By: Amrie Cunningham [My Take on TV]
I’ve been a TV Addict forever, watching hours of TV when my mom told me not to. One of my favorite characters ever to grace the small screen is Samantha Micelli from WHO’S THE BOSS?, played so wonderfully by Alyssa Milano. I recently had the great pleasure of catching up with Alyssa to talk about her new Lifetime movie airing this weekend.
The movie, called WISEGAL, is the true story of Patty Montanari, a widowed mother, trying to make ends meet, who in doing so, joins the mafia. Alyssa portrays the title character with strength and vulnerability. James Caan and Jason Gedrick costar in a movie that fits the mold of a Lifetime film – the kind that gets you all teary-eyed – but goes above and beyond that to make you really think about what you would do for your family.
I love the movie. Lifetime has been doing some really great stuff lately.
Alyssa Milano: Yeah, it’s definitely, it’s interesting. It’s an interesting combination. It’s definitely a movie that Lifetime audiences will enjoy because the crux of it is a single mother trying to make ends meet.
What made you want to play Patty?
There were a lot of elements. When I first read the script, before we started production, I just felt like I had a really good grasp on who she was. And what motivated her to make the choices that she makes. And also, I think it shows the mafia in a way that we’ve never seen before, through the eyes of a woman. What that enabled us to do was to really show a side that where it cares about family and about being accepted in a family and about feeling protected and taken care of. And I think that because Patty never had those things, it was very attractive to her.
Is it hard playing a real person, or a true story?
Sometimes, it can be. In this case, it wasn’t hard, because right after I read the script, I felt like I had a really good grasp on who she was. I didn’t talk to her, at all, I still haven’t talked to her, about how I was going to portray it or how I portrayed it because I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my take on who she was. But her son was on the set, blown away by how accurately I was playing the character without having met her.
That has to be validating, to know that you’re playing what he expected of the character.
It’s a great, great feeling. I did one scene with James Caan, the scene where I actually ask him to get out, and after we cut, her son’s eyes were filled with tears. I just thought “oh god, thank you.”
What’s it like working with James Caan?
He’s such a great guy. And so not intimidating like you think he would be. He was joking around when the cameras weren’t rolling. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen because he was doing like these magic tricks, and getting everybody to laugh. And as soon as the cameras started rolling, he was this intimidating, scary person.
Why should viewers tune in?
I think what the movie is really about is a mother doing whatever she has to do to make a better life for her sons. And that’s sort of the foundation of everything and why she makes the choice that she makes. People kind of lead her to the wrong choice but at the time, she was very loved and didn’t know what else to do. As far as why people should tune in, it’s just a good movie. It’s entertaining, the acting’s great. I’m really proud of it.
Switching gears a little bit, having the opportunity to talk about My Name is Earl. Are you in for the rest of the season?
I don’t know exactly. There’s been a discussion about me doing the full back nine. I don’t think anything has been notified yet.
I was talking with someone today about the fact that I was going to talk to you, and we talked about how you can switch between this dramatic role where you’d do anything for your kids and broad comedy. It just shows your talent, and it’s really nice.
Oh thank you so much. I think that’s the best thing about being an actor for me, getting to do all those things.
Is there one that you prefer, drama to comedy?
That’s a really good question. I don’t know if I ever thought of that. I think comedy is a lot more challenging; it’s a lot easier to play a dramatic character, to find that something that people are going to be able to relate to, and that’s what it’s all about. The audience remembers something that makes you relatable so you feel for that character. With comedy, people’s senses of humor are so different, I think to do comedy, and do it well is a very tricky thing. I do think that the writing for My Name Is Earl is so genius that you could put any hack on that show and they’d do well haha.
What are some of your favorite TV shows?
I love Dexter. I love Top Chef. I can’t wait for it to come back. I love Friday Night Lights. [editor’s note, that’s awesome!] I think TV is in a great place right now. It’s definitely getting better and better. I think there is some of the most complete writing for women and female characters, they’re done in television production and not really film production.
You’ve spent a lot of time in long running series. Would you be willing to get involved in another show?
Who haven’t you worked with that you would still like to?
I love Jennifer Jason-Leigh. I love Parker Posey. I love Christian Bale.
Besides Wisegal and My Name Is Earl, what else do you have coming up, if anything?
Nothing! I’m actively looking at pilots in the very limited pilot season that is about to begin. Lots of work for my clothing line which is extremely exciting.
I saw that it had expanded, and I thought that was really cool!?Yeah, it’s cool right? It’s so nice when a plan comes together.
Are you going to be doing stuff with Major League Baseball like you did last year?
Yes, I’ll be doing more stuff for them this year.
Who are your favorite teams?
The Dodgers. My favorite hockey team is the Kings. I like the Clippers in basketball. And I like USC college. Football, the Giants.
Check out Lifetime’s latest original movie, Wisegal, airing Saturday March 15 at 8PM.