Monday, August 6, 2012

Interview: Nicole Forester Shows Us Who's Boss

As Starz’s political drama “Boss” enters its second season, I spoke with series co-star Nicole Forester about the new season and her character, Maggie Zajac. She gave me a few hints as to what viewers can expect when the series returns to its Friday-night timeslot on Aug. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, with 13 all-new episodes of the Kelsey Grammer-starring political drama. She also told me what it was like working with Tom Cruise on his new movie, “Jack Reacher,” which is scheduled for a December premiere.

Celebrity Extra: When you were first approached about the role of Maggie on this gritty drama, what were your thoughts about the show?

Nicole Forester: My reaction was perhaps similar to a lot of people’s. I was really struck by the writing, and how smart it is and how intense it is. Every week — even though I’ve read the script and shot the episode — when I watch that episode on television, I’m blown away. It is so dark and it’s so intense. Kelsey’s character is written beautifully, and then the way he delivers it: He has such a presence, and his voice and his whole energy — there’s a weight and strength to it. The show is raw and really shocking.

CE: You and I know that Kelsey is a lot more than Frasier Crane, but I think a lot of people were blown away when they first got a glimpse of Mayor Tom Kane.

NF: It’s fun for me when people ask me about the show. It takes awhile for it to sink in. Even after I describe it, they ask, “Oh, it’s not a comedy?” I say: “No, it’s not a comedy. It’s a one-hour drama, and Kelsey’s really dark and really intense and really mean.” It takes awhile for people to wrap their brains around the fact that he’s not Frasier.

CE: Because the show is on cable, you get a lot more freedom and leeway as to what you can say and the subjects you can cover. That must be exciting for you as an actress.

NF: Yeah, it is exciting for me. All the series I’ve ever done before have been network television. I love them, too, but this was just a new frontier for me. I’m dropping the “F” bomb left and right. It allows the writers to be edgier and the scenes to be edgier. It feels like we’re shooting a one-hour movie every week.

CE: That’s what I think, too; like it feels bigger than a TV show.

NF: I like that. That’s a good way to put it. It does feel bigger than a TV show. I don’t understand how the writers have time to come up with this, because the schedule is very quick. But there are so many levels to the writing, and every character is complex — and there are so many intricacies and subtleties and details.

CE: What do you like about Maggie? She must be great fun to portray.

NF: I love Maggie because she’s smart. I think she’s smarter than I am. There’s the duality of her public face and her private face, which I suppose any political person could relate to, but in some way we all do. In season one, Maggie just appears to be the smiling, dutiful politician’s wife, but she’s a lot deeper than that. She has no problems stepping up and calling the shots with her husband. I think people were really surprised by Maggie at the end of the season. They did not see coming what her response was going to be when she discovered photos of her husband’s inappropriate behavior. My heart starts racing when I read these scripts, and I think: “I can’t believe I get to play that! I get to say all of those words!”

Nicole Forester

CE: Without getting yourself into trouble, can you give me any season two spoilers for “Boss”?

NF: I won’t get myself in trouble. No, I won’t do that. (Laughs.) I can just tell you that what you saw at the end of season one between Ben and Maggie is a good indicator of where they’re going, as far as Maggie taking the reins and doing whatever she has to do to keep her husband in a direction that will result in them going all the way to the Governor’s Mansion. She has no intention of stopping short of the Governor’s Mansion.

CE: As you read each episode’s script, does your mouth just drop by what happens each show?

NF: Absolutely! When I was at home watching season one, I’m thinking, “Holy crap, I can’t believe it.” And that’s only going to be more so in season two. Every episode is just loaded, and there are surprises, and it’s just intense all the way around — in a good way.

CE: Since Maggie is taking the reins, will you be in more episodes this season?

NF: Yes. There’s a lot more of Maggie in season two. You see her more frequently and — how do I say this? — a lot more of her as well. You see a lot more of Maggie. We’ll just put it simply like that.

CE: I won’t ask you to divulge any more, because as a fan of the show, I want to be surprised.

NF: I’m with you. I think you’ve got to watch and let it unfold. I think that’s the way you get the most out of it and enjoy it. When I was on the soaps, I never wanted to give away spoilers. People were always asking — not just the press, but family, too — and I’m thinking: “No, you’ve got to watch the show. If I tell you, then you ruin all the fun for yourself.” So, no, I wouldn’t want to give away any plotlines anyway, except to tell you that there’s certainly some surprises and some shocking moments. If you tune in, you’ll be entertained week after week.

CE: You’re in Tom Cruise’s movie, “Jack Reacher.” What was that experience like, and how was it to work with Tom?

NF: That was a thrill to do. To work with Tom Cruise was a blast, as you might imagine. He was an absolute gentleman. He went out of his way to be chivalrous toward me and everyone I saw him interact with on set. He was absolutely lovely. He tried to make everyone comfortable and was just an absolute pleasure on set. He did things like have the local doughnut shop come at 3 o’clock, when everybody’s ready for a nap, and here comes the local doughnut guy making freshly made doughnuts in front of you. Or he’d have the espresso guy come out. He was just very generous. It was directed by Christopher McQuarrie, who is an Academy Award winner for writing “The Usual Suspects,” which is a classic. The whole set was just tops.

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