And Scene with Ellen Adair

Athleisure - - Contents - with Ellen Adair

OB/GYN shares some of the com­mon ques­tions that she is asked by her pa­tients with the read­ers of Ath­leisure Mag.

There are shows that give us the chills be­cause it draws you in, you're try­ing to fig­ure out how it all comes to­gether and when they're limited edi­tion se­ries, you hope it comes back again. That's how we feel about USA Net­work's The Sin­ner which is back for its sec­ond sea­son to show us a crime that you couldn't be­lieve that took place and then re­traces its steps to tell you why it went down and how peo­ple and ex­pe­ri­ences are a lot more con­nected than you can imag­ine.

The cult fol­low­ing of the show comes through based on ac­tors who play char­ac­ters that don't have clear lines on be­ing ei­ther good or bad. Ellen Adair who you have seen on HBO's Veep, NBC's The Slap, Show­time's Home­land and Bil­lions, and cur­rently plays Bess McTeer in The Sin­ner. She sat down with us to talk about her process as an ac­tor, the scene that had ev­ery­one shocked within the first 10 min­utes of the first episode (the sec­ond scene if you haven't seen it spoil­ers - you've been warned), char­ac­ter is­land and the Phillies!

ATH­LEISURE MAG: So excited to talk to you. I was ob­sessed with The Slap. When that came out -

ELLEN ADAIR: Oh wow! You’re the only per­son in Amer­ica!

AM: Truly loved it. That show was just riv­et­ing and then, I’m just go­ing to say it, the scene from The Sin­ner, was beyond!

EA: Oh thanks!

AM: Ev­ery­one who has watched that has been left with – what? So we’ll delve into that. There are scenes that are in cin­ema and TV and you think of the horse’s head in The God­fa­ther, but you’re 10 minute sit­u­a­tion was like that kind of scene in my opin­ion.

EA: Oh my good­ness, thanks – I mean like, move over dead horse's head.

AM: I mean, you were still go­ing.

EA: What a great com­pli­ment – thanks!

AM: Can you tell us about your back­ground and how you got into act­ing. You’ve been in a lot of things, like Home­land.

EA: So I wanted to be an ac­tress since I was like a tiny child which be­lies some type of per­sonal devel­op­ment I guess. But it was just like chil­dren’s theater that I did. I wasn’t a pro­fes­sional child ac­tor and I think that re­ally my love was the theater and I think that that was partly be­cause both of my par­ents were col­lege pro­fes­sors and are staunchly (less so now, par­tic­u­larly my mom) anti-TV. So I didn’t have a TV grow­ing up. So we would go out to see movies, but I think that my par­ents had this real thought about it be­ing in the house as a source of a con­stant dis­trac­tion. I read a lot and we went to theater and I saw TV at friends’ houses. When I was 10 years old, I said I wanted to be a stage ac­tor and it wasn’t un­til I got into the pro­fes­sional world that I started work­ing on cam­era a lit­tle bit and I was like, “oh I love this, I love this SO much.”

For me, I ac­tu­ally did Shake­speare at an early age. I did my first Shake­speare at the age of 12. My first pro­fes­sional/ semi-pro­fes­sional thing when I was 15. That was also Shake­speare. What I love so much about Shake­speare is that there is so much that is tech­ni­cal about it that it al­lows my artist brain to just free up be­cause there is this great sense of be­ing like on a train, I don’t have to get on a boat, I just get on the train and take it to the end of the play. I just kind of say, ooo what I ride!

I feel kind of sim­i­larly about on cam­era stuff. In that there is so much stuff that is tech­ni­cal about it that part of my brain is able to be free and spon­ta­neous about it. That way, I can be com­pletely real about it.

AM: What is your process when you are look­ing at a char­ac­ter that you want to play? Once again, I loved you in Bil­lions (Show­time) – es­pe­cially when th­ese char­ac­ters are so dif­fer­ent. You have played a num­ber of char­ac­ters across shows and al­though I know it’s you – you bring such a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to each one. Some peo­ple when they por­tray roles, still bring a lot of them­selves into each one – do you get what we’re try­ing to say?

EA: Yes I do know what you are try­ing to say and I’m re­ally touched that you say that be­cause I think that is – it’s not a part of my mind­ful process so much as I guess, I don’t know com­ing from my sort of life read­ing a lot, and I was an English and Theater ma­jor in col­lege and so I re­ally love text. I love tex­tual anal­y­sis so for me I guess, it all just comes from me re­ally look­ing at the script and look­ing at what the writer is do­ing and then just imag­in­ing if I was that per­son in that place. So I don’t think about, “oh this is – I don’t judge my char­ac­ter in any sort of way" and I re­ally feel that I am just play­ing my­self, but if it were me and my en­tire life was dif­fer­ent and my devel­op­ment was dif­fer­ent and I did this thing and th­ese were the words that I say or at least that is 100% of my process for on cam­era stuff.

For theater, it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Some­times I will mostly think about how would this char­ac­ter sort of hold them­selves phys­i­cally dif­fer­ent or how their voice would be phys­i­cally dif­fer­ent then mine. So it’s also sort of like, tech­ni­cal things that show up. But, then there’s – I don’t know – why I do the thing as there is some kind of mag­i­cal thing that hap­pens and if I just put my­self in the sit­u­a­tion then I am just sud­denly this to­tally dif­fer­ent per­son. So on my – I re­mem­ber on The Slap, one of the pro­duc­ers, be­cause it was like the first big thing that I did for TV. I had done a cou­ple of small re­oc­cur­ring things be­fore. But a pro­ducer came up to me and we were in the mid­dle of film­ing and re­ally quickly he said, “I love your per­for­mance on this” and I thought, “I have a per­for­mance?” I mean I was just so fo­cused on the thought of, what if I was a lawyer, a D.A. and got some won­der­ful thoughts from Ken Olin (Dir/Exec Pro­ducer - This is Us) – one of my fa­vorite di­rec­tors that I have ever worked with – I adore him. I in­cor­po­rated those into think­ing about what would be my life goals and what I would want to be. But I didn’t think of it as a per­for­mance and sim­i­larly, when I came in on my first day, I thought that I was just go­ing to say the words and ev­ery­body was like, “oh I re­ally love what you’re do­ing,” and I thought, “I’m do­ing some­thing? Great, I’ll keep do­ing it.”

Work­ing on The Sin­ner was just in­cred­i­ble – it was one of the great­est bless­ings on my life so far and part of what was so much fun about that was just that – the cir­cum­stance that Bess is in – it’s so ex­treme and dif­fer­ent than the cir­cum­stance of other peo­ple that I have played. It was just that a whole new per­son just came out.

AM: Tell us about the process of get­ting on the show, what it was like work­ing with Bill Pull­man and the idea that The Sin­ner tells you what hap­pens, but why did it hap­pen and what are the cir­cum­stances around it that made it hap­pen. Which re­minds me of el­e­ments of The Slap.

EA: There’s so many won­der­ful things to un­pack in what you just said! For me, a real com­par­i­son be­tween the works The Sin­ner and The Slap is that we’re al­ways talk­ing in both cases, that there are sets of char­ac­ters that have some sense of re­deem­ing qual­i­ties and some less at­trac­tive qual­i­ties to put it po­lit­i­cally. That’s my fa­vorite kind of story, fa­vorite kind of TV, fa­vorite kind of movie, book what­ever. I think that some peo­ple, it’s not their fa­vorite.

They want it to be where this is the good guy and this is the bad guy. But I re­ally en­joy dig­ging into that kind of stuff. In terms of my experience with The Sin­ner, I had watched it be­cause ac­tu­ally, a lot of the crew is the same from Bil­lions – the ge­nius Di­rec­tor of Pho­tog­ra­phy Ra­dium Che­ung – some of the A.D.s that I knew from Bil­lions said they were work­ing on this and I watched it. But then I re­watched it when I was go­ing in to au­di­tion for it, and having just done Home­land for 5 months, what I was struck with so much was how much ev­ery­one and all the char­ac­ters take their time. How much space for hu­man life is al­lowed ver­sus the kind of per­son that I nor­mally play that is very talky, jour­nal­ists, lawyers, po­lit­i­cal an­i­mals – just be kind to Janet be­cause she is so won­der­ful.

That was a con­ver­sa­tion that I had with Bill at the very first Ta­ble Read. When I just sort of fan­girled him and talked to him about how amaz­ing his per­for­mance was in the first sea­son.

What I loved about the show was that it is re­ally pop­u­lated with hu­mans that are al­ways say­ing some­thing but not speak­ing. There is so much clearer speech that is not ar­tic­u­lated in this show and it’s some­thing a lit­tle more like in­die film and An­to­nio Cam­pos (Di­rec­tor + Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­ducer) one of the re­ally big ge­niuses be­hind the first and sec­ond sea­son has a back­ground in in­die film and he just brought that sen­si­bil­ity to the show. I found that also work­ing on it that I am so hard wired to just pick up the pace and even though I knew that from watching the show not to do it - but ke kept re­mind­ing me that, no no - you can take it as long as it wants to take - if you want to say some­thing else, just throw it in” and I thought, “oh this is a new fun thing to work on.”

AM: How long did you film this and are there any snip­pets that you may be able to share with us for our read­ers at Ath­leisure Mag.

EA: We started film­ing in May.

AM: WOW!

EA: Yeah and we wrapped … my last day on set was a week be­fore pro­duc­tion wrapped. So the first 2 episodes were filmed in tan­dem which is the right phrase. Which some­times there were tan­dem crews, 2 things film­ing at the same time, be­cause the aes­thetic of the show is to film a cer­tain amount of cov­er­age, but they also had to do it within a TV sched­ule. It was cross-boarded which is the phrase I was look­ing for be­cause there were so many lo­ca­tions that were the same. That mo­tel room was built on the stage so all of those shots were not on lo­ca­tion, there were just a few things

that we shot as the mo­tel which in­cludes the scene with the mo­tel man­ager and things like that. So what can I tell you – I mean I can say I guess, that you will see more of Bess and that what’s re­ally fun is that the flash­backs go back pretty far back. That was cer­tainly fun to re­mem­ber what hu­man be­ing I was in 2004 and what that meant. The mys­tery is re­ally the whole thing so I can’t re­ally …

AM: I know but we had to try! So the whole death scene with Bess – how many takes did it take. How much of it came from what the script stated and what part was what you added into it. It just seemed so raw and so much – but so good.

EA: There were many takes and we worked on that scene for a whole film­ing day.

AM: Woah

EA: Yes just the death scene. Not re­ally much in terms of di­a­logue. Now that in­cludes the stuff that Adam who plays Adam had to do, which in­cludes the stunt stuff that he did which has the in­cred­i­ble shot of him fall­ing out of the shower. That el­e­ment will add more, but get­ting the shots from all the dif­fer­ent an­gles and the spe­cial ef­fects things – that still to me seemed fairly early in the process was in­dica­tive to me of the level of artistry in the pro­duc­tion. So nor­mally, an av­er­age film­ing day and you prob­a­bly know this is 6-8 pages. So as a script page, the death scene is maybe a page or ¾ of a page but we spent a whole day work­ing on it and we also ac­tu­ally had a day of re­hearsal be­fore we had even started film­ing so we could fig­ure out ba­si­cally what it was go­ing to be and I

talked with An­to­nio and I said, "you know, I have been watching ev­ery­thing that I can find of videos of film scenes where peo­ple are poi­soned. Is there any­thing you can think of where this seems more of the thing and not this." I watched some ridicu­lous thing where a wo­man was throw­ing her­self around to ev­ery piece of fur­ni­ture in the room and I thought, “that doesn’t seem like some­thing I should do.” He was like, “no, noth­ing re­ally comes to mind,” but he said, “you might want to look at videos of peo­ple having seizures,” and I’m al­ways du­ti­ful about my home­work and I went home and looked at a lot of peo­ple on YouTube who were having seizures at home – not film of this. It ex­ists and it’s strange what peo­ple will put up on YouTube. In my life an as ac­tor, my YouTube searches are so weird that what­ever the com­puter thinks about me … “I don’t know what they should mar­ket to her” – I see a lot of weird ads.

I watched a lot of videos and I was in­ter­ested in what peo­ple’s hands did and that vi­o­lent con­vul­sion thing is where we ul­ti­mately de­cided to take it. Then the rest of it, we sort of in re­hearsal just old school re­hearsed it to see what if I would fall to the bed and then the door of the bath­room and then try to save Adam – so it was ba­si­cally be­ing spe­cific to what was hap­pen­ing in my body ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment. Now I’m try­ing to save Adam and now I’m go­ing to vomit and turn away and here’s the mo­ment where I re­al­ize that Ju­lian must have had some­thing to do with this. It was a tough day of film­ing be­cause 3 days be­fore, for the first time in my life, I had de­vel­oped Ver­tigo. So ac­tu­ally, it’s just Be­nign Po­si­tional Ver­tigo – it’s still with me when I lay down to go to sleep. When­ever I would change po­si­tions or el­e­va­tions, I’d get re­ally dizzy. So I thought on that day, I was lucky that it wasn’t a fight scene where I have to do this and look like I'm in con­trol - I feel aw­ful and I am dy­ing so I guess I'll #useit which is what we said all day. And even by the end I would just lie down on the floor re­ally quickly and then I would stand up to feel re­ally aw­ful.

AM: That is ded­i­ca­tion!

EA: Well you know it’s just like, this is not a great sit­u­a­tion and I wish I had felt well so that I could be in con­trol of my body. As long as it was hap­pen­ing, I may as well take the roses along with the thorns or make lemons out of le­mon­ade – what­ever cliché term you’d like to use. It was a try­ing day, but at the end of the day I felt like I had died and come back to life.

AM: Is it easy for you when you’re done film­ing to come back to you the per­son? Some peo­ple are so into their char­ac­ters that it takes them 2-3 months to leave that char­ac­ter. How is that for you and how do you keep that sep­a­ra­tion?

EA: Hmm it’s a re­ally great ques­tion. I think it’s been more chal­leng­ing for me in my life with theater where you're work­ing on some­thing ev­ery sin­gle day that’s prob­a­bly also more of a chal­lenge for peo­ple who are do­ing say a film that they are do­ing ev­ery sin­gle day. Whereas, I think that the most days in a week that I worked on the show was like 3 days in a week. So it wasn't ev­ery sin­gle day and then I wouldn't be work­ing at all the fol­low­ing week. That said, I feel like I al­ways miss my char­ac­ters when they are not around any­more. Like a Quixotic small vic­tim­less tragedy for me as there is noth­ing that I can hug, there is no per­son that I can em­brace. I re­ally feel like there is this other per­son that I am in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with when I am act­ing and it shows up for me the most very or­gan­i­cally and this hap­pened – where my char­ac­ters have dif­fer­ent ges­tures and lit­tle things that they do that that is a residue that will stick around. I’ll do that thing that that char­ac­ter did and I’m like, “oh” it feels like find­ing a loved

one who has passed and see­ing their shirt. It’s not that sad as I don’t want to com­pare it like that –

AM: To­tally un­der­stand, as a fash­ion stylist, when I am work­ing on clients or mood­boards that it’s in your head so much much that when it’s done, I’ll see some­thing and then have to re­mind my­self that I don’t need it be­cause it’s done and the project is done.

EA: I feel that as soon as I get a char­ac­ter, it’s the lit­tle piece of sand in like the oys­ter of my heart that I am al­ways adding lay­ers to that pearl that ev­ery­thing I see in the world is part of that per­son. When I don’t need it any­more, I still kind of keep adding to that pearl. To a cer­tain ex­tent, one way in which char­ac­ters will re­visit is I will play a new one and I sort of feel – and this is a metaphor – that the an­gelic spirit of the other char­ac­ter will say, “let me lend you th­ese things that were help­ful for me” so that I can use them again. I am such a nerd. I have a book of poetry which will be pub­lished this fall and most of the po­ems I wrote are from awhile ago, but they’re about be­ing an ac­tor and a life in the theater and it is mostly about char­ac­ters. Very much so about this thing that we’re talk­ing about. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the ac­tor and the char­ac­ter that are like this friend and what I have re­ally come to love and have a re­la­tion­ship with them al­though we are sort of the same. And in one of

them, I sort of cre­ate this metaphor where I am an is­land where all of my past char­ac­ters live and that when a new char­ac­ter comes and sort of ma­te­ri­al­izes, on the is­land and asks what this place is – all the other char­ac­ters are like, “here you can use this” and that’s a poetic metaphor, but in a sense that’s all the peo­ple still liv­ing on that is­land.

AM: When is this book com­ing out and what is the name of it?

EA: The name of the book is Cur­tain Speech. I was try­ing to come up with a name that is ac­tu­ally sort of pri­vate – be­ing back­stage and that is where the con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the char­ac­ter and the ac­tor takes place. Or it’s in your trailer or the mo­ments be­fore the take. When you step on stage or when film­ing starts, you’re one per­son and you can’t have that con­ver­sa­tion again. Cur­tain Speech is ac­tu­ally the thing that some­one will come out and say, “please turn off your cell­phones, here are the ex­its and thank you for com­ing.” It’s the ti­tle I came up with and I don’t have an ex­act date when it will be com­ing out, but it might be avail­able for pre-or­der on Ama­zon now – I can check with my pub­lisher.

AM: What other projects do you have com­ing out that you can tell us about?

EA: Well, I will be in Sea­son 7 of Chicago Fire! Other than that, I am work­ing on writ­ing a se­ries like many an ac­tor is. In terms of the lit­tle peo­ple of sand, it’s al­ways around that se­ries and that char­ac­ter and I de­vel­oped the idea with a friend of mine, Chris Carfizzi from Bil­lions who plays Rudy and so we wanted to work on some­thing to­gether. But he has a small baby and I sort of took the lead on writ­ing it. We also want to – when our lives are sane enough – prob­a­bly think about film­ing a scene so we can shop it around.

AM: So you’re based in NY, where do you love to eat, shop here, work­out etc?

EA: So I love Viet­namese food and I can eat it every­day! Prob­a­bly one of my fa­vorite restau­rants is prob­a­bly OBAO in Hell’s Kitchen. When­ever any­one wants to get lunch, I’m like, “Oh do you like Viet­namese food?” I also re­ally Asian food in gen­eral – I’m a big lover of sushi and a friend of mine have had a date for 3 months that we have kept moving to go to Nakazawa, but you have to make a reser­va­tion way in ad­vance. Ev­ery­time we have made one, I al­ways end up work­ing on a show. I mean in this week, this is the one day that I am film­ing so that hasn't hap­pened yet. I re­ally love Kore­atown be­cause it's right in the mid­dle of the city so it’s not like you have to go all the way down to Chi­na­town. I also live in Queens and I live

in Jack­son Heights and I love the In­dian food there and Ti­betan food, so good! There’s this place Faul. It’s im­pos­si­ble to find as there is no store­front and you go up a ran­dom stair­case, but it is very close to the Jack­son Heights stop. Lassa Fast Food is be­hind a cell­phone store - if you didn't know it was there, you’d never see it. I love liv­ing so close to Flush­ing be­cause my hus­band and I will just hop on a train and feel like we’re go­ing to an­other coun­try and that’s re­ally how Flush­ing feels.

I tend to work­out at my lo­cal gym and I can’t run out­side any­more. I can run on a tread­mill and that’s about it.

AM: We know that you’re a huge Phillies fan as we have seen your In­sta­gram - so are you from Philadel­phia orig­i­nally?

EA: Yes no­body chooses the Phillies. But I’m from there orig­i­nally and nei­ther of my par­ents are from Philadel­phia ac­tu­ally, my mom’s from Vir­ginia and my dad’s from Oregon – they were like, we’ll adopt the Phillies. I went to games in utero and then as a babe in arms. Some­one asked me if I re­mem­bered my first base­ball game and I was like, “no, I’ve been go­ing for as long as I can re­mem­ber.” They’re my life part­ner as I like to say.

AM: Do you have sea­son tick­ets or do you go when they’re al­ways here?

EA: I make sure I see them pretty much when I am here. Sea­son tick­ets are not su­per prac­ti­cal liv­ing in NY, but I do try to see a cou­ple of games in Philly ev­ery sea­son. Last sea­son I didn’t be­cause I was do­ing an Off Broad­way show that was ba­si­cally all of base­ball sea­son and that was tough for me emo­tion­ally. There are a few Mon games I went to. So in 2016, I saw 16 games and so I knew that that would be my goal. And what I like about this is that I can move the goal post in a good way ev­ery year. This year, I have al­ready seen 18 games and there is still a bit of the base­ball sea­son left and I am go­ing to a Phillies game next week.

AM: Are you an Ea­gles fan too?

EA: Um, sure, is the most ac­cu­rate an­swer and I was not raised on the re­li­gion of foot­ball at all. So def­i­nitely sup­ported the Ea­gles this sea­son and not in any sort of a band­wagon way. Did I want them to de­feat the Pa­tri­ots as they are the Yan­kees of foot­ball, ab­so­lutely I do. Ac­tu­ally, I watched the Su­per Bowl with Dy­lan Baker in Vir­ginia as we were there shoot­ing Home­land and he’s a big foot­ball fan. I know the mar­quee names of foot­ball – I def­i­nitely en­joy watching it with friends, it’s not some­thing that I would sit down my­self and do. I will sit down and watch base­ball be­cause it’s un­healthy but I re­ally loved sit­ting down and watching it with Dy­lan. Ev­ery­body ex­cept for one ta­ble in this ho­tel bar was clearly root­ing for the Ea­gles and that made it more de­light­ful. I was wear­ing an Aaron Nola shirt be­cause I was like, this is how I know how to sup­port – just wear a Phillies shirt.

AM: So how do you give back in a phil­an­thropic/char­i­ta­ble way?

EA: It’s more mon­e­tary than it is time. I would love to fig­ure out how my time would be valu­able to a par­tic­u­lar or­ga­ni­za­tion but there are a lot of char­i­ties that I care about. One that I have sup­ported for years is City Har­vest – I’d like to give my time to them as well. But in the world that we’re liv­ing in right now, it feels like there are so many things to keep tabs on there is more then the hours in the day! But, I feel like if I am a monthly con­trib­u­tor to a cause it helps. I care a lot about the envi-

... my char­ac­ters have dif­fer­ent ges­tures and lit­tle things that they do that is a residue that will stick around. I'll do that thing that that charater did...

ron­ment so I sup­port the Nat­u­ral Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil. I trav­eled a lot as a child so I think I have a real ap­pre­ci­a­tion for other coun­tries and other cul­tures. If I had to say the most right now in terms of Amer­ica, one thing that sticks out there, it’s pro­tect­ing im­mi­grants and Mus­lims. I spent a lot of time in Turkey and so like I grew up be­ing like, th­ese are some of the nicest peo­ple in the world – I sup­port the Coun­cil For Amer­i­can Is­lamic Re­la­tions and Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Fo­rum and United We Dream – I got con­nected to them be­cause they send text mes­sages where if some­one in your area is go­ing to get de­ported, you can come and help. It’s a ser­vice that I guess I signed up for and I was like, I like what they do. The Cen­ter for Pop­u­lar Democ­racy is also im­por­tant to me. It’s 10 – 12 that I am monthly donors to and ob­vi­ously the big ones, ACLU, South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, NAACP – I’m for­get­ting some­body I’m sure.

Jour­nal­ism is im­por­tant. I have a sub­scrip­tion to the NY Times, Washington Post and I sup­port NPR. Also that’s a ser­vice and for a lit­tle while, there was a grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion of women that I was work­ing for a friend who had founded it and she was try­ing to get it to ex­pand across the coun­try and she de­cided to start some­thing dif­fer­ent called Can­di­dates and Cof­fee. So she in­ter­views peo­ple for lo­cal elec­tions be­cause the in­for­ma­tion isn’t al­ways there as it’s not in the na­tional stream. You’re not go­ing to see peo­ple in your lo­cal elec­tions talk­ing on CNN about stuff. There should be a way that mil­len­ni­als can con­nect so I was just meet­ing with her last night and I might end up and hope to help her work on that a lit­tle bit as well. Vot­ing is su­per im­por­tant! The 2016 elec­tion cer­tainly taught us that.

I have been think­ing about and I haven’t done this be­fore – kind of get­ting on a bus from NY to PA a swing state close to the elec­tion to get out the vote. It’s close and I was reg­is­tered to vote in PA for a long time.

AM: Is there a di­rec­tor or a role that you’d like to work with or be with?

EA: Such a great ques­tion wow. It’s eas­ier for theater be­cause the roles ex­ist al­ready. That's the great thing about TV/ film - you don’t know who that per­son will be un­til you go off and re­ally cre­ate what that is defini­tively. So, that’s hard to say on cam­era. I’ve done in theater, a lot of pe­riod stuff like old time timey peo­ple. It would be re­ally fun to be able to get to do that on cam­era. I played Marie An­toinette in a play about Marie An­toinette and that was re­ally fun to get to play a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure like that. In terms of a play that I read and re­ally fell in love with and knew that that was what I wanted to do, there is this play called the Cu­ri­ous Case of the Wat­son In­tel­li­gence, by Madeleine Ge­orge. It’s great. A dream role is the one that I am writ­ing for my­self.

AM: That’s what I was think­ing!

EA: I know I’m sorry Erin for for­get­ting about you for a sec­ond! In terms of a di­rec­tor, I don’t think I have an an­swer be­cause there are so many that I re­ally ad­mire their work. Some­times your fa­vorite ones are the ones that were un­ex­pected, be­cause it’s the chem­istry be­tween the two of you as peo­ple is re­ally great. That’s hard to know, but I’d love to dis­cover that. Note that if Paul Thomas An­der­son wants me to – I mean we’d have great chem­istry that would be awe­some. Also, An­to­nio was one of my fa­vorite di­rec­tors to work with and part of the rea­son for that is that I felt like his eye is so metic­u­lous that when he sees some­thing he is will­ing to com­mu­ni­cate that to the ac­tor. So, I felt that ab­so­lutely my per­for­mance was 100 times bet­ter be­cause I was work­ing with him and it’s al­ways go­ing to be bet­ter when you work with the di­rec­tor then just do­ing it in a vac um. He so of­ten had a thought for me like – this time try this or this is so small but I re­mem­ber it so clearly that in the first episode there is a shot where I get up from the bed and I re­al­ize that Ju­lian is miss­ing and he’s at the break­fast bar and I go to the win­dow. That was of course in the stu­dio and when I was look­ing out the win­dow, I wasn't look­ing at any­thing, it was just black. The first few times that we did the take, I said to my­self, imag­ine what you’re see­ing as we had not shot in the mo­tel yet so I didn’t know what I was look­ing at. I had to just make it up and imag­ine I was see­ing cars, whether I was see­ing the kid – but I wasn’t, but then we did it so many times that I was do­ing the move­ment with­out do­ing any­thing. A cou­ple of times af­ter do­ing it, An­to­nio said, “oh it doesn’t look like you’re see­ing any­thing.” I was like thank you be­cause most di­rec­tors would not give you a note that was that de­tailed and it has to do with your own in­ter­nal process. I have a hard time re­mem­ber­ing ex­actly what he said to me that day when we were film­ing the death scene, be­cause I was go­ing through it phys­i­cally but I know that he was coach­ing me and say­ing we need a lit­tle of this and that or that I had this ball in the air, but I was also deal­ing with this. But he’s the great­est!

AM: I think what makes that scene so impactful is like in sex scenes you know that there are var­i­ous move­ments that they do to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of the act which can come off as very tech­ni­cal look­ing. The arm is here and then there, 1-2-3. But when watching your scene it doesn’t look like Twis­ter and tech­ni­cal, it falls seam­lessly and makes you think it hap­pened in one take when it in fact wasn't. It doesn't look like you're think­ing, it's just a flaw­less flow. Which is why it has re­ally stunned ev­ery­one.

EA: What you’re talk­ing about is the whole deal. That the dif­fer­ence is just in­hab­it­ing it than just do­ing the things. I think that there were phys­i­cal marks I had to hit but the free­dom within the tech­ni­cal­ity I could experience “oh my gosh I’m los­ing con­trol – I can’t talk, I’m feel­ing nau­se­ated, where does that live in my body?" I feel it is very sim­i­lar when you have di­a­logue and in my tran­si­tion of do­ing more on cam­era stuff and not just theater, is that I learn text in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way. In theater, I know

that this is the text and then I have a re­hearsal process and I want to spare my­self the per­son­al­iza­tion so I can dis­cover it in a room with other peo­ple so that it’s not to­tally stale when I get to per­for­mance. But the way I mem­o­rize things for on cam­era is I do the thought verse and then the words. If you look at some­one and it looks like they are say­ing words not about an­tic­i­pat­ing – but if they are think­ing words and not thoughts, you can see it. You can have very good com­pe­tent act­ing where it’s ob­vi­ous that the per­son is think­ing of words and not a per­son’s thoughts but my goal is to just be think­ing of the per­son’s thoughts rather than the tech­ni­cal thing whether that be my hand goes here, I stum­ble over here or I have this po­lit­i­cal or le­gal gob­bly gook. I’m al­ways like, what’s the thought be­hind this? That’s what makes it fun.

@El­lenA­dairG

PHOTO COUR­TESY | PG 86 + 90 Peter Kramer/USA Net­work | PG 82, 85, 88, 93, 94 Ambi Wil­liams |

Lis­ten to our con­ver­sa­tion with The Sin­ners, Ellen Adair on an up­com­ing episode of #TribeGoals on Ath­leisure Stu­dio, our mul­ti­me­dia pod­cast net­work.

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