During this past
year, Autumn Reeser has had regular roles on two TV series – playing
both a socially inept science nerd and a ball-busting Hollywood
Don’t talk to her
The attractive 30
year old has been on the Hollywood radar for the past decade now,
playing a diverse and intriguing group of characters on TV series
like The OC, Entourage and the new ABC comedy/drama
No Ordinary Family, as well as films such as Lost Boys The
Tribe and Smokin’ Aces 2. She also is a regular fixture
in Los Angeles musical theater.
However it is
in television that Reeser has really been making a mark – leading to
two co-starring roles on current series. She has spent the last
two seasons playing Lizzie Grant – the hardened female agent who becomes
Ari Gold’s (played by Jeremy Piven) nemesis in HBO’s popular comedy
Entourage. She has also taken on a new role in ABC’s new
comedy drama No Ordinary Family – playing
Katie Andrews, a lab assistant who
becomes the confidant of a newly empowered super-hero.
a lot of work, but it’s
all part of the job of becoming a star.
“I’m sorry, I
worked so late last night, my brain is not functioning very well
right now,” Reeser explained good-naturedly when she recently called
us to discuss her latest two roles.
was happy to give us an overview of her body of work. She was kind
of born into show biz – her dad is general manager of a local
television station and her family was always “very good at exposing
us to the arts and to a lot of different artistic pursuits,” she
recalled. “They took me to see a play and I saw kids my own age on
stage. I said, ‘Wait a second, I can do that?’ So, that’s how I
got into theater.”
pursuit led her to UCLA as an actress. It was there that she got
her first role – and a rather iconic role at that – playing Marcia
Brady in the 2002 TV movie The Brady Bunch in the White House.
(Weird trivia fact: her father Mike Brady was played by Gary
Cole, with whom she would act out having a May-December affair years
later on Entourage.)
my gosh. That’s hilarious,” she laughed when I pointed out that was
the first time I’d seen her work. However, even though it was not
really a very good movie (my assessment, not hers…), Reeser was very
thankful for the opportunity.
“That was one of my first roles, really, so it was beyond exciting,”
Reeser said. “That was a huge deal for me. I was in school at the
time. I was studying theater in UCLA. We shot that movie in
Toronto, so I had to leave school for it. It was the first time I’d
ever been in Canada. It was just a huge, huge experience for me.
It enabled me to finally buy a car – a used car. It was a very,
very big deal for me. It was kind of like being away at summer
camp. We had so many young kids on that. We were all staying at a
hotel on our own for the first time.”
A few years later
she really caused a splash in television – and ironically by joining
another established series. This time she was hired on to play the
perky student Taylor Townsend on the final three seasons of The
OC. And while Reeser assures me that she loved the experience,
she always felt that her timing was a little off on the series and
she never quite felt the show’s true buzz.
“I don’t know if
I ever really felt like I fit in, to be honest,” Reeser chuckled.
“I feel like the huge pop for that show came in the first two years
and I wasn’t a part of that – and never would be. Everyone was very
lovely to me, but I don’t know that I ever really felt as much of a
part of things. But that said, I loved working on that show,
because I loved the way they wrote for my character very much. I
felt like I really connected with that character a lot.”
Soon after The
OC wound down, the Writers’ Guild struck and like most actors,
Reeser found herself having to tread water for a while.
“There was sort
of a de facto actors’ strike,” Reeser recalled. “So work was
tough to come by for a little while.”
labor problems were worked out between the lawyers and the mediators.
Reeser found herself signed up for her first lead role in a
series, Valentine, a romantic drama loosely based on Greek
mythology which was picked up by the newly rechristened (and merged)
CW network. Sadly the show was never given a chance – the CW put it
on hiatus after only four episodes aired and eventually only eight
episodes were filmed.
“Of course I was
[disappointed by the fast hook],” Reeser said. “That was a good
experience. I’m still friends with everybody that I worked with on
that show. It was just a really good, like-minded group of
the Gods and Goddesses were still on the look out for Reeser and as
that door closed another one opened. Reeser had been called in to
audition for a role as a jewelry designer who becomes a potential
love interest for E (Kevin Connolly) on Entourage. The role
ended up going to actress Alexis Dziena, but the producers of
Entourage were also determined to find something to bring Reeser
back into the fold.
“I didn’t get that part, but they called me up and said that they still
loved me and still wanted me on the show,” Reeser said. “They
offered me another role. I never read for it. They offered it to
me sight unseen. I thought what a great opportunity – and I love
that they are trusting me to play this sort of ball-busting agent.
Because I don’t think the industry had seen me do much like that to
that point. Although I had been working on similar characters in
acting class for a while, I don’t think I’d played any characters
quite like Lizzie on a public scale.”
Reeser the chance to play a young, beautiful, smart and tough as
nails agent in Ari Gold’s agency. Her arc has been both complex and
emotionally intense. Last season, an ill-conceived affair with an
older partner (played by her former Brady dad Cole) turned
him into an alcoholic wreck. This season, Lizzie had a showdown
with her boss Ari Gold (Piven) when he fires Lizzie to placate his
wife – causing a sexual discrimination suit and the possibility of
profanity-laced tirades on Gold’s part going public.
Reeser has spent
most of the two seasons having knockdown fights with Piven – and she
“Oh, they are so
fun,” Reeser laughed. “Fun! Fun, fun, fun. Anything that consists
of high emotions is fun to film – whether it’s joy or tragedy. In a
way, it’s all still a little fun to film. That’s why you got into
acting. Why I got into acting, at least – to kind of experience
other people’s lives and intense emotions.”
And Piven, who
has made a name for himself in the series for constantly portraying
just these intense emotions, makes a wonderful foil, Reeser feels.
fabulous. He’s such a great actor. Very creative and obviously
an actress, Reeser has had her share of dealings with agents over
the years. Now playing one, she loves that
is so accurate to that world. In fact, her own agents approve.
“Yeah, they are
very pleased. I’ve had a number of female agents approach me and
say, ‘You play me.’” Reeser laughed at the memories. “That’s a
At this point, at
the end of the most recent season of Entourage, Lizzie’s role
was left in a somewhat ambiguous place. Right now, Reeser is not
sure if she’ll get the call back for the next season – but she did
have a strong preference.
“I hope so,” she
said, excitedly. “I really hope so. I don’t know yet, but I would
love to be approached to come back for next season.”
However, as has
happened so often in Reeser’s career, a new role came up to keep her
mind off of the anticipation.
That role was on
No Ordinary Family, an ABC comedy-drama with Michael Chiklis,
Julie Benz, Kay Panabaker and Jimmy Bennett as a normal family who
suddenly finds they have superpowers after surviving a plane crash.
Reeser plays Katie Andrews – the assistant for the mother, a brilliant
scientist who has suddenly gained supersonic speed. Katie helps her
boss come to terms with her new skills.
“Pilot season is
very intense, because there are so many projects floating around and
you read, I don’t know, at least a dozen scripts a week,” Reeser
said. “At least. It was one of the only ones that I read that I
said, ‘I would watch this show.’ That’s always a good thing. And,
it was an immediate connection with this character, too.
think what’s so fun about Katie is she’s sort of a prodigy. She, I
think, spent a lot of her youth in school and in science labs.
Because of it, she’s not particularly well-adjusted, socially. That
makes her very fun to play, because she’s quite vulnerable. Even
though she’s extremely smart, she’s childlike in some ways. I think
we’ll be seeing her due to the powers her boss has experienced and
her world sort of expanding, we’ll be seeing her kind of forced into
situations that are uncomfortable and exciting for her.”
that may come up – in the end of the pilot episode, it is strongly
suggested that the company which the two women work for may be
behind the family’s new found powers. Maybe that means somewhere
down the line Katie will become a superhero as well.
“I don’t know,”
Reeser said, but she was obviously quite excited about the concept.
And if she could have one super-power, what would Reeser like for it
to be? “Flying, of course.”
That will all
come out as the show goes on. But even without the ability to fly
(so far), Reeser enjoys No Ordinary Family because it is so
complex and is
sort of juggling
a lot of balls – superhero action, comedy, family drama and more.
“It is a
difficult tone to find, but I think we have a lot of people involved
who are very clear about the show that we’re making,” Reeser
continued. “That’s what’s important, for people to have a strong
vision. That is there. It’s really fun to work on. It’s really
fun to balance all of those elements.”
super-villains may not be the most dangerous threat to the family.
No Ordinary Family
is on right
against Glee, which is one of the hippest shows on TV.
However, in the modern world of DVRs, Hulu and On Demand,
television scheduling is no longer quite the end-all and be-all of
the television world. Still, even just on a head-to-head basis,
Reeser feels her show is good counter-programming to the singing
is two different audiences,” Reeser said. “There is some cross-over
audience, but I do think it is two different audiences. And, I like
Glee. But, I think you get something different from both
shows. I’ve had so many people come up and say to me, ‘This is the
one show I’ve seen in a long time that I could watch with my kids.’
‘That I could watch with my teenagers.’”
It is ironic that
Reeser is up against the musical hit, because in recent years she
has been doing regular musical theater gigs in Los Angeles – and she
did the musical movie American Mall. Reeser does want to
continue doing more musical work. Does that mean some day she will
go head-to-head with her self and do a guest appearance on Glee?
good-naturedly at this idea. “Yeah, I don’t see that one happening.
But I would love to do more musical work. Particularly in film.
I’d love to be involved in musical films. That would be a big goal
She also plans to
continue her career path of mixing comic roles with more dramatic
“I’ve had a lot
of comedy experience, sort of by accident,” Reeser said. “I didn’t
begin my career thinking I was funny at all. At all. Humor
and being funny was always something I aspired to. My dad is very
funny. I grew up wishing I could be funny that way, but knowing
that I wasn’t. I kind of learned on the job. I started in
sitcoms. It’s a very immediate, visceral experience, because you
are doing all the things you do in an hour show – as far as like
hitting your marks and doing all the technicalities of film and
television work, but you have the immediate response of the audience
to tell you if you hit your joke or not – if it works or not. I
learned a lot about timing, very, very quickly.”
In the meantime,
as her first season of No Ordinary Family continues on,
Reeser has two feature films awaiting release – The Big Bang
with Antonio Banderas and Possessions with Trent Ford.
“Those are two
independent films that I was involved with, and hopefully people
will get a chance to see them,” Reeser said. “The path for
independents is never clear. You never know what is going to happen
with them. But, I like both of the films, so I hope that people get
a chance to see them.
is sort of a Charlie Kaufman-esque dark comedy about a man who
begins hearing voices in his head. It’s very trippy. It’s a very
trippy film. I liked the script a lot. The Big Bang is sort
of a neo-noir thriller about a detective on a case. I play
one of the colorful characters that he meets along the way.”
And what is next
for Reeser? No limits, as far as she is concerned. A career is a
living, breathing, evolving thing and she just looks forward to
seeing where it can lead her.
“I don’t know,”
she admitted. “I’m still building it. I’ve just reached my first
decade in this business and hopefully that’s only the beginning.”
All signs point
to that being the case.
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