In the first interview of our 2009 “My TV Nominee Series”, I had the amazing opportunity to speak one on one with one of My TV’s favourite actresses. The lovely and talented Ms. Amy Acker (of Angel and Alias fame) was gracious enough to take a few minutes of her time to talk about her My TV nomination (best female guest star, Dollhouse), her favourite roles, reading Shakespeare, working with Whedon and how badly she wants to join the cast of Big Love.
My questions are in blue and Amy’s answers in italics.
You’ve played geniuses, goddesses, a doll and even a man, what presented the greatest acting challenge? Do any of them stick out as the most fun?
[laughs] I’m too embarrassed to watch the episode where I played a man.
That’s the great thing about working with Joss [Whedon] and on ‘Alias’. I’m just so lucky, I get to do so many things, you never know what you’re going to play. The man was out of my comfort zone, and Whiskey being so sexy, that is not me at all, that was probably the one that I was most scared of.
Do you have a favourite role, series or episode you’ve worked on?
Maybe Fred. Maybe because it was my first real job and getting to do the show for so long. And just the way she started out and changed and became Illyria at the end, I would say Fred.
What would you say is the one thing you think fans would be surprised to learn about working with Joss Whedon?
Hmmm… I feel like he’s very much how he writes, funny and smart and everything you’d want him to be. He’s one of my best friends in the world, I’m just glad to have the opportunity to get to work with him. He never tries to be anything other than who he is. He’s such a nice and caring director who always wants to push everybody out of their comfort zone, so its always exciting. There’s always something you feel you can’t do and Joss has this ability to bring it out of you.
One of my favourite stories from the TV industry is the idea for Illyria coming from a Shakespeare reading at Joss’ house. I’m a Shakespeare nut myself, are these readings a regular occurrence? Who is the usual crowd who participates? And What are some of your favourite roles to read?
Joss’ wife built the most amazing house in the world, they have this amphitheatre in the backyard. The readings used to be a lot more common during Angel, like once a month. (The ‘Angel’ group was really into it, Alexis [Denisof], J [August Richards] and all those guys really loved doing it). We did one that I was a part of during ‘Dollhouse’, we did ‘Hamlet’. Olivia [Williams] was amazing; it’s always so fun to see these people you associate with their characters doing the Shakespeare reading. A while ago, one of the first ones was ‘Midsummer[Night’s Dream]’, I was Helena, which I’ve always wanted to play. I’m not going to say there isn’t champagne and wine, its like a casual party, there just happens to be Shakespeare.
Do you have any plans to do theatre now that you’re in New York? Maybe finally get to play Helena?
I haven’t been here long enough, but I have the spring off so I’m hoping to do some theatre. I haven’t done it since college. My husband’s in ‘Rock of Ages’ on Broadway right now, it’s his dream job.
Do you watch a lot of TV? What are some of your favourite series?
My favourite show right now is ‘Big Love‘, I’d love to be on that show. I would go to Utah, I don’t care, I love that show.
Dollhouse is a confusing show even for a viewing audience. Bouncing from scene to scene and only seeing part of the picture can you, the actors, make sense of the series as you’re going along? Do you watch the show when it airs?
Yeah, kind of, I would say. It sometimes felt like if we started to figure it out too much we’d just have more questions. I think we understood what we were trying to do with our characters. I found that I really had to watch it because I wasn’t in all the episodes so if I didn’t watch I’d be really lost. But the writers do a really good job of answering any questions we have.
*SPOILER ALERT* Did you have any idea your character was a doll? Was that all in Joss’ master plan or was it like Illyria, a sudden series-changing idea?
He actually had said that if it works out he wanted to make that happen. I knew from the beginning that that was his ideal plan.
You’ve got a new series for ABC [Happy Town] coming down the pike, how’s that shaping up and how does it compare to what you’ve done before?
I think its gonna be really exciting. It has a lot of the same qualities as ‘Dollhouse‘ and ‘Alias’; a lot of interesting characters. Everybody changes a lot throughout the story. It’s set in a small town. I think its gonna be really good. Everybody keeps saying “There’s really nothing like this”, those are the fun shows to be on. It’s a real mystery, you don’t really know ifthere’s going to become a magical element or what. [Happy Town, which shoots in Ontario, premieres on ABC in April].
Have you and Joss ever considered teaming up to do a show with you at the center?
Anything Joss is doing I’m excited to try to work on and make him want to cast me in. He has so many ideas and things he’s always working on. But that would be so great.
and now for the goofy questions…
Who doyou choose to help you fight off the zombies in the apocalypse, Buffy or Echo?
I’ll go with Echo because I know her better
Who’s smarter, Fred or Topher?
I think Fred could easily take Topher.
Who would you rather meet in a dark alley, Alpha or the Wolfram & Hart senior partners?
I think I’d go with the Wolfram & Hart guys.
If you could co-star with anyone in the world who would it be?
Ginnifer Goodwin, so I could be on ‘Big Love’.
How about someone you’ve already worked with? Anyone you’d love to work with again?
I would say Alexis [Denisof]. He’s such a great actor to work with, I miss doing scenes with him.
If you could be imprinted, doll-style with anyone at all, who would you choose and why?
I don’t know! [frets for a good long while over this one].
Settle one of my favourite TV love triangles of all time: Wes or Gunn?
Ohhh, Wes. It was ultimately supposed to be Wes.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I don’t think so. Thanks for talking to me and thanks so much for the nomination!
Thanks a lot Amy! My TV Award Winners will be announced in March.
Oh, and because I jokingly promised her I’d add this:
Dear Big Love Showrunners,
CAST AMY ACKER
Love, The My TV Team