By: Amrie Cunningham
PUSHING DAISIES is one of my top shows on television. The colors! The stories! The actors! Digby! Quite literally, everything about the enchanting world of Coeur d’Coeurs puts a smile on my face. Which is why it was such a thrill to preview tonight’s second season premiere with none other than Swoosie Kurtz [Aunt Lily] herself. Who was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to talk about her love for Aunt Lily, why you all should be tuning in and of course, that tiny little bombshell that she dropped in last season’s finale [Pssstttt, she's Chuck's Mom!].
Last season PUSHING DAISIES was one of those shows that I set my life around – I had to get home and watch every week.
Swoosie Kurtz: Oh how great. Oh thank you for that. I think it’s an amazing show!
Can you talk about what originally drew you to Lily and how the character came to you?
It was pilot season, and I was reading a lot of pilots, hours and half hours, and I know I’ve said this a hundred times, but I really, truly, had to check the cover of it. By the bottom of page two, he had me with Digby’s death, and I said, wait a minute, this has to be a film, not a TV pilot. So I looked at the cover, and it said it was a TV pilot. I read a couple more pages and I had to check again because I thought, is this for a network? I just fell in love with the writing, with the piece itself, with the whole situation. The aunts, oh, Lily and Vivian didn’t have a lot to do in the pilot, but I thought, well I don’t really care about the size of it, so much as I do what’s there is killer stuff. I mean, it’s just killer. When you start with great writing, then there are no limits. As an actor, you spend so much of your career trying to pump up, you know, what’s on the page that’s not so great. When it’s great to begin with, you think, “Oh I could just fly on the wings of this.” Bryan Fuller to me is truly the star of the show. He is our Wizard of OZ, our Wizard of Daises in this amazing technicolor world we live in.
Coming from the theater, I love a certain amount of heightened reality and to me this show is not your typical cop or hospital drama or people sitting around talking about their marriage. It’s so astonishing, it just takes my breath away sometimes. I don’t know where it’s going and sometimes I don’t always understand it because it’s just so much smarter than I am. And I love that! [laughs]
It’s funny that you say it takes your breath away – sometimes I just sit and watch the 48 minutes of film and I have a grin from ear to ear and can’t explain it; I’m just so happy that I just watched whatever I watched.
That’s exactly how I feel. It just makes me feel so good inside and I think some of the reason for that is that it’s so life affirming. What it says about the human condition are things that we can all relate to. The longings, the unrequited love, the loneliness, all the heartbreaking things that go on every day in a big way and a small way. It’s just so understanding of those, and it’s just such a kind heart. The detective procedural stuff is great fun, but for me, the heart of the show and what draws me to the show are the characters and their struggle. And their attitudes towards things. It seems always, even in the midst of their darkest times, and I think the show does get a little darker this season by the way, there seems to be a hope there, a light at the end of the tunnel always. It just seems to me something so, it celebrates life.
What can we expect from Lily this year?
I, Lily, seem to be spending a lot of my time so far this year trying to keep secrets. I think that’s one of the most, I read some quote about that, which I wish I had [laughs]. Something about keeping a secret is one of the most stressful, and one of the things that make you most lonely is to keep a secret. I, as a character, try to keep this huge secret, the cliffhanger of last season, which is I’m Chuck’s mother. You’ll find out why I can’t reveal that secret. Especially to Vivian. It would ruin both of our lives. It still may, that’s still to come.
There seems to be more Lily and Vivian incorporated into the story
One of the big motors of season two in the beginning is that cliffhanger that we ended with last season. Who finds out what, what is known by whom? I think more and more as the season goes on, you’ll see that there’s such high stakes. It’s not just fun stuff, it’s really high stakes life or death kind of secrets. The length that I, as a character, go to in order to keep these secrets…and you know, Vivian starts dating. This horrible man Dwight Dixon [played by Stephen Root] comes into our lives, and he shows up out of the past and he is a smarmy sort of faux-charming guy who sweet talks Vivian and pulls the wool over her eyes, and knows way too much about my past, and makes these veiled threats to tell Vivian what he knows. So I just want to blow him away with my shotgun, which I in fact do in a fantasy scene, in typical PUSHING DAISIES fashion. I did actually kill a man last year in the pilot. This time, this is sort of in my mind. I go into Clint Eastwood mode. Doing this with my shotgun, okay I have like this 85 pound shotgun I’m holding, which I have to hit a particular mark with, I’ve got the eye patch on, and because of the shot gun, we’ve all put ear plugs in. We love obstacles in acting, but this was ridiculous [laughs]. Just another day at the office on PUSHING DAISIES. I couldn’t hear anything they were saying to me, I could only see half, no depth perception, and shotgun.
I was actually going to ask if you can see out of the eye patch, or are you completely blind out of that eye for the show?
I don’t want to see out of that eye patch because I want it to be just like it would be for her, for real. I make it so it really closes my eye.
I have had the chance to meet just about everyone on the show so far, and the cast is so kind.
Aren’t they great people?
I think that’s almost what makes me love the show more. Everyone I’ve spoken to loves their own show, and just seems to genuinely care about each other.
It is such a terrific group. That includes Bryan and Dan and Bruce. There’s just friends. They’re all sort of rooting for each other. I know every cast probably says I love my cast, I love my costars, but in fact it really seems genuine, really genuine. Anna and Lee, all of them. Such dear, dear people off camera. You know, Anna and Lee, these two gorgeous young talented people could be such nightmares [laughs], and they could have such egos. Instead, they are two totally together, mature, kind, considerate, wonderful people. I am nuts, head over heels in love with them on screen and off screen too. Everybody in this cast, I see somebody and my heart kind of lifts a little when I see them. It’s a wonderful, wonderful job, and I feel very grateful to be a piece of the pie.
What would you say to someone who didn’t catch last year’s short season about why they should tune in?
Because I think they will have a different experience than they have ever had before. I think it’s kind of like taking your imagination to the gym. It’s a wonderful mind and eye opening way of looking at life, through a completely different lens. It tugs on your heart.
I agree with everything you said, and I swear, I can’t stop telling people to watch it!
All right – keep up the good work!
Anything else you want to say before we end this today?
These astonishing scripts keep coming every ten days. I feel like I’ve landed in a field of magically enchanted daisies.
Well good luck with everything – can’t wait for the premiere.
Thank you so much for everything you do.
Thank you so much for everything you do!