Wednesday night on ABC, a new drama airs in the timeslot after LOST. That new show is easily one of my favorite shows and I have watched the pilot so many times now I basically have it memorized. In a crazy good cast full of old favorites (Harold Perrineau!) and sure to be new favorites (Kai Lennox, Jeremy Renner), Amber Tamblyn shines bright as Casey Shraeger, the former vice cop, turned homicide detective who has some secrets in her past that she’d rather keep hidden.
I had the chance to speak with Amber to talk about the show, the cast (not a drama queen in the bunch), and most importantly, what to expect when you tune in!
I am so excited to see you back on TV!
Yay, we did it!
For people who aren’t sure about what THE UNUSUALS is exactly, how would you describe it in your own words?
I would describe it as an eccentric procedural. You can’t use one of those words without the other. You can’t describe it as an eccentric show, and you can’t describe it as a procedural. I think it’s a great show, that’s about the lives of cops. It’s one of the first shows where you actually see the cases solving the characters. That’s how the creator of our show, Noah Hawley, has described it and I think that it’s spot on. Absolutely spot on. Because these characters come with so many flaws, they’re so quirky and funny, and great, they’re really well developed characters, so you see them dealing with their own issues, with their own problems through solving cases that somehow get intertwined with the cops’ lives, or get intertwined with them emotionally, or something like that.
What drew you to Casey the most?
I think what was exciting to me was the idea of working with this cast, they seemed amazing, and really interesting. It’s a really fun cast to work with, and the idea of getting to play a girl who’s got a smart mouth on her, and is so very modern of all senses of the term. Not stereotyped female, not a boring female character, not a cliched female character. She felt like someone who was very close to me. Casey might be the closest to my personality that I’ve ever been. I know journalists like to ask that question, and they’re like, what are the similarities between Amber and so and so. And I actually think there’s more things with her than I’ve ever had with a character before.
What are some of the storylines that you found most exciting as you shot the first couple of episodes?
Oh man, the very last one we just did was absolutely amazing. It involved a girl who was a serial accuser, who keeps coming back and accusing guys of rape and beating her up and stuff like that, and it’s really interesting to watch Casey solve this particular crime. The first couple of ones, you’ll see things like that, where everybody’s working on cases that seem so bizarre, but it could only happen in New York City, and would only happen here.
Why do you think that people should watch this show that is different than your typical cop show?
Because it’s a variation. This isn’t a diss towards them because I know that they’re wonderful, and they serve their purposes. You know, LAW & ORDER, CSI, SVU, all of them, MIAMI, all of the cop shows, serve pretty much the same purpose. Anything that’s cop or judicial, or has to do with the law in any kind of way, they all serve a purpose, and that’s to solve cases. This show is truly, truly, 100% in the terms of what a cop show is, it’s about the cop. It’s about solving the characters, figuring out the characters, and I think that just on the basis of that, that it’s different. It will be something that people will love.
What I notice, too, just right off the bat, in the pilot, the cast is “all there”. There’s not a weak link! Did you know people before, or did the chemistry just come naturally?
I had never met anybody, any of the actors. It’s just one of those occurrances that happen, just like it happened on JOAN OF ARCADIA where everybody was instantly friendly and became good friends. Kai Lennox has became a very good friend, he plays Eddie Alvarez [editor’s note: LOVE this character]; Harold as well. We text each other all the time, and help each other out with a couple things. It just instantly worked out. We were all kind of like, whoa, is this for real? Not one of us is going to be a drama queen or a diva, or be not fun to hang out with? It happens! Every once in a while, the stars align that way, and I think I do believe that it plays into the show, you see it in the show.
Knowing that, it makes me appreciate what I saw, even more. It just exists, and it’s great.
Yeah, that’s exactly it! That’s exactly it.
Do you get time to watch TV in your spare time?
I don’t really. Spare time is a hilarious notion to me. Hilarious! I think now that we’re wrapped, I might be able to watch things. I don’t watch a lot of TV as it is. If I have free time, I want to go travel, that’s what I want to go do. Probably not watch TV. Though I will watch, I’ll go to my friends for a premiere party that they’re doing for the show. That’ll be fun.
I know your dad [Russ Tamblyn] is a well-known actor, too. Did growing up with a dad in the business make you more interested in it, or is it something that just came naturally to you?
It was a little bit of both. He encouraged me, and he didn’t encourage me, and then vice versa. It was a struggle growing up, because I really didn’t want to give up playing with my friends, and not having any responsibilities, and my dad wanted that, too. For some reason, we both knew it was something that I was good at. And I had this career on a soap opera [GENERAL HOSPITAL] and I’d been on it for a while, and it just kind of was a thing that we were both like, I don’t want you do what I did as a kid, and my mom and my grandmother were really the ones that were like, she’s really good at this, we should encourage her.
I was watching GENERAL in the time when you were on, and honestly, one of the first things I noticed was what a good crier you were!
[laughs out loud at me]
And no offense, to this day, I always hope your character has to cry HA!
I think I only cry once in this show. It’s not really a crying show. And Casey’s not really a crying character. She’s a tough cookie. Yeah, that’s actually been quite a contentious issue in many relationships I’ve had. They’re like “you can just cry on cue” and I’m like “Actually, I can’t and the fact that you just insinuated that I could is going to make me cry!”
What else do we have to look forward to from you, aside from THE UNUSUALS?
I have a film coming out in the fall, called BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. It’s a remake of a 1950s film noir movie. It stars myself and Michael Douglas, and this kid named Jesse Metcalfe. That’s a great movie. And I’m going to North Carolina [this] week to film THE LATE HORTON FOOTE, the playwright. It’s the last thing that he wrote before he died. John Doyle’s directing it. It’s myself, Orlando Bloom, Patricia Clarkson, Ellen Burstyn and Colin Firth, so that’ll be fun.
Both sound like great casts, so I look forward to them!
I look forward to the show, I enjoyed the pilot, and the people I’ve talked to love it so far, too! So hopefully people tune in!
You heard her – Woohoo, indeed! Make sure you make a point to watch this show (THE UNUSUALS) after LOST on Wednesday at 10PM Eastern.