BWW Interview: GOOD BOYS' Betsy Brandt: Being Maternal's A Mother Of A Role
The Los Angeles premiere of multi-genre writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's GOOD BOYS has just begun previews at the Pasadena Playhouse. GOOD BOYS charts the unexpected consequences for Brandon Hardy, a picture-perfect prep school senior, when a most unwelcomed videotape turns up. As the adult in this unfortunate situation, Brandon's mother Elizabeth must face the myriad of new choices that her family must now select. Betsy Brandt (known to television viewers for her roles of Marie Schrader in Breaking Bad and Heather Hughes in Life In Pieces, among many others) portrays the pivotal role of Elizabeth Hardy.
Betsy managed to find a few moments to answer my inquiring queries amidst her crazy, hectic schedule.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Betsy!
What initially attracted you to get involve with this production of GOOD BOYS?
I'm always open to working on a play that speaks to me. I started out in this business working in the theatre and I couldn't love it more. I'd been talking to Danny Feldman, the Producing Artistic Director of Pasadena Playhouse about finding a show to do together. Danny has impeccable taste. I would look at anything that he's choosing to do in his season, but when I read GOOD BOYS, I was just gutted afterwards. This play was written 15 years ago, but it is so timely... I can't wait to share it with the audience.
Have you worked with any of GOOD BOYS cast or creatives before?
I've not worked with any of the cast or creatives before. I had met Carolyn Cantor maybe eight years ago and have wanted to work with her. I can't think of anyone more perfect to be directing this play. I had also met Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa when his play DOCTOR CERBERUS was at South Coast Rep while I was doing LANGUAGE ARCHIVE by Julia Cho at the same theatre, and our productions overlapped. Roberto and Julia both wrote on Big Love and are friends. So the halls backstage (between the theatres) felt like one big team... crowded, but full of some really great artists. Everyone in the cast is new to me and I couldn't love this group more. I had met James Capanello at an event for Fox a year or two ago (when we were both on TV shows for Fox), but we've never worked together before. I truly love being in rehearsal with this group There's no other way I'd rather spend my summer.
Have you seen any other productions of GOOD BOYS before?
I've not seen any of the other productions of GOOD BOYS, and I'm ok with that. I have no preconceived notions of what any of the characters or the play should be, and that feels right with this show.
How would you describe your character of Brandon's mother Elizabeth Hardy?
I would describe Elizabeth Hardy as loving, successful, and smart. But she's got a lot to learn.
You originally wanted to direct musical theatre instead of act in high school. Do you ever feel that urge to direct again?
Oh, wow! Wanting to direct musicals in when I was in high school. Once I really discovered acting (my junior year in high school, I did my first play) that was it for me. When I was looking at colleges, I thought I may want to direct, too. But I love acting. It's really about the storytelling for me, and that could involve directing, at some point in some capacity. I'm really happy working as an actor. I can't imagine not doing that.
Under what circumstances would you find Elizabeth Hardy, Mary of THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE, Willow Clay from RIDICULOUS FRAUD and Holly you played in NEXT FALLS interacting? In a grocery check-out line? A swap meet? An afternoon brunch?
I love this question! I think that you could find all these women together at a friend's wedding. It's probably the friend's third wedding. Also, the said friend is surely Willow's wildest friend and Holly's most conservative. Different strokes. But the friend is close enough with each of them to seat them together, knowing that they'll appreciate one another and be able to have some laughs together (especially after a few drinks).
How do you adjust your preparations and technique to act on the boards, as opposed to in front of the cameras? More concentrated? More leisurely? Really no difference?
I usually dive into every character from the same point initially: How can I love and understand this person and bring them to life in an honest way? In theatre, you're doing so much work in the room beforehand (with staging, table work, etc.). In film or television, you're having the same conversations, but the timing is just different. I always try to let the character surprise me, and they always do at some point.
What is the secret to your successful juggling of TV (Life in Pieces and Pearson) and film work (Run Sweetheart Run) with being a mom of two and finding the time for theatre?
It's always a juggle, being a working parent. That's universal. I love what I do, the people I get to work with, and the fact that the way in which I make my living feeds my soul (at least most days. When you've got a kid home sick, you just want to be home with them regardless of what you're working on). I'll always make time for theatre. As long as there's a good story to tell, and a theatre that's happy to have me, you can count me in.
Thank you again, Betsy! I look forward to how your Elizabeth deals with Brandon's situation.
For ticket availability through July 21, 2019; log onto PasadenaPlayhouse.org