BWW Exclusive: On the Set of SMASH- Katharine McPhee on Karen's Future, Working with Jeremy Jordan & More; Plus New Photos!
SMASH makes its long-awaited return to the NBC lineup for a second season on Tuesday, February 5 (9-10 p.m. ET) and will continue in its regular time slot on Tuesday, February 12 (10-11 p.m. ET). Season 2 will feature a slew of new talent, including Jennifer Hudson, Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, Sean Hayes, Jesse L. Martin, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Nikki Blonski, and more.
BroadwayWorld's own Richard Ridge was invited to the SMASH set where he got to chat with leading lady Katharine McPhee about the upcoming season. Check out what she had to say about her newest costars, what's in store for Karen in Season two, and more, below!
So what can you tell us so far about season two? We've all seen the first three episodes, right?
Well, you've seen one, two and four, so you're missing three, 'cause I haven't even seen three.
I thought there was something missing...
Yeah, you're probably like, "Why am I slightly confused by this...?" Yeah, there was something we needed to reshoot. So yeah, I haven't even seen three yet.
I guess one of my favorite things about this new season is that there's more than just one show going on. Last year we had Bombshell, and that was pretty much it. There were ideas of other shows but that was it. This year there are so many more shows--we still have Bombshell, and then there's this show that you guys are seeing right now, which is Hitlist. There's Megan Hilty who gets to do a show called Liaisons with Sean Hayes who's awesome. I was incredibly jealous because I saw dailies--I wasn't there when they were shooting but I saw dailies when I was in the recording studio with Marc Shaiman and he had it up on the screen. The big numbers they were doing were so vibrant, the colors and it was freeze-framed and I was like "Can you play me that daily because it looks amazing!" And all I can say it that Megan gets to--there are just so many more styles this year, there's this almost operatic number she gets to do...I'm excited for that for our show.
So there's that show and then, all of our guest stars have come in, Liza Minelli... I somehow miss all the great guest stars-- of course I got Jennifer Hudson, I'm not knocking Jennifer Hudson! She was great and wonderful to work with and fun. But as far as Broadway veterans go, since we're speaking strictly Broadway here--Liza and Bernadette who is just a gem, Sean Hayes and stuff like that. I just, somehow, because I'm in the "young, hip, cool show," we gotta get some "young, hip, cool" Broadway veterans to make appearances on Hitlist or whatever.
Who are the people that you would like to see make a guest appearance?
Oh God, I don't know, I'd have to really think... I love Patrick Wilson. I mean I know he's not like 15 but I mean, let's be honest, he's so handsome. (My husband agrees!) He'd be awesome. I don't think he'd be right for Hitlist... I mean, I don't know, I just love the fact that we have so many Broadway people on this show, it makes it fun and real...I don't know, maybe Lea Michele will drop in! Wouldn't that be hilarious? I saw Lea at a hotel or something, I was like "Hi," she's really sweet, really supportive of the show.
Talk about the additional cast, Jeremy Jordan...
Krysta and I, we didn't ever really know each other but it's kind of fun because we play longterm best friends, we are roommates now at the beginning of the season. And I went to college--I went to Boston Conservatory for like three semesters and then I dropped out early on because I wanted to start working. But it's so funny because our freshman year of college I lived in dorm 42 Fenway in Boston. And there was this guy named Jesse, this really talented guy and his girlfriend who went to NYU was coming into town to stay with him for the weekend. And she was going to sing at one of the vocal recitals with him because they were madly in love. And it happens to be Krysta Rodriguez. And you know college, especially theater college, there's always some gossip or whatever. And it was Krysta! I remember being like, [exasperated sigh] "She's so pretty, she can sing so well." And I didn't really know her that well but Jesse was in every class with me and so she was there with him every day and it was really sweet. But we both remembered each other, ironically--we didn't really know each other. I saw her in Spring Awakening and saw that she was always doing really well in the theater world, and then when they cast her in the show I was like "I know this person." And she remembered me, so it was kind of fun. I haven't done any Broadway and so I don't really know the theater Community that well. Through the show I think I've learned a lot more people and become more familiar with the faces, but it was kind of fun because the few people that I am familiar with and know, someone I know would play my roommate and be my best friend. Yeah, it's kind of fun.
So they're all great additions to the show and Jeremy's been awesome, we're having a tumultuous love affair on the show. And yeah, it's great, I think the show needed another Style other than just like very traditional Broadway musical. So I think it's fun that we're doing something more Spring Awakening a la Rent kind of a vibe.
How much is your character getting attached to Hitlist?
I'll say, as attached as you can possibly be, without saying if it even goes to Broadway or not and all that stuff. I will say, Karen tries to straddle--as I'm sure many people in the theater Community do-- of being a part of something that's going to Broadway, but then also looking for the future. Looking to, "If this show bombs or if the show doesn't make it to Broadway, I need to look at my next step." I think that's Karen's objective in terms of getting Hitlist up and running and even if she's not the lead in it, she basically finds these songwriters and sees a musical there and believes in them. So it's a good thing for Karen, you're starting to finally see her not be so "Wow, this is my first experience doing this!"--it's not so wide-eyed, she's a little bit wiser, she's had her first dose of being a star on the show.
The entire first season she was kind of in this awful relationship. Do you feel that now that we're seeing single Karen looking for a new guy,is it a different Karen that we're going to see?
The thing is, the timeline on these shows, they're so quick. I wish she could have more of an opportunity to show the real timeline. I would say she moves on pretty quickly. I think her first objective is being focused on the show, but needless to say, I do think that many theater girls, as I was and still am, are a sucker for men that are incredibly talented. That can sometimes steer the decisions that she makes based on, as many people do, love and relationships and attractions and things like that. It's so true, people really do make decisions based on other people sometimes.
I like that the first time that they kiss, he's high and you were like "Let's try that again." Does she know what she's getting into?
There's always a part of Karen that will be slightly naive. I don't think she knows the extent of where his character can possibly go and how that can affect things. I think she knows that he's a little bit edgy, like in Episode two she's like, "Oh, I just think you're like really talented, why are you such an ass?" If you can say that on television, "Why are you being such a dick?" I don't think she's head over heels immediately. I think she knows he's super-talented but for me I think she's more driven by "Yeah, I do like him, he's really cute but I also want to get this show done." I don't think she knows exactly where it's gonna go, and I don't think she knows how she's going to feel for him. A showmance is what they call it, I had one of those when I was in college.
Is the competition between Karen and Ivy different this season?
In the beginning you can kind of start to see Karen playing the game of like, "I don't really want her to be part of the show, I'm going to try to make decisions." Even though it's hard for her because that's not really who she is. But she kind of got screwed over pretty badly at the end of the season. She definitely wants to stay clear of Ivy, I think, but then things become exciting in her career.She kind of realizes Ivy keeps showing up to stuff that she's a part of, and Ivy's like, "I'm sorry, I didn't know you were going to be here," and Karen is like "It's fine, I'm over it, I'm on to the next thing." And I think that's sort of a real [response]...like you eventually can always have hard feelings for someone but...I don't know that Karen is...
She's not a Mean Girl now is she?
She's not a Mean Girl but I think that the way she treats Ivy is sort of justifiable, don't you think?
She's grown up this season. She's Karen, she's a strong woman.
I think we made a discernible effort to try to make her grown up, based on the final episode of what she goes through. That was the whole point: to see her as this ensemble girl who's given an opportunity and gets distracted massively by something terrible, and that she's able to be professional and put it aside and go out there. I think we're trying to carry that into the new season.
Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC