Twitter Facebook Instagram Google+ Tumblr YouTube E-Mail WhatsApp Sign In Check Close snapchat
Search
Exit Clear
Lucky 7 Lucky 7

Let Kate Walsh Tell You About Courteney Cox, Shonda Rhimes and ‘Sleep Masturbation’

Let Kate Walsh Tell You About Courteney Cox, Shonda Rhimes and ‘Sleep Masturbation’:

If your familiarity with actress Kate Walsh is limited to her tenure as the “quite verbose” (her words, not ours) Addison Montgomery on Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, you’re missing out on a talented scene-stealer who’s quietly been dropping into critically-acclaimed fare like TV’s Fargo and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Her latest bit of supporting player fun is in the dark comedy Just Before I Go — now playing in LA and NY, available on iTunes May 5, and On Demand, Blu-ray and Digital HD May 12 — in which she plays a desperate, disgruntled housewife who is also a chronic sleep masturbator.

The film, which marks Courteney Cox’s directorial debut, revolves around Ted Morgan (Seann William Scott) who decides to commit suicide after his wife leaves him but before doing so, revisits his hometown and all the people he believes to have ruined his life. In addition to Scott and Walsh (who plays Ted’s sister-in-law), the film also features: Olivia Thirlby, Rob Riggle, Garret Dillahunt and Missi Pyle. Playboy recently sat down with Walsh to discuss working with first-time helmer Cox, her character’s curious practice of nocturnal self-pleasure, the evolution of and need for quality roles for women in film and television and her take on our Lucky 7.


How was a “sleep masturbator” movie pitched to you?
My agents they knew I wanted to do more comedy and they said, “Here’s a great script and there’s a part for you, you’ve got to read it.” I was in the front room of The SoHo House and I was laughing out loud and then Courteney was in the back with her entourage and I was like, “Hi.” I’d never met her before and now it’s like we’re old friends.

I wondered about that, or if you’d been in the same circles…
We’ve been circle-adjacent. I know Christa [Miller] from Cougar Town so, I was like [to Cox] “You had me at sleep masturbator.” I mean, it’s just great. I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous and absurd. I work backwards sometimes, “Okay, so how did she get there?”

How did she get there?
She is miserable. She has those bangs she hides behind. As someone who’s been quite verbose in Shonda’s shows, two of them anyway, I was very interested in having to act without saying a lot and have my energy speak for me.

It was funny in watching the sleep masturbation thing, I thought, “Huh, that’s one way to do it.”
Yeah, I don’t even know if it’s sort of possible to sort of stand and play the banjo on yourself.

Is it something that was written in the script and then you and Courteney discussed the way in which you’d go about it?
We actually shot all of those on the second day of shooting. She was great; she made me feel super safe.

Are there any obvious differences between female and male directors in your experience?
I think I’m probably instantly more comfortable with Courteney, although it’s not like she’s so feminine, she’s sort of like a dude in the sense that she’s very funny, has just a great sense of humor and is super supportive. That’s a great thing about Courteney, too, she’s very specific and has a singular idea about what she wants and then she is also very open to improv and so the vibe on set is very fun and playful. But because she knows what she wants and we’re on a budget, she had to keep things moving. You want to make your cast and crew feel like they’re getting everything, so she did a really good job with that.

How do you describe the film’s tone? It’s hard to put a finger on.
I know. Well, that’s one of the things that’s probably been the most challenging for Courtney, in post-production, to get that whole thing. What drew her to it was how comprehensive the story was in that tone. Laughing and crying, “Is this sad? Am I supposed to laugh? Is that going to be weird?” So I was really surprised when I saw a test screening in Pasadena — it really works. I describe it as a dark comedy. It’s rated R. I blew it on Ellen; I was like “It’s about a guy who’s going to kill himself and he goes back to town and tries to do his bucket list and confront all the people who wronged him and then he doesn’t kill himself.” I wasn’t supposed to say that. Sorry.

How have the types of roles you’re offered has changed over the years?
Well it’s funny because I find myself at a bit of a crossroads because I kind of did the best that I could with hour-long procedural in Shondaland, so that’s sort of played out. I’ve always looked for great characters and great story. Fargo was an amazing story and character and so different and however it is, Hollywood has a very short memory so you’re as hot as the last thing you were in, and that’s what people perceive you to be.

You are actively involved with so many charitable organizations and events — how do you decide which to support?
Some of it’s really easy. It’s also an intuitive thing like Planned Parenthood, c'mon. They basically raised me from Tucson to Chicago to New York to LA and before I had health insurance, that’s all I could afford was to get an annual check-up, so that was a no-brainer. Then Billy Bush asked me, “Do you want to ski for Operation Smile?” I’m like, “Yeah sure, but tell me about the charity,” because I don’t like to just jump in with [no information]. It’s like $240 for a surgery. It’s a 40-minute surgery and you change a kid’s life. Boom. Even if you don’t have that kind of money you can send $5 or $10, every bit makes a difference. What’s great about Operation Smile is that they do follow-up care and that’s not just an annual visit, they do speech therapy, and it’s so great.

As a woman working in the business, how do you feel things are evolving — if they are — as far as diverse casts and crew and whatnot. Has there been a shift at all? Do you see more women contributing to the conversation in positions of power at all?
Yeah, I think that before Grey’s Anatomy the only parts in television for comedy for women were the girlfriend to the fat funny guy or something like that. It wasn’t really until Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and Shonda’s shows that I really felt like, “Oh, I have a voice. There’s a woman out there who’s writing for me.” And what happens is that you get a little spoiled by that: “Oh, so this is how it’s going to be.” I was shocked then to go work on Fargo where I played a former stripper and guys start talking to you like, “Hey, honey” and “Alright, Toots.” I love being called by endearments but you’re like, “Ohhhh. I’m glad this wasn’t my [first exposure].” And not to talk disparagingly because Fargo is an awesome experience and I’m super proud of it, but it was like going from being the boss in a way, to a stripper. And then all these senators were coming out and saying things about women and rape and reproductive rights I thought, “I’ve got to dust off my shoulder pads and get up and speak from my heart and my experience about what my life was like.” The last eight years things have gotten really extreme. I’m thrilled for Shonda and what’s happened with all her shows, it’s so awesome, and yet there’s so much bigotry. We have a long way to go for equality, I don’t even know if there is such a thing, but I hope so. It’s a great thing to strive for.

What was your first encounter with Playboy?
I remember Playboy was like, “Oh my God. Plaaayboy.” And seeing some hottie on the cover. It was like, “Where do we get it? We’ve got to find it.” Because I’m older and porn wasn’t accessible. For me, I don’t remember the specific first encounter, I just remember some kid found one and we went in a closet, turned the light on and went, “What is this treasure trove of nudity?” [Laughs.]

At Playboy headquarters they have this gorgeous coffee table book of all the centerfolds throughout the years and it’s amazing to look through the evolution. For example, at one point all of the women had very accentuated tan lines.
That must be amazing. I want to order that, I’m not kidding.

What movie scared you most as a kid?
The Shining. My dad took me to see it. It was totally not allowed but my parents were divorced and he was like, “What movie do you want to see?” And he said, “Okay, let’s go.” And we saw it in a big theater and it was insane. I was haunted. It was terrifying.

What’s your pop-culture blind spot?
Something that I don’t buy into? Yeah, reality television. I’m like, “Wow, that’s cool for you.”

Let’s pretend you’re on death row: What’s your last meal?
Wow, that’s so strange to consider that. I hate that because you probably don’t get to digest it. I’d probably say a good steak, a potato, and salad. That’s my Sunday dinner, basically my McCall’s Meat filet.

What was your first car?
I had a VW bug, it was bright orange, black interior. It was so cute, I wanted a convertible one. I sold it when I went to Japan and taught English and modeled. Don’t ask, or do.

How long were you there?
A summer. It was cool. A totally surreal experience, but I learned a lot. Here’s the deal, I went to the U of A and in the newspaper they were advertising it. You didn’t have to speak any Japanese and you could just go there and just teach people or talk to them, conversationally. So I had students from four years old to 45, it was crazy.

What was the first song you knew all the words to?
All I can think of is the first song I did karaoke to which was “House of the Rising Sun.” It’s a great song and yet it’s impossible to sing. [Sings in a mock baritone] “There is a houuuse in New Orleeeans, they call the Rising Sunnn” — so I kind of have those words down.

What’s your favorite mistake?
I feel lucky that I was a little lost in high school, and then 17, 18, 19, because that was what led me to my current profession. I tried to do something else and it just didn’t work and was very painful, I’m talking about it in a casual way but I was like, “What do I do now?” So that gives me hope and faith: Whenever I’m at this place in my life — the “What do I do now?” place — I know something good is going to come from it.



More From Lucky 7 See all Lucky 7

Playboy Social

Never miss an issue. Subscribe and save today!

Loading...