ANGER MANAGEMENT has had ten successful episodes on FX basic cable. FX had made an unprecedented deal with the show’s producers, who include star Charlie Sheen – if the half-hour comedy did well enough in its initial ten, FX would pick up ninety more episodes, probably the biggest back-end order in the history of scripted TV.
As ANGER MANAGEMENT creator/executive producer Bruce Helford points out, the series is produced at an accelerated speed, shooting two episodes a week. “There’s no real rehearsal for the show,” he explains. “Literally, the actors get the lines, we see the scene on its feet, writers make changes, the actors go to makeup, cameras are blocked, [the actors and crew] come back together, shoot the scene, make changes as we’re going.”
Before the ninety new episodes air, FX is running the first ten episodes in a marathon tonight, Thursday September 6, from 6 PM to 11 PM. Sheen’s character, Charlie Goodson, is a therapist who helps his patients with their issues. He has some unresolved anger and other matters of his own that he discusses with his own therapist/sometime girlfriend Kate Wales, played by Selma Blair.
Blair, a native of Michigan, has worked in TV before, but many viewers know her as the initially innocent teen unknowingly caught up in a web of schemes in CRUEL INTENTIONS and as the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman, heroine of the HELLBOY movies. Blair takes a few moments to talk about managing ANGER’s breakneck production pace – along with her new motherhood.
ASSIGNMENT X: Is ANGER MANAGEMENT your first half-hour comedy?
SELMA BLAIR: No, I did one maybe twelve years ago called ZOE, on the WB. I was Zoe, I was playing a twelve-year-old girl, which I wasn’t in real life, and that ran for two seasons. And then I did KATH & KIM [2008-2009] on NBC, that was just one season. So I had a couple of experiences, feeling it out.
AX: But you’ve largely been a film actress …
BLAIR: Yes, theatre and film.
AX: Were you looking to get back to television at this time?
BLAIR: I really was – I got pregnant, my baby’s one year old. As much as I love film and love that adventure, right now, if I were lucky enough to get a great job, say, with Charlie Sheen, or anyone, on TV, I was so happy to take it, because I want to be able to be home when my child will start school, so it’s just a different point in my life, so this made sense and it was a great opportunity.
I didn’t even read the script [before accepting the role]. I just know that Charlie’s an incredibly talented person in film and television, so it was kind of a no-brainer. He has a great track record with work and when I met him, I thought he was a great guy and so much fun and we instantly connected, so it was kind of a no-brainer. He’s in about every scene of this show. We shoot two episodes a week, so it’s very fast-paced, especially for Charlie, and so it’s rush, rush, rush, but we’re friends off-set. He’s someone I consider my closest confidante. He helps me so much in my life, he’s there for me, and he’s a wonderful person. I don’t know how he does it. He manages to be an amazing friend, amazing at work, and he has a lot of charisma, so we just really hit it off.
AX: Was there any time between when you got the part and when you actually started shooting that you had time to do any research into being a therapist?
BLAIR: No, not really, because I had the baby at home. I was up all night and I think we started shooting pretty quickly after I booked the job. My very best friend is a therapist [and was available for questions about the profession], but basically, this moves so fast that you’re kind of just learning your lines and going [laughs]. [In the back ninety], I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to really build a character, and a character that has confidence and an iconic character – if I’m in it a little or a lot, just to have something much stronger. To get another chance to do that would be great, because we did them so fast.
AX: Have you ever done anything before that’s produced quite at this pace?
BLAIR: I don’t think so. This is really something I’ve never experienced. I don’t know how the writers will keep it up or wardrobe will continue to shop – you know, when you’re doing a new show every [half-week], you’ve got to fit in wardrobe fittings and learn your lines and get home and be up all night with the baby. So many of us have kids. But I’ll luckily be a part of it.
AX: It sounds like there’s not much time for rehearsal with the director and to get much input on what you’re doing in the role. Is it liberating or scary to be that much in charge of your own performance?
BLAIR: I think as we go on, I’ll get more confidence to know, “Oh, I can really make a choice here,” because you have to rely on that. You’ve got to think more quickly and say, “Okay, I’ve got to liven this up, I’ve got to figure something out,” and I think we’re all going to get there and I think the writers are going to get more of our particular voices, so it won’t be so scary, but it is an adventure, and you don’t have time to second-guess. There are some fun things that come out of it, impromptu laughs that they’ll keep when you break character, so stuff happens there. We’re having a great time and it’s just going to get better and better.
AX: Do you know the status of HELLBOY III?
BLAIR: I don’t. Someone told me at Comic-Con they were talking about HELLBOY III, but I haven’t heard a thing about it. I would love that.
AX: Do you have any other projects coming up that we should be looking out for?
BLAIR: I just had DARK HORSE come out [in July], the Todd Solondz movie.
AX: How was working with Mr. Solondz?
BLAIR: It was amazing. I worked with him on STORYTELLING ten years ago. This is actually the same character [from STORYTELLING] who came back ten years later [in DARK HORSE], so this character is ten years older. Todd is one of my dear friends and one of my favorite filmmakers, so it was a dream come true to get to do that. And then to get to be in a show like Charlie’s, something so more mainstream, and then to do a Todd movie is like, “Wow, I have a pretty blessed life.”