You won’t find any traces of quirky Dharma in Naomi Walling—Jenna Elfman’s character in Season 5 of Damages. Naomi is an investment bank employee who comes across some incriminating information about her company. Morally torn, she considers making this information public on Channing McLaren’s (Ryan Phillippe) website. Will she go through with it? You’ll have to tune in to Season 5 to see how the story unfolds. In the meantime, see what Jenna has to say about her transition to drama and what she did to prepare for her role. Our Damages insider, Josh Payne, recently sat down with Jenna for an exclusive interview.
JOSH PAYNE: Why did you want to do Damages?
JENNA ELFMAN: I was excited to work on a well-written show with excellent actors. Also to change it up and do some drama I thought would be fun. And having the opportunity to change it up and play the types of scenes I haven’t yet had the opportunity to play.
JP: You’re known mainly for comedy. Was drama easier or more difficult?
JE: When I started acting I did both. It was kind of by accident I got the comedy trajectory in my career. A happy accident. But I didn’t start acting to do comedy, necessarily. I love comedy and always wanted to do it. But I also love drama. I got in this business to become other characters and experience the lives of other people. I happened to get success with comedy and just kind of took that road.
JP: Recently you did an episode of Comedy Central’s Web series Matumbo Goldberg. How did you get involved in that?
JE: I had a general meeting with Rob Pearlstein, the writer-director, a year before. He wound up doing this and asked me if I wanted a role on one episode. I read it and it was hilarious, so that’s how that came about.
JP: Was it vastly different from working in network TV?
JE: It was different because the entire crew and production were smaller, which actually made it more fun because there wasn’t a huge done-by-committee executive presence on set. It was just the writer-director and the actors. It was much more laid back.
JP: How did you prepare for your role on Damages?
JE: It’s funny. I did prepare, but sometimes you find something that’s not obvious but it opens the door for you, even though for others it may not seem like a direct connection. I actually did a lot of walking in New York City and, in my head, pretending I was Naomi Walling and I had just found out this horrible news. So walking amongst people and feeling that sense of disorientation and feeling like every single person knows everything about me now. And this awkward walking the streets a lot and imagining this sense of isolation and thinking about: “How do you solve this problem of your life that happens out of nowhere?” You went from a private life to a public life over night and it was all bad news.
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