INTERVIEW: Christine Ebersole Talks About Her New Role on Royal Pains

christine_ebersole

Recently I had the destinct pleasure of chatting with Broadway legend and all around spectacular performer Christine Ebersole to discuss her lates endevor on USA’s new original series “Royal Pains”, premiereing this Thursday June 4th at 10/9c.

EclipseMagazine: So, we’ll just start with talking about your character, a little bit about your character.

Christine Ebersole: My character, does anybody know my character’s first name?

EM: I don’t think we have a first name yet.

CE: Isn’t that fantastic! My character doesn’t have a first name. It’s just Mrs. Newberg.

EM: Maybe she’s never known it.

CE: Isn’t that great? Yeah, I think it’s like—it’s like Mr. Big, right?

EM: Yes.

CE: Fantastic! It could just be any number of possibilities. So, what did you ask me?

EM: Just to talk about your character a little bit.

CE: Yes, it’s Mrs. Newberg, and I’m very rich and live in the Hamptons, probably just for the summer. I have other residences, but they’re somewhat—some of them are undisclosed at this point. So, I have a house in the Hamptons in the summertime, and I’m a grandmother of a 22-year-old. That’s showbiz. Yeah, I’m a grandmother of a 22-year-old. And you know, in the first episode—did you see it? Did everybody see it?

EM: Yeah.

CE: Was it good?

EM: Yes.

CE: Good. Yeah, I thought, I haven’t seen it, but I think, I have a feeling it’s good. You know, so I have a flat tire and so he fixed my flat tire.

EM: You make your entrance into the show and you’re memorable at that point.

CE: Yeah. Hopefully. Yeah. It’s just a blast.

EM: Is the kind of over the top Hamptons character based on anyone you might know in real life? Not anyone in particular. You don’t need to name names, but it seems like this is a familiar figure if you spend enough time in New York.

CE: Well, actually, it’s kind of after the fact because when I started playing the role and then kind of went away from it, I thought, “Oh, my God, this is just like somebody I know.” So, it’s one of those kind of—it was a little bit ass backwards, but no, I don’t know. It’s just sort of—it’s just kind of felt like it was right. It was, it just feels like the part in me, you know. Not that I’m bad in real life, but you never know. There are parts of me, I’m sure. You draw on what you know and what you have, so.

EM: So, you’re playing a diva by day on television and a spirit by night on theatre.

CE: Yes.

EM: Is it hard creatively to make that shift from filming television in the day and then going to the theatre? No?

CE: No, just in terms of energy. That’s all, you know, really. It’s just sort of a lot, a lot to do, and I have two shows today.

EM: Do you ever sleep, ever?

CE: Well, I try, you know, because I have three kids too. So, the routine is usually I get home but then it’s hard to get to sleep. So, I sometimes don’t get to sleep till like 12:30 or 1:00 or something like that, and then I have to get up at 6:30 to get the kids off to school. So, then you’re up and then, you know, your brain starts going. So, then hopefully maybe I can take a little nap before I have to go into the city.

EM: Of course.

CE: So, that’s the kind of a routine that I have, cause my body clock just, you know, like this morning, same thing. I was like, “Seven o’clock, all right. Well, I’m awake,” you know, and didn’t go to bed till late, so it was hard to get to sleep and especially when you’re not, when you’re not at home. It’s hard for me not to sleep because my husband is not there to cuddle up to. Anyway, thanks for letting me share that. Okay. Well, it’s good to know I have a good marriage anyway, “That bastard, I couldn’t get rid of him,” you know. It’s not that.

EM: Well, you’re one of the few people on the show who have actually spent some time in the Hamptons.

CE: That section of the Hamptons. No. Yeah, anyway, yeah. And I have friends out—I have friends that have houses out there.

EM: So, do you spend a lot of time in the Hamptons, or you’re just there for work?

CE: No. I mean, not—yeah, because, you know, I’m just one of those working stiffs, you know. One of the Clydesdales that just keeps doing show after show. But no, I’ve had the opportunity to go out and spend, you know, a weekend or whatever, but I’ve never spent like the summer. I’ve never been able to do that. But it’s a great place. You been there?

EM: Yeah. That’s actually where I’m, not from, but where I’m based out of.

CE: So, you live there all the time?

EM: Yeah, just for the summer.

CE: Oh, just in the summer!

EM: Yeah. Then I live in regular old boring suburbs of Long Island, but in the summer I get to stay out there.

CE: Nice! The traffic is a little wonky, isn’t it?

EM:
It’s all about the [backroaders].

CE: Oh, you know what else I did out there? I did something at the, in Sag Harbor.

EM: At Bay Street?

CE: Yeah, the Bay Street Theatre.

EM:
Yeah.

CE: In 2004, I did Tom Stoppard’s Rough Crossing out there.

EM: Very nice.

CE: So, that was fun.

EM: Cool!

CE: And lived in this very moldy little cabin. I mean, seriously. It was intense, but it was fun. Intense fun. Yeah.

EM: How many episodes is your character scheduled for this season?

CE: Anybody out there know?

EM: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, it’s three or four I think we’re about now.

CE: Three or four.

EM:
And you’re only on episode five, correct?

EM:
Correct.

EM: So, you said that you’re going to be—your character is a grandmother?

CE:
Uh-huh.

EM:
Do we get any more information on her? Because I almost can see her as a cougar, you know, she’s this woman who goes after these young Hamptonites.

CE: Oh, lord.

EM:
But I’m just wondering how do you reach, you know, do we get to learn anything about her personal life aside from, you know, she likes some maintenance and [has children]?

CE: Yeah, let’s see. Can we talk about the–?

EM: Yeah.

CE: Well, in the next episode, I’m having, I’m giving my dog a Bark Mitzvah. A Bark Mitzvah. Yeah. I don’t know anything beyond that, except in the last episode that I was in, there was like a huge, huge portrait of my dog, who is a King Charles spaniel. Not like in my real life.

EM: So, Broadway is obviously keeping you really busy. So, why do a TV show to begin with? What was it about this that made you want to add that extra thing to your schedule?

CE: Well, it’s kind of a no-brainer, really, because it’s, first of all, I was just saying to one of my friends, “This is such a fantastic show and such a fantastic part.” You know, there have been times when I’ve had to stand in front of a stove with a bathrobe, flipping pancakes, saying punch lines like, “Duck guano.” So, luckily, this is not one of those parts. You know, when you think I’ve made a Faustian bargain, and I’ve sold myself to the devil for the promise of riches, neither of which I got, so this was a no-brainer because it’s a fantastic part. It’s a fantastic show. It’s such a well-written show, and the locations are fantastic. It’s right in my back yard. I don’t have to go to LA, and the people are so fantastic. That’s another thing, is like, can you imagine just going to work every day and just laughing all day long? I mean, what a great thing. So, that’s kind of what we do. And then, not only that, you’re laughing but you’re looking at really beautiful things, like beautiful, you know, ocean and, you know, trees and the sky and beautiful grass and—what can be bad about that, you know?

EM: How did they approach you about the role? How did the whole thing come about?

CE: I think I got an offer, right? I didn’t audition for it, did I?  I don’t remember any more.

EM: You [certainly did] after that process, so I’m not sure.

CE:
Yeah. I think they just asked me to do it.

EM: They sent you the script and–?

CE: Yeah, yeah, and asked me to do it. So, I said, “Yeah, what a thrill.” So, that’s how it happened.

EM: Any interaction between you and Campbell Scott coming up?

CE: I hope so, but I did get to meet him in, you know, ADR, in looping. So, I got to meet him there. So, hopefully. I’m sure that makes sense.

EM: I’m asking everyone the question with—the show gives such possibilities, especially being in the Hamptons and having guest stars. Who would be your dream guest star?

CE: Like the Love Boat, you mean? That’s fantastic! William Shatner. That’s who I want, William Shatner, yes. I want to rekindle my romance with William Shatner because I was on Boston Legal with him. Yeah.

EM: Yeah.

CE: Yeah. What a blast! Had the best time with him. So, yeah. Oh, there’s just a whole pile. Well, let’s start with William Shatner and go from there. And there’s any number of possibilities, just with William Shatner alone there. He could have dropped in from space. Why not? Why not? Anything can happen in the Hamptons.

EM: That’s true, he can time travel.

CE: That’s right. That’s right.

EM: Do you think that there’s an appeal in the Hamptons for people who don’t live in New York City, don’t really know anything about the Hamptons? Like do you think that there’s like enough people all over the country would be interested in this crazy role?

CE: Yeah, I do because it’s about, it’s a kind of a fantasy about rich people and at the same time being able to poke fun at them, you know. So, it’s kind of what you don’t have, what you could sort of dream of having, and know that they’re flawed and, you know, could end up on the streets any minute.

EM: You could see a lot of that.

CE: But for the grace of God.

CE: So, it could have a universal appeal in that way.

EM: Any more questions?

EM: Have your co-stars come to see your play? Paulo said he saw it.

CE: Yeah, Paulo came and saw it. Yeah. That’s it.

EM: He mentioned you had a little moment, I think, when you were shooting where you really struck him. I guess you were singing and he was standing filming something and you started singing, and he was very taken with you and had a moment.

CE: Oh, isn’t that sweet?

EM: I think that [when Evan], you know…

CE: Oh, that’s very cougarish.

EM:    Oh, do we get to see Mrs. Newburg’s wild side? Do you get to dance or sing or–?

CE: Oh, oh, I think so. It’s a possibility.

EM: Well, you singing in a nightclub there you go. It works.

CE: Mm-hmm. And we sing a duet together. [with Shatner]

EM: Oh, right. Yeah.

CE: Oh, yeah. I see it now. That’s it. Ride off into the sunset with our horses. Yeah, he’s a big equestrian, you know. He’s like a—he’s a champion equestrian.

EM: Really?

CE: Yeah. No idea. Yeah.

EM: He can do anything.

CE: That’s it. Didn’t he make an album like Ethel Merman did?

EM: He [did] the covers of [Ben Folds songs] hilarious.

CE: Oh, my God.

EM: “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”

CE: Oh, my god, fantastic.

EM: And he doesn’t — it’s an album, but yet he doesn’t sing.

CE: He’s like a professor Higgins kind of thing, like a talk, like some talk singing.

CE: Like rap?

EM: Yes.

CE: Yeah. Like an old guy’s rap.

Interview by Tiffany N. D’Emidio

For more information about Royal Pains, please visit the USA Networks website. And don’t forget to sign up for our Royal Pains Hamptons gift pack contest going on right now. Click here for your chance to win!

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