Californication's Eva Amurri Tells Movieline: 'My Mom Susan Sarandon and I Did Not Go to Stripper Classes Together'
Whether flicking a cigarette at Mandy Moore or ripping her shirt off in mock religious fervor, Eva Amurri established in 2004's Saved! that she is a credible, and often intimidating, actress -- not just Susan Sarandon's daughter. This fall, the Brown alum embarked on a meaty ten-episode Californication arc as Jackie, one of Hank's (David Duchovny) brightest college students, who just happens to moonlight as a stripper. The revealing role, which immediately unearthed an avalanche of internet buzz, re-established that the 24 year-old can command a scene, regardless of whether or not she is clothed.
Last week, the actress spoke to Movieline about her arc on Californication, that rumor that she and her mother took pole-dancing classes together and her career aspirations.
In last week's episode of Californication ("So Here's the Thing"), Hank (David Duchovny) tried to end his relationship with your character and Jackie said something cryptic along the lines of, "You're never going to get rid of me." Can we expect a femme fatale storyline...something along the lines of Fatal Attraction?
[Laughs] That would be awesome! I'd be into that. We'll see.
Hank has been involved with three women on campus -- Jackie, Jill and Felicia. Strangely, those are the same names of the three female characters in Shampoo. Is that something you realized when you got the script?
I didn't realize that. They kind of told us that when we first started working but yeah, it's a nice little bit of insider info.
Californication has showed its fair share of female nudity and your role as a stripper required you to go topless. When you started acting, did you have a position on appearing nude? Has your position changed?
No, I've always thought that nudity is not something that I'd shy away from necessarily, depending on the context. I just always take it case by case and if it's something that is necessary, then I think about doing it. Certainly, if you're playing a stripper, I find it to be necessary. [Laughs] So in that case, it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.
Before you were approached about Californication, had you been on the look-out for a riskier role?
No, I read the script and had heard that a character was opening up on the show that I would be right for. I had always really loved the show, so it made me really excited. And I read it, and the character of Jackie just seemed so awesome that I wanted to do it. So I auditioned and luckily got it.
There have been a lot of great actresses added this season and you've had scenes with Diane Farr, Embeth Davidtz. Do you have any upcoming scenes with the other newcomer, Kathleen Turner?
No, I didn't unfortunately. I would have loved that.
How much time did you spend preparing for the role? I read in New York Magazine that you and your mom attended a pole-dancing class together?
No, we didn't. [Laughs] My mom and I did not go to classes together. This has kind of been misinterpreted by the press. I mentioned in an interview that she came to one of my classes, because I had to do a lot of research obviously because it is a very physical part. I was taking classes to learn [pole-dancing] in two or three weeks which is really difficult, and I had to go very frequently to these classes, so she was visiting me in Los Angeles and you know, she doesn't really drive. So I'm driving around and I had to go to my class and asked her if she wanted to come in. So she came in and watched me and tried a few things but it's not like something we were doing together.
To clarify, you guys weren't enrolled in Mother-Daughter Pole-Dancing 101.
[Laughs] No, no.
But she did encourage the role. Did she have any feedback?
I think she knew that it was something I felt comfortable with and she thought it would be fun and cool, which it ended up being. I think she certainly preferred that it was not nudity with violence. The woman is in power over the situation and I think that Jackie is always in power of her nudity, she's the one who drives it. So that made her feel more comfortable with it.
Jackie has been pretty well embedded in this season. Have you heard anything about the fourth season yet?
I have no idea. I know that the show is picked up for another season so hopefully yes. I know that a lot of the actors come back from time to time so that would be great.
You've managed to avoid pigeonholing yourself into one kind of role. Do you ever consciously consider branding yourself as an actress?
Not necessarily. I'm just interested in doing a lot of different kinds of things right now. I'm so young and my career is pretty much just starting out. I want to have a lot of experience that is very different because I think that's how you learn and discover your strengths and weaknesses. I just want to do a bunch of different kinds of things and recently, I've been lucky enough to do that. I just don't want to be doing the same thing over and over and get bored, because I think that when you grow bored, you get bad. If an actor is bored then they are boring to an audience. I definitely don't want to ever be that.
And you have an upcoming role on How I Met Your Mother as a love interest of Neil Patrick Harris's character? (Note: the episode, "The Playbook," aired this past Monday.)
Right, the whole show is so fun. I had never really done a multi-camera half-hour before, except for when I did Friends, so that was really fun.
Do you think you'd like to produce or direct your own projects in the future?
Definitely produce. That's something that I'm very interested in. I like the idea of being able to develop the material and have a little more creative control, but I don't think direct. I'm not enough of a control freak to be able to do that. ♦