Sunday, July 11, 2010

DAY 23

Today we were so lucky to spend the first half of our day listening to actress Marin Hinkle (most recently well known for her role as Jon Cryer's shrew ex-wife on Two and a Half Men) talk about her experience as an actress balancing theatre, television, and family.

She told us the story of how her early life led her to acting: Born in Africa to parents (a lawyer and a professor) who met in the Peace Corps, she spent her childhood as a dancer before an injury left her to focus on academics and college. Knowing she was unable to dance but still in love with the stage, she decided to enroll as a theatre major at Brown. I related so much to her description of finding the theatre as a place where you can be something beyond what your family situation (or expectations of being proper and academic) dictate, allowing you to be something beyond the "good girl." My favorite anecdote was her description of her attempt at playing Emily in Our Town, which was failing as she acted it from a dancer's aesthetic, each line fully expressed with body motions and big faces. Laura Linney, who was a friend a few years her senior at Brown, kindly told her over burgers, "... you could simplify."

She took that advice to get her MFA at NYU, and began working in regional theatres and Off Broadway. Her theatre career picked up, she got married, and got a recurring role on Once and Again as Sela Ward's sister, moving out to Los Angeles from New York. After that ended she returned to regional theatre work, and after finding out she and her husband were pregnant, landed her current role on Two and a Half Men. It was so interesting to hear about the differences she has experienced between theatre and television work. She described the television set as an often joyless, sometimes "soulless" environment facing deadlines with a business mindedness, not with the theatrical creative, ensemble process. However, this job has afforded her the opportunity to pay off student loans, buy a home, and raise her child. There is no room for discussion about her character, as she commented, "Clearly the writers are angry at their ex-wives."

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