Arts & Entertainment

Katherine Moennig on 'The L Word,' 'Three Rivers' and cousin Gwyneth Paltrow

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Katherine Moennig spent the last six years playing sexpot lesbian hairdresser Shane on Showtime's "The L Word." The actress, who happens to be a cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow, is far tamer -- and so is her hair -- in her new role as Dr. Miranda Foster on CBS' medical drama "Three Rivers."

Do you miss playing Shane?

At this moment, I miss a lot about her. The beauty of that character was her unabashed way of viewing life. She was so unapologetic. She was always deemed the bad girl, and that was always good to play. She was a bit dangerous but also extremely screwed up in the head. I was sad to see her go. I miss her soul. I loved the debauchery that she created in her life.

Did you have a favorite make-out partner?

I feel like there were so many of them.

There was a number that was tossed out in one episode. It was more than 900.

I remember one time we all sat there and we tried to count how many people our characters had been with on the show. It got to me and I think I was up to 30 on camera? Or maybe a little over 30? I have a couple of favorites, all for different reasons. I loved working with Rosanna Arquette. She was amazing. And I loved working with Sarah Shahi, she and I connected very well. It would be a tossup between those two.

How do you feel about the, um, abrupt way "The L Word" ended? Leaving us in the dark, not telling us who killed Jenny.

I think it was a surprising way to end the show, definitely. . . . There was a reason behind it -- I'm not too sure what that reason was, but I'm told there was one. If my favorite show ended that way I'd be like, "What?!"

Your role on "Three Rivers" feels like a 180-degree shift from Shane.

I have to say a part of me was a little terrified to be only looked at as Shane from "The L Word." I was very conscious of doing something that would steer me clear or just steer me in a different direction.

What specifically did you like about Dr. Miranda Foster?

I'm still trying to figure her out for myself. A lot of this show revolves around people giving or getting organs, but from what I've gathered thus far, and what I'm very happy with, Miranda has this very complicated relationship with Alfre Woodard's character, Sophia, who is head of surgery. So I get to work with Alfre a lot, which is awesome. Apparently, my character is also hot-tempered -- God willing, that will rear its head soon.

I mean, I really hope we get to explore the personal lives of these characters and get to know what makes them tick. The cast is so great, and it would be amazing to see them outside the hospital and see what they do when they go home and see what demons they have.

Audiences may not realize this, but the first episode of "Three Rivers" had been completely revamped before it aired. New script, new sets, new wardrobe . . . and for you, a new hair style!

That came from very long discussions about the aesthetic. When we redid the pilot, the network and the producers said they wanted something very polished and I said, 'Well, I don't know how I'm going to do that.' There was a lot of talk between extensions and a wig; finally we decided to just get a really good wig. There are days when I can't stand it, but I also really like coming to work, putting it on, doing my job, taking it off, and then going home and being me.

I read that you describe tattoos as your guilty pleasure. How many do you have and do you remember getting your first?

I might be pushing 10. I'd have to count, but I'm going to say 10, I think. I got my first when I was 18 in New York. I went to this tattoo parlor in the East Village and I got an outline of a violin on my lower back. They call them tramp stamps now. I'm not thrilled that I have a tramp stamp. When you see people bend over in their really low-cut jeans, I'm like, "Oh . . . that's what I have."

On your Wikipedia page, one of the first things it says about you is that your friends call you "Alt.Gwyn."

Yeah, I don't know where that ever got created because I can guarantee you none of my friends ever called me that. Other reporters have been like, "So, this alternative Gwyneth thing . . ." and I'm like, "I have no idea." I'd own it if someone did call me that. But I swear, no one has ever called me that.

So you're not calling her up for Coldplay tickets.

Right, exactly.

denise.martin@latimes.com

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