From humble beginnings on Canadian television to her big screen break on Superbad where she promised Michael Cera she would give him a really great “blow j,” brunette babe Martha MacIsaac is now on NBC’s answer to ABC’s Modern Family: 1600 Penn. Created by comedian Josh Gad, known for his role on the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, and Jon Lovett, the former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, this quirky take on the First Family is already making waves; it was announced that today the president will be holding a screening of the show at the White House!
We caught up with MacIsaac for our latest Femme on Fire interview to talk about all things comedy and why she prefers laughing on set with her costars instead of being chased in the woods by camera crews.
Playboy.com: From the first episode, your character is dealing with a lot of stuff between finding out she’s pregnant and having to deal with a stepmom.
*MacIsaac: *Becca is the straitlaced one of the family. She is a perfectionist, and when her mother passed away years prior she took over as mother and wife to the household. She’s very smart, graduated in mathematics, and she’s kind of the type A personality in the group. So it’s really neat getting to play her because as I was getting to learn about the character throughout the season, it felt like the life had taken such a drastic turn; she was learning new things about herself as well and what that pregnancy means to her for her future.
Playboy.com: Do you think a comedy series set in the White House will be a hard sell?
MacIsaac: As much as the White House is our backdrop, it’s not a political show. Whatever politics there are, it’s basically a dropping off point for a storyline in the family more so than mirroring politics or what politics is at this time. So we really don’t delve into it. Hopefully people are watching it for the family, which I think was a pretty amazing idea. I haven’t seen anything like it, really: a normal functional family in the White House and what the pressures of that are and what it’s like to live under the microscope. And knowing that every little thing that your shithead teenage son does is now a huge catastrophe for your cabinet and your term as president. It’s interesting to have the heightened reality of that for a family comedy.
Playboy.com: I read that there will be some nods to Independence Day for Bill Pullman. Is the name Becca a nod to your Superbad role?
MacIsaac: No, I don’t think so, not at all. It was named way before I was cast in it, but it’s a funny coincidence, right?
Playboy.com: What was your funniest moment on set?
*MacIsaac: *There’s been so many. It’s one of those sets where we’re just laughing all day long. If you’ve ever watched Josh Gad, he’s even funnier in person. He’s so hilarious, cracking jokes all day long, and he actually does a lot of improv on the show, so basically anytime he says anything is genius and funny and has all of us breaking character and laughing. Jenna has such brilliant comedic timing and Bill does as well and Josh [Gad]…I’m just surrounded with these incredibly talented people. Jenna and I, who plays my stepmom, our characters have big issues, so we had a lot of really great scenes going head-to-head, the two of us, which was really fun.
Playboy.com: You’ve worked in a wide variety of genres. What has been your favorite so far?
MacIsaac: I’m having a pretty amazing time with comedy. Growing up I did a very dramatic Canadian series and TV movies and a lot of theater, so I hadn’t really done any comedy before Superbad, and now I’ve gotten this bug and I just love it. I still really love doing drama, but the horror genre is just too scary for me. While it was fun shooting Last House on The Left, I was so scared in all of my chase scenes. Your mind can play tricks on you. Mostly in the scenes where I was running through the forest, because [the cameramen were] literally chasing me, holding cameras instead of guns. So it was a lot less scary, but screaming and stuff—you get into it hearing the steps behind you; it’s kind of surreal. It’s a weird feeling.
Playboy.com: You come from a pretty small town in Canada. What was that like growing up?
MacIsaac: I love going back there still. My family is all there and a lot of my friends so it brings me back to this nice calm state of mind, especially from living in Los Angeles! It’s an island, and not that it’s a warm island, but it still goes on island time. It’s just such a sense of community there. You really can rely on your neighbors; it just keeps you in check. I loved growing up in a small town! I absolutely adored it, and in a world that we’re so hectic and plugged into everything all of the time I feel like when I go there I can unwind a bit—it’s such a safe place.
Playboy.com: You’re probably sick of talking about it, but was it awkward to shoot the drunken sex scene in Superbad?
MacIsaac: Um, yes. It was! [laughs] Michael Cera is also slightly awkward, as am I having to shoot a scene like that, so the two of us were just kind of embarrassed because everybody came to set that day. They were like, “We’ve been waiting for you guys to shoot this scene, it’s going to be hilarious!” Literally everybody came to watch that day. It was pretty embarrassing, but halfway through the day I just had my top off and you just do not care after a certain amount of time when you’re walking around in your bra.
*Playboy.com: *Do you remember your first Playboy Magazine?
MacIsaac: I was trying to think of this, because I was reading some other Femme on Fire interviews, and as I was sitting here I realized I never read a Playboy! I guess growing up with all girls it wasn’t like our brother was ever going to have it under his bed. But I feel like such a nerd saying that! I never held a Playboy in my hands.
*Playboy.com: *Well, this issue we have one of the girls from Boardwalk Empire on the cover, so you can pick one up and say that you really like the show or something, so there’s your excuse!
MacIsaac: Yeah, I can tell everyone that it’s research!
Header photo by: Adam Fedderly