A Chat with Krysten Ritter (“Woke Up Dead”)

Krysten Ritter first started making a proper go at an acting career in the early part of the decade, but it’s fair to say that the first real turning point came in 2005, when Rob Thomas decided that she’d make the perfect Gia Goodman on “Veronica Mars.” From there, the good gigs have been plentiful, including stints on “Gilmore Girls” and “Breaking Bad” and in such films as “27 Dresses,” “What Happens in Vegas,” and arguably the most high profile, “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Currently, Ritter can be seen in the Crackle.com web series “Woke Up Dead,” a zom-com – that’s a legitimate term for a zombie comedy, right? – co-starring Jon Heder and Josh Gad. Premium Hollywood had the chance with Ritter about the challenges of doing an online series, but we also quizzed her about several of her past projects, too.

Stay tuned for…

Krysten Ritter: Hi there!

Premium Hollywood: Hello! How are you?

KR: I’m good! What’s shakin’?

PH: Nothing much. I should start by mentioning that we’re Facebook friends, so I can only imagine that you feel very close to me as a result.

KR: Oh, God. (Laughs)

PH: So “Wake Up Dead” is pretty awesome. I’ve been watching it all day today. Well, not all day, but I’ve watched the first six episodes, anyway.

KR: Oh, are there six up?

PH: Yep.

KR: Oh, I didn’t know. I checked the first day, and…y’know, I don’t really get how this whole web series works. (Laughs)

PH: Well, I’m not sure how they’re doing the roll-out, but as of this afternoon, there were six up.

KR: Oh, fun! I’ll have to tell my family! (Laughs)

Writer’s note: As of this writing, there are actually eighteen episodes up, but here’s the first one to get you started…

From Crackle: 1: Up and At ‘Em

PH: So what was the hardest part of “Woke Up Dead”: learning the medical jargon or the zombie mythology?

KR: Um, well… (Laughs) …I don’t really know anything about zombie mythology, and I sort of played that card. I think the hardest part was shooting sometimes 15 pages a day. It was insanity. We were running around, and it was, like, “Now we’re shooting Day 5,” then, “And now we’re shooting Day 6,”and it was just go, go, go. There was no down time whatsoever. Which is fine. I don’t like down time. I like working. But it was a lot of just “go, go, go!” and then you felt like something that had happened that morning had actually happened last week. I’d be, like, “Hey, remember the other day when we did this,” and they’d be, like, “Uh, Krysten, that was this morning.” (Laughs) Just because we jam-packed so much into the shooting days.

PH: So how long did you actually work on the project, then?

KR: The project was three weeks and our script was feature-length…like, 125 pages or something. So to shoot that in three weeks is…

PH: …impressive.

KR: (Laughs) It’s a big, ambitious project!

PH: So how did you come into “Woke Up Dead” in the first place? Did they just pitch it to you?

KR: Yeah, it just kind of came out of the blue. And it sounded like a fun time. I mean, I like working, I’m down to experiment, and I’m down to come out and play, so when they pitched it to me and offered me this role, it sounded like a good time. That’s all it takes, really, to get me. (Laughs) I’m easy.

PH: Boy, that’s a pull quote.

KR: (Snorts) Yeah.

PH: So what was your experience with Jon Heder? Had you worked with him before, or were you a fan?

KR: I hadn’t worked with him before, but it’s one of those things where we all know each other and, obviously, we see each other’s work. So when you show up, it’s just, like, “Hey, Jon, how’s it going?” (Laughs) You just sort of slip right into being comfortable and friendly with each other. That’s how it is out here. It’s a little weird, but it also feels homey. But he’s a nice person. He’s so down to earth and kind, and he’s a family man. And we figured out pretty quickly that we have pretty similar music tastes, so then the battle was on to try and one-up each other with burning CDs.

PH: Nice. Well, in that case, I’ll take a quick segue and ask where your music tastes lie.

KR: Oh, God, I’m into everything. I like indie rock, and I like sort of Southern country sounds, and…it just depends on the week. Like, I listen to a lot of Kings of Leon and CCR, but then I love Mazzy Star and…what else? God, I’m, like, such a music junkie. The Jesus and Mary Chain are my all time favorite. Bob Dylan, of course. The basics. (Laughs)

PH: What’s the best new album you’ve bought recently?

KR: Let’s see…oh, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

PH: You’ve one-upped me. I’m not even familiar with them.

KR: Oh, it’s fabulous. Check it out! It’s a new record, and there’s a really awesome video for this song called “The Desert Song,” but I think the starting track on the record would be #6. It’s called “Home,” and it’s…it’s so great. You’re gonna love it. Listen to “Home” first, then let it play, and you’ll get into the rest of it.

PH: So you also work with Josh Gad on the show. I remembered him immediately from being on “Back to You.”

KR: Oh, yeah, I actually remember seeing that show when it was on, and I didn’t know him, but I was, like, “Who’s that guy? He’s really funny!” And when they offered me this, I put two and two together. But Josh Gad is a really, really strong comic, and working with someone like him…you’re just laughing all day. I couldn’t stop.

PH: And you’ve got to trust a guy if you’re going to let him film down your cleavage.

KR: Oh, God. (Laughs) But, y’know, his humor is like that already, so it’s, like, that’s what you get, anyway. He’s very sort of brash and balls to the wall.

PH: I have to tell you that I’m totally disappointed that the “Gossip Girl” prequel didn’t happen.

KR: I know! I am, too, because it’s always disappointing when something you work on doesn’t have legs, but I think it’s okay, because I’ve already got a new gig…which I unfortunately can’t tell you about! But everything always works out for the best. The great thing, though, is that it actually aired (as a flashback episode of “Gossip Girl”). I used to do a pilot a year, and none of them ever got picked up, so it was nice that this one was actually on television. But everything that doesn’t happen, there’s always a reason, and there’s always something better a couple of weeks later. That’s my experience, and that’s sort of my philosophy. It’s just how I keep going.

PH: Was the “Gossip Girl” prequel your favorite pilot that you worked on that didn’t get picked up?

KR: Oh, for sure! I mean, it was a blast. My character was so over the top and flashy. I think it would’ve been a good time. Maybe they should’ve just given it to me. Maybe it should’ve just been my show. (Laughs) I really enjoyed that character! And, yeah, it would’ve been fun to continue on, but maybe I’ll just get to work with Josh (Schwartz) and Stephanie (Savage) in some other capacity.

PH: When you were on “Gilmore Girls,” was it rough getting into the patter of the show? Because that’s definitely a series that had a very distinctive feel to its dialogue.

KR: Yeah. Also, it was just a little weird coming into the seventh season, where everyone is already set in their ways and their dynamics, and you sort of feel like you’re coming into a party late. So I was just, like, “Ugh! How do I make friends?” (Laughs) It’s like high school dynamics! But, yeah, you know, the rhythm of that show is that you talk really fast, and that’s pretty much the science to it. It’s, like, you learn your lines really well, you say them, and they’ll tell you to say them even faster. So that was pretty much the big challenge there. It was pretty difficult in its own right.

PH: Did you get any fan feedback from playing that role? Because I know the show had a pretty big online fanbase.

KR: What, “Gilmore Girls”?

PH: Yeah.

KR: I don’t really know about the online stuff. I kind of…don’t follow those shows online. You know what I mean?

PH: Sure. So with “Veronica Mars,” was the experience of working with Rob Thomas as enjoyable as everyone seems to imply that it is?

KR: Yeah, Rob was awesome. He’s…he, like, gives you a shot if he likes you. I had auditioned for…and I feel like everybody has this same story, where they go, like, “Yeah, I met Rob, and he liked me for this, but it didn’t work out, and he told me that he was going to put me in something else, and he actually did!” You sort of hear that all the time from people, where it’s, like, “Oh, we loved her, but it was between her and one other girl, and we’re going this other way for whatever X-Y-Z reason, but we’d love to find something else for her.” Honestly, you hear that from every job you don’t get. But with Rob, he actually came through! (Laughs) So that’s pretty sweet. I think he has a lot of loyalty, and I think he’s really smart. His voice really stands out in the crowd.

PH: I still can’t believe the show was canceled after only three seasons. “Teen noir,” they called.

KR: I know! But you know what? There’s something…now that it’s over and done with, there’s something charming about it having such a great following and that it was such a great show and got canceled but left when no one was ready for it to leave. There’s something charming and sexy about that. Kind of like “My So-Called Life.” It was only one season, but it’s still, to me, the best TV show ever. So I don’t know, but I think it’s all right at the end of the day.

PH: With “Breaking Bad,” did you think you were up to the challenge of playing a heroin addict when you first heard about the part?

KR: Yeah. I mean, I prefer doing roles like “Breaking Bad.” To me, that’s…like, that’s the best experience I’ve had on any job, movie or TV. The writing was fantastic, my scene partner – Aaron Paul – was fantastic, working with Bryan Cranston is, like, a learning experience in and of itself. That’s what I would be doing all the time if I could: weird, crazy, dark roles. (Laughs) I really love doing comedy, too, though. So I guess if there’s a way to keep going back and forth, that’s good. But, of course, you play a heroin addict once, and all of your offers are for heroin addicts…and then you do a shopping comedy, and all of your offers are for shopping movies. You’ve got to kind of wade through the waters.

PH: So when you played a heroin addict, did you do any research as far as, like, watching films about drug addiction?

KR: Yeah. A lot of…oh, there’s just so much of stuff on YouTube, unfortunately. And that show “Intervention” was really helpful. Also, there was a guy on set who had been a heroin addict for 13 years, but he’s been recovered and sober for a decade, I believe. But he was an amazing asset to me and a great resource. He was very open and willing to answer whatever questions I had…which was a little scary at first, because it was, like, “Oh, my God, how do I ask this person about the darkest days of his life?” But that’s what he was there for, and he was so happy to help. He really…like, I owe so much to him for my performance.

PH: What’s his name?

KR: Tomas. I don’t know his last name because…well, just because I’m not great with names. But his first name is definitely Tomas! (Laughs)

PH: Did you enjoy the experience of doing “Confessions of a Shopaholic”?

KR: Oh, my God, it was a blast!

PH: Were you familiar with the book before going into it?

KR: Well, before going into it, I was on cloud 9! It was such a big gig. It was a really sought-after role, a big project that took time, and for me to land it was a really big deal. That was when things started going to the next level for me, and it just…well, it just changed. A lot. And working with Isla, who I adore…I’m so glad I got to work with her, because now she’s a great friend, and she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. And working with Jerry Bruckheimer and P.J. Hogan, it was, like, “Oh, my God, somebody pinch me!” (Laughs)

PH: Had you been aware of the book, though?

KR: I hadn’t read the book, but, of course, I was familiar with it, because I would see it everywhere. In every airport, it was, like, “Oh, look, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’!” So I knew what it was right away, but I hadn’t picked it up myself. But then, of course, I got the part and read the first three books, and they’re such pageturners. Sophie Kinsella is such a great writer and really captures the essence of this character.

PH: You’re part of the cast of “How To Make Love To A Woman,” right?

KR: Yeah, I’m the lead girl in that.

PH: That seems like that would be quite a challenge.

KR: (Laughs) Yeah, it was…well, it was interesting, because this was my first time not doing comedy and not being, like, the funny friend or something like that. The first day that I shot with my girlfriends in the movie – I have two best friends in the movie – they were the funny ones, and they had funny lines, and they had jokes, and I was sort of, like, spinning for a second. “Wait a minute, where are my jokes?” (Laughs) Because I’m just used to being, like, the one who brings the wacky! So that was a little traumatizing! But fun, too. In the future, I hope there are ways for leading ladies to also be funny, and not just have funny friends!

(Writer’s note: It was at this point in the interview that I thoroughly embarrassed myself by being under the misconception that Krysten’s film, “How To Make Love To A Woman,” was actually based on Jenna Jameson’s book, “How To Make Love Like A Porn Star.” I swear to God, I read this somewhere online…and it was not Wikipedia, thank you very much…but this falsehood apparently emerged due to the fact that Ms. Jameson does indeed appear in the film. I must say, though, that Krysten could not have been any sweeter about my stupidity. “I think that’s just something that one person got wrong, and it spread like wildfire,” she said, sympathetically, before cheerily adding, “But you get to clear it up right now!”)

PH: Lastly, do you have anything else on the docket that you’d like to hype?

KR: I’m starting a really big gig that I’m super excited about on Monday in New York, but unfortunately it hasn’t been announced yet, so I’m not allowed to talk about it…which is such a drag, because I’d love nothing more than to be blabbing about it all over town! But as soon as it’s announced, I’ll post it on my Facebook… (Starts to laugh)

PH: Well, then I’ll see it. (Laughs)

KR: …and you’ll see it. (Laughs) But, unfortunately, I’m not allowed to plug it right now. Sorry!

Epilogue: The project in question – which can now be revealed without fear of repercussion – is the new Starz series, “Gravity.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, the half-hour dramedy was created by Eric Shaeffer and Jill Franklyn and revolves around a group from an eccentric outpatient program of suicide survivors. Krysten will apparently play Lily Champagne, a twentysomething clinically depressed outcast looking for the love that her father never gave her, and her co-stars on “Gravity” will include Ivan Sergei, Ving Rhames, Rachel Hunter, Robyn Cohen, James Martinez, Seth Numrich, and Schaeffer himself. I dropped a line to Krysten on Facebook, of course, but since filming just started, I’m guessing it may be awhile before she has a chance to drop a line back to offer any comments about the show…

UPDATE: Ms. Ritter is a woman of her word, and she quickly offered up a reply on the matter of the now-discussable “Gravity,” which I offer to you here in full…

Hey there Will!

FINALLY!!! So the show is called “Gravity,” as you know. I’ve been lucky enough to land the starring role, Lily Champagne, a girl who hates her life and is utterly alone. She attempts to kill herself, but she’s unsuccessful. In the ER, in a drug induced haze, she has a vision of great love which oddly gives her a purpose to live. She is court-ordered to join an outpatient suicide group, where she begins to come to life with the help of the other survivors. There is also a level of mystery in the show involving a detective who has a particular interest in my character. The characters lives intertwine in a pretty epic way.

I’m very excited about the show. It is so incredibly unique and well written. Aside from the show as a whole being super-compelling, the cast is fantastic, and the role is a real departure from the kind of roles most people may know me for (“Breaking Bad” aside, of course). So, creatively, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me.

It’s also exciting to be a part of a network (STARZ) that is just getting it’s feet wet and starting to have success with original scripted content. As an actress and a writer, the cable networks are an exciting place to be. With AMC having such critical acclaim with “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” FX with “Damages” and “Rescue Me,” Showtime with “Dexter” and “Nurse Jackie,” HBO and their slew of fabulous shows, Starz with “Party Down” and “Crash” (and “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” looks impressive), I’m thrilled to be a part of a TV landscape that is taking such chances.

We’ve been fortunate enough to have rehearsal time, which is an actor’s dream, AND we are filming in NY! The place I love the most in the world. Win win!

Whooo hooo!!

hope all is well on that end!

kr

  

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