Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Discussion With Sandra Oh

Sandra Oh took part in an interesting discussion hosted by The Hollywood Reporter about the acting business with actresses Glenn Close, Kyra Sedwick, Chloe Sevigny, Claire Danes and Elisabeth Moss. Good stuff.

What if all the actresses wore the same modest outfit to the Emmys? Glenn Close's suggestion to thwart the fashion-obsessed media prompted unanimous mock agreement from our panel of Emmy-contending drama actresses, part of a spirited hourlong discussion. "Let's do it!" agreed Sandra Oh. "Lets plan it!"

The Hollywood Reporter: What's the hardest thing about your job that we might not expect?

Sandra Oh: Being on a network's 24-episode schedule, managing time and managing exhaustion. And within that there's a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with acting, which is mostly dynamics and politics, that I find equally exhausting. But just physically, the amount of hours that you work on a network schedule is so exceptionally difficult. At the height of "Grey's," I had this sense of, "I'll give it all up! Really, I'll give it up." That passed. (Laughs.)

THR: Do you find your show is under a particular microscope?

Oh: That's a totally different question. We're going to talk about that? Okay. It's a big network show, it's under a tremendous microscope, and it changed the sense of what the show was and is. A lot times, fortunately or unfortunately, that's what leads a lot of the show right now is how it's under a microscope.

THR: What was the hardest thing in preparing for your roles?

Oh: You have to constantly let go. Things sometimes don't actually make sense. "I thought this," or "Well, four episodes ago I was doing this." You have to let that s*** go.

THR: Kyra, you produce your show. Do the rest of you grapple with issues of control?

Oh: Don't we all? You sign on to do these series after only reading a pilot. You put so much trust in the creators and sometimes you aren't excited about what they're doing with your character or where the story's going, or the tone of the show changes a little bit. And you just have to go with it.

THR: Glenn, you probably could have been a producer on "Damages." Why not?

Close: I didn't want to be. I've been a producer. I just wanted to not worry about all that other stuff. You do anyway, because you're very much part of a team. And I'm always aware of every member of that team. But they've treated me like a producer and are highly collaborative.

Oh: I really hope to get there. Being on a show for six years now and not having the type of power you're talking about, you have to learn how to let go of control all the time, whether it's the schedule or the script or dynamics with other people. I don't watch my show because when I'm like 60 and vacationing somewhere, I'm going to watch it all back-to-back and be like, "That's good. Fun times." One time a couple of seasons ago -- it was a tremendous experience -- I was invited into the writers' room when they were breaking the next season and they were like, "What would you like to tell us? What would you like to see in the next season?"

Moss: (To Sevigny) We keep looking at each other: "Wow, this is awesome." (Laughs.)

I really took that opportunity. One of the things that frustrates me is when (producers) make those internal cuts or they cut the s*** out of stuff, it drives me insane, because I'm mapping out A, B, C, D and if it goes from A to D, just tell me that! I'll do something different.

Sevigny: Or when they do rewrites and they have to cut a scene and they just smoosh one scene to another scene, and it makes no sense. (Laughs.)

I don't have the right to that protection, but boy, that sounds really great. To have your opinion considered on a constant basis, that's something I really strive for.

THR: Do you have someone on set or off whose opinion of your performance you trust?

Mark Jackson, our camera operator. Our relationship with the operator is extremely intimate. He's the first eye that sees what I do and he knows me and he has moved with me for six years. There are moments when I look over at him and he makes certain sounds or I see his physicality and it absolutely registers. There are times when I look over at him and he'll give me something and I'll either go and do another take or I'll go kick him.

THR: There seem to be more interesting female roles on television these days. Do you agree?

Oh: We're at this section of the conversation. (Laughs.) But absolutely, being the one woman who isn't white, I actually don't know (when that will) translate into more mainstream features. When "Grey's" first happened, people were like, "Oh my God, things are going to change, la la la la." And I don't really think so. I feel welcomed in television. (But) I would like to see more people who are not white and women. And I'm personally interested in seeing the existential woman and what she is going through, as opposed to the woman (whose) experience (you see) in relationship to her family or her husband.

THR: Sandra, why didn't the success of "Grey's" lead to more minorities on network TV?

You tell me. You write about it! (Laughs.) I'm not the right person to ask.

THR: There are fewer jobs these days. Do you feel more competitive with your fellow actresses?
Oh: With the girls on my show, before events we're always texting each other. "What are you doing with this? How far away are you?"
Close: You become very close with these people.

THR: But that doesn't always happen. Sandra, on your show you had the situation with Katherine Heigl --

Oh: I'm not talking about that.


dez said...

Glenn's idea about everyone wearing the same dress is FANTASTIC! I know that Glenn was completely serious, but I fear the others will chicken out and allow the studios and publicists control their decisions (as usual).

Lisa said...

On the THR website, there are 3 videos of this roundtable. Very interesting. So nice to see her in interviews.

sohnews said...

Yeah, this was a great one. Just posted the videos here:

Silver Sand said...

You put so much trust in the creators and sometimes you aren't excited about what they're doing with your character or where the story's going, or the tone of the show changes a little bit. And you just have to go with it.

~ my favorite...

thanks so much for posting!

Cassie said...

There is a much to "read between the lines" in Sandra Oh's comments.
I'm crossing my fingers that she not only gets an Emmy nominee--this interview was a roundtable; the Emmy nominations haven't been announced--but also soon leaves Grey Anatomy. I'd like to see her star in her own drama or comedy show and also be named producer.

Siobhan said...

She's lovely!

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