The other day I wrote an article pondering whether One Tree Hill‘s Victoria Davis is pure evil. Brooke’s mother has been making her daughter’s life hell since she first appeared in season 5, and the tension between them only escalated recently when Victoria threatened to take over Brooke’s company. Victoria may seem beyond redemption, but when I sat down to interview actress Daphne Zuniga today she made me realize that her character’s actions actually make a lot of sense. From a certain perspective, Brooke is the one making the wrong decisions, and Victoria is the one trying to knock some sense into her. Is it possible that she’s not such a bad mother after all?
Continue on for the entire interview, where Daphne talks about Brooke’s mugging, her character’s motivations, and some other projects she’s involved in.
This is Don with BuddyTV, and today I’m talking to Daphne Zuniga, who plays Victoria on One Tree Hill. With One Tree Hill, I’m wondering how you got involved with the show and how that opportunity came about for you?
They were looking for the part of Brooke’s mom, and it kind of came the usual way, through my agent. It was a little over a year ago now. I loved the opportunity to play such a witch. In the conversation I had with [creator] Mark Schwahn before I even started, he described her to me in full detail. He really fleshed her out, really had this great idea, and really had this solid, clear vision of this character. He said, “I’ve seen your other work, and you come across very warm-heartedly. I don’t want you to come from that place.” And I said, “Oh, I think I can muster up a bitchy place to come from.” My boyfriend agreed wholeheartedly. [laughs]
I was a big fan of Melrose Place back in the day, and on that show you were the nice character who had crazy people surrounding you all the time. On One Tree Hill you really get to be on the other side, and you get to make other people’s lives hellish. Is one of those more fun for you to play?
The former is more natural to me, and I think it’s more natural to, hopefully, most people. When I was playing that character on Melrose, you’re sort of a person who has good intentions, and then the craziness happens and you react to that. You have a lot of emotional reaction to what’s going on around you. When I play Victoria, she doesn’t have access to any of that basic human feeling. She doesn’t experience those emotions that I, Daphne, or other characters that I’ve played experience on a daily basis. She just doesn’t.
Maybe Victoria doesn’t do it in the best way, but she really is looking out for her daughter and her daughter’s company. Before [Brooke] turned [her company] into an empire, just about then when it could happen, she decided to return to some backwater town and throw it all away. Victoria has gotten investors, has invested her own name, her work, and money that she’s raised, and the board can actually sue you for being irresponsible and squandering their money. She’s not fooling around, and she doesn’t have time to deal with these emotions that Brooke wants her to fool around with. This is serious, she’s not a kid anymore. When I started to see it from that way, as opposed to how can I be mean, it made more sense and it was easier to play.
A lot of fans seem to think that Victoria might be responsible for Brooke’s mugging that happened a couple episodes ago. Do you know anything about that, or anything else that’s coming up for your character?
There is stuff coming up about that, and I cannot talk about it. I like the way that it was written, and I like to let people think whatever they want. That’s obviously what was wanted from the writers, and I do have more to do around that coming up. I can’t really talk about that, but I would say, just in theory, that it’s not beyond Victoria to do something like that. She’s that desperate and that ill-equipped with doing things properly, and that’s been proven. Of course, they did introduce that young girl at the same time in the same episode, and she’s also desperate.
Most of your scenes on the show are with Sophia Bush. Did you get to audition with her beforehand? How is that chemistry on the set?
No, I didn’t audition for this, but the chemistry was just sort of meant to be. We hit it off right away. I remember being in the makeup trailer early on, talking about Buddhism, boys, [and] life. We went to the beach a couple times. She reminds me of myself in a way that she’s incredibly independent, and she’s much smarter than I, but there’s this very grown up aspect to Sophia. She does a lot, she gets a lot done, and I don’t think she really needs to depend on other people to get things done. It’s hard to really be mean to her! She’s a sensitive actress, so afterwards it’ll be like “cut,” and then I hug her, and we’ll both be like, “Hey! How are you doing? Are you okay?”
I know that you do a lot of work to help protect the environment. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about that.
Most recently I’m working with Environmental Justice Group. Environmental Justice, those are the grassroots groups that are in most of the poor neighborhoods in cities across the country. They really carry the burden by living where we put our ports, we build our oil refineries, and all of our garbage treatment plants go in these poor neighborhoods. The places that you drive through and don’t really want to go, and don’t want to spend much time in, people live there. There are a lot of grassroots organizations in these neighborhoods, and there’s one here in L.A., a really fantastic one that’s been around for 30 years. I’ve been working with them, and we just produced a short video for them to help raise awareness and funding.
Did you want to talk about some of your other projects coming up? I know you have a movie on the Hallmark Channel coming up soon. [Mail Order Bride, airing November 8.]
That was a Western, and it was so fun to do. So fun. [The character is] a pickpocket and a swindler. She starts out in Boston, but you also see her on the horses, shooting shotguns, and holding down the homestead while it’s being attacked. It’s really a fun Western. So much fun that we’re looking into developing another one.
– Interview conducted by Don Williams
(Image courtesy of WireImage)