‘Bull’ star Geneva Carr shares her worst stage mo­ment

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Tapshowguide - Nina Metz CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

In life, the deck is usu­ally stacked. But in TV, you can es­cape that feel­ing for an hour or so with the CBS le­gal drama “Bull,” where a sense of fair play is a bedrock of the show’s ethos. The trial con­sult­ing firm, led by Michael Weatherly’s psy­chol­o­gist Ja­son Bull, has a bevy of high-end ex­perts on staff, in­clud­ing the un­flap­pable Marissa Mor­gan, a vet­eran of the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and a neu­rolin­guis­tics ex­pert. And she’s played by Geneva Carr, wear­ing one of the best wardrobes on TV right now.

“Bull” pulls in big num­bers for CBS with its mix of hu­mor and its court­room set­ting, and for Carr it’s her first long-term TV role. A Tony-nom­i­nated stage and TV ac­tress, she said there’s a “work ethic to the theater that ab­so­lutely serves tele­vi­sion be­cause I never think I have an­other take. Tele­vi­sion is so fast­paced, you can’t ask for one any­way. Once they get what they need, they’re mov­ing on.”

“The one thing about be­ing an ac­tor is, you can­not have any pride be­cause your ca­reer ebbs and it flows, it goes up and down, you are con­stantly em­bar­rassed and you have to roll with it,” she said. “I don’t have any ego, on set or off.”

Ex­am­ple: “I used to dress up as Tweety bird, you want to talk hu­mil­i­at­ing? And Tweety bird re­ally suf­fered, I’m just go­ing to say that. You have to be un­der 5-foot, 4-inches to fit into the cos­tume and it’s hot as be­je­sus in there. I used to work at the Jav­its Cen­ter (con­ven­tional hall in New York) to make money, and I’d go around in char­ac­ter and shake chil­dren’s hands at the auto show or what­ever. I don’t want to tell you the sto­ries be­cause they’re terrifying.

“But,” she said, “that’s not even my most em­bar­rass­ing story!”

Her worst mo­ment: “When I was first act­ing, I was in an off-Broad­way play and I had some very ex­pe­ri­enced ac­tors around me. The one that saved me that day was Rob Sedg­wick, who is Kyra Sedg­wick’s brother. He’s a great guy and a fan­tas­tic ac­tor and we were do­ing this play called ‘The Weather box’ that’s very dra­matic. It’s about three sib­lings who are es­tranged and their mother is on her deathbed in the hos­pi­tal. And there’s a scene where I’m ar­gu­ing with my brother in the kitchen and I have to threaten his life with this knife that I just see on the ta­ble!

“In the scene, I’m sup­posed to come out and give a piece of my mind to my brother and tell him how I felt about him — and I re­al­ize, there’s no knife on the ta­ble. The prop is miss­ing. And Rob and I look at each other and I’m like a deer in the head­lights and I’m try­ing to re­mem­ber my lines and emote and live it all and I’m ter­ri­fied! And the line’s com­ing up where I have to threaten his life with this nonex­is­tent knife, and right be­fore I had to do some­thing — and he knew I just didn’t know what to do — he turned to me and said, ‘Don’t you try to threaten my life with that book!’

“So I picked up this book — and by the way, he’s this 6-foot, 3-inch mus­cle-bound man — and, like, 110 pounds of me is try­ing to threaten his life with a book, it was un­be­liev­able! I’m sure the au­di­ence was think­ing, ‘How does this woman think she’s go­ing to kill her brother with this book?’

But Rob re­ally saved me, and we have laughed about it for years. He was so great, be­cause I wasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced enough to just live in the mo­ment but he was. So he taught me a lot, about be­ing present and mak­ing it work no mat­ter what.”

The take­away: “You learn No. 1: Check your props. You have to ver­ify that your props are on a ta­ble in the wings be­cause there are stage­hands that bring them to the set be­tween scenes. Now I make sure ev­ery­thing’s where it needs to be.

“And you learn No. 2: When you are on stage you are in bat­tle, and the peo­ple you work with have your back.”

JOJO WHILDEN/CBS

Geneva Carr as Marissa Mor­gan on the CBS se­ries, "Bull."

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