Katharine McPhee Talks ‘Smash’: “In this part I get to live the best of both worlds. I get to play a character who wants to live on stage”

katharine-mcphee-smashKatharine McPhee has had a rough start to her career after placing second on American Idol in 2007.  She was dropped from her record label only a year after being introduced to the public, and had only previously appeared in supporting roles in movies like The House Bunny and Shark Night

But all of that is about to change—McPhee is starring in a breakout role in NBC’s Smash, set to premiere tonight.

The actress will play a young performer fighting to be cast as Marilyn Monroe in a Broadway production.  The type of show fits perfectly into McPhee’s wheelhouse as a former musical theater student. 

In an interview with Reuters, McPhee said, “I have intentionally not pursued musical theater.  I toyed with the idea of doing some stage but over the years, there wasn’t the right projects for me… In this part I get to live the best of both worlds.  I get to play a character who wants to live on stage.  It is pretty rare.  If someone had told me five years ago you will get to be on a show where you get to do it all, I’d have said, ‘You are crazy!  It’s not going to happen.’” 

McPhee has a lot in common with her character, Karen Cartwright.  Both have spent many years trying to get noticed in the industry.  She said, “I thought, finally it was a part that was really, really right for me.  I approach acting as always trying to find a piece of yourself in the role…If I read something that is absolutely mind-blowing and fantastic and edgy and dark I tend to stay away from it.  You are not going to get the part.  So when I find similarities within myself I get really excited.”

The much-hyped series also stars Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing and Megan Hilty (as Karen’s main competition for the role.)  The set has already become a comfortable place for McPhee.  “I feel most at home on the set.  One of my first big studio movies was House Bunny and I remember coming home every day and saying to my friends, I love being there.”

Although the role is sure to get McPhee attention, the project came with its challenges.  Essentially she’s playing a role within a role—Karen playing Marilyn Monroe.  McPhee said, “For me as an actress, the question was how do I play that within my character, Karen, and how much do I try and play Marilyn or do I just get the essence of Marilyn.  It’s definitely been a lot of watching interviews of her, and thinking do I play the Marilyn that she was in real life or the version that we see—the parts she played and the characters she created?  Which version do you play?  The one people will recognize the most, or the real version of who Marilyn Monroe was as a person.”

Leave a Reply

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/griffin-newman-the-tick.jpg
‘The Tick’ Star Griffin Newman on Acting in a Superhero Suit
"You very quickly realize there’s a certain iconography and a power to wearing one of these suits." - Griffin Newman
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Idris-Elba-Mollys-Game.jpg
Why Idris Elba Believes His “best performance is yet to come”
"There was a time when I was a job actor and I didn’t know what I wanted to learn from it – I just wanted to get paid." - Idris Elba
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Frances-McDormand-three-billboards.jpg
Frances McDormand on “Being the Other” Actress
McDormand talks about her unique approach to her career and uses her latest acclaimed role as an example.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/jb-smoove-curb-your-enthusiasm.jpg
J.B. Smoove Tells the Story of His Audition For ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’
"You don't know how the universe is gonna work for us. But all this plays a part in our journey" - JB Smoove
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/watch-denzel-washington-explains.jpg
Watch: Denzel Washington Explains Why He Passed on a Role Early in His Career
Washington explains why he turned down a role -- and how it worked out for the best.