10 Things with Annie Parisse
You’ve been acting for quite some time with a variety of work under your belt. You’re often recognized for the work you did on NBC’s Law & Order, which means you’re pretty much always on TV. How does it feel to have left your mark in history for that series?
Oh, that’s funny! I never thought of it like that! But, yeah, it’s pretty cool to have been a part of Law & Order. I learned so much from the people I worked with there. Sam, of course, and Jesse, Dennis and Epatha, but also, all the incredible guest stars who came through.
Over the years, you’ve had the opportunity to delve in a wide range of roles and characters. What types of roles are you drawn to the most?
There’s probably not one kind of role I like best. It’s always about reading a script and feeling out the material. Something that feels exactly right at one time, might not feel right at another. But, in general, I get the most excited about roles that I’m not quite sure how to do… the ones that make me feel a little scared, a little intimidated.
If you had the ability to create your own project, what would it look like and which actors would take part in it with you?
Oh my. I would NEVER create my own project! Too much responsibility! I love being an actor and taking care of every detail in my corner of the world. That said, there are so many wonderful actors I’d love to work with out there. If I tried to come up with my own project, it would probably be a cast of thousands.
Let’s talk about your latest project, Friends from College on Netflix. How did you first get connected to the show and what made you want to be part of this series?
Sounds a little boring, but my agent sent me the script and I thought it was really funny. I liked the complexity of Sam’s circumstances and the approach Nick and Francesca were taking. So, I auditioned and got the part.
On the show, you play the role of Sam, who quite frankly is a mix of a little mess, but still has it together in a comedic way. What do you enjoy about playing her on screen?
Sam is living a pretty unexamined life at the moment Friends From College opens and a few things happen that force her to start thinking about where she is in life and how she got there and I think that leads to a lot of hilarity and also a lot of poignancy. She’s really just starting to see how she’s living as she turns 40 and, of course, that’s absurd! But also, a lot of us do a lot of stuff without really thinking about what impact it’ll have on our lives and kind of have the “how-did-I-get-here-moment?” It was fun to start from that very un-self aware mindset and try to dig out.
Did you have any similar experiences at Fordham University that you were able to channel on the show?
Ya know, not really. I went to the campus at Lincoln Center and it was a very NYC-centric experience. Not a lot of parties in dorm rooms. Actually, not even much of a campus. Definitely NOT the classic Ivy League college experience. But, I’m still friends with my freshman year roommate. Although, I hope we’re better behaved than the characters on the show when we get together!
With traditional TV, you get to engage with the audience from week to week. Being on a streaming platform, obviously it’s different, because the audience may be watching at different times. How does this affect the way you guys shoot the show and dealing with the viewer reaction thereafter?
In terms of shooting, its great! We had all 8 scripts from the start, so we knew where we were going. That was so great from an acting point of view. And we got to rehearse a bit before we started shooting and as someone who started in theatre, I loved that. As far as dealing with viewer reaction, I’m not sure. I try not to get too involved in that. But, it is nice to have completed shooting by the time people are seeing the show.
What can viewers expect to see from Sam and the rest of characters in this first season?
I think it’s the beginning of a growing up experience for Sam- not in the sense of finding a job, or getting married, or having kids, all of which she’s done- but in the sense of really considering what she wants her life to look like. I think to one degree or another most of the characters have that kind of a moment during the first season.
When it comes to fashion, which designers and styles appeal to you the most?
I’m a very low key, perhaps minimalist dresser. Living in NYC, with kids, my preference is always comfort but I appreciate great pieces and looking put together without having to think too much about it! So anything that looks vaguely chic while keeping me cool in the summer or cozy in the winter, I’m game. I love my a fabulous leather jacket or a fitted blazer and have been wearing a long denim skirt this summer which feels a bit 70s Bohemia. I wear a lot of Vince and Rag and Bone in my daily life. When getting dressed up, I usually let someone else weigh in (most recently I LOVED wearing a gorgeous Zac Posen dress!) and I make it a goal to be able to use the toilet un-assisted.
We look forward to seeing how things develop on Friends from College. What other projects do you have coming up in the near future?
I just worked with Jeff Daniels on Looming Tower for Hulu and will next work Barry Levinson and Al Pacino’s new project for HBO about Joe Paterno and the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky Child Abuse scandal playing Mary Kay Paterno, Joe’s daughter.
Photos: Courtesy of Netflix & Victoria Stevens