Thursday, November 25, 2010

Al Norton sits down for an exclusive interview with House star and People's Choice Award nominee Lisa Edelstein.

Al Norton: Congratulations on your People's Choice Award nomination.

Lisa Edelstein: Thanks. It's so exciting.

Al Norton: I know everyone always says that awards aren't why you do this but it still must have been great to get the phone call.

Lisa Edelstein: I don't even think it was a phone call, I think I saw it on-line. It's really nice, especially the People's Choice Awards because it's the audiences that are voting so you really feel like you're in touch with the people watching the show.

Al Norton: I have a theory that the reason no one else from House has been nominated for an Emmy or a Golden Globe is that Hugh is so good, people tend to overlook others on the show. I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn no one other than Hugh has gotten a nomination.

Lisa Edelstein: I'm not sure if that's what it is. It's a lead plus an ensemble and the network really pushes it as House. All the ads are House. You're introduced to the show as Huge Laurie plus ensemble in a procedural, and once you get procedural in there people tend not to notice the ensemble. I think there are a lot of elements in it. But he is pretty fantastic, that Hugh, and everyone has to step up their game when acting in a scene with him.

Al Norton: If the show had a different title it might be easier for the rest of you.

Lisa Edelstein: When we started the show we didn't have a title, it was "The Untitled David Shore Medical Project" or something and when they said they were going to call it House, Huge was horrified (laughing). He was like, "you can't call it House, it's not about House." I think when he read the script he really comprehended how much the focus would be centered on him.

Al Norton: Did you know from day one that Cuddy and House would get together or did last season's finale catch you off guard?

Lisa Edelstein: I always thought that they would get together. I thought it was in the pilot, honestly. Some people saw it, some people didn't, but I thought they had chemistry from the get go.

Al Norton: Did you think that there were things that had to happen to the characters before they could get there?
Lisa Edelstein: Definitely. When you're someone's boss, there's a dynamic you have to be very careful with so I think they had to work around it for a really long time. Plus I think on the show they didn't want to go there for as long as possible.

Al Norton: For any show with a "will they or won't they" tension, the worry is that you don't want to drag it out too long and have the audience lose interest and then the main thing is, what happens next.

Lisa Edelstein: I thought about all of that, too, but I don't think the show as about "will they or won't they." I think that's an element to their particular relationship but the show is about House and his struggles to deal with the world and this is one path along that journey. That question of will they or won't they had to be resolved and now they can move on to dealing with House being somewhat incapable of having intimacy. We had to see that, and see that with someone who was important enough to him where there were high stakes.

Al Norton: The love scene with House and Cuddy in the season premiere was very well done. I really like how they didn't use any music. Did you spend a lot of time blocking it?

Lisa Edelstein: We didn't, no. You kind of get an idea of where you're going and then you let everything unfold. It's more about organic movement and feeling like your peaking into an intimate moment. I think they really didn't want to skip over what happens when this happens. They didn't want it to be some crescendo, they slam against the wall, they start having sex, and then it cuts to everyone sighing and then they're back to work. I think they really wanted to take a moment, look behind closed doors and be with these people who are newly discovering each other, and stay quiet for a minute, and then bring them back into the world of Princeton Plainsborough.

Al Norton: Do you think the audience got enough closure with Cuddy and Lucas or do you think they were just ready for House and Cuddy to get together?

Lisa Edelstein: Yes, it was a little abrupt they way the ended the Lucas storyline (laughing). I mean, we knew it was coming to an end and again, the show isn't called Cuddy, so her story isn't what unfolds on camera. You just see enough of her story to see how it relates to him. I do think there was a lot of the end of the relationship with Lucas in 5 to 9, even though that wasn't actually the end. You kind of got a sense of what she could get from Lucas that she couldn't get from House but more importantly what she could get from House that she couldn't get from Lucas.

Al Norton: Do you remember at all what your expectations were when you got the job?

Lisa Edelstein: You can't really go into a pilot having much in the way of expectations. The only thing you can do is read a script and decide whether you think it's well written, if you think it has a chance for survival, and if you think you'd be interested in playing that character for seven years. That was my magic number in my head and here we are, in season seven.

Al Norton: And you're not going anywhere.

Lisa Edelstein: I hope not. We have no idea yet. There's stuff going on between the network and the studio and we're just waiting to find out.

Al Norton: Is that hard as an actor, to know that there are so many other things involved in a show getting and staying on the air other than just if it's good and how many people watch?

Lisa Edelstein: This is a business, so of course you think of that. Yes, it's an art form, but it's also a very big business. Our show, any show, is really just the space between commercials and you're reminded of that all the time (laughing) and you make the best of it. Like I said, when you read a pilot script you have to decide if you think the world will be interested in it long term, if you will be interested in it long term. You have to assume it's going to last forever while also assuming it will just be a pilot. You have to simultaneously go in both directions in your head and decide if you would feel trapped it if lasted forever and also if you think it has a chance.

Al Norton: When fans come up to you, do they address you as Cuddy?

Lisa Edelstein: Well, I rarely come in contact with a fan so delusional to think I am Cuddy. They call me Cuddy, they yell at me for my relationship with House. It's a very interesting Rorschach Test about how people respond to what they see on TV. So much of it is projection. I think in the first season of a show there is so much to be done to describe the characters and the world that they live in that there are things that are loosely drawn until little by little the details get filled in. As the writers fill in the details over the years they might not be the details that they audience had projected onto those characters and then you get people complaining that the show has changed, which is really funny because it hasn't, it's just become richer, and in a way that took them by surprise.

Al Norton: What do you watch on TV?

Lisa Edelstein: Mad Men, True Blood, Big Love…those are my main shows. I really like Project Runway, too.

Al Norton: Can you tell me a bit about the next episode?

Lisa Edelstein: It's this really fascinating episode about this patient who gets himself crucified once a year. It's really dramatic.

Al Norton: This is the last new episode of the year so you must have a nice little break.

Lisa Edelstein: I have a break for December.

Al Norton: Earlier on in your career I would bet that a month off would have been terrible but now, with the grind of a series, a month off must sound great.

Lisa Edelstein: I always wanted to take a month off but I could never leave because I'd lose the opportunity to get another job and when you're going from job to job, it's really important to just be here. I'd leave for a week at most and I'd never know when my next job would come so it was stressful paying for a vacation. This job really has been a dream in terms of world travel. I've really taken the opportunity to go see whatever I have time to see because I know I'm coming back to a job, I know I can afford the trip. I don't want to miss that chance in my life so I really try to take advantage of it.

Don't miss House, tonight at 8pm on Fox.


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