In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions-and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
Since beginning her career in the 1980s, Carla Gugino has been a constant presence on TV and movie screens. The actor graduated from bit parts on ALF, Doogie Howser, M.D., and The Wonder Years to starring roles in the Spy Kids franchise, Sin City, and the canceled-too-soon Elmore Leonard adaptation Karen Sisco. (As a consolation, she reprised the role of Sisco-with a few concessions to copyright-on the third season of Justified.) This summer, she can be seen participating in two end-of-the-world scenarios (the disaster film San Andreas and HBO's mutually-assured-destruction satire The Brink) and one out-of-this world TV thriller (Fox's Wayward Pines). The latter brought Gugino to the ATX Television Festival, where she participated in a screening of the show's bonkers fifth episode-but not before answering The A.V. Club's 11 Questions (and providing one of her own).
1. What's the worst job you've ever had?
Carla Gugino: I wouldn't say "worst job," per se, because I started acting when I was 13, so acting has been, with great fortune, my job since I could get a job. But I would say that in Sin City, [my character] Lucille had the worst job. I played a really bad day at work for her. She's half-naked, sleeping in the middle of the night. She's a parole officer. Her parolee comes in-played by Mickey Rourke-and asks her for sedatives. Then she is taken to a farmhouse, her hand is eaten off by a cannibal, and now that she's left handless, she's then murdered-riddled with bullets in a shooting.
The A.V. Club: Did you express this to Robert Rodriguez at the time? "Hey man, this is pretty extreme. This isn't Spy Kids stuff we're dealing with here."
CG: I played the mom in Spy Kids when I was, like, 27. So it was ridiculous. I'm the right age right now to play that role. But [Rodriguez] was like, "You know what? If we do our job right, no one will question it." And nobody did.
What I love about him is that he understands that actors are transformational. It's a natural instinct to ask people to do what you've seen them do before. Until you see someone do something new, you don't know what they can. So what I loved about Robert was he was just like, "I'd love for you to play this lesbian parole officer in Sin City." And I read the graphic novel, and I was like, "I'm in," and I love that I get to go with the same crew [from Spy Kids], everybody I've known for three movies, and play this crazy character that's totally different than I had played before.
2. When did you first feel successful?
CG: I think it would be a movie I did called Troop Beverly Hills with Shelley Long. I was 16. It was the only time I ever lied about my age to get a job: I said I was 14. There's this sort of iconic picture where we're in front of the Beverly Hills Courthouse-Shelley Long is in the middle with Jenny Lewis, and it's all these people that have now gone on to do many things-but it's the only time I'll ever be taller than my peers. I was three years older than everybody, but nobody knew.
I got emancipated that year, so I was a legal adult, so I didn't have to have a chaperone on set, and it was the first time that I made enough money that I could say, "I'm going to fully support myself as an actor." So that was the moment I really felt like a real actor.
3. If you were a supervillain, what would would your master plan be?
CG: I feel like it's hard to pick anyone, but being like a shape-shifter like Mystique-by the way, if she were a better planner, she could defeat everybody. Because she can shift into anything. So it's clearly a lack of planning for any lack of success of that character.
My master plan. It's interesting, with all sorts of transparency in terms of what's going on right now in government and in security and all of those things, because if you could be a shape-shifter, you could kind of show up anywhere and know everything. But would you want to know everything? That might be more terrifying.
But I'm also kind of obsessed with magic, so I also love Zatanna. I'd like to add an element of magic into my supervillain fantasy. I'd love to be privy to conversations, more like super cool artistic or philosophical conversations. This would not allow me to go back in time, which would be another temptation as a supervillain…
AVC: What if you built a machine that allowed you to do all of those things?
CG: You're right. Because my supervillain can do anything. Why limit my supervillain powers? I've always thought about people who have created things that never happened before, like we have Elon Musk-I don't know, I don't know. This is a very overwhelming question. I know what I want to be, but what is my master plan? I'm not sure.
4. What were you like as a kid?
CG: Super serious. I'm much more of a kid now than I was when I was a kid. I was the kind of kid who was valedictorian, a straight-A student. My mom used to say, "Please stop studying and get outside." As I started in L.A., I was the person who did academics until the middle of the day, then went on auditions. I think there was a moment later in my life where I was like, "What am I doing? Why am I so serious?" I have a very strong work ethic, and I'm very grateful for that. But I think there was a moment when I realized, "Oh, I can play a little as well."
So yeah, I was a really, really serious kid. And a really kind of controlling kid. Like I had things that, now, people would say are like-there's a name for many disorders as we know-but I would say, "If I pick this rubber band, then this will happen." It was that kind of want to control things, which I think all kids have to some extent. But I do think that's one of the reasons that acting appealed to me so much: the idea of letting go of control in a controlled environment. Being able to go through the range of intense emotions and jump off the cliff, metaphorically, but in a creative way, and in a way where the structure was really solid. I took this acting class-it was a cold reading class when I was 13-and I literally called my parents that day and said, "This is what I want to do for the rest of my life." And I realize this year I've been doing it for 30 years.
CG: Thank you!
AVC: Do you get a gift for that? Is there a traditional 30th acting anniversary gift, like with wedding anniversaries?
CG: I don't know. As long as I get to keep playing great roles, working with great people, that'll be the gift that keeps on giving, right?
5. Who was your celebrity crush when you were younger?
CG: River Phoenix was a big, big crush. He was somebody I always wanted to work with. He seemed spiritual, but was also an amazing actor, and I'm a bit of a crunchy, granola hippie at heart, so he was definitely one of them. It's interesting how crushes end up being somewhat predictable.
Brad Pitt, when he came out with Thelma & Louise-I was like, "Wow." And he's an amazing actor! So yeah, I think those would be two.
AVC: Do you think the River Phoenix crush developed in part because you could see that he was similarly serious about his craft?
CG: Maybe so. I always felt a sense-whether it was completely delusional or not-that we had similar elements to our childhoods: I lived in a tepee with my mom in Paradise, California. And then to see that he was doing this kind of work where he was very much a man but also seemed sort of sensitive. These are the things that are so interesting, being an actor who has had a lot of, gratefully, success in my career: All of us project so much onto people and what they may be like. But yeah, I think it was his application to his craft, and the fact that he just seemed like a cool person.
6. If you had entrance music, what would it be?
CG: I should've revisited these questions before, so I could give you really well-prepared answers.
AVC: Off-the-cuff answers are good, too.
CG: Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" would certainly be pretty cool entrance music. And maybe The Pretenders' "Walk Like A Panther" or something.
AVC: What's your relationship to those songs?
CG: Nina Simone-there's just no one like her. She has a voice that transports me, and that song in general just makes me feel so good. There's this build to the song that I love so much.
And I'm just a massive fan of Chrissie Hynde, and I love The Pretenders, and that song would be good, sexy entrance music. Playful but sexy. I got to meet Chrissie Hynde. We were on a private plane flying back from London to the States and we stopped and had dinner in the middle of the night at her vegan restaurant in Akron, Ohio. So I have a very tangible, visceral memory of my time with her.
7. What have you done so far today?
CG: I went for a walk around Lake Austin, which I love and I know well. But somehow in my excitement I missed one bridge, and if you miss that bridge to cross over, it's really long, so I ended up going on a two-hour, epic walk that I was not expecting, and I was drenched with sweat because it's so humid here. And then I got a Jo's Coffee-I cannot ever skip that here. And, you know, got spruced up for you. That's pretty much it.
AVC: In addition to Lake Austin and Jo's, do you have a favorite spot in the city?
CG: Oh my God, so many. I'm kind of giving up trade secrets, but one of my favorite hotels in the whole country is the Saint Cecilia. They make the best margaritas on the planet. I'm a big fan also of The Purest Margarita at Guero's. [Sarcastically.] Not that I drink margaritas, ever. Alamo Drafthouse warm chocolate chip cookies while watching a movie-it doesn't get better than that. And I love Elizabeth Street Café for its croissants and coffee. And Barton Springs. A must.
8. Have you ever been mistaken for another celebrity? If so, who?
CG: Rachel Weisz and I will get confused. I think it's because [we have] pale skin, dark hair, we have big eyes, big lips. We actually have said several times we should play sisters. Earlier on in my career: Jennifer Connelly. There's no one person that comes up all the time.
And then I've gotten random people based on characters I've played. I did a movie called The Mighty Macs where I played Cathy Rush, a real woman who was a basketball coach who brought her school's women's basketball team to nationals for the first time. I have sort of strawberry blond hair in that, and for some reason when people saw that movie, they said I looked like Julia Roberts. I don't think we look anything alike.
AVC: Do you think that speaks to a versatility?
CG: Perhaps, perhaps. I also got a young Sally Field for a period of my career, but you know what? All of these people are people that are gorgeous and I am fans of, so I'm like, "It's a very nice compliment."
9. If you had to find another line of work, what skills would you put on your résumé?
CG: I'm not very qualified for much else. But it's funny-I have two nicknames: Mama Gugino and Dr. Gugino. The doctor part is that I'm hugely into alternative medicine, so anybody who is going through any physical thing will call me and be like, "I don't want to take antibiotics, what else do I do?" So I would say that I'm very well versed in natural medicine, oddly-alternative, more Eastern approaches to that stuff. I've been doing yoga also since I was 13 years old so I've got a background in that sort of holistic, alternative lifestyle.
And then the Mama Gugino part comes because I'm obsessed with food and great things that make you feel happy in different places. So any city I go to, that I've shot in, that a friend is going to go shoot in, they're like, "Hi, can you give me a list of the best restaurants, the best spas, the best massage, the best hikes?" So I guess I'm sort of like a lifestyle consultant in that way.
AVC: You're sort of like Hollywood's private concierge for filming outside of Hollywood.
CG: Exactly. Well put.
10. Do you collect anything? If so, what and why?
CG: I'm a little bit more of an experience collector than a collector of tangible things. But I inherited from my mom the notion of collecting heart-shaped rocks, which I collect mostly from beaches, sometimes from hikes, all around the world. I'm obsessed with dark chocolates from around the world. I collect different kinds of dark chocolate, but then I eat it. So I don't know if that's officially a collection. I have hundreds of pairs of shoes, so maybe you could say that I collect high heels. Because I always wanted to be 5 inches taller than I was.
That's really it. I think maybe because I moved a lot in my childhood, I'm a little bit of a gypsy by nature, so in my life, particularly at this point in my life for some reason, I'm getting rid of shit. Like I'm just about being more footloose and fancy free.
11. What would your last meal be?
CG: That is tough. My last meal would probably be-because I am Italian, after all-a beautiful cacio e pepe pasta, which is with the olive oil, cracked pepper, and parmesan. A glass of Whispering Angel rosé, and a perfect, warm chocolate chip cookie. That would be my last meal.
AVC: From all of the places you've traveled to, is there a particular setting in which you'd want to have this meal?
CG: Well, if I'm going to get to do that-I would have to have some caviar and bellinis. That would have to be included in there. Which makes me think Paris, but then if I really could be anywhere, then I would say I would want to be on an island in Bora Bora. So I don't know what you do with that information.
12. Bonus question from Patrick Rothfuss: What thing have you done that has made you most proud of yourself as a human being?
CG: I do really find this a hard question to answer. But I think one thing I would say is if in any way we can set examples as human beings-which I believe we do, like the 4-minute mile. Until it was broken, nobody thought they could do it, and then people were able to start doing it. So I think that once somebody sees something, or feels it in the consciousness of society, it starts to allow change for other people.
So in a weird way, the fact that I had no intention of acting-I had no idea what I was going to do, but at 13 I made a very clear decision to do this, and really stuck with it, and took a step at something that in any objective way seemed like a terrible career choice. But somehow I really believed I could do it. And I look back on it now and I think, "Wow, I was really courageous to move out at 14 and to get emancipated at 16, and really get out there on my own and make a career for myself." Not because I didn't like my parents, but because I was so compelled to do this and I had to be in L.A. to do it. And a lot of young women have come up to me and said, "I was so inspired that you did it, it made me believe that I could actually do it."
So if I've ever opened the doors for anyone else to do what they love, I feel that's the richest gift that's ever been given to me: I get to do what I love. And it's a really brutal business, and no matter how successful you are you hear "No" more than "Yes." It's hard not to take things personally-it's all about you and yet you're not supposed to take it personally. But the truth is, the gift that I'm given every day by getting to do what I love is something that I never, ever lose gratitude for. So I guess I would say the fact that I heard this sort of inside of me and didn't let anything outside of me distract me from it, that does make me feel like, "Okay, that's what I would want for the people that I love."
AVC: And what would you like to ask the next person?
CG: If you were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, what would you want to spend today doing?
AVC: I think that will probably inspire a very personal answer.
CG: He had me go deep. I was going to do something really silly.
AVC: Some people go silly, some people go deep.
CG: And by the way, by asking that question, this person will not be hit by a bus tomorrow.
AVC: I hope not.
Source: A.V. Club
Carla Gugino On 'Wayward Pines' And Working With Matt Dillon
We're seated at the Roaring Fork BBQ joint in Austin where Carla Gugino just finished catching up with creator of Wayward Pines, Chad Hodge. This is no doubt, her umpteenth interview of the day here at the ATX Television Festival, but Gugino is beaming as she comes around the bend of the booth, excited to talk about the year she's having.
In the M. Night Shyamalan-backed mini-series, Gugino plays Kate, a C.I.A. agent thought to have gone missing in the mysterious title town, reminiscent of the bare bones of Twin Peaks, Washington. Tracked down by her former partner and lover, Ethan (Matt Dillon), Kate is torn between playing along with the Stepford setup that's kept her alive in a place she's not allowed to leave and banning together with the man she loves to try and save them both. Therefore, Gugino is essentially playing two versions of the same character, making for a unique twist on traditional small town suspense. We chatted with Gugino about the thrill of leaping back and forth between television and film, what it's been like working with Matt Dillon, and why she loved playing up the femme fatale elements of the series.
Decider: You've been busy promoting both Wayward Pines and San Andreas. How has it been working on two starkly different projects at the same time?
Carla Gugino: It's been really exciting because what's nice is, I'm really proud of both of them. I think as a young actor - from the moment I started when I was thirteen - I always wanted to be a transformational actor and I was never interested in branding myself or being known for one thing. So it's interesting because, to me, this period of time right now is such a representation of what interests me. I love that they are two completely different genres, two completely different characters, one is film, and one is television. I also do Broadway, so it's extremely fun to talk about both of them and it's made more fun by the fact that San Andreas is literally the biggest movie in the world right now. And everyone is so excited about Wayward Pines and it's doing so well. That's the part of the process that I have no control over, so it's really nice that people are as excited about them as I am. I also just did a role in a new HBO show called The Brink with Tim Robbins and Jack Black, which is also a completely different genre and tone and character and that comes out on June 21st. So it's crazy that everything I've done in the last two years is coming out within one month of each other.
Decider: Wayward Pines has only been out for a little while, but it has this insane buzz surrounding it. Can you talk about what it's like being part of this unique mini-series?
CG: Well, it's so cool. They say a movie is made three times: once in script form, once on set, and once in the editing room. And in a weird way, there's kind of that same template for me: I read a script, I talk to the people who are creating it, I decide if this is something I want to be a part of and they decide if it's something they want me to be a part of. And once we make that decision, we go and do our best to make the best thing we can make. Then, this is the moment when you give it to the world and you don't know how they are going to respond. So the fact that this has so much buzz around it and people are so wanting to know answers and so obsessed with it is really gratifying. I've always loved a good paranoid mystery where you are trying to put these puzzle pieces together and you don't know how they fit; and when one fits you're so excited, and then you're like, 'But wait a minute what does that mean for the other one?' It's really exciting.
Decider: You've always seamlessly moved between indie film, TV, stage, and mega-budget productions. Do you have a preference these days being that you're doing nearly all of them at the same time?
CG: You know what? I think the fact is that I love doing it all. There's not one that I would feel less excited about. I think I always gravitate towards character and, 'Is it a story I'm interested in telling and the people I'm making it with, right?' Because I feel like you are only as good as the people you are surrounded with. And hopefully they bring up your game and you bring up theirs. So I think all of them feed each other - it's interesting. I haven't done a play now for almost two years and I'm really chomping at the bit to get on stage. That being said, after a run where I've done eight shows a week of a really intense play, I'm like 'Oh my god, I need to do a movie,' you know? So, I don't think so. I mean, I think what makes me love them all is the fact that they are different - they ask for different things from me. One of the things I love about film and television is that with film, you're really capturing lightning in a bottle. You really just need something to happen once in a way that is alive and magical. In theater, you are doing the same thing, eight shows a week, and you have to rediscover it every time. Television is almost more like living in it because it's a longer process and weeks in, there is a moment when I realize the character and I are starting to become the same person. It's an interesting kind of thing that happens with television. So I really do love them all and I love them all for different reasons.
Decider: With the current melding of film and television, have you felt a shift on set?
CG: For sure. I mean, True Detective set the bar at a whole different level. I think what we used to be able to do with smaller studio films or independent movies - meaning an auteur with a vision is able to have that vision come to the screen, not have too many cooks in the kitchen, and have a character driven story - studios are making less and less of those movies and it's harder for those independent films to be made. Occasionally they are made and it's so exciting when you see something like Whiplash, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, or Ex Machina. But I feel that television, and particularly cable television, is a template of where that's gone. Where people who want to tell character-driven stories and oftentimes write their own material and have the power to keep that material the way they want it to be is happening. I think that's the reason why those lines are starting to disappear.
Decider: How was it working with Matt Dillon? You have such an interesting onscreen dynamic.
CG: It's interesting because Matt and I have many mutual friends and we've both been acting since we were kids, but we had never met each other before this. It's so funny and so surprising. We had a great dynamic. There was a natural chemistry there and there's something about him… I don't know there's something about the setup - about the way that Wayward Pines looks and feels. The dynamic of their relationship and the fact that Kate's had to say goodbye to this life she had. There's this great sense of nostalgia because for her, it's twelve years ago, and for him, it feels like just five weeks ago. That reminded me of classic femme fatale. I think he has that amazing face of an iconic matinée idol of the '50s. There was something about the dynamic we had that felt like he is fully, one hundred percent man. You know what I mean? Like, we don't have that many movie stars - you can name them, we know who they are - who are really men. So it was kind of wonderful to be fully a woman with someone who is very much a man and that dynamic ends up being interesting between these two characters.
For me - for Kate - it was really key that this is a woman who has survived in Wayward Pines as long as she has because she's really smart and really good at playing this role that she has to play there. And there is no one else besides Ethan, she would ever take the risks she takes to try and save him and possibly compromise her life and her husband's life. So that, to me, was an interesting, very real thing that's incredibly relatable to any of us. Like when someone's touched your heart that deeply and you've had to say goodbye to that life and they reappear - a lot of things were awakened in her.
Decider: Since you've been doing this for so long have you ever thought about making your own projects?
CG: You know, yes. I'm attached to a couple things as a producer, that I would also be in, that I'm really excited about. One is for film and one is for television. I think at this point, I would probably prefer to be a muse more than a director per se. I love being an interpreter. Writing is like magic to me. Writing is like summoning something out of nothing. I love to have a character that I can then take and make her fuller and more interesting than even the writer thought she could be. Then again, I like to have that source material. But if there is a story only I can tell, maybe we will have a different conversation down the road. At this point though, I do love putting people together and I'm good at putting different elements together of who might really collaborate, so for producing, the answer is yes. Probably because I've been doing this for so long, it's an odd thing to realize, 'Oh right, I kind of know how to do it.' A lot of people that I have worked with in the past are doing it so I might as well start to make my own things.
Wayward Pines airs Thursday nights on Fox at 9 PM/ET. You can catch up on the series on Hulu or Fox Now.
'Wayward Pines' Star Carla Gugino Reveals More Details About Kate Ahead Of Episode 5
Ready for answers on "Wayward Pines"? They're coming! Star Carla Gugino is promising that fans will have some of their biggest questions answered in the upcoming installments.
International Business Times spoke with Gugino, who portrays former Secret Service agent Kate Hewson, at the 2015 ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas. The actress revealed new aspects about her character and some of the drama to come in the mysterious Fox series.
International Business Times: Can you talk about Kate and Theresa's (Shannyn Sossamon) awkward moment in episode 4.
Carla Gugino: One of the things I really loved -- and Shannyn and I talked a lot about it -- is that neither one of us had any interest, nor do the creators of the show, of having these women hate each other. … What's interesting about that scene to me is that this is a memory 12 years ago for Kate, and it's so fresh in her mind. For Teresa it's such a fresh wound, and for Kate it's something that at this point she really does regret. It's like looking back at something you regret from 12 years ago. So I love that they're coming from two different time frames. And I think Kate in that moment is a different woman than she was.
And this point when it's really about survival, I think Kate's just saying, 'Please, can we somehow move beyond this so that we can help each other.' I think that's really where she's coming from.
IBTimes: What was going on with Kate when she looked over at Ethan (Matt Dillon) having dinner with the spooky new teacher Megan Fisher (Hope Davis) and the mayor in that episode?
Gugino: Kate has been impeccable at being the perfect Wayward Pines citizen, and that's why she has survived so long. You saw what happened to Juliette Lewis' character. It's only Ethan coming in that I think reminds her of the life she had to say goodbye to, and how much she cares for him that she starts taking risks to try to save him. Because she has a much larger plan at hand, so in that moment I think she is … there are many things going on, but certainly one of them is really assessing what he's up to and how far in he's getting himself.
IBTimes: Can we even trust Kate? Her character seems to flip-flop.
Gugino: You cannot know where she's coming from yet. You will get underneath that surface. You will see why she has to do, what she's having to do, to survive. She's such a challenging character to play in such an exciting way. But you will also ultimately get to see what happened to her when she first came here.
IBTimes: Are we going to learn more about Kate's mysterious husband, Harold (Reed Diamond)?
Gugino: There is also much more to Howard than meets the eye. What I love about this show is that certain characters you meet, like Ethan -- you know who he is. He is the man who is from the start trying to figure this out. A lot of other characters are not at all what you perceive them to be. There is a reason that Kate and Harold are together.
IBTimes: Perhaps the most terrifying character on the show is Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo). Should we be afraid of her?
Gugino: I think Kate is afraid of Nurse Pam for sure. I think she's definitely the one that … very soon you're going to see somebody else who has a lot of power in that town that you will not expect.
IBTimes: Do you like the ending of "Wayward Pines"? Do you think it's satisfying for your character?
Gugino: I do. It's a very interesting ending for this character. I really think it's a very interesting ending for the show overall. That's what's kind of amazing about it, is that it really functions as a 10-episode show. It really doesn't cheat you in that way. We will let you in soon.
"Wayward Pines" airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT on Fox.
Source: International Business Times