book out now – congratulations! Great interview, as usual. Unfortunately, I have not cared for Amber Tamblyn’s acting since her General Hospital days. As for her character on “House”, I don’t feel that she really adds anything, though I would pick her over Cameron and 13 any day. I long for the days when strong, confident female characters (Stacy and Amber) graced the screen. Nice to see you here, Orange! I owe you e-mail! And sdemar, nice to see you here, too! I’ve missed you all!

  • ZiaMary

    I’ve loved Amber since I first saw her on General Hospital. She was quite an impressive child star and I think she has grown to be a very good and believable actress. I love her character on House. I do think she intimidates him just a little and he doesn’t quite know what to make of her and how to handle her. I love that!!!
    I really hope the powers that be keep her on the show permanently. The storylines are endless. And I also agree with other who would like to see more medical/hospital issues and less personal ones.

  • ruthinor

    I neither love nor hate the character of M3. I’ve always liked AT and really enjoyed Joan of Arcadia, a show with many fine actors.

    I strongly agree with those who miss Amber (the character!). Wilson’s ex-wife Sam pales in comparison, IMO. I don’t know if this factored into her dying or not, but Anne Dudek was pregnant at the time of her “demise”. On the other hand, shows can usually hide that fact fairly well. Now she’s stuck on a show which is actually not too bad (forgot the name, but it’s on cable in the summer), but she’s playing a minor role. Of course, she was also in Mad Men (but hard for me to recognize there, for some reason). I always thought that she was the perfect match for Wilson. Maybe that’s why they killed her! Can’t have any character on House happy for too long!

    I think House ( the TV show) is suffering now from trying to cover a medical case as well as the personal lives of each of the characters. It’s spread too thin. They should focus on one or two characters at most and cover the others in separate shows, i.e. go into depth on fewer characters/show. They really glossed over what happened between Wilson and Sam. It left many people very confused.

  • sharmin

    I really like Amber Tamblyn as an actress, but that alone would not be sufficient for this type of show and quality of cast and writing.
    I impressed with the addition of a character who forces the examination of some important topics: academic v. practical medicine; ethics of informed consent; humanism v. faith as aspects healing; and I thnk there will be many more. While the character is new and developing, there is already great potential for back story and interesting dynamics between the characters that are not revolving around the sexual tensions that came to rule over every discussion in the last two seasons.
    I like the idea of drama that focuses on medical issues, medical challenges, and where they meet the human side of medicine.

  • jen

    @alanwillingham: I agree completely. Although I thought Amber’s death was something interesting to explore, especially regarding Wilson and House — and didn’t it lead to an engaging fifth season? — I still think that Amber was by far one of the most spectacular female characters I’ve ever seen on ANY show, much less one as wonderful as House.

  • Esther

    I truly dislike her character. AT is a wonderful actress, and the way that the character is written is fine — except it just doesn’t fit. Yes, it’s a “new, fresh” character to add to the House team, but she really rubs me the wrong way. Her ethical and moral code is her downfall, and she only hinders House’s thought process. LC is supposed to be there to tame House’s wild side, and his team shouldn’t resist every attempt he makes to deceive a patient (for their own good). It’s one thing if he’s making a life/death decision and isn’t being responsible (happens a lot!); it’s another when he’s trying to get an answer out of the patient, or it’s something minor.

    And that’s what gets me: she’s stubborn, shy, diminutive, and down right thick-headed about so many issues that come up on the show. I do hope they develop her and show some growth, because right now the MM character is a like a silly child compared to the team. Yes, she’s still in med school, but she needs to develop as a character.

  • leftofcentergirl

    I love the show and I think Amber is the perfect “fit”. It is my opinion that her character, Martha Masters most likely has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of Autism in which people have some level of difficulty in social situations, while extremely intelligent, often at genius levels. Regardless, there is no show that I enjoy watching more.

  • ad

    she needs to go away

  • alanwillingham

    I don’t usually comment on pretend people and situations, but I am an avid fan of the show and am curious about something. Although I find the potential of this female character appealing so far, I don’t understand what caused the character “Amber” to not only be written off the show, but killed so utterly and completely that she can’t come back. She was one of the most interesting female characters on a series in years.

  • Anne

    As always, I’ve found your article fun to read and enlightening. It is so great to hear that Amber Tamblyn is happy and meshes so well with the rest of the cast and with David Shore. Although she is so talented and brilliant herself, to me, she is an “every woman”, if that makes sense. I grew up with people similar to her and to her character. The vulnerability always seems to be just beneath the surface but it is combined with a beautiful kind of strength, one born of intelligence, courage, and compassion. It would be absolutely wonderful to discover with her the subtexts that she refers to in her character and to find out how that interacts with House’s (Hugh Laurie’s) subtext. Those two characters have a very special chemistry that contrasts beautifully with the chemistry between House and Cuddy. Do those two kinds of chemistry complement each other or do they clash? That’s a question that I hope will be explored during this season. In any case, kudos, as usual. for your wonderfully insightful articles. I look forward to reading them each week.

  • Andrea

    I feel a bit sorry for her friend and hope that it isn’t an exact portrayal of her. Who’d want to have her vulnerabilities that exposed on national TV and have a friend discussing her this way?

    I like Martha a lot and I haven’t actually found her all that “off” socially or otherwise. She’s more than a little quirky but she seems to function. It’s fun watching House bounce ideas off her and seeing her stand up to him and zing him back. But I’ve also always liked Amber Tamblyn since she was on General Hospital.

  • Sera G

    Thanks, Barbara.
    Another fine interview. Count me among those who really like AT and MMM. She is a welcome addition to the show.
    As others have said, her quiet self-confidence and social insecurity make her an original. May there be many more (or at least one more) seasons of House, including Amber Tamblyn.

  • Orange450

    It occured to me that a large part of what interests House about her is that she really doesn’t care what he thinks of her. All the other ducklings – even 13 – cared what he thought, and he knew it. Somehow, MMM has more quiet confidence in herself as a person than any of the others ever have, and IMO, that’s part of what befuddles House. Even Wilson and Cuddy care tremendously what he thinks of them, and he’s just not used to someone who has as much independence of mind as MMM. Coupled with her intellectual ability, it makes her a force to be reckoned with. Of course, House has the advantage of her in experience with the real world. But if he really decides to take her on and mentor her, the interactions between them could be really funny, enlightening, and a joy to behold 🙂

  • madfashionista

    Although I dislike the character, I like the actress. This is a refreshingly honest and funny interview.

  • I’ve liked the character from the first moment. She’s truly different than the other characters (past or present). She intrigues (and befuddles) House in a way that no one else has. Her scenes with Hugh are great. She was a delight to interview.

  • Orange450

    Barbara, thank you for this welcome peek behind the scenes!

    I really like MMM, and the off-kilter vibe she brings to House’s little solare system. I’d go so far as to say that at this point, the rest of team holds almost no interest for me at all, so I’m especially glad to be able to watch a character whom I think adds some much needed gravitational pull – both to House, and the rest of the satellites in orbit around him.

    Amber Tamblyn is doing a very good job with this role – I think she’s really accomplishing the delicate task of balancing MMM’s confidence in her intellectual ability with all the diffidence natural to a socially-challenged 3rd-year med student suddenly elevated to unprecedented responsibility and visibility. Not easy, but I think both Amber and Martha are equal to it 🙂

  • Ladyluck

    So far I’ve liked her character. She’s a mental equal to House which is rare. However she’s also naive which makes her a newbie. As viewers, we’ve also been in the pot too long as Foreman said and she’s the fresh perspective. It would be interesting to see if she maintains that ethical compass. She could either become corrupted by House, as Cameron accused him of doing, or just crash and burn like House expects her to when her worldview is flipped.

  • sdemar

    Thanks for the lovely article, Barbara. You do a nice job with interviews.

    Unfortunately, I am not madly in love with her character although AT seems pleasant enough. I would have been quite content without them adding a woman to the team because neither 13 or Masters make me want to watch them. It may have been a brilliant move by Cuddy for the hospital but not so for me as a fan of the show.

    Why do I keep hearing about RSL not being on the show? I think someone has started a bad rumor. I don’t see HL/RSL/LE going anywhere anytime soon. At least I hope not.

  • Chrissy,

    I never really asked her about RSL or anyone else in the cast–except Hugh.

  • Chrissy

    It was an interesting interview thanks. What seemed to stand out, not only in this interview but others that have been conducted with people from House, is the lack of word about Robert Sean Leonard, so fueling the rumours that Mr Leonard has indeed left the show. When people have asked GY about the rumours he has just blanked the question.

  • That would make an interesting article.

  • Anna

    Aw, I love Amber! I watched Joan of Arcadia when that was on, and apparently I’m one of the three people who watched the Unusuals, I thought that show was really fresh and quirky but unfortunately it didn’t catch on.

    I think Martha Masters is a great addition to the team, I hope she sticks around after 13 comes back. House (the show) is such a boys club, it could use more strong, interesting female characters. Ever since they killed off Cutthroat Bitch and Cameron left there hasn’t been enough women on the show so I really hope they keep her, she’s a great contrast to House.

  • marykir

    Thanks for the interview.

    I would love to see someone write an article exploring the differences between fan views of the writing and actor views of the writing. In other words, when you have fans who feel the writing is cliched or repetitive or tossed off with little care, what do actors see in the scripts that makes them want to work on the show? (Does that make sense?)

    Ideally, of course, there would be someone who was both an actor and a disillusioned fan to talk to 🙂