411mania Interviews: Sutton Foster (Bunheads)
Sutton Foster may be relatively new to the world of TV but she’s an incredibly successful Broadway actress, with Tony wins for her work in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes and Tony nominated roles in Little Women, Shrek the Musical, and The Drowsy Chaperone. She can currently be seen starring in ABC Family’s Bunheads, which airs its mid-season premiere tonight at 9pm.
Al Norton: Do you find yourself talking faster since you started the show?
Sutton Foster: (Laughing) I don’t think so. I probably talk slower.
Al Norton: Or making more pop culture references?
Sutton Foster: I know, right? If only I could be as witty as Michelle in real life. I probably talk slower and am a tad dumber because my brain has melted from having to memorize all the awesome dialogue. I try to be funny but I could never be as funny as Amy Palladino.
Al Norton: Have you had any situations where you had to ask someone what a certain reference meant?
Sutton Foster: Oh yes, it’s happened several times. There was a reference in the last episode we just shot where I was like, “I have no idea what that is.” Before I ask Amy and embarrass myself I try to go online and see what I can find out for myself. I probably get about 90% of them but there’s 10% where I have no idea.
Al Norton: Was it challenging to pick up the rhythms of Amy’s dialogue?
Sutton Foster: I come from a theater background, musical comedy and such, and her writing has such a musicality to it and theatricality to it that I think my background helped me along to delve into her world a little more easily. I felt more prepared, I guess.
Al Norton: What was it about the pilot script that drew you to Michelle?
Sutton Foster: Gilmore Girls was one of my favorite shows of all-time and Amy’s been one of my favorite writers for a long time, and the fact that she wrote it made me think, “whatever this is, I’m going to love it.” Then when I read it and found it was about dance, about a character who was lost and trying to find her way while working and teaching with these young women, these were all different things that spoke to me, that meant something to me, and it felt like the perfect fit.
Al Norton: Having gone through and done a half season of series TV, what advice would you go back and give yourself as you were starting?
Sutton Foster: Pace yourself. People try to tell you that stuff but until you do it, you just don’t know. I’d done some TV but never starred in a television series and done 10 episodes in a row. I would say, “pace yourself. When you have time off from shooting, go outside, see friends, and make sure you have a life.” It can be all consuming; it’s a very demanding job where you work 12 – 15 hours a day so most of the time I feel like I’m getting up, going to work, going home, going to bed. It can be a bit grueling. I absolutely love it, so that helps. Man, it would suck if I hated my job (laughing) but I really do love it.
Al Norton: I know some actors don’t like to work with young people but my guess is you’d tell me something much different about your experience.
Sutton Foster: They’re pretty special; these girls are the real deal. They’re really awesome young women and it’s been incredible to watch them blossom as actresses and as people. It’s been really great and I really hope I have the opportunity to work with them for a long time.
Al Norton: If you could play any part from any play ever, what would you choose?
Sutton Foster: One of my dream roles was Reno from Anything Goes and I got to play that, which was just beyond amazing. Some day I’d love to play Mama Rose in Gypsy but that’s way down the road. I’ve always wanted to play Charity in Sweet Charity.
Al Norton: What do you watch on TV?
Sutton Foster: Right now I’m watching American Horror Story, Homeland, Once Upon a time – I really like that show. Revenge is pretty great. I love Game of Thrones. I really love TV. I just started watching The Walking Dead, which I am enjoying. I just started watching Scandal, which is also good. I like going on kicks and watching a bunch of episodes of a show in row.
Al Norton: Considering how we left Michelle in the mid-season finale, how do we get her back to the studio?
Sutton Foster: When we first see her, she’s left Paradise and has moved back to Vegas, living on a friend’s couch and working in Henderson, Nevada, as a back-up dancer for a magician…
Al Norton:…I love that it’s a back up dancer.
Sutton Foster: I know, I know. It’s pretty sad, where we find her. Everything is at a bit of a standstill; Fanny’s stopped teaching, the girls are scattered about. I don’t want to give to much away because Amy is so brilliant in how she unveils her stories but Michelle does find her way back to Paradise but how she finds her way back is pretty special. She will find her way back into these people’s lives, committing herself more to being in Paradise and finding a life there.
Al Norton: I enjoy the show quite a bit but the biggest Bunheads fan I know is my 64 year old Dad.
Sutton Foster: (Laughing) Are you serious? That’s so awesome! That’s not our typical demographic; I love it! It does say we have a wide range of viewers, which speaks to the way this story is resonating with people. I love it!
Don’t miss the mid-season premiere of Bunheads, tonight at 9pm on ABC Family.