Last week I got the chance to sit down with actress Jessalyn Gilsig for an interview for Content Magazine. Kindly embracing our bombardment of light fixtures, hairstylists and photographers, Gilsig gave me a great interview… so great in fact, it couldn’t all fit in the original story. So, enjoy these moments (short of Glee-king out) that didn’t make the cut.
JE: Had Terri Schuester (Glee) stayed on the show, what do you think her charactar would be up to right now?
JG: She would have ruined the wedding for sure. I would have walked in, making trouble and fighting to get my man. That’s what I loved about Terri. She was still misguided but she wasn’t looking for power or fame or that much money, she was just going about it all the wrong the way, but she was always motivated by love for him. We all make these crazy decisions in the name of love. As a kid, you had a crush on a boy and you knew his neighborhood and then you fantasized that you’d run into him at the local store and then it would be on! We all do these silly things to move the forces of love in our favor.
JE: Can we expect some more visits this season or seasons to come?
JG: Yeah. The door is always open. Ryan (writer of the show) and I have known each other for so long now so he knows I’ll always show up if he calls.
JE: This film (Somewhere Slow) is about risks, what is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
JG: I was young and living in New York and was about to move back to Canada because I was out of money and my visa was about to expire. All of the sudden, I got a check in the mail from an animated movie I did and my first thought was, ‘I’m going to L.A.’ I had no idea what I was walking into but I just did it. It was like somthing just carried me there. I wasn’t looking to get into hollywood, I was just looking for meaningful work and the rest is history.
JE: How was working with costars the young Graham Patrick Martin, and Lincoln’s David Costabile (Lincoln)?
JG: I called up David and said we needed him because we needed that person who was hilarious but could play someone who’s not the coolest guy in the world but he’s a good person and good husband. It wasn’t like her husband was an asshole, they’re just not connecting. Ya know, we have that so much in our real relationships. You could be living with a person and still feel alone and that’s what they’re doing. I love David so much because he’s absolutely willing to embody that role and he did it so beautifully. I feel like he added so much dimension to the film.
Graham was so lovely, and he was just at that moment in life, where you could see him coming out of his adolescence, and the man was kind of consuming his body but was not there all the way not fully-realized. And he played the role with subtly and patience and we just knew he was Travis.
JE: How was your experience as not just an actor, but also a producer on this film?
JG: First off, I realized how much I knew. Because, as an actor nobody asks you your opinion. Nobody says “Do you think we should start with this scene in the morning or this other scene?” You’re not looking at any logistical decisions around you. But I realized I had been absorbing all that information. It was very different being a part of decisions like scouting locations, casting actors and looking for funding. One guy we went to talk to about investing in the film had like 50 cats. All of the sudden I was sitting in cat piss. I laughed and thought, wow so this is producing an independent film. (laughs)
JE: Tell me about your experience being on the cast of the new TV series Vikings.
JG: A lot of time and care was put into creating this world of the Vikings. Having written the Elizabeth movies and The Tudors, he (Michael Hirst) has this way of doing these historical epics with human element. When I first met him, he said something really beautiful to me, “We can do a piece set in this period but we’re still telling stories about people. If there’s one thing that’s universal, wherever you land in time or wherever you live, it’s that we all love our children.” We’re all just people and I feel like that really comes off in the show because it’s so much about relationships.
JE: Your characters have some serious fan bases from Glee to Nip/Tuck to Heroes. So, which do you get recognized for most?
JG: Surprisingly, Nip/Tuck. It had a very strong and specific following. And Glee is next. Then Heroes with the people who love the supernatural recognize me. But now, with Netflix, people still watch older shows like Nip/Tuck… a lot.
JE: How has it been going from TV to film?
JG: It’s so different it’s all about adapting and being open to the unknown. TV is very fast. We shoot between seven and eleven pages a day. In film, they’ll shoot two to three pages a day. In television, you have to make decisions very quickly and you have to be alert. On a show like Vikings, you can evolve a character so it’s like doing a film over the course of a miniseries. Really good TV these days is more like film and audiences are eating it up like Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad or these shows where people are committed to these whole series as an experience. I feel like TV’s at this amazing place, where everything we like about film is in television, so instead of a 2-hour movie, we have these 9-hour movies and these epic experiences. So, in a way, I feel like I’m reaping the benefits of this now since I’m attuned to working quickly.
JE: What did you think of opening night at Cinequest with the film Ginger and Rosa?
JG: I really liked how it was a slow burn. You’re like ‘where is this going’, is it going anywhere? And then all these characters that had never interacted appeared in one room together in the scene at the end and it had that amazing payoff. In a way, you were worried like, ‘I don’t know if there’s enough heater to a climax.’ Elle Fanning, the emotion she brought it was excrutiating and really excellent. It called into question, this idea that we have to have these social codes, we have to have some kind of restriction on our behavior, but we have to respect others.