Best known as "Marie Schrader" on AMC's Emmy Award Winning series "Breaking Bad," Besty Brandt has conquered television, movies, and theatre. In addition to "Breaking Bad," Betsy has been seen on "Private Practice," "No Ordinary Family," "ER," "Boston Legal," and a recurring guest-starring role on "Without A Trace." Betsy's film credits include "Jeremy Fink, "The Meaning of Life" and the upcoming "Magic Mike."
On stage, Besty has performed at regional theatres around the country. Most recently, Betsy originated the role of "Mary" in the World Premiere of Julia Cho's "The Language Archive" at South Coast Repertory and appeared in their production of "Ridiculous Fraud." Betsy has also starred in "Royal Family" and "The Little Foxes" at Intiman Theatre, "Much Ado About Nothing" at Arizona Theatre Company, "Control + Alt + Delete" at San Jose Repertory, and "Thirst" at A Contempory Theater.
Now, Betsy takes center stage in Geoffrey Nauffts' Tony Award Nominated play "Next Fall" at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, CA (10886 Le Conte Avenue) alongside Geoffrey Nauffts himself, Lesley Ann Warren, Ken Barnett, Jeff Fahey, and James Wolk. "Next Fall" plays through December 4. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was in high school and went to see a production of "As You Like It" on a school trip at Stratford in Ontario, CA. I just fell in love with it and I thought that is what I wanted to do. I can remember watching the whole thing and just loving it.
2. Who's the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Oh gosh, that is a huge list. Mostly on that list is women. I wanted to work with Blythe Danner and then I did. Of course I'd love to work with Meryl Streep and hope that some of her talent and genius would just passover to me via osmosis, even though osmosis is passing through water, but you know what I mean. Edie Falco would be a dream to work with as well.
3. What attracted you to "Next Fall" and what excites you most about being in the show? These are great questions. I didn't get to see it on Broadway, but when I heard "Next Fall" was coming to the Geffen Theatre in LA, I read the play and just thought it was a beautiful play. Immediately, I said to myself, "I want to do this." It's sweet, it's charming, and it's thought provoking. It's everything you want a good play to be.
What excites me about this run is the group of people I'm working with: the cast, the director, the stage mangers, everyone who's a part of it. Me: You all have good chemistry and get along? Betsy: I've been very lucky and I think I get this more than other actors, but sometimes everything just falls into place. When we sat around the table to do our first reading, I thought this is a really special group. I just love them. It's so much fun to work with them and it's fun to watch them work. It makes such a difference.
3a. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? It depends on the audience member because it will be different people seeing the show. It depends on where you stand with the issue. In NY, same-sex couples can marry, but here in CA, that is not the case. Hopefully in the near future that will change and same-sex couples will be able to marry here in CA. Depending on where people start with where they stand on the issue, I hope people with either want to do something about it or just come away with a sense of understanding of the issue.
3b. What will you bring to the character of "Holly" that another actor might not? Just my heart. I know someone else has played the role already and everyone will bring their own thing to the role. I try to make her loving and fun. She's very caring and I think the relationship she and "Adam" have is really beautiful and I think there is a lot of love between them and I hope that comes across. Plus, I adore Geoffrey Nauffts, so it's easy to play with him.
4. What's your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I don't know that I have a favorite part of rehearsal, but I love that moment where it goes from blocking and trying to map things out to when you really discover your character and everything clicks. It's that moment where I know I'll go out in front of the audience and they'll see I'm making a person.
I have two little kids, so where ever I can get the time and it's quiet.
5. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? These are such good questions. How important it is to remember it's not always so important on stage to feel it yourself, but to allow the audience to feel it.
6. What was the best part about originating the role of "Mary" in Julia Cho's "The Language Archive?" What do you like about originating a role as opposed to taking over a role for somebody else or playing a role that somebody else has already done? That was a beautiful play too. The best part was Julia's language and being directed by Mark Brokaw in that role. They are both fabulous and work really well together. To be able to speak in Julia's language is real and very poetic. She just has this style and it was one of the most magical things.
I pretty much look at that the same way. It's nice and definitely a special privilege to originate a role, but no matter what it's yours. For instance, whoever plays "Mary" now, that will be their "Mary" and their "Mary" will be completely different from my "Mary." I feel a role always yours and it's great to have that moment to do perform it.
I work in New Mexico for a good part of the year filming "Breaking Bad" on AMC and I went to speak to a high school drama club. They were doing their first production in their newly remodeled theatre, a production of "Grease." I gave them pep talk on opening night and got to introduce the show and I told them, "I don't care who played your role in the movie or on Broadway, tonight is yours and your "Rizzo" will be different than any other "Rizzo" that came before you or will come after you and there are these people here on Friday night who want to be entertained and it's your job to put yourself out there and entertain them and put everything you can into it. Tonight is your moment, it's your time." I was so inspired by these kids in how they put themselves out there. It was really amazing and humbling for me to see. Me: It was great that you were able to give them advice because I'm sure it will stick with them as they go on to other roles. Betsy: I got to spend time with some of them after the show and they were so sweet. It was really my privilege to be able to do that.
7. What's the best advice you've ever received? I've gotten a lot of good advice. My first equity show I did was "The Fantasticks" and I played "The Mute," and the show was going to be extended, but I had also received another job offer. The musical director told me, "There are three things you look at when you are trying to decide whether to do a job or not: Is it a career advancement? Does it fulfill you artistically? How much does it pay? If it's got two of the three, you take it." Now, I have a caveat to that, "or if it has an abundance of one of those." Hahaha. I think that needs to be looked at too. This is such an emotional business for an actor, but it's still a business, so it can be hard to make these kinds of decisions, but if you have a really good team with you or a good sounding board at home.
8. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My husband.
9. Favorite way to stay in shape? Picking up my kids. Favorite way to spend your day off? Doing nothing. Playing with my kids.
10. Favorite skin care product? Dr. Hauschka. Favorite kind of shoes? That's a tough call. Manolo Blahnik and Frye Boots. I know they're on opposite ends of the spectrum, but I kind of don't see it that way. I love them both.
11. Favorite website? New York Times.
12. Superman or Wonder Woman? Why does it have to be one or the other? I like them both.
13. What has been the best part about starring on "Breaking Bad" and what do you enjoy about being on a long-running show as opposed to doing a guest starring role? It's really fun to play the same character for this long with other actors playing the same characters. These people we play seem so real to me, I can't even tell you, in all their positive attributes and their flaws. I don't know if this is the case with every character or every show, but in this particular situation, for me, it's been a really fantastic ride.
Also, the chemistry, the material, working with Vince Gilligan, and the cast makes the show really great to be on. Right off the bat, in the rehearsal process, Vince was such a dream. From the moment you meet him, you just want to work with him. He's so smart, talented, charming, and really sweet. I feel that helped set the tone for the show. We have an amazingly talented crew too: our producers, directors, cinematographers, etc. I know our show is about a man dying of cancer, but we still have a lot of fun at work. It's really great place to go to everyday.