BWW Interview - Megan Hilty Talks BOMBSHELL, New Album & Baby on the Way!
Star of stage and screen, Megan Hilty, has a lot to be excited about these days. Her new holiday album "A Merry Little Christmas" is out now; she currently stars on the big screen opposite Warren Beatty in the new film "Rules Don't Apply"; she's criss-crossing the country on tour with her talented hubby, Brian Gallagher; and, if that's not enough, she will soon welcome her second child, who will join adorable two-year-old daughter Viola Philomena.
Today BWW caught up with the Tony nominee to chat about her past roles, her current projects and what's ahead for the future!
Your life is so busy these days, I'm not sure where to start!
Yes it certainly has been!
Well let's start with your new film, "Rules Don't Apply." What was the experience like working with such an all-star cast?
Well first of all, getting a phone call saying Warren Beatty would like to meet with you about a role was just crazy! That was a phone call I certainly never thought I would get. And it was awesome to get to work with a living legend and all of those amazing stars who are in this film too. I'm still pinching myself when I realize my name is on the cast list with all these fancy people.
You also have your new holiday album "A Merry Little Christmas" out this month. What made you decide to do a holiday album?
Well I always wanted to do one and this year we actually had the time and quite frankly the funds to make it happen. And all of the people in my band were available, so it just seemed like the right timing to do it.
Was it difficult to chose the song list?
Not really. Once we got into the rehearsal studio and started working on the songs, it kind of revealed itself. The things that worked were very, very clear and the things that didn't work were also very clear. So it really happened in a very organic way.
I understand there was one song that you chose specifically for your 2-year-old daughter, Viola.
That's right. She is obsessed with the Rankin and Bass Christmas movies, we've actually watched at least one a day this entire year. And there's a song that she's really drawn to in "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" called 'There's Always Tomorrow,' and so we decided to record that for her on the album.
That's interesting, because that's one of the slower songs in the show. She has very sophisticated taste in music!
I guess so - or she just really likes it when reindeer sing. I don't know!
You are currently touring across the country. What has it been like to interact with your fans?
It's been so great. It's been really wonderful to have this fun little holiday set and hopefully spread a little joy in every city that we go to, and get to perform this music together. My husband is in my band with me and the rest of the musicians are really good friends of ours, so it's been a really, really fun... I don't know what to call it, I can't call it work, it's just been too much fun.
Many of your fans know you best from NBC's SMASH in which your character Ivy Lynn was sometimes portrayed as the villain. Was it hard for you to find a personal connection with her?
You know no matter how the audience is supposed to perceive a character, as an actor, you're supposed to love the person that you're playing and understand their motives, even if you personally may not agree with it. You have to, on some level, have empathy for them. So yes, I definitely empathized with her situation, feeling like the underdog and as someone who works really hard. And I think everybody can connect to that in whatever job you're doing, working hard and seeing other people who may not be working as hard as you, surpassing you - that's hard for anyone. Now how Ivy chose to handle herself and react to some of those things, I wouldn't personally do, but on some level, I understand it.
You took part in the 'Bombshell' concert, based on SMASH's fictional musical, and there's been a lot of recent chatter that it may finally be coming to Broadway. Would you still be interested in being a part of that?
Well I am really excited about the fact that people are still, after all these years, excited about a musical that stems from SMASH. We went off the air, what three years ago, and people are still talking about it. It's so exciting that there's still a desire to hear this incredible music, and certainly, if they ever come up with a book for it, that would be amazing. I don't know when that's going to happen. Maybe by then I'll be old enough to play Marilyn's mother!
I understand that you initially began your training in classical music. What made you decide to take the musical theater path instead?
You know, I guess along the way I realized that musical theater fits my personality and my career goals a little bit better. And I was just having so much fun doing it. And the minute somebody told me that you probably won't work in classical voice until you're about 35, because that's when your voice matures, that was the real kicker for me because I just wanted to start working immediately. But I still have a deep appreciation for classical and opera singers and I always have a secret desire to be one, even though I know you have to train your whole life to do that.
I had the pleasure of seeing you in NOISES OFF last season which was so much fun to watch and I imagine so much fun to be a part of.
Yes, it was amazing to get to do a farce and a play and to be in something that is so beloved worldwide. Everyone knows that play and so it was quite an honor to get to do another revival of it.
It seems like it must have been quite physically demanding.
Oh yeah, I'm still recovering from injuries from that show. I'm also six months pregnant and when people hear me moaning and groaning, it's not because of my pregnancy, it's because of my injuries from that show!
Your portrayal of inexperienced actress Brooke Ashton earned you a Tony nomination. Where did you draw your inspiration for that hilarious character?
Well it was several things. I think the easiest thing, and maybe the most obvious thing is to just play her likes she's dumb. But then how do you play that? So for me, I wanted to come up with another reason as to why she wasn't listening to anybody, she was just sticking to her lines and I realized that she'd never done anything in her career where she's ever spoken before so she's never been required to learn lines. And at the end of the day, I just wanted her to be someone who was trying way too hard to be good, and in doing that, she ended up making a lot of mistakes.
Yes, you could almost see what was going through her mind just from your facial expressions throughout the show.
Yeah, she was trying really, really hard, her heart was in the right place. She just didn't know how to execute it properly!
Do you have a preference for comedy versus drama?
No, I just prefer working! Although it is always nice to be a part of something that makes people laugh and smile. We can always use a little bit more of that.
Absolutely! As you mentioned, you are expecting your second child, which is so exciting. How has being a mom changed your life?
Oh man, well everything kind of changed. For one thing, I'm just really tired now - all the time! And of course, I don't come first anymore, everything I chose to do I first thing about whether or not my daughter would be proud of that decision. And it surely keeps me off social media, knowing that she'll be reading everything and seeing everything that I post! So really with everything, I think about her first.
Is there a dream role you'd like to play on Broadway?
Ultimately, somewhere down the line, I'd love to play Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD. I think I could quit the business after that!
You have so much going on now, but any other exciting projects ahead?
Well once this Christmas tour is done we're going to settle down for the holidays. We just bought a new house in Los Angeles and I think we're just going to kind of hunker down out there and wait for the baby and see what happens next.
Well best of luck with everything and can't wait to see you back on the stage soon.
Yeah, me too - can't wait!
Megan Hilty's "A Merry Little Christmas", is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. You can get hard copies of the album at Megan's upcoming concerts, which can be found at meganhiltyonline.com
SMASH photo credit: Will Hart/NBC
NOISES OFF photo credit: Joan Marcus