Monday evening, in lieu of mourning the end of season six’s House, I was privileged enough to be able to attend a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) event starring our favorite dean of medicine, Lisa Edelstein. The venue was small and intimate, and besides getting hit on by an actor whose last piece of work was Lethal Weapon, the entire event was highly enjoyable.
We started by watching a screening of Edelstein’s all Cuddy episode, “5 to 9.” I hadn’t seen it in awhile and it was fun to watch with an audience. Sometimes I forget how comical House can be because I typically watch by myself and it helps to have an audience there to laugh with you.
After the episode, Lisa Edelstein came out and discussed her career with a great moderator. I’ve been to these types of events before and the moderators haven’t been the greatest, but anyone there could tell Lisa was hugely respected by the person asking her the questions.
The main focus of the event was Edelstein’s acting career, so House wasn’t discussed until about the last twenty minutes of the conversation. This was actually fine, as Lisa was plenty entertaining dishing stories about her awkward reading for The Doors which included acting out various crude sex scenes, her early club days where she was named Lisa E, her dueling managers when she first got into the biz, and how much she hated her MTV co-hosting job, although she was grateful for it because it got her foot in the door and facilitated her move to Los Angeles.
She vibrantly discussed the creative aspect of her job and I was interested to hear that she couldn’t imagine herself doing anything different than acting even though her parents were always worried about where her career was going. “There is no direct path to acting,” she said. “It’s not like a career path. There is no ‘right way.'”
She mentioned that she’s been with her agent and management for eighteen years now. When asked what she was looking for in a manager, she said she wanted people to support her and believe in her. There shouldn’t have to be any schmoozing of the management. They should know her creativity and what she can bring to the table.
One question about the difficulty of guest starring got a huge laugh. Apparently on a particularly famous guest spot Lisa did, all of her costars ignored her except for one rather famous ranter. He liked her a bit too much, unfortunately. That’s all I’ll say since I don’t want to start a feud between the two and we definitely don’t want to make him angry.
During this interview, Lisa did say many things I already knew about her, but I did find out a few things that surprised me. I certainly had no idea she tested for Desperate Housewives and the role Felicity Huffman now plays. She got the role of Cuddy a week later and found out only two months ago that Bryan Singer had handpicked her for the role. When asked about a breakthrough role, she said she wasn’t even sure what that meant and that with her, more work just led to more work. Lisa did offer up this tidbit though: “It was between me and Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny. That could have changed my life.” Then, as a joke, she said, “But it didn’t.”
So what about House, you ask? When asked about the evolution of Cuddy, she cited David Shore and talked about how characters are revealed, rather than changed because if characters are changed, the show is over. Lisa was worried about Cuddy’s character at first because she thought the writers and creators might become bored with her character so she put the pieces together of Cuddy’s back story (youngest woman dean of medicine, etc.). Edelstein said she was lucky that Shore was receptive to what she brought to him because it could have gone entirely in the opposite direction. Shore told her that he always had a place for Cuddy in mind throughout the series.
When asked about the last scene in “Help Me,” she said that the scene wasn’t in the script. In fact, she said goodbye to the cast and crew at about 2 AM, and then came back to as few crew members as possible and Hugh to film the last scene at around 4 AM. After the event, I stayed and talked to her and she seemed concerned about really nailing the last scene. Don’t worry, I told her it was perfect! She made mention of the rest of the cast possibly not knowing how the season ended if they didn’t watch the show. Apparently there were two different ways the end could have gone and her and Hugh’s script had the version we saw.
The moderator then asked about her favorite part about working with Laurie and she mentioned how disciplined he is as an actor and that his work ethic is rare. Regarding his direction in “Lockdown,” she cited how happy he was to be just him behind the camera in his clothes without a limp and with his British accent. Lisa only worried that he loved her work so much that he might think she was brilliant even if she wasn’t.
Regarding “5 to 9,” Edelstein said it was very exciting to do for her because she was able to set the pace that the lead typically gets and that Laurie does so well. She was also thrilled when they asked for her notes, but she recognizes that they wouldn’t normally ask because she’s not typically featured as a lead role. Her hardest scene to shoot that she could remember was screaming at the baby during “Big Baby” in season five. Edelstein was worried that her screaming wouldn’t be convincing because it was so difficult to do, but then countered herself by saying it probably wouldn’t have been easy for Cuddy either, so maybe it worked.
As for season seven, she has no idea where its going, but is positive it’s going to be a lot of fun! She told me afterward that the story had to go there and that she’s ready for whatever *u*ked up direction it goes in. She loves her role and keeps it fresh by enjoying the dialogue she is given because the smarter the dialogue, the easier it is to memorize. She can’t wait to see where the love affair goes and she’s always interested in the medicine as well.
The evening ended with the audience (of about fifty) singing her “Happy Birthday” and her telling us that the most important thing that she does as an actress is to express herself. At the end of the evening, I was nervous, but I went to talk to her and she was extremely receptive and kind to me. I told her I was completely thrilled about the ending to the season and then the person next to me said something in front of her about the show jumping the shark! We both rushed to the show’s defense and discussed how we loved that she show would finally explore their relationship.
She’s exactly as I would have guessed. Animated, generous, funny, entertaining, and down to earth. Not to mention stunning. I’m thrilled I was able to attend!
(Image courtesy of Fox)