Sarah Shahi Fairly Legal Interview

January 16, 2011

Have you heard about the fabulous new USA show Fairly Legal, starring the lovely Sarah Shahi? Well my friends if you haven’t I am here to tell you the show is awesome and so is Sarah. Keep reading to learn more about the show and Shahi, including pictures and a video.

Sarah Shahi

I recently had the good fortune to be a part of a Q&A interview with the lovely Sarah Shahi, star of Fairly Legal a new show debuting on the USA network this upcoming Thursday January 20th at 10PM EST. To say it was a pleasure to talk with her is an understatement, Sarah is amazing but don’t take my word check out my interview.

Q. How did the part of Kate come about for you?
A. I was about five weeks postpartum and I went in to read the slides. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get back into TV because of my baby. I went into the audition wearing my husband’s t-shirt, Nike running pants, a blazer, and heels because that’s the only thing that fit me just after five weeks of having my baby. I went in, I read, and I think towards the end of my audition I felt myself lactating, I was wearing a white t-shirt, and I kind of ran out of there as fast as I could. They called and said that they really liked me but they thought I was wearing some interesting wardrobe. They wanted me to come back, but this time put a button-down on. For me the only thing that fit was my husband’s country western button down shirt from a Halloween costume that he had, so I wore that. Once again, they were like, “What is this girl thinking?” It was a two round audition and then they wanted me to test. Once again, I still wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to go back in TV, so I had a meeting with them before the test. I said, “Look, I don’t want to be just an actor for hire. I kind of want to have a say in the story lines, in the character and the other casting. If that’s something you guys are not interested in having, then I’m not your girl.” It turns out that’s probably exactly what they wanted to hear because that was the character. That’s how it happened and then I tested and I got the part.

Q. What were some of the biggest challenges for you in bringing this character of Kate to life on screen?
A. There were a couple. One of the challenges for me is that this is a character who just goes on her heart. She becomes so involved with the people that she’s dealing with, whether it’s in her personal life or it’s a working relationship. The challenge was/is allowing myself as an actor to allow Kate to be emotional about it, but then at the same time she had to be professional. A note that I was constantly getting from certain producers were, “You need to be more business-like” but I think that’s the opposite of this character. That’s why people like her; she’s so anti-business. The beauty of this character is that she is so emotional.

Q. How familiar were you with a mediator before you joined?
A. Not very. I actually didn’t even know what a mediator was when I auditioned for the show. I thought it was like a lawyer that didn’t pass the bar so they are just a mediator. But to me with this character it was not important to hover down as a mediator because if anything she’s the anti-corporate corporate girl. To me it was important to get to the heart, to understand her passion.

Q. Are there qualities there that you brought to Kate?
A. Yes, I think the things that she and I have in common—we’re both kind of flirty, feisty characters, kind of grab life by the balls kind of girls, and we have the what you see is what you get kind of attitude. But the part where she and I vastly differ is she’s a lot more immature than I am. She’s very childlike with her emotions. She’s very “Love me, love me, love me,” but then she’ll push you away with the other hand, whereas I’m not like that. If I have a situation or a problem in my personal life, I like to tackle it head on. Kate sort of avoids conflict in her personal life at all costs, but when it comes to her work life, she dives head first in it. So those are the ways in which we differ.

Q. How does the role of Kate differ from your previous roles in shows like The L Word and Life?
A. Oh, God, they’re vastly different. My character on Life was very troubled, a lot darker than Kate. Kate, of course what I liked about her so much were her flaws. She can fix everybody but herself kind of thing. I think generally, she is a happy person. She’s very whimsical and spontaneous. My character on Life was not like that at all. She was the opposite; very by the book, very sort of calculated in what she was going to do because she just didn’t want to mess up. On The L Word Carmen was a DJ raised in a Catholic household and had a lot of hidden secrets from her family. So yes, they’re greatly different.

Q. You mentioned you were a little hesitant about getting back into TV, can you talk more about that?
A. I had just come off Life where we worked for two seasons for 18 hours a day, and we ended up getting cancelled, so I kind of had a bitter taste in my mind about TV. I also worked up until I was six and a half months pregnant on the show. They didn’t reduce my hours until later on in my pregnancy. So I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to get back into this kind of schedule again, especially now that I have a child. When I went into my meeting with Michael Sardo and Steve Stark I said, “Look, I’m flattered that you guys want me for this, but I’m at a different place where I’ve done this before and I didn’t really get much back in terms of recognition from the work.” It was like if I’m going to commit myself to another season of television with these hours and this work schedule, I want to be a big dog. I don’t want to just be another actor for hire with it. If they just wanted me to be the actor who comes to work, delivers the lines, and then beyond that I didn’t have any sort of creative say, meanwhile being the title role, it was not something I wanted to do.

Q. You originally moved to Hollywood after the late, great director Robert Altman suggested that you might give it a try. How exactly did that happen?
A. I always wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t sure how to do it. I was in a production of Chicago, I sang, and there was this girl that was a background dancer who said, “Why don’t you try out for the Dallas Cowboy football cheerleaders,” because back in 1995 they were on Saturday Night Live. I thought, “Great. That’s my way in.” I tried out for them and I made the team. Robert Altman decided to come to Texas and use our facilities to shoot Dr. T and the Women. So he came to the ranch and the cheerleaders we were background in the movie for about two weeks. For whatever reason, maybe it’s because I didn’t know who he was, he took a liking to me and we hung out with each other every day for two weeks. He said towards the end, “What is it that you want to do?” I said, “Well, I want to be an actor but I don’t know how do it.” He looks at me and he goes, “I think you have what it takes, you should move to LA.” I went home that night, Googled him, and from all the movies that he’s done, I’m embarrassed to say the only one I knew about was Popeye. I told my mom through the screen door. She’s in the kitchen and I was in my room, “The guy who directed Popeye is telling me I’ve got a shot.” We packed up my truck and moved to LA. He had given me his mobile number, his office number and said, “When you get to LA, I want you to call me. I want to help you.” For three months, he and I traded phone calls. We never actually connected, and then by the time it was my turn to call back I had been educated on who he was. I told the story enough times around town that people were like, “Really? You and Altman?” After that I was intimidated, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to say to him anymore,” and I never returned his phone call.

Q. What is it about Kate that made you want to play her, especially since it meant giving up spending time with your baby?
A. It was her flaws. The things that I love most about this character are her flaws. I think, often times in TV, they try to put people up who are perfect people. People who kind of have it all figured out and we wanted to do the opposite of that. We wanted to do somebody who was very confident in their job, but at the same time, she was internally incredibly flawed and had a lot of faults. That’s what I wanted to play. That was the other thing that I was talking to Michael Sardo and Steve Stark about was that I wasn’t interested in playing a perfect person. I wanted to play somebody who struggled, and because I think that’s real. I think it’s real for people to struggle, and I think it’s refreshing to see a character like that on TV, not a character who’s just willing to sell toothpaste. Often times TV gets kind of knocked, saying the space in between the commercials. I wanted to make sure that this character was not going to be playing to that. It was, in a sense, going to be representing a real person and some real struggles. We were going to get a chance to explore that and to see her fail, to see her try to pick herself back up. That’s what I was interested in playing.

Q. Do you have anything you would want to change about Kate yet or have you gotten enough into her to get to that point?
A, I don’t know if there’s anything I want to change about Kate right now. She’s mentally and emotionally at a very interesting place. I don’t want to see her evolve quite yet because I think there are more stories to tell with her at where she’s at, but I do, as an actor, like to constantly be surprised. I don’t know what’s in store for her. I don’t know how I’m going to play her, and I enjoy the mystery. I hope I continue to discover her.

Q. What is it like working with Michael Sardo and the cast of Fairly Legal?
A. It’s amazing. I could pinch myself working with Michael. He is one of the most egoless show runners I have ever come across and such an amazing writer. He’s such a corroborator. He’s so creative, so smart, one of the wittiest people I know. The cast is great. We find it so easy for whatever reason and I think we just got lucky. The dynamics that you see are kind of real. If Leonardo and Kate are annoyed with each other, that’s kind of how Baron and I can be with each other in real life. Virginia and I, we get along, and it’s really easy to play that we don’t like each other because we like each other so much. We try to out biotch one another in the scenes actually. It’s amazing. Like I said earlier, I could pinch myself because the job comes easy.

Don’t forget to check out Sarah Shahi in Fairly Legal Thursday January 20th on USA. In the meantime enjoy the below pictures and video of Shahi.

Sarah Shahi 2 1Sarah Shahi 3Sarah Shahi 4Sarah Shahi 5Sarah Shahi 6

Photos: Nikolov/Adriana M. Barraza/Apega

« Previous Next »

2 Responses to “Sarah Shahi Fairly Legal Interview”

  1. 1
    Sandy Says:

    She’s a cute girl!

  2. 2
    Miriam Says:

    She is cute and i enjoyed reading this interview