PLAYBOY: You play Chloe, the title B in Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. What’s it like being America’s most famous bitch?
RITTER: People come up to me and call me “the B,” which I find so endearing. They changed the title from Bitch to B----, and I’m glad. At first I wasn’t, because I’m the bitch and it was rad. But now that people come over to me and call me “the B,” I’m relieved. It’s much more adorable to be called “the B” than “You bitch.”
When I was modeling I lived with eight to 10 girls in the modeling agency’s two-bedroom apartment, sleeping in bunk beds. It was crazy, but not as crazy as people want it to be. Sure, we’d go out and drink cosmos and dance on tables. But no sex with rappers or cocaine or eating disorders. I worked a lot, and there was one other girl who also worked a lot. She was the queen bee before I came along, and I think she didn’t enjoy that she wasn’t the only one anymore. She fucking hated me. I would play guitar on the patio—not late; we’re talking 8:30 to nine p.m.—and she would tell the agency I was keeping her up. I got in trouble for that. So I put roaches in her bed. You don’t fuck with a girl’s livelihood.
Where does a nice girl like you find a bunch of cockroaches?
Well, it was New York City. They’re there. I found them with my girlfriend Charity, who was just bad news but in the best possible way. We caught the roaches and put them in the other model’s suitcase too, in hopes she would take them home and infest her house. I’m pretty ashamed of myself. [laughs]
You grew up on an actual beef farm in Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, a town of 838 people. Is it true your family wouldn’t let you have a horse and you rode a cow instead?
My stepfather called horses “hay burners.” They do nothing. You can’t milk them and you can’t eat them, so we didn’t have them. But I had a calf I raised named Jake. He was so small that when I got him, I could pick him up. We took naps together and snuggled. And then he got big—very big. We put him in the pasture. When I would go hang out with him, I’d pull him over to the side of the fence, hold on to the scruff of his neck and get on him. And he would start walking. People would drive by and take pictures, like, Who is this girl riding a cow?
What happened to Jake?
I didn’t eat him, if that’s what you’re asking. My neighbors might have, but I didn’t.
I was always picked on. When I became a model, it got even worse because the girls became meaner.
You were discovered by a modeling scout in a shopping mall when you were 15. What was modeling like for a farm girl from Shickshinny?
At my first test shoot, the photographer sprayed me with Pam. They were black-and-white pictures in the dirtiest bathroom you’ve ever seen. It was super heroin chic. I’ve got to say, though, the pictures were dope. Looking back, I’m like, What was I doing? I was 15! That same day, at another test shoot with a Japanese photographer, they put me in a sheer bodysuit. So I have pictures of myself at 15 in a sheer shirt sitting underneath a table. I mean, the pictures are beautiful and artistic, but it’s weird to put your 15-year-old in a job where basically you could see my boobs.
Do you regret that now?
At the time I didn’t think about it, because kids don’t. They say your brain doesn’t develop fully until you’re 25. When kids do crazy stuff, it’s because they really are crazy. I just wasn’t aware; I had no fear. But I have not one single regret or feeling of resentment, because of where I am now. I have a good head on my shoulders. I learned all my lessons on my own.
You appeared nude—only slightly blurred in all the expected places—in the pilot for your show. Was that second nature for you?
When I read the script I thought it was the best pilot, the best character I’ve read and unique. I was naked in the pilot. I had a switchblade. I was getting a kid drunk. I was dancing in a rap video. I wasn’t going to find anything flashier, so I was down for it. Then, on the day I was supposed to actually be naked, I was like, Aw, shit. I don’t like to be in my underpants in front of all the crew guys. You catch them looking and you’re like, No! But I got a Mystic Tan, so that made me feel less naked.
Does Mystic Tan have some sort of magic power we don’t know about?
No, but a good tan is the key to being able to wear a bikini, I think. It makes you feel as if you have clothes on.
On the show, Chloe is so legendary that there is a Japanese graphic novel based on her life called Tall Slut No Panties. Is that based on truth?
No. I wear underwear, but my biggest fear is that I’ll get locked out of my hotel room when I’m naked. The doors always shut on you. I met somebody who carries a wedge with them to hold the door open because they were so sick of hotel doors closing.
We haven’t seen many naked hotel guests in our travels. Has it actually happened to you?
There are times when maybe I have a little nightie on and I’ll push the room-service tray out really quick. Something could happen. Really.
Everything written about you talks about how striking you are. Do you wish you were a little less easy to spot?
On some days I do. I think my friends and my boyfriend wish that. My boyfriend [Brian Geraghty, who starred in The Hurt Locker and has appeared on True Blood] is a character actor. He can hide. But I’m a cartoon character. I have black bangs. I can’t hide. People are mostly respectful and kind. But at one in the morning in Vegas, when everyone’s wasted and yelling at you, you wish you could just kind of disappear, and you can’t.
It doesn’t help that, unlike other actors, you’re actually taller than you appear on TV.
A lot of people think I’m going to be shorter when they meet me. When I was starting out, I would get called in for auditions off of my tape. When I’d show up in person, they’d be like, “Oh my God, you’re much taller than we thought.” They think it’s because I’m petite. It reads as a normal-size person. I mean, I think I’m normal size, but everyone is always like, “Oh my God, you’re so tall. What are you, six feet?” I’m five-foot-nine. Relax, everyone. All the other actresses are so little that they get to wear heels. I can’t wear heels on set because the set is too small. If they put me in heels, you’d be able to see lighting in the shot. When I met my boyfriend he knew me only from watching me on Breaking Bad. I was wearing heels when I met him, and he was like, “Oh, wow. You’re really tall.” We have a thing: If we’re going to a party for me, I can wear big heels. And if we’re going to a party for him, I wear the small heels.
You played a particularly haunted drug addict named Jane on Breaking Bad. Were you able to draw on first-person experience?
Oh my God, no. But in New York I knew some people who did drugs. I remember seeing them on drugs and thinking, Oh, it’s not what I thought. You’d see people on heroin nodding off and falling over, and you’d see people on heroin buzzing around clubs.
Jane was a recovering heroin addict who fell off the wagon when she fell in love with Jesse, the character played by Aaron Paul. In your swan song, you choke on vomit in bed and are given CPR by Jesse when he wakes to find you dead. Which is more awful, an extended choking-on-your-own-vomit scene or lying still while someone pounds on your chest and sobs?
Those were both pretty intense things. I’ll go with playing dead. You have to basically suck out of your body and just lie there. I was basically like, Don’t move, don’t move, don’t move, don’t move. You have to zone out.
I was never the little girl who dreamed about a wedding or a big white dress. It was never my thing.
You spent your summers modeling in Tokyo and the rest of the year as a regular high school student. Were you worshipped or hated at school?
I was always picked on. When I became a model, it got even worse because the girls became meaner—“Oh my God, I can’t believe she’s a model. She’s not even pretty.” At some slumber party they tape-recorded their night, and it was about me getting bashed. And these were some of my best friends! Not anymore. Someone gave my high school boyfriend the tape. You know, high school is all subterfuge and scandal. I was just counting down the minutes until I turned 18.
At least you had a boyfriend. What was he like?
He was so angsty and bad. He was a real bad boy. He gave me a school picture that year that said, “Okay, Krysten, I love you. You give me a boner.” That’s how we started dating. His name was Damian, but my parents called him “Demon.” Our first time was in his parents’ van before basketball practice. I don’t remember it being very pleasant.
Your parents divorced when you were young. Did that sour you on marriage?
I was never the little girl who dreamed about a wedding or a big white dress. It was never my thing, but I don’t think I’m sour on marriage. I just don’t know if I’m the type. Marriage seems scary to me. I’m in a serious relationship. We have a dog together. We live five minutes from each other. It’s heaven. I think that might be the key: separate houses, separate bank accounts. Why mess with that?
How does a TV star live without owning a working television?
I did it to spite Time Warner. They said my house was wired for cable, then when they came out—late—they said, “Oh, we can’t. You’re not wired.” They were supposed to come back, but no one showed up. I said, “Forget it. I don’t want anything to do with your company.” Now I wish I did have TV because I end up watching stuff on iTunes. I’m cheap. I thought, Oh, I can save $150 a month by not having cable. But now I think I’m spending that anyway on reruns of Friends.
What’s the difference between being on a hit network show and being on a basic cable show?
More people see you on a network. And the network people know where you are at all times. I’ve been around so long I approach every job exactly the same whether it’s big or small. For me it didn’t feel different until I heard on the walkie-talkie, “Krysten is at craft service,” “Krysten is around the corner,” “Krysten is there.” They’re always keeping tabs on you. They always know where you are. You say you’re going to the bathroom, and someone comes with you. I’m like, “Dude, I promise you I’m going to come back. Don’t come with me to the bathroom.”