Andy Wallenstein: Welcome back to “Square Off”. Our next guest could be seen in a gender bending roll on the ABC hit series “Ugly Betty”. Rebecca Romijn, welcome to “Square Off”.
Rebecca Romijn: Thank you for having me. It is a pleasure to be here.
Andy Wallenstein: Thanks for coming. So I get to ask right of the top, so “Ugly Betty” calls and says: “Yeah, we want you to play a man who gets a sex change and becomes a woman”. Are you just totally game or somewhat insulted? How do you approach it?
Rebecca Romijn: Back up, first I called “Ugly Betty”
Andy Wallenstein: Oh, Okay.
Rebecca Romijn: No, technically I had a lot of meetings with a lot of networks and I got hold of a lot of pilots before they aired and “Ugly Betty” was the one that I felt head over heels in love with. And so even before I went to meet with ABC I knew I really wanted to meet with the producers from “Ugly Betty” and to see if there was any chance if I could go on the show and honestly first I was like, I just like, I really, I loved Betty, everyone loves Betty off course, you know, and I was like, I wanna help her. I wanna be Betty's friend. And they said: “Well we have another idea” and they pitched this to me and at this point, I think, a month had passed in between, my seeing the pilot for the first time and meeting with Silvio and the producers. So the show had already started airing and I was already aware of the mysterious bandaged woman who is now Alexis Meaede. And I wasn't that into it at first, I was like, the mysterious woman is kinda boring. The storyline is going nowhere and then they pitched the idea to me and I was like: Okay.
Brian Lowry: What drew you to the show in the first place?
Rebecca Romijn: I really was attracted to the tone of the show. I really liked that heightened, slightly cartoony tone which is sort of what my last TV-show “Pepper Dennis”...
Brian Lowry: Pepper Dennis.
Rebecca Romijn: ... was a little bit like and it is an uplifting show and I really..., and I thought the cast was fantastic, I think, you know, America Ferrara was just astounding.
Andy Wallenstein: What can we expect from you, from your character, should I say, for the rest of this season. I assume, you're gonna be very involved in this whole power struggle.
Rebecca Romijn: You know, we, none of us, we don't even know what is happening in next weeks episodes, sometimes we don't even get until the table read, we don't even know what is happening the next episode, so, I mean, we'll be sitting at the table read just gasping like all the way through, cause everything is a shock to us. They don't give us pages till the night before sometimes. So it is kind of exciting to be part of a series like that.
Brian Lowry: I doubt you got terribly ... about the whole thing for playing a man who became a woman but...,
Rebecca Romijn: Well, it is so funny because people keep asking me, how does it feel to play a man and I keep saying, I'm not playing a man, I play a woman. I have a couple of friends who are transsexuals. I have one very, very good friend who was a man and became a woman in 1970, she is now a woman longer than she was ever a man and she is extremely feminin and I would never, I think, I would be offending her if I would play this character anything less than feminin, so that is my research, my personal experience.
Andy Wallenstein: You're not sitting there in scenes sort of like, I'm a man, I'm a man, I'm a man. You're just sort of playing a woman. That's it.
Rebecca Romijn: Playing it as a woman, yeah. I mean, you know, from what I understand with transsexuals, they literally feel like they were born in the wrong body.
Andy Wallenstein: Right.
Rebecca Romijn: And it is crystal clear so, you know..., there are moments to play the comy, there are moments where, you know, I might have a brother moment with Eric Meade. This is this character were I laps back into like brother competitive stuff, but other than, that I make feminin choices for the character.
Brian Lowry: This is a show that deals with fashion and that industry and you obviously being around modeling. I wonder, there is a lot of it on television now and in the same way that you know, people watch, newspaper writers watch a show set in a newspaper, oh that's not the way it is.
Rebecca Romijn: Right.
Brian Lowry: Do they have the modeling, fashion world right? Does anybody really...,
Rebecca Romijn: On this show?
Brian Lowry: On this show, or elsewhere, does anyone really get it right?
Rebecca Romijn: I haven't seen it anybody getting it completely right yet, but..., I don't know, you know, it is hard to figure out how exactly they would get it just right. I mean, I have to say on our show, the level of outrageousness is sort of compatible with what happens in the fashion industry, you know. I mean, there are a lot of cartoony people in the fashion industry as there are on our show, so they gotten that right. I'm a big fan of “Project Runway” and I feel like, you know, the behind the scenes stuff that happens with the designers stressing, the models, it is sort of how it goes in the..., I'm a big fan of “America's Next Topmodel” also, but that is not really how it is.
Brian Lowry: Does it create a false impression over it?
Rebecca Romijn: A little bit, I think.
Andy Wallenstein: Rebecca, you have also done a lot of comedy work on TV, like “Just Shoot Me” and “Friends”. Do you prefer any particular kind of format, is that multi-camera or conventional style to what you are doing now?
Rebecca Romijn: Well, that multi-camera format, doing sitcoms is the easiest job.
Andy Wallenstein: Is it really?
Rebecca Romijn: You know, it is like on Monday you just have a table read and you are only there for an hour and Tuesday through Thursday you come in for a few hours, you block the scene and you shoot it on Friday. It's fabulous, it's a great schedule. I loved it.
Brian Lowry: And then you hope it run a real long time, you cash the syndications?
,b>Rebecca Romijn: Yeah, right. Exactly, exactly.
Brian Lowry: You mentioned “Pepper Dennis” too. You got to play a newscaster, you know, go out and fall down holding a mike and all that stuff.
Rebecca Romijn: Yeah.
Brian Lowry: Was that, and obviously, you know, as it happens so often, a lot of build up, there were billboards everywhere, there was all of that and then you got on and it was a very short run and the network kind of bail. How disappointed...,
Rebecca Romijn: Technically what happened was, exactly a week before we started airing, after they had promoting the hell out of this show, the WB announced that they were going under.
Brian Lowry: The merger with this..., CW.
Rebecca Romijn: I mean, but they were like, the WB is going to no longer exist, that was in the news a week before we started airing and the entire..., we ran for all thirteen episodes, those that we shot, but the entire time I had people going: “I don't think I get the WB”, “I think it is gone now” and I was like, you just have to look for it. I had to convince people, that it still existed somewhere in the room of satellite tv.
Brian Lowry: So you feeled like the rug was sort of pulled out from under you, before you know.
Rebecca Romijn: Yeah, I mean, it was really an unfortunate, you know, set of events that happened. I mean, it just got tangeld up in all the politics of the merger and it was heartbreaking for us. We all loved it, we had a tremendous amount of fun on that show and I thought it was..., the dialogue on the show was, you know, that fast paced moonlighting, this girl Friday type dialogue which I adored and, you know, it was really..., it was heartbreaking to pour your blood, sweat and tears into something and than just have mean it nothing.
Andy Wallenstein: Well, we'll talk a bit more about that. We're gonna be right back with Rebecca Romijn from “Ugly Betty”.
Andy Wallenstein: Welcome back to “Square Off” with Rebecca Romijn from “Ugly Betty”. Rebecca, the interesting thing about your transition from model to actress is, your first big acting gig was “Friends”. It's like, you know, an athletes first game in the “Superbowl”. I mean, was that intimidating, how did you sort of get in to that?
Rebecca Romijn: Completely and I was still modeling at the time. I think, I was working for MTV, I was doing..., I was hosting “House of Style” on MTV at the time and I..., people had gotten in touch with my agents about coming in and auditioning for roles but at the time I didn't feel I was ready to be an actor, I felt very very green and very intimidated by acting and they called my modeling agency. I didn't even have an acting agent, about doing “Friends” and this is like, I mean, this was at the height of the show and it was my very favorite show on TV at the time. And I said: “no”, I can't do that, I don't feel ready and they said, well we're gonna fax you the sides and you can take a look at them and see what you think. And I went and read the sides, like a couple hours later, I kind of ignored it, I just like pushed it..., It was just to much to even wrap my head around and I went and looked at the sides and I thought, this is hilarious. I played Rosses, it was called: “The One with the Dirty Girl”, where I played a girlfriend of David Schwimmer's Ross, who, you know, like his hot girlfriend, who lives in an incredibly messy apartment, just like garbage on top of garbage. Food and little animals running around and he is totally attracted to her but he doesn't even wanna sit down anywhere. And, I just thought, like regardless of what or not I can handle this, the joke is built in. It is gonna be funny no matter what and..., so I went down and read for them and I got it and worked every day and by the time we shot it, I was so nervous, but that night coming out of there, I was: “This is it, this is what I wanna do”. I love it, like the universe opened up.
Brian Lowry: I'm wondered about that because if that, if that experience was kind of the, you know, Okay I'm making the right move here, moment...,
Rebecca Romijn: I just knew in my heart that modeling was done for me and acting was were I wanna go now.
Andy Wallenstein: It just occurred to me that Jerry O'Connell, who is also on a TV show: “Crossing Jordan”. What is that like, given the insanity of shooting, you know, being in a couple and you're both shooting dramas. How do you see each other, how do you make time for each other?
Rebecca Romijn: Well, as luck would have it, the studios are two exits away from each other on the freeways.
Andy Wallenstein: Not bad.
Rebecca Romijn: If either of us have a couple of hours of in the middle of the day as we normally do, because, you know, we're off for a scene here and there, we meet up and have a quick dinner which is exactly what we are going to do tonight.
Andy Wallenstein: Well, we wish you luck with that and “Ugly Betty”.
Rebecca Romijn: Thank you.
Andy Wallenstein: And looking to see forward were your career takes you next.
Rebecca Romijn: Thanks so much.