What the TV world seems to be missing these days is women of real shape and real size. And not just in the sassy best friend role! Which is why Lifetime’s latest original series, DROP DEAD DIVA, is such a refreshing look at the normal. Broadway star Brooke Elliott plays the head role, overworked, underappreciated “normal girl”, Jane. When Jane is caught in the crossfire of an angry gunman, she lands in a coma, brain dead. Brooke D’Orsay is Deb, the “vapid model wannabe” who dies and in lieu of getting into heaven, not ready to give up on life, accidentally “jumps” into the body of Jane. Now this shallow woman lives life in the body of what she deems ugly (Elliott, it’s important to point out, is nothing of the sort). Along for the ride is Deb’s guardian angel Fred, who talks her through just how wrong this is. Deb also had a beautiful fiance, Grayson, who just started at Jane’s firm. It sounds like a complicated premise as it’s written on paper, but watching it, it flies by, smart, touching, sassy, and quite addicting. If that’s not enough for you, Margaret Cho is perfect as Jane’s fantastic assistant!
I chatted with Jane herself, Brooke Elliott a few weeks back, about what to expect in this show, and why she thinks it’s important that a series like this is airing now, and, now, I cannot wait to see more episodes. Read on for more!
I want to say, first of all, that I adored the pilot!
I think that it’s a very important show to come out at a time like this when so much is focused on outer beauty and the show is so much more than that. Can you talk about how this came together?
It came about very simply at first. My agent called and said, would like this audition for this pilot? I was really wanting to move into TV and film, so we did the audition and then when they flew me out to LA to test for it, I got to meet with Josh Berman, the creator of the show, and really hear his thoughts and his intentions of what the script was, and got to share some of my feelings with him, and found that we were on the same page! We’ve been working together ever since.
Why do you think this is a show that people should be watching?
Like you said, I think it’s extremely poignant for our time right now. I think there’s maybe a craving for this to subside. For the looks, to have looks being number 1 to subside. I think that there’s a desire for women who aren’t size zero and twos, I think there’s a desire for them to feel beautiful and feel attractive, and feel sexy and good about themselves, and they should. That’s one of the main things that I want from this show! To show that you should feel that way, because you are! I think women really struggle with finding their own beauty because we’re so conditioned to believe that beauty comes in one specific package. And I think it’s so important that this show shows that you don’t have to be that. You don’t have to fit into the package, you’re already beautiful.
There are a lot of guest stars coming up on the show, a lot of big recognizable names that are involved. Is there one in particular that you were blown away by?
Oh gosh, I’ve loved our guest stars. We have gotten so lucky. Each one that comes in, I’m equally blown away by them. I think Rosie O’Donnell, who gave me my Broadway debut, she came on for episode 2, and she’s actually going to be returning for another episode. That was a really special episode. She really was a huge part of the beginning of my Broadway career, so to have her come be a part of my TV career was important and very fun. And she’s fantastic on the show.
I can’t wait to see more episodes. I’ve only seen one, and from what I can tell, the main cast, the chemistry there, it popped! You and Margaret Cho, I loved that relationship!
Oh good! Yeah, that’s a fun relationship.
One of the things I picked up – you and the other Brooke (D’Orsay), did you have to spend a lot of time together? The mannerisms when you’re first realizing, as Deb, that you’re in the Jane body, you were so doing what she does as Deb.
It’s funny [laughs], No! That was the craziness about the situation. In the pilot, she winks, up in heaven, at Fred, and then in the very next scene, I wink at Fred. Neither one of us knew that the other one did that. It happened to be what we did! We did have one session, she learned my mannerisms, because I will carry the character through. Weirdly enough, we were kindly already doing the same thing. It was really bizarre, and such a fantastic twist of fate.
It’s a good sign that without even trying you guys are alike!
It’s really fun. When we watched the pilot for the first time, both of us sat there like, hey! Look at that!
What can you tease for us, about what’s coming up?
Oh what’s coming up! There’s continued tension between Grayson and Jane, as she desperately wants to tell him who she is, and she can’t. She runs into her parents, Deb’s parents, and Sharon Lawrence plays her mother, and she’s tremendous. Really, really good. I’m trying to think about what else is coming. She finds out it’s her birthday. That’s a fun episode. To see what happens when she realizes the amount of years she’s lost. She goes to a school reunion, a high school reunion.
Do you think that the Grayson character, does he know, intuitively?
That’s it! When Jackson [Hurst] and I talk about it, he’s like, you know, somehow, cosmically, he’s drawn to Jane, and he doesn’t know why. In his mind, it’s just some colleague that he works with at the firm, ya know. He’s, I think, on some deep deep soul connection level [laughs].
What else, besides DROP DEAD DIVA do you have coming up for us to look forward to?
Actually, I have nothing in the works right now, because I am so focused on DROP DEAD DIVA. I’m transferring my life. I’m moving. Other people say moving, I say transferring [laughs]. I am moving from New York to LA, so I’m about to start a brand new life out there. I would love to open my world up to features.
Do you see yourself doing musicals on film?
Oh I would love to do that! There’s so many things I’d love to do. I’ll always keep Broadway right there. I’d love to do Broadway again!
I hope that people respond to the show as I have because I can really see it succeeding!
I hope so. I’m glad that you connected to it in that way, we’re really hoping that others do in the same way!