A few words with ... Sarah Hyland, Paz de la Huerta and Melissa Gilbert
Sarah Hyland, Paz de la Huerta and Melissa Gilbert (from left)
Q: Your characters have to deal with high school. Did you go to school, or were you tutored on sets?
A: I went to (Professional) Performing Arts School in (New York). It was a small school. We didn't have cheerleaders or football players or nerds.
Q: Given that you have done stage work and TV, what's your preference?
A: I love musical theater. I loved musicals when I was doing them. I was in school when I did "Annie" at the Paper Mill (Playhouse). I was in seventh grade. When I did "Grey Gardens," I was a junior in high school. Being a child actor, it's not the easiest to juggle school and work. I was always a straight-A student. I wasn't slacking off. I am very grateful I don't have to do school and work at the same time. I love TV. I love the schedule. It's great. I would love to try and do a musical without school because I am a night owl, so the whole 6 a.m. calls for "Modern Family" isn't the most fun for me because I am not a morning person at all.
Q: Do you miss New York?
A: No. New York is really changing. I don't like it at all. I grew up in the East Village. Times Square is a freaking shopping center with tables and chairs. My high school was right down the block from the Winter Garden (Theatre), so I spent a lot of time in Times Square, and it's now a shopping center with chairs and tables and even heading down to Herald Square. I am not the biggest fan of this whole thing.
Paz de la Huerta of "Boardwalk Empire" on HBO
Q: In season two of "Boardwalk Empire," which ends on Sunday, Dec. 11, your character, former Ziegfeld Follies girl Lucy Danziger, broke up with Atlantic City boss Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and wound up pregnant by Prohibition agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon). How has playing all that been for you?
A: Everything that you've seen Lucy going through, it was already there. She had the loneliness and desperation for love and everything in the first season. She's one of the only fictional characters in "Boardwalk Empire," and Martin Scorsese really worked on creating a history for her when I came on the pilot.
So all those emotions were underlying her relationship with Nucky. That's why she was so self-destructive; that's why she drank so much. It's just, now she doesn't have anything to hide behind.
Q: Lucy wound up giving birth all alone. How did you prepare for that?
A: On YouTube, I had watched videos of women talking about giving birth naturally and seeing videos of women giving birth naturally, and then added to that the complete loneliness of the situation she was in.
When I'm playing a role, I feel like I'm more of a channeler than an actor. I really live through the character. Everything I'm feeling, I'm really feeling.
Q: In one scene, Lucy looked at herself in the nude while pregnant. Although that was just prosthetics and makeup, how did it feel?
A: Pregnant women are so beautiful. In Lucy's case, she has a lot of conflicted emotions, but you can't deny that she had something inside of her that was undeniably hers.
Melissa Gilbert of "The Christmas Pageant" on Hallmark Channel
Q: Are you happy with how "The Christmas Pageant," in which you star as a Broadway director who tackles a small town's holiday play, turned out?
A: It's very sweet ... and quite funny, which I didn't expect. It's also the first movie I've shot in HD, so I was a little freaked out at first, but my friend Jim (Wrenn) was the director of photography, and he did a beautiful job. As he said, they spent millions of dollars trying to make HD look like 35mm (film).
Q: Given your many professional experiences, was it fun to play a director who's sort of a tyrant?
A: Yes, to say the least! There are aspects in there of some directors I've worked with, people who were truly difficult like this character is. The word I would use is "perfectionist," with a sort of cynicism and toughness. Then there were directors I drew upon for their humor and their creativity. I would say she's an amalgam.
Q: As a past president of the Screen Actors Guild, do you find the arrival of high definition is having a big impact on television performers generally?
A: My girlfriends and I were talking about that recently. There's already enough pressure on us to stay young-looking. In this movie, I'm playing a woman who's probably in her mid- to late 30s -- which I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination. That's hard to do when you're being shot by a camera that sees every line, every crease and every blemish.