In part four of our interviews from the set of 10 Things I Hate About You, I interviewed Larry Miller, who plays Bianca and Kat’s father, and Meaghan Jette Martin. Did you know that Miller is a blogger himself? Check him out at larrymillerhumor.com. Tomorrow, in our final part of the interview series, the interview with Lindsey Miller, who plays Kat.
Don’t forget to check out the series premiere tomorrow on ABC Family at 8/7c!
It’s not every day you get a call asking you to reprise a role you played ten years before. How was your reaction when you were first called about this?
First of all, John Wayne didn’t play just one sheriff. [laughs] It’s not exactly the same.
I love show business. I love it every day, and even the things that stink. And the reason I’m starting there is because I really do love being an actor and a writer and a comic. That’s one of the reasons I blog everyday – I love it.
And just a quick word about that – I don’t think anyone’s, at least that I’ve seen, has hit on the fact that it’s like something that used to be time-honored in western history, which was a diary. And everyone used to say, “Well do you keep a diary.” “You can’t read my diary.” And you’re going to open someone’s diary or journal, whether it’s a journal at sea or anything. And I think that’s why I love doing it. I write article pieces every day, or five or six days a week. […] But I mean, I really do like it, and I really think it’s something that people haven’t quite connected to. It’s a literary tradition. It’s not something brand new. It’s done in a different way, but it’s in fact the oldest kind of personal and shared communication. That’s why I love it so much.
Anyway… as far as this show goes, it was great. I’ve been lucky along the way, I’m maybe the luckiest guy in show business. I’m not kissing a lot of women in movies, but I work pretty steadily.
Gil Junger directed the movie. It’s a good movie. It’s a very good movie, in fact. And I was thrilled. I mean, we had Disney, and then Gil and Disney came together and said, “How about this,” and I was thrilled. And it turned out to be a great movie.
So I loved working with Gil again and others from Disney. Plus, these guys at ABC and ABC Family know their stuff. ABC Family has doubled their ratings in a year. They do very well. Plus, they’re making shows. Not everyone that’s doing that – shows that involve people like me, that can be funny, sweet, or try to be.
And so when this came up, good Lord, who wouldn’t say, “What a great idea!” I mean, a part that you enjoyed anyway, a chance that gives you the opportunity to be funny, to be sweet, to care about this structure, you know, your daughters. And I don’t—as you know, this show—well this show is based on the movie. The movie was based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.
So in a way, Shakespeare’s play was like the pilot. [laughs] So it’s sort of like—I’ve been calling it the longest development deal in history. [laughs] It’s 400 years. “Have you heard anything?” “Well they just want to get through the Reformation, [laughs] then they’ll pick up the back nine.” “They just want to make sure the finished the Council of Trent.” [laughs]
So anyway, that’s a long answer to say it’s a terrific part. I love being in show business. It’s nice. How many actors—if I had turned down the part, and I wasn’t going to, but if I had, there would’ve been 800 other really good actors who would’ve jumped at it. And so I’m—they thought, “Hey, let’s go back to Larry and see, you know, if he’ll do this. See if he’ll do it.” You know, I never understood that kind of show business anyway.
I guess it’s more of a star thing to do, like, “Well I wasn’t sure about that part. And then I—well they came back to me again and I—first, I said, no, no, and then I said to Marty, that’s Martin Scorsese—I said, ‘Well if you think it’s a right thing for us, you know.’” But that actually happens. They go—like six months, I think it’s sort of like some odd pavan, you know, where someone curtsies and someone bows, and then they walk around, you know, touching fingers and staring at each other hatefully the whole time.
So that’s a different kind of show business, though. This came up. It’s great. And we all think it’s really good. I would say that even if it wasn’t, because that’s part of my job. But you know what, I’m sure you’ve talked to everyone else here, and they’ve said the same thing.
I mean, after every—this happened this morning again. After every scene, when you really nail it, it’s very rich—I’ve blogged about this several times in the last couple of weeks, that I don’t know a lot in show business. I don’t know how to make deals. I don’t know how things stay on. I don’t know who buy things or how things are sold. I still don’t even know whether Universal bought NBC or NBC bought Universal. I know somebody bought someone, but that’s not my job.
I know one thing. After takes or after scenes, I know when you can look even across a room like this and find the other actor and just nod and smile because you know that was it and that was good. It doesn’t happen a lot, and we’ve been having it happen a lot on this show for the actors, for the writers, for the directors, for the producers. You know, people nod a lot.
I’m going to tell you one thing, by the way, I know I’m going on off of one—and that’s question. [laughs] It’s a 46-minute answer to every question. And you know, I blogged about this because it was so great. We’ve had two oners so far. And a oner, as you may know, is where you get the scene, not because you’re pressed for time. Sometimes it’s that way. But it can be told in one shot, visually, that the camera’s looking one way and you can have people coming in.
It’s not quite like a steady cam, speaking of Scorsese. It’s not like that shot in Goodfellas where they come in through the nightclub and it’s this astonishing six-minute shot that just keeps moving. It’s not that.
It’s set where the camera moves a little, but the characters come in and sometimes you rack focus you know, of one to the other and you say, “And I tell you this,” but not because you’re trying to save time but because that’s the way to tell it. And it’s really very satisfying. We’ve had two of those and up against the clock on one.
We did this the other day with Phil Traill, who was directing it, and it was a good shot. It was the right shot, but we didn’t get it. And he said, “Okay, we’re moving onto, you know, this, and we’ll come around, and we’ll cover it this way.” And he came over and said, “Great. Right. Great. Fantastic. We got it in pieces.”
But I could see in his eyes, I—and we knew we didn’t get it. And I could see it in his eyes. So we—all right. And then there was the five or ten seconds passed, and they started to break down. And just on a whim, just like that, I just kind of darted under a light and went back there because, you know, you don’t know. I don’t know sometimes. I just said, “You know, we can get it. We can get this. Let’s do it one more time. Don’t”—and he looked at me for a second and just said, “Hold the break,” and then, “Flag on the play.” And then he just glanced at the producers.
It’s cool. It’s very thrilling. I’m still feeling it now. And he—and we went again, flubbed a line. It was the three of us. It was Meaghan and Lindsey and me. And so went, “Break,” but we just started right again away, and then we got it. And you know what, that’ll be the shot. And it’s cool. It’s great show business.
I mean, we talked about—Meaghan and I, we talked about this that it’s very cool show business. It’s a very good feeling. You know what, I couldn’t be more satisfied with a shot like that and the chance to do it again on a series, every week. If I were in Goodfellas, if I were in Goodfellas II: The Quickening, [laughs] which, you know—and who wouldn’t be in that, as well? But you know what, this is good show business. What will happen, we’ll see, but it’s pretty good.
That was a 40-minute answer.
Meaghan Martin and Larry Miller. Photo courtesy of ABC Family/Adam Rose.
(At this point, Meaghan Jette Martin joined the interview.)
We talked a little bit about you using improv on the show. What is your process from going from what the script says to improving lines with your fellow actors?
But you know what, it’s because time is pressed some. I remember, this is at the—we have that mandate, not only with Gil, with Carter. Really it’s, in a sense, kind of a dream. And people know that we can bring that to the party.
And I guess, I’d like to think I’m pretty good at saying [about this]. Which is, just have one take where you look at each other—and we found stuff like that for the pilot. We found it together. Lindsey and I found it, you know? We just—you know, this look, “You know what? Give me one beat here, and let’s do this. I’ll look up. You say that.”
And yet it’s a good feeling that we’re more pressed for time now. This is just the first ten episodes. So it’s also important—compromise is not a bad word, you know?
You say it’s the—at the end of the day, you still have these shots to go. In fact Holly said this today. It’s very funny that in all show business—but she said, every day in the morning, it’s Gone with the Wind, or as I said, like, it’s like a [Cooper] movie, you know, 130 takes. [We’re never going to let you go unless you get it right], you know.
How are you guys working together just as a more experienced actor and a younger actor? Do you see eye to eye for the most part?
Meaghan Jette Martin:
Yeah, I’d say so. It’s a learning process for me everywhere with everybody. I’m learning from Lindsey. I think we’re all learning from each other because everybody brings different things to the table and everybody has a different way of thinking.
The other day I had a scene where I walked in the front door with Lindsey, and she turns around and she locks it in the middle of the scene. And I’m like, “Wow, I wouldn’t have even thought about that, locking the front door. Wow.” Like, it’s great the stuff you learn. [laughs]
Your job is fun.
Meaghan Jette Martin:
I love my job.
Yeah, it is. But you know, we’ve said this from the first day, that we met as actors—you know, I’ve been in show business over 30 years as a comic and a writer and an actor. But I love yesterday as much as I’ve ever loved anything—and the chance to do this scene after lunch, as much as I’ve loved anything.
I feel I’ve met two other actors here. I don’t think like, “Well how many years to be able to say, yes, you know, many times in life, we…” [laughs] Yeah, okay, but it’s also that we say to each other, you know, the same thing, looking across the room, “That was good. That felt good,” you know? It’s the same soul. It’s the same person saying, “How’d that feel to you?” I could live to be 400 and [doing] the same thing.
What’s the relationship with the writers like? Do you touch base with them?
Meaghan Jette Martin:
Oh, definitely. I just had a great moment with Robin Schiff, who is one of the writers, and producers of the show. And I came up to her and I said, “I really want to be sure that Bianca doesn’t come off dumb in the next scene because she’s not dumb. She’s certainly by no means dumb.”
She is cute.
Meaghan Jette Martin:
Exactly. Always. And Robin turned to me and she said, “I was just about to talk to you about the same thing.” And it’s great that we all, we all really know our characters, and there’s nothing better than to really feel comfortable talking to these people because they are telling you what to say. I mean, they are giving you exactly how you should be interpreting the character and the script. And it’s nice to have a good trust and a great relationship with them.
Revisiting the character after ten years, are you just going right back into it? Are you changing little things, or…?
All I know—I’m not sure. I think it’s constantly changing. But all I know is that I’m with them every day, or I’m with other characters, like Chris the other day, that was great fun. And as we expand the relationships and things, to me it’s like brand new every day.
This is brand new in the same way. It’s not revisiting—it’s a different way of thinking, for me anyway. It’s not revisiting talking to people. It’s new today because I’m talking to you. Does that make sense? And it’s great every day. Every day, I think the whole universe is brand new. So you get up every day, “Wow, look at this. It’s all brand new.” [laughs]
And I really live that way, in a sense. That’s why I can’t believe—I’m like a dog. I can’t believe how brand new—every time I see the kids, “Hey, look at you.” [Laughs] I think they think I’m out of my mind. But I mean, I don’t care. I don’t care. They’ll always know that’s the way dad lived.
So it’s a new thing every day with them – new part, new thing. It has the same name, but again it’s new. Like the play or like the musical Kiss Me, Kate, you know. It’s old; it’s brand new. Every long song is brand new. What’s better than a new love song – same three chords maybe, same sentiment, but if someone hits the right note, it’s never been written before.
Would you mind taking a few pictures?
Are you kidding? Come on.
Larry Miller and press. Photo courtesy of ABC Family/Adam Rose.