A few words with ... Mark Harmon, Jane Levy and Analeigh Tipton


Mark Harmon of "NCIS" on CBS

Q: The success of "NCIS" just keeps growing. What do you attribute that to?

A: I don't think there's any actor who signs for a series role who doesn't think it's going to go. In my mind, that's the way it's supposed to work. There have been a number of series I've done that have had life in some direction, but certainly not like this.

Maybe one of the things that makes this show work is that you have a gathering of a lot of professional people -- and really talented ones, both in front of the camera and behind it -- who have all had experiences that haven't been as successful, so there's a huge appreciation of it. And that's important.

Q: You recently made a rare step outside "NCIS" as the star and a producer of the USA Network movie "John Sandford's Certain Prey." Did you consider that a major risk?

A: I don't know that many actors choose this lifestyle because it's about comfort. That's not where you start. You chase it, and once again, this is about chasing it. It's about expanding and playing a different character. And for me, that's a good thing.

Q: After having spent so much time working mostly on "NCIS," how did the experience of making "Certain Prey" turn out for you?

A: I had a lot of help. The truth is that when you're pitching these things in November and it sounds like a great idea, by the time you get to May and you actually have to do it, it has a little different feel.

Jane Levy of "Suburgatory" on ABC

Q: Within a very short time, you've landed in two hit shows, "Shameless" and "Suburgatory." How long have you been in the business?

A: For about a year.

Q: Where did you study?

A: At Stella Adler in New York.

Q: In "Suburgatory," your character, Tessa, is smart, sardonic and a bit of an outsider. Do you relate to her, and if so, how?

A: I do relate to Tessa. I also think I'm different from her because I think sometimes your parents drive you crazy, and you are mad at them. But deep down you trust your parents. She finds humor in ridiculous situations and laughs about it, and that's how she gets through life.

Q: Your character gets thrown into a situation where the mean girls are pretty wicked. Did you experience any of that in high school?

A: Definitely. Sometimes I was the one who was mean, and sometimes I was bullied. These girls are horrible. Someone needs to give them a good slap in the face.

Q: So none of the groups that are parodied in the show are unfamiliar to you?

A: The moms buy the kids way too expensive clothes. It's scary hilarious. The difference between city kids and the burbs -- the kids that live in both are fine -- suburban kids seem to be really privileged. In suburbia, it's a bubble. It is not the real world. In the city, you see a homeless person. In the suburbs, you have no idea what a homeless person is.

Analeigh Tipton of "Hung" on HBO

Q: How do you describe your character on "Hung"?

A: Sandee is a schizophrenic pimp, and the most fun was I got to draw from my own experience. I'm kidding. As an actor, though, sometimes it's nice to get a role where they say, "Here. Act as ridiculous as you possibly can. OK, go." I was working with a great team there. It was fun to watch the character unfold because they didn't tell me a lot about her going in. Every time we had a table read, I got to see my character go a little more insane. That was great fun.

Q: You're currently getting on the zombie bandwagon with "Warm Bodies." How is that going?

A: It's going amazingly. It's a lot of fun, a very different experience. I get to shoot a lot of handguns and be shaken up by giant, 300-pound men in zombie makeup. Working with people like John Malkovich is always an experience in and of itself as well. I think it's one of my favorite projects to date.

Q: Were you a fan of horror movies going into this?

A: Oh, this isn't really a horror movie. It's actually a romantic comedy. Yeah, I know. There's a lot of action and blood and brain-eating activity, but it's more an action romantic comedy set in a post-apocalyptic time. The way that Jonathan (Levene, "50/50") is filming it is so unique. It's not a standard genre film. It's a drama-action-comedy. A dramactioncom?

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World