Sunday, March 11, 2012
Q-and-A: GCB isn’t too far from real life in Highland Park
It's a caricature, to be sure, but actress Marisol Nichols says women in Dallas are certainly fancier than those in her hometown of Los Angeles.
GCB on ABC is the newest peek into Dallas on television. Though it's a fictional show, the story is based on some true events penned by author Kim Gatlin, who lived in Highland Park.
The show stars Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb), the transplanted Californian who returns to "Hillside Park" after her billionaire husband died and was found guilty of a Ponzi scheme. Amanda reconnects with all her old catty friends from high school who are plenty prepared to judge her for her sins.
Actress Marisol Nichols, who plays Amanda's old pal Heather Cruz, touched down in Dallas in March 2011 for the filming of the GCB pilot. A Los Angeles resident, Nichols said she initially thought the GCB script was an over-the-top characterization of Texas women. But upon visiting Dallas, Nichols learned that the big jewelry and the fancy clothes were, as she says so cleverly, "right on the money."
GCB was the most-watched show of the weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth when the pilot aired. Nichols says that's important: "That was my biggest thing," she told us, "Are the people in Texas enjoying it? Good, they are? That's really all I care about. The rest are their own opinions, and people are entitled to their own opinions."
She talks about filming the show, working with cast members like Kristin Chenoweth, and eating steak in Dallas in our Q-and-A.
Pegasus News: With the GCB story based in Dallas, did the script and the neighborhood it was filmed in seem to mesh?
Marisol Nichols: Obviously, our show's a satire, so it's exaggerated. I was a little concerned about, like, We're too dressed up, there's too much jewelry, there's too much! And then I went to Highland Park, and I went, Oh yeah, no, we're nowhere near. And it's funny because it seems like the rest of the world is like, Oh, it's too over-the-top. ... We're actually right on the money. If anything, we're a little subdued.
Sounds like you affirmed your understanding of what Highland Park is.
Yes … these are caricatures; I want to make that very clear. These are exaggerations, but at the same time, I don't want to be too unrealistic. So when we went to HP; we found out, yeah, these women have money and they dress with it. It's not like LA: LA is laid back; you walk around in cargo pants and flip flops, and you can be a millionaire. What I noticed about [Highland Park] is that you know the people in that area that have money, because you can't miss it.
I felt underdressed everywhere I went. And then I'd come back to LA, and it'd be like, totally casual.
Outside of filming, what did you do in Dallas that was interesting to you?
Lots of things. I love Dallas, first of all. My family's from Laredo, so I've driven through Dallas. Last year, I filmed a show called The Gates for ABC. We filmed that in Shreveport. And so for fun ... me and my little girl would drive to Dallas, and we'd go to the aquarium, go to the zoo, because there was really nothing to do over there [in Shreveport]. My husband would come, and me and my husband would drive to Dallas for dinner – literally, three hours, we'd drive and have dinner and come back. My favorite place was Pappas Bros. They have an amazing steak there. It just blew my mind away, actually, it's an amazing restaurant.
Your character on GCB seems to be the kindest of the bunch, if the pilot is an indication. Does that continue: Are you the nice one?
I am the nice one, but she's also the most … what's the word? … She's an easy target for the other girls because she goes back and forth. ... She's not inherently trying to one-up everybody, like the other girls are. At the same time, she has to survive in that group, so I think her game becomes surviving within that group of catty, catty women. And sometimes, that means getting catty herself. And maybe it means being more catty than the rest of them, just to survive. But I think her core heart is fairly, fairly good.
Does her character resemble you as a person at all?
I would say barely, but in some ways. I consider myself pretty grounded. I firmly believe in that which does not kill you makes you stronger. ... Like Heather, I've had to earn my way. I've paid my own way my whole life, don't have any kind of trust fund … I earned it, so I'm pretty grounded, like Heather is.
Tell us about the camaraderie between cast members. What's it like when the cameras aren't rolling?
Well gosh, I've known Jennifer Aspen [who plays Sharon] for like 12 years. This is the first time I got the first time to play with a friend, which was really, really great. Miriam Shore [Cricket] is repped by my manager. She's about as down to earth as it gets, which is really funny because she plays such a catty woman. And Kristin [Chenoweth, who plays Carlene] is the nicest girl in the world. You just want to put her in your pocket and have her as your best friend.
Does the film schedule bring you back to Dallas anytime soon?
I think it's a good bet, but this is from an actor's viewpoint, so please know that. … I would think second season, we might come back to Dallas and do some exterior shots and establish it a little more. I would like to. That'll depend on the budget, maybe seeing what they feel is necessary.
What do you say about the criticism to the show?
It's funny, because the people from outside of Dallas are the ones that are criticizing. It's very funny. And then everyone that's from Dallas, from Texas – most of the blogs I read – everyone's laughing and going, Oh my god, that's exactly how it is! The people who are criticizing say, I've been to Dallas, and they're not like that, or I used to live in Dallas. Criticisms of Texas are stereotypical. But then the people from Texas are laughing and love it. ... That was my biggest thing: Are the people in Texas enjoying it? Good, they are? That's really all I care about. The rest are their own opinions, and people are entitled to their own opinions.
The first season is finished filming, Nichols reports, and time will tell if they'll return to Dallas for further shoots.
GCB airs on ABC at 9 p.m. Sundays. Read our review of the pilot here.
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