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GleeHab Exclusive Interview: Jennifer Aspen

When last we saw her she was wearing stirrup pants and baggy sweaters but Jennifer Aspen’s new role, as Sharon on the ABC Pilot of Good Christian Bitches, has her wearing the likes of Marc Jacobs and Temperley.  But it’s not just the great fashion that’s had our favorite crazy sister busy as a bee.  Read on to see what Jennifer has been up to since we last saw her on Glee, her love for Kristin Chenoweth, and her “fangirl” moment.


GleeHab: So – and you have been busy, I see!

Jennifer: I’ve been busy.  I don’t have kids, yet, but I really want them.  So that honestly sounds like a lot more fun to me.

GleeHab: Oh, well, it’s fun.  It’s busy.  (Laughter) It’s exhausting.

Jennifer: Yeah, I’ve been, I guess, what – you can read about what I – so you know what I’ve been up to.

GleeHab: Yeah, well, for the most part.  You’re doing a new show, which sounds amazing.

Jennifer: Yeah (Laughter), it is amazing.

GleeHab: Is it – and are you in Dallas?

Jennifer: Yes.  I’ve been in Dallas for over two and a half weeks now.

GleeHab: Okay, so the whole thing is shot there, correct?

Jennifer: Yeah, the pilot is shot here.  I don’t know if the series will end up here or not.  It could, but I don’t know.

GleeHab: That’s amazing.  So fun.  So other than that, we’ve seen you on a few things…

Jennifer: I starred in this movie for Lifetime that was called Unanswered Prayers.

GleeHab: Oh, great.

Jennifer: – that was based on the Garth Brooks song – it’s the same name, “Unanswered Prayers,” and he produced it and stuff, and that was really cool.

GleeHab: Very cool!

Jennifer: Yeah, because he is great as a human being – it’s Garth Brooks!

GleeHab: Yeah, of course!

Jennifer: I didn’t think I was going to get star-struck when I met him ’cause I didn’t really own any of his albums or anything, and I was still, like, “Oh, my God!”

GleeHab: Yeah, because even if you’re not a huge fan, it’s like you’re meeting an icon.

Jennifer: Yeah, exactly.  So I did that, and then I’ve done a bunch of guest spots on stuff – So it’s been sort of a year of – in between pilot season, and then I got a hold of this great pilot, GCB, Good Christian Bitches.

GleeHab: It sounds – I’ve read a little bit about it.  It sounds really fun!

Jennifer: It’s super fun.  The cast is phenomenal, like super great, and I love all the girls.  We all love each other.  We’ve been having the best time in Dallas – you can’t even imagine.

GleeHab: I bet.  It’s like one big girls’ party.

Jennifer: It is.  We’ve been so lucky.  I feel like I can’t complain about a single thing because that would be just rude to the universe, you know?  I’m just so fortunate, so fortunate.

GleeHab: Well, good!  So tell me about the show.  The little segment I’m doing is kind of like a “Where Are They Now?” in between Glee stuff, and so everyone really wants to know about the show – kind of the plot line, how it originated…

Jennifer: No, Darren Star is one of the executive producers, and he’s from Sex and the City.  So that’s really great, and then Alan Poul, who’s directing it, is from Six Feet Under.  And we have the other exec producer, Kim Gatlin, who wrote this book – it’s based on a book called Good Christian Bitches.  And there are other exec producers, but – one of them is an exec producer from Terra Nova.  His name’s Aaron Kaplan.  We’re basically – as you can tell, all of those people are super talented.

GleeHab: That’s amazing!

Jennifer: It’s an embarrassment of riches.  It’s just – you know, they’re just incredible, and then we have – the wardrobe on the show is spectacular.  It is so delicious, it’s every – I’ve never dressed like this in my life.

GleeHab: No more stirrup pants and big cowl-neck sweaters?

Jennifer: No, no more stirrup leggings and cowl-neck sweaters, though of course I would happily reprise that – don’t get me wrong.  But it’s just – every day is such a treat.  The wardrobe woman, she won I think an Emmy for – she won a design award for Chaplin, and she’s done – she’s from  movies.  She’s never done TV before.  And she’s just phenomenal.  And so you can see just that, before any actors even walk into it – it is a great line-up, you know?

GleeHab: Oh, that’s amazing!

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s an incredible group of people, and you could really tell that from the beginning.  Oh, and the writer!  Hello!  The writer wrote Steel Magnolias.

GleeHab: Oh my gosh!  Are you kidding?

Jennifer: No, I’m not kidding one iota.  It’s ridiculous.  His name is Robert Harling.

GleeHab: That’s my favorite movie of all time.

Jennifer: Oh, really?  Isn’t it the best?  It’s the best!  He wrote Steel Magnolias and he wrote Soap Dish – he wrote a bunch of other movies, too.  It’s ridiculous.  When I first heard about the project, I was like, “That is the one I want to do.”

GleeHab: Absolutely.

Jennifer: Yeah, and so –

GleeHab: So how did it happen?  Was there just –

Jennifer: Well, I had heard about it, and I kind of was like – I told my manager, “That’s the one.”  We just kind of knew that that was the one, and then we – I went in and I auditioned for it, and I was the first one cast.

GleeHab: That’s fantastic!

Jennifer: Yeah, I was the first one cast, and it was like – I’m playing the role of Sharon, who is a compulsive eater, which is hilarious.  It’s a dramedy.  It’s an hour-long, but it’s a dramedy, and I’m ridiculous and funny – you know, Dallas wealthy.  It’s just great.  I can’t say too much about the plot except to say that, you know – what it’s about, I will say, that it’s the author who wrote Good Christian Bitches’ purpose of her writing it – she’s a devout Christian, and she wrote this book because, within her group – she’s here from Dallas – there were women who were talking the talk but not walking the walk of being Christian, and they would be in church on Sunday, and during the week they would act like bitches.  And she essentially wrote a fictional book – sort of calling out that practice.  And so we have essentially that kind of vibe, but you know, it’s a really good television series.  So we’ve got our bitches, which is me, Kristin Chenoweth – who I know we’re going to be covering her (Laughter) – Marisol Nichols, and Miriam Shor.  We’re the bitches.

GleeHab: That sounds amazing.

Jennifer: It’s incredible.  So, yeah, it’s about bumping up against that, and we all have sort of a high-school nemesis in Leslie Bibb, and we all collide again.

GleeHab: So, without giving too much away, is it like everybody’s known each other for years and years, or is this just like a –

Jennifer: I don’t think I can say.

GleeHab: Okay.

Jennifer: The bitches, yes, we’ve known each other forever.

GleeHab: Very cool.  Sounds like so much fun.  Is it very Southern?  Is it very –

Jennifer: Yes.  We all have accents.

GleeHab: Oh, how fun.  Give me your best Southern accent.

Jennifer: Yeah, well, it’s very specific because there’s – {speaking in a perfect southern drawl} I can give it to your right now, but it’s a very specific Dallas accent where they talk real fast like this, but with, like, a little bit of Valley girl in it.

GleeHab: I love it!

Jennifer: (Laughter) So yeah, we all have that.  It was really hard for Kristin to master.

GleeHab: Yeah, I bet.  (Laughter) I bet she had a real hard time with that.

Jennifer: Yeah.  So it’s full-on wardrobe and big hair and clothes and handbags and – it’s definitely that world.

GleeHab: I bet it’s heaven.

Jennifer: It’s totally heaven.  Not going to lie to you.

GleeHab: Okay, so tell me about your character, whatever you can.

Jennifer: She is ridiculous.  I always play the ridiculous character.  What?

GleeHab: Which is so awesome!

Jennifer: Yeah, and she’s ex-beauty queen and a bit neurotic, and when that really reaches an apex, she reaches for food.

GleeHab: So how did you kind of draw that character out?  Did they give you – obviously they gave you her premise, I guess, and you just kind of created her, or how did you evolve that?  I’m always interested to know how actors –

Jennifer: How we do it?

GleeHab: – yeah, make the characters their own, I guess.

Jennifer: You know, I was having this conversation last night with someone, but if I can – you know when you get an idea about something, like decorating a room or what you’re going to wear, a kind of creative idea, and it doesn’t always come from a logical place, right?  It’s kind of just a creative impulse, like, “This is how I want this to be,” and that’s what happened with this character.  I mean, it’s just something that happens when I play her, and it comes out, and I have thoughts about why she does this or that, but it’s sort of like I just slide into this thing and all of a sudden I’m this other character.

GleeHab: So you just transform.

Jennifer: Yeah, and I’ll say this – it’s similar to what happened with Kendra because I just received a page of her dialogue and Ryan asked if I wanted to play that part, and there was just something about the lines on the page – it didn’t take much effort for me to just slide into this character.  It just comes from somewhere, I don’t know where, and it just happens, and then you have a couple of thoughts of, like, “She thinks this way about life,” but you find out those thoughts when you’re in character, and you kind of get how they see things – like putting on somebody’s glasses, in a way.

GleeHab: You just transform automatically.

Jennifer: Yeah, and there’s definite thought about it and practice doing it, but essentially it’s – I don’t, like, go, “Okay, so,” and just sit and meditate on this.  Nothing like that happens.  I just kind of slip in and feel it out, and I do that for as long of time that I’m lucky enough to have.  I had a lot of time on this project ’cause I was the first one cast, and we didn’t shoot for three weeks after I was cast.

GleeHab: Okay, so you had some time to really soak it in.

Jennifer: I had some time to really look at what I thought – go through magazines – what I thought she would look like, what I thought she was like, all of that stuff.

GleeHab: So do you have any input on what she looks like, like on costumes and stuff, or is that –

Jennifer: Oh, definitely.  They absolutely – it’s very collaborative, but when you’re working with people that are this great, their ideas are perfect, so there’s very little – there’s no disagreement.  You know what I’m saying?  Your just like – we actually came to the table with the exact same pictures, some of them.

GleeHab: Oh, really?  That’s amazing.

Jennifer: I went in for – you know, ’cause this show is so much about the beautiful wardrobe and everything that I came with many magazines, and I’ll rip things I think she would wear or images that sort of feel like her or whatever, and brought them in, and we had some of the same ones.  We were on the same page very quickly.  I didn’t want to be sleek, I wanted to be – everything I wear is like dessert.  It’s almost edible, it’s so delicious.  I tweeted a picture of Kristin and I –

GleeHab: Yeah, I saw that.  That’s amazing, amazing.

Jennifer: You did, okay, so, yeah – it feels like dessert, right?

GleeHab: Yeah, it’s very sparkly, very showy, exactly like dessert.  So let’s talk designers.  What designers are you getting, ’cause I live vicariously through these things.

Jennifer: Oh, yeah, no, listen, I was – when I walked in and I saw what was on the racks, I was like, “What?”  (Laughter) In that photo I’m wearing Temperley…

GleeHab: Oh, my God.

Jennifer: Right?  And the shoes are – what’s Mary-Kate and Ashley’s – their high-end line?  Eliot & James.  So that’s in that photo, and then I have Dior and Valentino and Stella McCartney – it’s just, like, a lot.  I have the most changes in the show.

GleeHab: Oh, do you?

Jennifer: I do.  It’s because there’s a lot of phone calls that happen, in a different outfit.  I can’t even remember all of it.  Those are my favorites, so those are the ones I’m remembering, but it’s a lot of great stuff.

GleeHab: Nice.  I would just sit there and stare at the clothes the whole time.  (Laughter)

Jennifer: No, I do, and we all – when we have group scenes where we’re all together, everyone is so delicious, we get there, and we’re like, “What are you wearing?  Oh, my God!” (Laughter)

GleeHab: That’s so great.  So there are four other women or three other women?

Jennifer: Well, there are three other of the GCBs, we’re called.  We’re the bitches.  And then Annie Potts is in it and Leslie Bibb is in it.

GleeHab: I love Annie Potts.

Jennifer: She is just heaven on earth.  I’ve done a pilot with her before, and we adore each other.  She’s magnificent.  And then we have our guys, too.  We have – David James Elliott’s in it.

Jennifer: He’s a tall drink of water!

GleeHab: No kidding!  You have worked with some not-ugly men!

Jennifer: No, they’re all big strapping men!  They really – I was thinking about it this morning.  They really cast Texan-looking men.  They’re all over six feet tall.  They’re, like, strapping men.  When I first got here to Dallas, we were going around, and I was, like, “Are there a bunch of professional athletes here?”  Men here are, like – You know they’re all big.

GleeHab: It sounds like so much fun.

Jennifer: It really is.  It’s such an embarrassment of riches.  I mean, when I get home, I’m going to go scrub my floors.  You know what I mean?  Just to be grounded and be like, “Okay.”

GleeHab: I would definitely have to do the same thing!  So everyone wants to know what it’s like working with Kristin Chenoweth.

Jennifer: Listen, I haven’t fallen this much in love with someone in a long time.  I mean, we both are like, “Oh my God, why haven’t we been friends before?”  Because when we did Glee, we never saw each other.  We weren’t there on the same days.  So we never bumped into each other, and then at events and stuff, I think she was in New York doing a musical or something.  Listen, I had no idea, just so you know – I had no idea the kind of talent that she had, like when you YouTube her?  It’s obnoxious!  It’s just –

GleeHab: Ridiculous.

Jennifer: It’s ridiculous.  So she is so special, and we both are just like – we feel like we’ve known each other forever, and we both feel like the other person has our heart.  It’s really, I gotta tell you, it’s really, really lovely.  I really do love her.  I think she is everything.  I really do.

GleeHab: Just genuine and – amazing.

Jennifer: Yeah, she’s very special.  Her talent alone is so rare, and she’s just like a precious gem, you know?

GleeHab: I feel like she is like a fireball of energy.

Jennifer: Yeah, she has a lot of energy, but the thing that just really knocks you over is her sweetness.  She is a real sweet girl who is not afraid to speak her mind.  And she just really is the whole package, for me.  I mean, I just think she’s IT!

Jennifer & Kristin (credit: Jennifer's twitter)

GleeHab: So she’s busy, though.  Does she come and go?  I mean, she’s doing Glee right now…

Jennifer: Yeah, she is.  She’s been tweeting me love from the Glee set, and photos, which has been really fun, and, yeah, she’ll be back on Saturday.

GleeHab: So how long is it going to take you guys to shoot the pilot?

Jennifer: We’re almost done.  We’ll be done, like, probably about six o’clock in the morning on Tuesday.  We’ll be shooting all Monday night, like six in the morning.  We have an outdoor night location, so – and I think it’s going to be raining!

GleeHab: Oh, no!

Jennifer: (Laughter) Yeah.  It’s really harder on the hair and makeup than it is on us – but we’ll make it work.

GleeHab: So you’ll finish on Tuesday, and then back to LA?

Jennifer: Yeah, back to LA, and, you know, on to whatever’s next, or eyeing the next project, and wait and see what happens with this.  ABC, which has a fantastic new president, they will take a look at it and love it (Laughter) – and they will decide that they must have it on their fall schedule.  It’s going really well.

GleeHab: That’s good.  That’s great.  And then back to LA.  Everyone of course also wants to know if there’s any chance, if you’ve heard anything from Glee or what’s going on with that.

Jennifer: You know what, I will say this, because I can’t watch the show.

GleeHab: Oh, really?  That was my next question…

Jennifer: No, I can’t because it’s like an ex-boyfriend that you’re still in love with and you want to get back together and you don’t want to watch them date other women.

GleeHab: Well that’s a very good way of putting it.

Jennifer: It’s exactly what it’s like!  But I did catch – I was on the treadmill the other day and it was on, and I did catch a scene where Jessalyn and Will made out.

GleeHab: Oh, yeah!  (Laughter) They did!

Jennifer: And she seems really, like – there’s something going on there, right?

GleeHab: Well, she comes back – we know for sure she’s in the next episode that airs on the 19th

Jennifer: Oh, really?

GleeHab: Everyone says, “If she comes back, then Kendra comes back!”  And everyone is dying.

Jennifer: Well, I don’t rule out that happening at all.  Here’s the thing, is that – honestly there’s total love between myself and everyone at Glee, the writers – there’s no – you know what I mean?  We adore each other, so I’m sure that if it makes sense in whatever incredible plan they have for the show, if it makes sense, then you’ll see Kendra again.  And I’ve always kind of felt like that will probably happen at some point.  But, you know – I very much respect the amount of show that they’re running.  It is massive.

Jennifer: It’s a lot, and on top of that, it also – as you probably have more read about than watched – but my understanding is that the first season was a lot more story, but this more about the songs, getting to the songs.

GleeHab: Yeah, there’s a lot more music.  So it’s interesting because you see it evolve, you see how they’re trying to find their footing and what the audience likes, and so I don’t even know how they manage, with such a gigantic cast.

Jennifer: It’s only three writers.  It’s insane.  So I only flow them huge amounts of love – and I still feel like a tiny part of something so special.  I feel like a proud mother.  I still feel that way when they win everything. You know, I’m just like, “Oh, my God!  Look, there’s Ian!  Oh, he’s talking!  It’s the Golden Globes!”  It makes me very, very happy.

GleeHab: Well, I can tell you for 100 percent certain, you are still a huge fan favorite.  When I put it out there that I was interviewing you, and “Tell me what you think, what questions you want me to ask,” and everyone just says, “She’s the best!  We miss her!  She’s so funny!  Just tell her we miss her, and we’ve watched the original – the first episodes – and just love her, and” – people are always talking about how great it was when you were on it, just so funny, and everyone’s so excited to see this, your newest project, so it sounds like it’s just so much fun.

Jennifer: That is sweet!  It really is, and we are working really hard to make it funny and entertaining for the fans, for people we are hoping will watch it.


GleeHab: Well, I feel like with the line-up you have of the writers and the producers and the actors, there’s no way it cannot be funny.

Jennifer: I know.  It’s really a dream.  And everyone is, like – it really is ridiculous, and we all know it, we all know how lucky we are.  We’re so lucky, we’re like a group of women that genuinely are good people and like each other.

Jennifer: Yeah, you sort of – I definitely went into it – I was watching as they were adding the cast, going, “Oh, who’s it going to be?  Please, Lord, please!”  And each time – I happened to have crossed paths or know of about everyone that came on, and so I knew we were in for a treat.  I mean, I just want to say, about Glee fans and how lovely they’ve been to me, via Twitter particularly, and you know, I’m doing pretty good with the Twitter, right?

GleeHab: So good!  Every time I see you tweet, I’m like, “Oh!  Yay!”

Jennifer: No, listen, you changed my life!  I had to switch to my own name after I was, like, “I don’t even know if I’ll be back!  I can’t be Kendra.  I can’t be GiveKendraASong.”  I didn’t totally get that, so I moved to my name, but it’s really phenomenal, and every time some Glee fan posts – because I guess it’s airing now in France –So I’ve been getting some tweets from French fans, and everyone is so sweet, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.  I’m just so grateful for Twitter in general because you have this wonderful communication with your fans.  It’s direct.

GleeHab: It is.  It’s direct and it’s unlike, I feel like, any other form out there because you can put yourself out there – it’s personal, and people appreciate that.  They really do.  So –

Jennifer: No, I do, too.  Listen, one of my best days on Twitter was when Common – I’m a big fan of Common, the rapper – and he responded to me one day, and it was like the best day of my life.

GleeHab: Did you just go crazy?

Jennifer: I did!  I was freaking out!  I’ve seen him at events, but it’s just – you know, there are certain people that you’re going to fall over if they look at you, and he’s that guy for me.  It’s so weird.  I love him as an artist and everything, but I – yeah, I follow him, and I tweeted something, and when he responded to me – I mean, I flushed, I was so excited.  It was like I drank a pot of coffee.

GleeHab: Okay, now take that experience, and I can guarantee you that every time you tweet a Glee fan back, that’s exactly what happens to them.

Jennifer: That’s why I’m really good about it, because I totally get it!  I am a fan, too.  I am totally a fan, too, and so I just think it’s the best thing ever, and I’m glad that you told me that “People care!”

GleeHab: People do care!  And people still – everyone is so excited to see where you go, and when I posted that I was going to be able to interview you again, everyone just was like, “Oh, it’s so exciting!  We’ll follow basically anything she ever does because of Glee,” and so – I think that, apart from Glee, you just kind of gained a whole new following of people that will truly dedicate themselves to following your career – because you’re amazing!  And it’s so fun to see this project evolving, and I think it sounds amazing.

Jennifer: It does.  We’re just going to keep doing the work and keep making it good, and that’s all you can do, and the thing is, when you know – when I know that people are following me or fans that care about what projects I have coming out, it makes me work harder.  You know what I mean?  It’s like, okay, I feel like I am entertaining people, they appreciate it, I can’t lay an egg right now.

GleeHab: Exactly.  It’s very exciting, and everyone is very excited to hear what’s going on with you, and just know that everyone totally supports it, and I guarantee you everyone is going to watch it so keep us posted!

Jennifer: Oh, yes, I know, and I of course will tweet right away – when we know what’s going to happen with it.

GleeHab: Oh, I’m so glad.  Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to speak with me!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!

Jennifer: Well, I adore you, and I will always answer to you, always.

GleeHab: Thank you!  And I can speak for all of my readers when I say that we wish you the best and can’t wait for Good Christian Bitches!

Jennifer: Thank you!  Thank you to everyone!


A huge THANK YOU to Jennifer for taking time to speak to me – it is always a joy to talk to her and I can’t wait to see Good Christian Bitches because I know it will be a huge success with Jennifer at it’s helm!

GleeHab Feature: “Where Are They Now?”

Over the next several weeks/months, I will be compiling interviews from previous Glee cast members, some of our favorites to be exact.  We kick off this feature with one of my VERY favorites: Jennifer Aspen, who played Terri’s crazy sister, Kendra.  Jennifer is a buddy of GleeHab and we are thrilled to be able to speak with her again.

Jennifer is hard at work on her new show, Good Christian Bitches and we are so lucky to be able to speak with her on Friday, April 1st!  Nope, it’s not an April Fool’s joke, it’s legit.  We are so excited to speak with her again so do me a favor and hit me up with questions.  You can tweet them to @GleeHabSite, hit the comments, or email me at gleehabrach {at} gmail {dot} com.

Exclusive Interview with Jennifer Aspen

Last Tuesday I had the best afternoon!  I interviewed Jennifer Aspen, the genius behind Kendra’s character on ‘Glee’.  I can say without a doubt that she is absolutely the most delightful, kind, and freaking hilarious person I have ever spoken to!  I am always a little nervous when I do interviews but I was instantly at ease and felt like I was talking to an old friend instead of a major celebrity on the hottest show on TV (and easily one of the best characters on that show!).  We spoke for nearly an hour so the dialogue is very long but I promise it will be worth every minute you spend reading our interview.

Find out how we got her started on her Twitter campaign to get Kendra a song; how she could have been Heidi Montag; and get a little teaser of what is to come for Kendra in the back 9!

Rachel: How did you end up in LA?  Where did you get your start?

Jennifer: Well I grew in Prescott, AZ and then my parents were divorced.  And then my mom went to Santa Cruz, CA.  And then I split my time between those two places.  So I was like in the most conservative place and the most liberal place.  So that was interesting.  And then I got to LA because I got accepted to UCLA, so I went to UCLA for theatre and I have a BA in theatre from there.  And then I was here and I graduated.  They don’t really teach you how to get an acting job at all. They do teach you about theatre and the history of theatre and how to do plays and all of that which was great.  So when I graduated, I asked other actor friends and they’re like, well you get a waitressing job and headshots.  So I did that and that’s how it happened.

Rachel: So did you do a lot of theater/plays because of all the education you got or did you go straight to other projects?

Jennifer: No, I did a lot of plays. I had done plays in high school.  I did musicals in high school and a couple of plays. I did “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying” and a musical called “Runaway”.  I directed, “The Miracle Worker” at the age of 17.  I mean was doing that because I loved it but I didn’t realize that people do that for a living.  So when I cognated to that and I realized that you could actually go to school for that, that’s when I got serious about it and then went to UCLA.  You do lots of student written plays and there are some weird…people get really artsy in college.  I did some Shakespeare, and did “Midsummer Night’s Dream” — My first professional gig was in theatre actually at the Pasadena playhouse, a famous theatre here in Los Angeles.  I did “The Lion In Winter” for that. So I started in theatre and didn’t get my first film thing until a television show, but I had been doing theatre for years before that happened.

Rachel: I think I first saw you in “Party of Five” years ago

Jennifer: [Laughs] Yeah, you’re not alone.  I did three other series between that and ‘Glee’

Rachel: What drew you to ‘Glee’?

Jennifer: The script! So good!  Like you mentioned, I did “Party of Five” and I did three series and they were all sitcoms and I played the wife, each time – the wife in the sitcom, the wife in the sitcom, the wife in the sitcom which I really enjoyed, don’t get me wrong.  I would happily do that again, but I was definitely looking for something different that on the page you are like this is totally exciting and that was the script from the moment I got it. I was like this is what I have been looking for!

From the beginning, I mean for me, and this is hand on a Bible swearing, this is what I said to my husband when I got that script, I said, ‘they are going to shoot this pilot, they’re going to pick it up right away, they’re going to premier it after “American Idol” and it’s going to win everything.’  I said that right off the bat.

Rachel: Well, you were right!

Jennifer: The thing is, it was that obvious. I never felt in the course of reading it, and auditioning for it, and shooting it – I never felt like maybe this isn’t going to work, not one time.  Everything just seemed just fall in to place perfectly.  The cast and the wardrobe and the way they shot it and the feeling on the set – everything was going right.  So you could just tell that was going to happen.  I was never worried and I am sure some people were, it’s an expensive venture, but it always just seemed obvious that that’s what was going to happen.

Rachel: How did you get the role?  Was it an open casting call?

Jennifer: I’m a really lucky girl.  I actually originally read for the role of Terri.

Rachel: Really?

Jennifer: Yeah.  And that didn’t work out, sadly.  I was crushed [laughs].  And then I thought wow, maybe I am not going to do this show, I can’t believe it!  Because I was so certain, like I said, because I read pilot so Kendra’s not the in pilot script.  So I read for Terri and I was so certain from the beginning that I was going to be on this show.  So in the end when I didn’t end up getting the role of Terri I was absolutely stunned.  I just couldn’t believe it, you know?  I was so sure.  So I had to walk away while they shot the pilot in disbelief you know, like I can’t believe it!  I kept expecting any day to get a phone call like, ‘okay yeah you can do it.’  And months went by and it was still on my mind like I still felt like a part of it and then I got a phone call out of the blue from Ryan [Murphy] and he gave me that role.

Rachel: Oh thank goodness he did!

Jennifer: I mean I don’t know that he wrote it like, I am writing this for Jennifer.  I don’t know what his process was in coming up with Kendra, all I know was that I just got a call one day saying, ‘there is part for you.  Ryan wants to have it.  It’s going to be an amazing role.  Here is one page of sides and you just tell us if you want it.’  And I was like, oh! My God and I read the one page and I was laughing so hard.  It was from that first dining room scene where she is like – ‘I can’t, my fibromyalgia is acting up.’  I was like I am in, absolutely in!

Rachel: Kendra is one of the best characters on the show, by the way.

Jennifer: Oh thanks!  I wish I could take full credit for that, but that is absolutely the writing, absolutely the writing.

Rachel: Well I am sure you add your own twist here and there which I think is so awesome.  I mean your character is totally crazy.  How did you create it?  How did you take what they wrote for you and then transform that into your character?

Jennifer: Well, I think it was one of the — there is something to me and probably other cast members feel like this but and with Ryan and the other writers’ writing.  I mean I am obsessed with their writing just so you know.  I stalk them on the set and I’m like, ‘how did you come up with that?  How did you think about that?  What is your process in the writing room because it’s so perfect!’  And the character, just as it is on the page I read Kendra and she was just clear to me.  It’s like oh my god she is just this.  And Ryan had some very specific ideas about the wardrobe, which is huge part for me of getting a character down.  He was the one that came up with the stirrup pants and the cowl neck sweaters and the huge belts.  That was him.  And I came into the fitting and I was like oh my god, like this is not cute unless you’re Gisele and even then that’s a challenge, not faltering.  But when I put it on and after that wardrobe fitting it was like Kendra just came out.

Rachel: And the hair!

Jennifer: Yes, the hair!  Ok, the hair was me.  I wanted that hair.  I did.  First it came from the script, then it came from the wardrobe fitting, and that kind of inspired this idea with the hair and then how the character was for me; how she talked and her righteousness, and her nuttiness, I think is just amazing.  You know she could do anything and completely justify it as being the right thing!  So when I put it all together and I am walking towards the set, I swear to God I am another person.  Just like things just happen, like a Kendra switch and I’m just there.

Rachel: You mentioned the way she talks.  You sound nothing like her by the way.  You completely transform your voice and your line delivery is the best!  How did you come up with that?

Jennifer: It just happened.  I didn’t think that must about it.  I mean there were certain things that were in the character when I was playing Terri, when I auditioned for Terri.  There were certain things that I came up with for that character, totally different then what Jessalyn [Gilsig] does and Jessalyn is great but it was a very different thing and I had not gotten to use those things yet.  One of those things was just this, almost non-thinking certainty.  Like kind of – like the actual mind is just kind of dull and the mouth goes and I hadn’t gotten to play that yet.  So I know I took that from there and put that on to Kendra and I just thought that it was so funny.  So I did put that in to Kendra and there was a tiny bit of an accent there which I thought was funny because it was kind of naturally happening as I was practicing the lines and I thought, wait a minute, no body else has an accent on this show.  And then I thought, oh my God, it’s so funny because George Bush has this accent but none of his family members have it.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed that…his parents don’t have it, you know what I mean?  It’s just completely, you know, so that was really funny to me that that was a small part of Kendra.  So I kept that instead of going, well that doesn’t make sense.  It just suddenly seemed funny to me.

The things Kendra says are so crazy but they make perfect sense to me when I say it.  It’s like it makes perfect sense.  There is no doubt in Kendra; she has no doubt about what she’s saying.  Never.  So that’s definitely in there for sure.

Rachel: Do you have a lot of freedom, are you able to ad lib or improvise?

Jennifer: Well, when I work with Ryan yes, because Ryan directs some of the episodes.  He is also one of the writers and so because he is there and he encourages that to happen, so it happens.  I don’t’ know what has made it in to the show because, if I’m being completely honest with you I have only watched one of my episodes.

Rachel: Oh really?

Jennifer: Yeah.  I am not a huge fan of watching myself.

Rachel: I can understand that.  I hate watching myself in home movies; it’s the most embarrassing thing.

Jennifer: Yes!  It is the exact same phenomena; it’s the exact same thing.  But every once in a while you know, like every once in a while you’re friends take a good picture of you and you’re like, awesome!  But most of the time you’re like oh God, throw it away.  It’s the same thing, although you know it does – it is kind of important to do because you have to have some kind of quality control.  Technically it’s a product you are putting gout, like if you made shoes and sold them and you never look to see what they look like.  But it takes a lot for me to sit down and push play and watch myself.

Rachel: I can definitely see that.  That would be hard for anyone.

Jennifer: Yeah, well some people have no button on it at all.  They can view it very objectively and think, I should use less eye shadow or I think I could be a little more in the character.  But yeah, I don’t – I am not a fan.  For example if someone takes a picture of me on set when I’m in wardrobe and I’m in my spot…they take photos and they will be like look and I’m like no!  Don’t show me!  It will burn in my mind [laughs].  It will ruin it for me!

Rachel: Well, if you don’t watch yourself don’t worry – you definitely hit it!

Jennifer: Well I can tell when I’m doing it.  I can tell from the experience that it’s working.  I was there when we were filming it so I can tell that it’s working.  And, the other people, the cast quotes that character all the time.  They love Kendra.  It’s like one of their favorite things to do and they tell me about it all the time so I know that it is working well so I why do I need to watch it?  [Laughs]

Rachel: What’s it like working with Ryan Murphy?

Jennifer: Oh it is so great.  I mean he’s creatively so incredible.  It’s really fun.  It’s very light.  It’s fun and light but you’ve got to be on your toes and you’ve got to be sharp because he does not suffer fools.  You’re not going to go there and be a moron and not know your lines or not be sharp.  That doesn’t fly with him because he’s so sharp and he’s so on it.  So you’re definitely challenged to not be a moron.  So it is really fun but it’s a highly creative and you’ve got to be very alert because there’s a lot of great ideas going around and you don’t want to miss them.

Rachel: I’d imagine it’s pretty busy.  It’s such a huge cast and you’re probably shooting a million different things at once.

Jennifer: Yeah, especially for – you know because I don’t sing and dance on the show…which, you know, it must happen.  It must happen or my life won’t be complete.

Rachel: I completely agree!

Jennifer: I think it could happen in a nightmare of Will’s.  That would be great.  I really think that could happen.  So…but the people that are singing and dancing, I mean they are truly really working their tails off because we’ll be filming a scene – we’ll come in and we’ll rehearse it and for me while they’re setting up the lights and the camera and all that stuff I have down time.  But the people that are singing and dancing they go next door for rehearsal or they go to go record a song, you know there is no down time.  They get to work a good hour or two early for dance rehearsals and singing and all that so that’s a tremendous amount of work that they’re doing.  I think it’s so great that all of these awards that these guys are getting, that we’re getting, I feel like it really is double the work load of most shows.  For sure it is.  It’s not even that I feel that it is, it definitely is.  And so it’s really being rewarded for you putting out a tremendous amount of work and I feel like the cast is really weathering that well instead of getting a lot of reward for a little bit of work and you kind of feel guilty about that.  It’s not like that.  They really have earned those accolades and they really – I can’t speak for myself that much because I really don’t have to do the singing and dancing YET!  But those that do, are really working double time for sure!

Rachel: Were you surprised at ‘Glee’’s success?

Jennifer: No!  No!  Not at all!  [Laughs] Nope, I wasn’t.  There was nothing surprising about it.  I was just happy to be on it and even like – ‘yeah we’re going to win the Golden Globe, uh huh!’  It was an obvious thing to me.  It wasn’t like ego or like ‘we’re going to win’ it wasn’t cheerleading.  It was just an obvious thing it was just ‘that’s completely going to happen’.  Now it becomes carrying on what’s been working.  It’s only been 13 episodes.  From this point you can be Desperate Housewives or you can be Sex and the City.  You know what I mean?  You can have a huge first season and first year and then just sort of be there and you never get nominated again or you can be Sex and the City and just awarded and you get better as the years go by.

Rachel: There is probably an element of pressure on them for the final 9 of the season.  I mean, they haven’t even done a whole season before they started winning all these awards so they really need to stay on their game, which I’m sure they will but I bet it’s a little nerve racking.

Jennifer: I imagine that it’s like that.  I haven’t seen the first 3 episodes back because I come in on the 4th.  But I’ve heard about what’s happening and it sounds to me like there is some really great stuff happening.  The Madonna episode sounds like it’s going to be epic!

Rachel: I have dreams about that episode, I’m not going to lie.

Jennifer: No!  Listen I’m broken hearted that I’m not in it and I actually even pitched – I literally…I am Madonna.  Madonna was literally like my opinion leader, who I looked up to, what is she doing, what is she wearing?  I went through a stage where I was dressing like her all the time and so I really pitched to them.  I was like ‘Will can have a nightmare and he comes home and Kendra is doing the “burning up” video in the driveway.  That would be so funny!  It would be amazing!’  It didn’t make it but I have heard…I know what Lea is singing and there’s one character that singing that is going to be so funny.  I think it sounds to me like they are very much on the right track and I am so excited for that Madonna episode.

Rachel: You mentioned you come back in the 4th episode and we know you’ve got to come back for at least a portion of the last 9 because Terri moves in with you right?

Jennifer: That’s right.  Terri is living with me and then something really ridiculous happens.  I’ve been told, I haven’t seen the script, I’ve just been told what the plan is.  And it will be really scandalous.  I mean it is like, Oh! My God!  To the point where Jessalyn is like ‘Oh my god, I have to film this, oh my god, help me!’.  So it’s going to be good, it is going to be so good!

Rachel: What can we expect from you?  Do you play a big part in Terri’s evolution from married woman to…whatever happens?

Jennifer: Yes, I’m sure that Kendra’s role as always – I always think of Kendra being Terri’s mind.  You know, Terri’s the body and then Kendra is the mind directing the body so I always think of Kendra like that.  So, whatever Terri’s actions are you can bet that Kendra is behind that.  Directing it.  So I assume that that’s how it will continue.  And, you know, constantly chastising Will because Will to Kendra is just a joke…but sexy.  Because that’s how she thinks [laughs].

Rachel: Yeah, that’s right!  He’s a “sexy grease monkey”

Jennifer: [Laughs] Yes!  Ugh, I wish I had seen that episode because I had done a couple of takes where I really inappropriately looked up and down his body.  And I don’t know if that made it in.

Rachel: Oh yeah, it did!

Jennifer: [Laughs] It did?!  Ok!  Because I really want to see it.  I’m definitely going to see that one and the one in the Gynecologist office.  I’ve heard those are really funny.

Rachel: I would really encourage you to watch every episode you are in because you will just laugh.  You’ll just laugh.  My husband watches the show with me which I think is great because he’s a total nerd and watches the Science channel all the time but he watches with me and when you first came on the screen he was like, “wait, that girl is hilarious!  She needs more screen time!”

Jennifer: I know!  I definitely feel that way.  [Laughs]  Having not even seen it, I want more screen time!  I’ve always known I’m a small part of a gigantic show.  I mean there is an unbelievable number of cast members but it also frees me up to pursue other things at the same time as being a part of something that has so much exposure.  I mean, everybody watches it!  I mean, Tom Hanks watches the show.  Tom Hanks!  Everyone watches this show!  I’m sure Spielberg watches it, anyone with kids draws them in and then they’re hooked!  Like you said, it’s not a kids show and I think that Ryan really captures this adult mentality and kind of pop culture referencing to the last few decades.  So he really kind of sweeps us all up as a group.  I definitely came in to awareness of pop culture in the mid to late 80s like when Madonna was really coming up and those references were definitely in there for people where those decades are part of their pop cultural history.  It is part of the thinking and the musicality and the writing of the show so it is really is so all-inclusive.

Rachel: One of my questions was do you get to sing in the back 9 but it sounds like not yet.  But hopefully, maybe because you’ve done musical theater before?

Jennifer: I’ve done musical theater before and I can sing.  I mean I don’t sing like Lea [Michele].  Let’s not get it twisted.

Rachel: I don’t think anyone sings like Lea!

Jennifer: I know it’s so gross, my God! [laughs] No, I don’t sing like that but I can sing and I did have to sing when I auditioned originally.  It was so exciting!  I love singing, I have to tell you.  Love, love, love to sing.  Makes me happy!  So you know what I think I should do?  I literally think I should start like a Twitter petition!

Rachel: You should!

Jennifer: I signed up for Twitter months ago with my name, Jennifer Aspen and never Twittered.  I just at least wanted to have my name be, me.  And then I was like, OK…but I definitely need to get it started. I need to get the whole Twitter phenomenon going!  So I went on Twitter, put in my email, forgot your password?  Yes!  So they sent me my password and I haven’t debugged it.  But that’s the way to do it.  I really think something like GiveKendraASong at or however it works.

Rachel: I think that we should totally start it!  And you know what, you’ll get it too because the Twitter following for ‘Glee’ is out of this world.  I mean I’m just a little piece of it and just do it in relation to my site but it’s crazy!  You get a petition going…it’ll be done!

Jennifer: Oh my god, I just wrote it down because I think GiveKendraASong at sounds great!  I’m going to do it!  I’m going to start a petition because it has to happen!  I mean I really really really ugh, I mean the entire process of it happening would be phenomenal!

Rachel: Just the way you would execute it, just being in character would just be, ugh!  And the nightmare for Will, he would probably beat you senseless.

Jennifer: Oh my god, it would be so amazing to sing as Kendra because you know – the other thing I definitely think about Kendra is that she’s like [laughs], it makes me laugh just thinking about it.  She’s definitely in to her sexiness.  She’s so dramatic.  So I could really see it being like, you know, she’s the best thing in the whole world!  And is very – did you ever see, oh my god now I’m really laughing, did you ever see one of Heidi Montag’s videos?  I literally, I’ve only seen one and it’s the one where she’s on the beach in a bikini.  Ugh!  [Still Laughing] Maybe it’s the only one but I feel like Kendra would do it like that!

Rachel: Oh my god, my head is going to explode!  I’m so excited about this possibility!

Jennifer: It would totally be like that.  I mean, God bless Heidi Montag.  I really mean that.  I feel horrible for this girl gone down such a wrong road.  I mean it could be my sister it could have easily been me!  I’m not judging because it really could have been me.  I mean there was a point in being in LA and not knowing where you were and being disoriented where if somebody came along and said, this is the solution to stardom I might have gone, “great! Let’s do this!”  So I’m not trying to be nasty about her but I am saying that that video makes me laugh because it’s not like Beyonce working at singing and dancing and being a performer.  It’s like a person who thinks they’re amazing at singing and dancing.  They can’t really move well, it’s awkward, but they think they’re amazing so that definitely how I would see Kendra!

Rachel: That would be so awesome.  I would seriously have a party, just for that episode!

Jennifer: [Laughs] I’m going to work on it.  I really am!

Rachel: Well we’ll help get that going for you too – you’ll have a song in no time!!

Jennifer: I’m inspired right now!  Ok go – keep going [laughs]!

Rachel: So you work mainly with the adult actors in the cast so what’s it like working with Jessalyn [Gilsig] who is phenomenal and Matthew Morrison and everyone else?

Jennifer: Oh it is great!  I have got to tell you.  Jessalyn and I have the funnest working relationship going on right now.  It really is, it is like sisterly diva in a really funny way.  We are constantly trying to jokingly out diva each other on the set.  It is all about one-liners and who can top the other one.  And it is really fun and we do it in character and in other characters.  And we really, especially the last episode we shot we were having so much fun!  We were like, we need the Kendra and Terri spin off.  We have a really great time so I feel like that is coming along terrific.  And then Will [Matthew Morrison] is a lot of fun but because I’m very antagonistic towards him in the scenes so I’m not hanging out with him that much.  You know it’s kind of – I like to kind of keep – that while you’re shooting – the characters when the come together are so different than when he and I talk in real life.  While we’re shooting, in between takes I’m not so much, I mean we chat, but I’m not so much engaged.  If that makes sense.

Rachel: There is such a divide of people who love Jessalyn’s character and those that hate her.  It’s fun to see that in real life she’s really fun!

Jennifer: Yeah, she’s a good girl.  I like her.  She’s super fat! [laughs] She needs to lose some weight but yeah.  She’s so gigantic, I love being on screen with her! [laughs] Couldn’t they have found me a girl that wasn’t like, minus zero?  I mean really!  It’s awesome.  And then put me in a gigantic sweater with a big thick belt.  Let’s make it happen for me!  I’m definitely going to be on the cover of Maxim any day! [Laughs]

Rachel: So I assume you can’t really give me any details of what happens in the back 9 with you character but it sounds like…

Jennifer: No.  I mean, I have very few details but the details I do have would completely ruin everything so no, I can’t.

At this point Jennifer has signed in to Twitter to start her campaign and we go through the who process and she gets her username as @GiveKendraASong!

Rachel: Do you have any suggestions for those people who want to audition for ‘Glee’’s open casting call?

Jennifer: I would say that you better be good.  When you go and you are just like I can do this, but you better have chops.  Don’t kid yourself.  You do have to have chops and that means you have had experience or training or somehow naturally you are really able to sing.  But don’t kid yourself, just don’t.  I mean it just so embracing to watch.  It would be like if I was, you know what, I can take on Apollo Ohno.  I can do it with positive thinking.  I am going to win.  I am going to get at least sliver [laughs].  It makes no sense and I do believe in positive thinking but not when it starts to bridge in to insanity.  So my suggestion is to really come with something.  You better come with some talent.  And if you do have that talent, you should definitely do it.

Rachel: What song did your audition with?

Jennifer: I auditioned with Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson.

Rachel: Well, that’s it for my questions.  You are such a delight and so much fun!

Jennifer: Oh thanks!  It was really fun.  You totally helped me.  I am actually really inspired and I’ll see you on Twitter!

Jennifer was so much fun to talk to and I am so glad I could help hopefully give her the push she needs to get a song.  Once again everyone, follow @GiveKendraASong and make sure you tell everyone so we can get this woman a chance to sing on ‘Glee’!  She would be amazing and I can’t wait for it to happen, because it will happen!

Thank you Jennifer for your time and we can’t wait to see you back in action on ‘Glee’!

Exclusive Interview with Stephen Toblowsky

A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to interview the talented actor who plays Sandy Ryerson on Glee – Stephen Tobolowsky.  Take a look!

Without Sandy Ryerson there would be no Glee.  It’s true!  Think about it.  If he had not been dismissed from school for his questionable interactions with students Will Shuester would not have volunteered to take on coaching the glee club.  The great news about Sandy Ryerson is that he has continued to keep tabs on his former club and continues to show up in some of the best episodes of this great show.

A couple of weeks ago I had the great opportunity to have a little telephone chat with Stephen Tobolowsky, the incredible actor who plays the famed Sandy Ryerson.  What an honor!  I have been a big fan of Mr. Tobolowsky for years ever since I saw him on Broadway in a little play called “Morning’s at Seven” (for which he was nominated for a Tony).  And I really had to restrain myself from going all fangirly on him when I heard his distinctive voice on the other end of my phone.

Some of you may know him as Ned Ryerson from the movie Groundhog Day but all of you know him as the fantastically quirky, sometimes inappropriate, and always entertaining Sandy Ryerson from Glee.  I was so lucky to be able to chat with him all about his career and of course about everyone’s favorite show!

Stephen Tobolowsky is a seasoned actor who has been in a myriad of different projects.  With over 110 movies and close to 250 television shows to his credit his career has been long and prosperous which is unusual in an industry that loves young talent.  Stephen credits his long career to the ability to avoid the “pocket” Hollywood makes for actors these days.  Stephen has the depth as an actor to take any roll and make it his own without falling in to the typecasting that is so prevalent these days.  His talent is endless.

Not only has he had his fair share of roles on television and in movies he is also a stage veteran.  I had the great opportunity to see him in his Tony nominated roll in a play called “Morning’s at Seven” several years ago.  Let me tell you, it was a treat.  When we got on the subject of the grueling schedule that comes with theater we turned our conversation to Glee and his thoughts on what makes it so successful.

RACHEL: Why do you feel that Glee is so successful?

ST: One of the reasons why Glee is such a success is, and I’m just going to focus on one thing: the people in the show.  They have had this background of being theater actors.  The work level on Glee is so high in terms of the number of hours you have to put in; the discipline you have to put in; the rehearsal you have to put in; the skills you have to put in with singing and dancing and acting.  Having people like Matt [Morrison] and Lea [Michele] and Jane [Lynch] in the show, you have actors who have done a lot of theater and are disciplined like that, you can pull of a show like Glee.  I’ve been on shows where I’ve worked with huge, huge stars that have never been in a play in their life and they have probably never worked as hard as Matt or Lea does on any given day doing Glee.  They don’t have the tools to work that hard and one of the things that makes Glee happen is the fact that the people have such training, such amazing training that makes it a joy to be on the show.

Another thing that makes Glee so successful, I’ve talked about it from the actor point of view and the workload.  There is another point of view that to me – I loved Glee when they handed me the script and I loved it before it was a hit and I loved it before it was even done in the show and I loved it because the show is an affirmation of the positive things in life.  There are so many shows, which are ultimately about putting people down or are ultimately about assuming that possessions are the important things but Glee is about having a voice figuratively and literally.  It is saying that it doesn’t matter who you are, you’ve got a voice and of course in the show we have some of the greatest voices in the world.  But not just singing.  Metaphorically if you just say who and what you are, there is power in that.  And when I read the script I found it so moving, both funny and sad and all sorts of things.  What a great title, Glee, because that is the source of joy.  A feeling that you are empowered to be you and that to me is the secret of success of the show.

RACHEL: Please describe working with Ryan Murphy.

ST: I’ve worked with a lot of really great directors in the world.  I’ve worked with Ridley Scott; I’ve worked with Allen Parker.  I’ve worked with some great people and Ryan [Murphy] is right up there.  And the reason why Ryan is up there is that he has a combination that is very rare.  And I’m talking about working with him as a director not as an executive producer.  The combination is very rare in that he has the ability to create a scene without micromanaging it.  He kind of lets everybody do what they do.  Yet, at the same time he is able to kind of direct the energy all in the same direction.  I’ve worked with a lot of TV directors who say ‘do this, don’t do this’, that isn’t Ryan’s style.  Ryan is very easygoing yet at the same time he is incredibly prepared.  He knows exactly what he wants and that confidence kind of gives the actors confidence.  On the set, you know, Sandy is like a little neutron bomb.  Ryan gives me the freedom to just go out there and even fail, which a lot of directors don’t do.  Just go out there and throw it out there and see what happens. That is very much in the same category, the same kind of director that Harold Ramis reveals on Groundhog Day.  Very easygoing, empowers the actor, incredibly prepared and knows exactly what he wants to do.  He knows what he wants and he structures it to where it is able to happen.

RACHEL: What is the energy like on set?

ST: Hilarity.  Hilarity.  I mean, we are laughing from the start of the day to the end of the day and there is a lot of hard work and everything but as soon as they call “cut” half the time we’re busting a gut because of something funny that happened.  Again, I think it comes from that theater background to where everybody is kind of all for one and one for all instead of cutthroat and behind everybody’s back.  The feeling isn’t specific to being on set either.  It is off the set too.  There was a similar feeling when I did “Deadwood” too but also that had a lot of theater people in it too so I’m suspicious that the root of it is – one, theater and two, it comes from the top.  If there is a lot of terror coming from the top, it kind of kills that feeling and I think Ryan and Brad and Ian as executive producers encourage that kind of openness and kind of camaraderie.

RACHEL: Will we be seeing you on any of the final nine episodes of the season?

ST: It is a secret, but I have been told that the odds are very high that that will occur but how it occurs is a bit of a surprise.  I can’t say anything more than that.  I think the people who are Sandy fans should be happy but I can’t really say anything more than that.

RACHEL: I’m sure there is an element of personal creativity for you when you’re cast for a certain role.  How did you channel Sandy Ryerson and create his character?

ST: For me I think it was a collaboration pretty much with Ryan.  I came in when I auditioned and I auditioned a certain way and Ryan said, ‘well, now try it this way. Or this way’ and when we got on set and we were doing the pilot and Ryan said, ‘I want you to be really mean.  I want you to be the meanest person in the world, the villain, do terrible.’ So Ryan would kind of give me permission but then just wanted me to improvise.  So then, I would make up lines and make up stuff and Matt would go like, ‘is that in script?’ and I would just make up different stuff each scene which delighted Ryan and confused Matt and delighted Cory.

I remember one scene, I guess it was the pilot, we did about 20 takes and Ryan came in just laughing with Ian [Brennan] and Dante [Di Loreto] and Brad [Falchuk] and they were just laughing saying ‘oh you know we already printed the first one.  We just wanted to see what you would come up with’.  There was just a bit of playing around there.  For comedy too, in a way you need permission to just reach out and do it.  If you work with people that hammer you too much its hard, you always feel judged.  That permission factor on the set is a biggie.

There was a scene that was cut out of the pilot which I thought was kind of pivotal for Sandy.  In that I’m being fired once again by the principal and he is just like ‘this is the 33 times we’ve fired you for inappropriate touching of the boys’ and I’m like crying in the chair and I’m going like, ‘but I’m not even gay!’  They cut out that scene where I said, ‘I’m not even gay’.  And to me, of course, it doesn’t matter whether the perception of Sandy is that I’m totally gay or the perception of Sandy is that he is just from outer space.  It doesn’t really matter but in terms of my thinking it mattered a lot.  In a way it’s more universal.  If we see Sandy, he’s just somebody who just cannot connect with the normal world and maybe he really does have a long distance girlfriend in Cleveland.  The doll collection and wearing the red kimono is just something that is really comfortable.  And its so funny to not tie the weirdness of Sandy to any sexual proclivity but it is more that he is like somebody from another world and I think that’s one of the fun things that Sandy brings to the show.  He describes that outer boundary of reality to where when Jayma [Mays] is wearing latex gloves in the teacher’s lounge.  Yeah, that’s weird but you know it’s not as weird as Sandy.

RACHEL: Describe working with the cast.

ST: Well, Cory [Monteith] is hysterical.  He is always playing practical jokes, I feel like he is 10 years old or something.

Matt [Morrison] is the hardest working man in show business.  This guy is absolutely tireless and he runs more than anybody because he has to wear so many hats on the show.  He is running to the recording studio, he is running to dance rehearsal.  Matt is so fast at everything.  I want to say he is like a rock.  Every scene he approaches with real sincerity, with his whole self.  Then he runs off to dance rehearsal and he is such an athlete and such a great dancer too.  He is so earnest and sincere about everything he approaches.  He sets a great tone.

Lea [Michele], I have a guilty pleasure I have to say, that you fans don’t get that I get.  It just makes me smile like the Cheshire Cat over here.  So often a lot of the musical numbers for Glee are cut down or shortened because, hey, it’s television you don’t get the whole shot.  When I’ve been there and I get to watch Lea sing one of her songs, I get to hear it all the way through.  The way God and nature intended with that girl standing there singing.  I have got to tell you, it fills me up with so much joy.  Her voice is so powerful and pure and Matt’s voice is so powerful and pure too.  Just beautiful.

I love; of course, hanging out with Jane [Lynch] is absolutely hysterical.  We get together on the set and we just start swapping stories and I feel like we’re sitting on a porch somewhere rocking and chewing tobacco and spitting and drinking beer.  Jane has theater stories and I have theater stories where we go back and forth and end up laughing so hard we are crying off stage and then the AD (assistant director) comes and says, ‘ok you guys have to come on set now’ and we’re already dying because we’ve been laughing so hard.

Jayma [Mays] is so, so sweet.  I could apply that adjective to a lot of people on the show.  She is just so sweet, so kind and sincere and I think that really comes through in her character too.  No matter how wacky-doodle she is with her issues, her obsessive-compulsive issues, and her cleanliness issues.  Her sweetness comes through and that’s why we root for her so much.

Of course I go and listen to Amber [Riley] sing and that is so great.  I always run to try and watch all of the musical numbers because those people are so phenomenally talented.  I’m really awestruck when I see people with that kind of musical talent and I love to watch the dance rehearsals too.

Iqbal [Theba] is a hoot!  He and Jane have tons and tons of lines.  He’s kind of all over the place when we’re rehearsing but when they call “action” with the camera it’s like you see this sudden steel look behind his eyes and he barrels through that dialogue like a machine gone.  It is so funny to watch him spit that stuff out.  So that’s a ton of fun.

RACHEL: What is it like working with Jane Lynch?

ST: Jane is a unique individual as a comic actress and I think everybody recognizes it because there are a lot of people who have a sense of what’s funny and what’s ironic and there are a lot of people that have this enormous intelligence but it’s very unusual to have a person with that kind of intelligence that she has and that kind of comic insight into things.  I really think you could give her a Yellow Pages and she could make something funny out of it.  She can make any scene funny by just her intellect and her comic sensibilities working together.  It’s amazing to watch and it is hysterical.

RACHEL: I don’t know how any of you get through a scene with her.  I would just die laughing.

ST: We don’t!  We don’t!  There was this scene, you know with the red kimono and the dolls and Jane throws this thing, she whispers in my ear and she says like ‘this time through I’m going to try and catch a peek up your skirt’.  So I’m doing the scene and then all of a sudden I see her eyes dart under the kimono and I’m just busting a gut.  Fortunately it was a close up on her and so I just kept going even though I was totally losing it off camera.  It was so hysterical the way she kind of just threw that in, in an underplayed way.  It’s terrific.

RACHEL: Lastly, let’s talk briefly about your podcasts, the Tobolowsky Files.

ST: David Chen asked me to be a guest on Slash Film probably a year ago.  I did like 3 different guest spots on that show and in one break David asked me; he is stationed in Boston, if I wanted to do this.  It was around Halloween and I thought, well the industry really shuts down over that period of time, so why the hell not?!  Let’s see what happens because he loves the movie, Stephen Tobolowsky’s Birthday Party, which everybody on Glee loves too.  So they love the stories and the story telling so David said let’s do a Birthday Party part 2, where you to stores that aren’t in the movie and I though great!  Now I’m really enjoying kind of creating an audio novel on the air, which has not only film stories but also life stores.

Many many thanks to Stephen Tobolowsky for taking time out of his busy life to talk to little old me.  I was honored and so thrilled to be able to chat with him.  The conversation ran much more like a friendly catch-up than a formal interview, he was just so sincere and real.  What a fantastic & talented man!!

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that one Mr. Sandy Ryerson graces our TV screens once again come April!  Until then, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the Tobolowsky Files on iTunes because they truly are fantastic

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