After a brief hiatus courtesy of the MLB World Series, Fox is finally taking HOUSE off the bench. Also coming off the bench, in an effort to fill the void left by number Thirteen (Whose stint on the DL was recently extended as a result of Olivia Wilde’s scorching hot movie career) is none other than Amber Tamblyn, who kicks off her multi-episode arc as brilliant third year med student Martha Masters tonight. What’s it like joining FOX’s baseball equivalent of the Atlanta Braves (Read: consistently solid performer for those not familiar with America’s favorite pastime) and what can fans expect from her character? We caught up with the actress on a conference call last week to find out just that.
What was it about HOUSE that excited you about joining the show?
Amber Tamblyn: Well, the main thing was, of course, Hugh Laurie. I had never seen the show before, but as soon as they came to me and said they wanted to write something, I went, “Oh, I don’t want to do a medical show. That doesn’t sound very fun to me.” I started asking my friends, they all went, “Are you an idiot? It’s not a medical show. You’ve never seen it?” I went, “No.” I felt very stupid for ever thinking that. So, I rented a bunch of the seasons, I watched it and was blown away. It is not just Hugh, though it is him, but it’s the idea that you learn so much about these doctors and about these characters, not through long monologues about their back story or through their life and what they’ve been through, but you learn about them based on how they’re tested in their work environment. So, you put them in a certain environment; it creates a certain kind of person. That’s how you learn who they are. To me, that’s incredibly interesting and very smart writing. I think that’s a great way to create a character. So, I felt that I was in good hands to have a character written for me by David Shore. So, it was a combination of all of those things, of working with Hugh, of having David write something for me, just all of that. I felt very flattered by the whole thing, and fortunate.
As an actress who played a pivotal role in launching the likes of JOAN OF ARCADIA and THE UNUSUALS, what’s it like to join a series that’s already in progress?
I wish I had some crazy story about how mean Jesse Spencer was to me or something, but I just fell right into it naturally with them. Maybe they even were a little relieved because I can imagine, being such a well-oiled machine like that, if you have someone come in and it slows down the machine a little bit, it can be maybe frustrating. I don’t know, but we just clicked instantly, all of us. I’ve always preferred working with large groups of guys, so, it’s a perfect work environment for me. Like, THE UNUSUALS to me was the greatest working experience ever, having Adam Goldberg and Jeremy Renner, it was so fun. I think that’s because I don’t have any brothers. I’m guessing… and I talk like a dude. I cuss a lot, which I’m not doing today, I’m on my good streak, it’s fun, I get to play around with them and that’s enjoyable.
What was your impression of Martha Masters when you first read the script?
The part of Martha Masters was originally just an idea. David Shore and Katie Jacobs had come to me and said, “We want to write a character for you. Are you interested?” I said, “Yes.” Then, it wasn’t until I had signed on and did a bunch of episodes that I finally got to see a script. It was a very personal thing to me because the character is based on my real life best friend who is a med student, her real name is Martha Meredith Masters. In fact, they had made her sign a release saying she wouldn’t sue Fox. Pretty hilarious, but she is a med student. She’s very much like this character. I’m not saying anything out of turn or mean about her, but she’s incredibly brilliant, but sometimes she can be very socially awkward. The fact that David Shore still has never met the real Martha Meredith Masters and has written this character so perfectly, so much like her, is pretty amazing. When they do meet, I think like a giant black hole will form in the sky where all human brains will get sucked up into!
What can fans expect from Martha as her storyline unfolds?
I think you’re going to see someone who had been so much in the world of academia and knowledge and accumulating knowledge that she never progressed or matured in a social sense. So, you’re going to see someone that has a hard time communicating on some of the most basic levels, which I think is very common for people who are highly, highly, intelligent functioning people. I think that Martha may even have Asperger’s. It’s something that we’ve talked about. I know that Hugh’s character does. So, it’s potentially like she’s a young version of him, only she believes so strongly in the ethics of truth telling to the point of a fault. Just in the same way that he believes so much in that lying can help you find the truth to a fault. So, the two of them have distinctive ideas about how to get to the same thing. You’re going to see her try to come into the real world for the first time. It’s going to be pretty intense for her.
Having stepped into so many different roles over the years, what about this character did you most enjoy playing?
I love the fact that she is so filled with non-sequiturs. That, to me, is fun, to try to act the fact that when Martha is not talking about scientific or medical things, when she’s just trying to talk to somebody about their life or her life, that it just comes out in non-sequitur sentences and bad, poorly judged metaphors. I love her awkwardness, how incredibly awkward she is. It just gives the character so much potential to grow.
Amber Tamblyn’s guest arc on HOUSE kicks off Monday November 8, 2010 at 8PM on FOX (Global TV in Canada)