By Sugandha Rawal
New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) There was a time when Rhea Seehorn was labeled a sitcom actor, but she is glad she could break that mould and embrace different characters.
The actress — basking in appreciation for her role of Kim Wexler in TV show “Better Call Saul” — is thankful to a “handful of wonderful casting directors”, who could spot her range as an artiste.
“As far as the journey, it has been great and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I did comedy and drama in theatre, but after being cast in a sitcom for my first series regular role, I was labelled as a sitcom actor…and mostly was only thought of for comedies for a long time,” Seehorn told IANS over an email.
“But there have always been a handful of wonderful casting directors in Los Angeles that see actors for their whole range, and thank goodness Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, and Russell Scott of Bialy/Thomas Casting, are among them.
“They are phenomenal casting directors who have known a huge body of my work, watching me do both dramatic and comedic auditions for them over the years; and it was they that brought me to Vince and Peter’s attention for the role of Kim Wexler,” she added.
With a strong theatre background, Seehorn got popular for her work in sitcoms, particularly “Whitney” in which she featured from 2011 to 2013.
The actress says theatre training is crucial for an actor.
“I highly recommend theatre training, and doing live theatre… especially the down and dirty years, of doing 7-8 shows a week for very little pay, but with sheer devotion to the story… To anyone who wants to be an actor, for life.”
She continued: “It will root you, when both the highs and lows of your career threaten to wash you away with the tide. It will also help you do 25 takes of difficult material! I know there’s a lot of other ways to become a successful actor, but for me, I’m really glad I have that background.”
Talking about her role in “Better Call Saul”, she said: “I’ve had the great fortune of working with tremendously talented people in roles that I’ve loved, for my whole career. But the depth of character, the very fine nuances, and the shifts in tone from comedic to dramatic, you’re able to explore on a show like ‘Better Call Saul’ has garnered some lovely attention for the performances in it, myself included. I’m very grateful for that.”
“Better Call Saul”, aired in India on Colors Infinity, is a spin-off prequel of “Breaking Bad”. The show follows the story of con-man turned small-time lawyer James “Jimmy” Morgan McGill, six years before the events of “Breaking Bad”. It shows his transformation into criminal-for-hire Saul Goodman.
As an attorney, Kim is a complex yet fascinating character.
Seehorn doesn’t know what her role “says about the greater landscape of women’s roles in TV and films”.
“I know that Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould along with the entire writers’ room set out to write a woman who has her own agency, her own space to fill up in the world, and her own hopes, dreams, highs and lows…and then they encouraged me to play her with all the complexity and humanity I could afford, without ever saddling me with the defining, and sometimes damning, necessity to be ‘likable’. That is a restriction that can often tacitly or explicitly be prioritised in female roles.”
The fact, as she asserts, is that the result of all of that would be that people just see her as fully human.
“Both men and women find her so accessible, and her journey to be so watchable, thrills me and tells me that that’s what audiences want to see. I believe Kim was fashioned by people that are decidedly not sexist, and they didn’t ask sexist questions of the ‘whys’, ‘whats’ and ‘where’s’ and when choosing her character make-up, choices, and journey. The result is, a feminist character.”
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])