RV: An Interview with Cheryl Hines
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RV: An Interview with Cheryl Hines
By Wilson Morales
Having proven herself through hard work and patience has paid off in good dividends for comedic actress Cheryl Hines. Better known as the other half of Larry David from "HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hines is starting to get some solid work on the big screen. Last year, she was featured with Lindsay Lohan and Michael Keaton in "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and now she will be starring opposite fellow comedian Robin Williams in her next film, "RV". In the film, Hines plays Jamie Munro, the wife of Williams' character, who decided to travel with him and the family in an RV for some family vacation time instead on going off to Hawaii. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Hines talks about experience working on RV and her TV show.
Did you have to audition at all for this?
Cheryl Hines: I did not, I took a meeting.
You really don't have to go through that process anymore at least for comedic roles?
CH: Well, yeah, I would like to say that, yeah, but you know, I guess it just depends. It depends on the project and a lot of things but certainly I've moved into a different world, you know, from driving around in my Tercel with all my head shots in the back getting through auditioning and stapling your head shot and resume together and sweating because you don't have air conditioning in your car. So yeah, I've come from that to just taking meetings with the director, (Laughter) which is nice.
And is it sparring, I mean Larry said that you didn't do any improvising, but when you're working with Robin or you're working with Larry, is it sparring? Comedic sparring?
CH: I wouldn't say it that way because, you know, when you're improvising with someone you're doing it so much but although, listen, I'm sure there are plenty of comedians who feel like its competition and want to get all the laughs, but I'm not that person. I don't care if I get laughs or not. I just want to be in the scene and do what comes naturally and support whoever I'm with basically.
So you've been described as the thinking person's sex symbol.
CH: (Laughter) Well.
Was that in your career plan.
CH: (Facetiously) Yes, and it all worked out the way I planned. I don't know how that happened. (Laughter) I mean I don't really know that's really happening but it's so funny because I came to New York, what was I doing, I think I was doing the morning show and the fans that are waiting for me, dying to see me, at eight o'clock in the morning on a weekday are like, middle aged guys in suits. They're like, 'good morning. I've been dying to meet you.' You know, whereas you would think, you know, you see Heather Locklear I'm sure she's got, it's just so bizarre. It's like I'm like the accountant's poster girl. In like power suits.
Is it flattering?
CH: Oh my God it's so flattering. Its so flattering, listen, the people that are fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm and fans of the stuff that I do, I find them all to be, they all do seem like intelligent funny people. So what more could people ask for?
And as someone who started at the Groundlings, you're pretty much at the height of where you want to go in a lot of ways.
You probably of course want to do more but in terms of walking the grounds and doing comedy, it really doesn't get much better than what you're doing. What were your expectations?
CH: Well, without sounding too, you know, Southern California philosophical about it all, I do feel like I learned a big lesson at that point in my life. When I started at the groundlings, because I didn't have anything, literally, I didn't even have a refrigerator. So, I was broke, desperately wanted to get in the groundlings and wanted to be a part of the company just so I could perform and do improv there. And I wanted it so badly and I thought all I wanted was just to be on that stage and I read a book, The Seven Levels of Success by Depac Chopra. I don't know if you've ever read it. One of the things is to detach yourself from the outcome, whatever you want really badly, detach yourself from that and just focus on what you're doing. So it was a good lesson for me because then I realized, 'ok, I can't control if I'm going to actually get in the company or not, but I just need to just go to class and learn what I can learn in class. Appreciate the people in my class and really try to soak it in and that's all I can do. So once I started taking that attitude and really, like, it's really about the process and living your life for what's happening now, sort of the other stuff started to come. So yeah, you first start out thinking, 'oh my God, all I want to do is be in a movie with Robin Williams.' I mean if that's your goal, it's really gonna be difficult to get there, just by wishing it. (Laughter) So yeah, I am amazed that I'm here and I'm basically living a dream. That's a long winded answer. Now do I feel nutty.
When you bring up Depac Chopra I guess.
CH: Yeah, I know, really. When people 'What?' You know, I've heard actors like, just people say, 'just imagine yourself doing it.' I'm like 'I do, I see myself waking up every morning and go into my trailer.
So Barry said you warned him you couldn't sing.
CH: (Laughter) Yeah.
Was there any hesitation to get on film and sing badly?
CH: How dare you?
CH: Accuse me of that. I did not hesitate. I don't even think (6:43). I'd love to say I love to sing. One time when I sang karaoke they gave me the tape that you can play in your car later and I go, 'oh my God, I can't believe I just did that in front of people.' (Laughter) And I thought, 'I will never sing in front of people again, ever.' But then, I mean, we're already shooting the movie and like, 'I've got a great idea.' And I'm like, 'oh no, it involves me singing?' So, listen, what can you do? You can't really hesitate. It's just like, nobody expects me to be good, right? I mean if I was supposed to be good, I'd really be in trouble. But if nobody has any expectations, I don't care, so yeah, I was terrible. I don't know it feels really good here. Well, you know, he picked this impossible song, GTO, and it goes so high that I figure I need to start real low. And you know, it's like the Star Spangled Banner you start it real low because all of a sudden 'and the rocket's red glare.' So the lower you start, listen, I could talk all day about it, go ahead. (Laughter)
What was the most exciting part of the shooting? What did you do?
CH: You mean overall?
What scenes stood out?
CH: Well, you know, when the Monroe's meet the and Jeff and Krista and their families sing for us, it was so hard for me. (Laughter) Because Barry kept wanting us to be deadpan when we were off cam and that was impossible (Laughter). Because here we've been doing something ridiculous and then Jeff, you've seen Jeff, he's just, you know, going around the room and he's got a harmonica going toot toot and I was like, 'I can't do it, I can't do it.' And I, you know, really, once I go, its really hard for me to get it back. And I'll just be sitting there and I'll stop laughing but my shoulders are shaking. I just can't keep it together so that day was especially fun and sad because I did get yelled at quite a bit.
And when you're doing your show Curb Your Enthusiasm, is there ever a time when people get, since most of its improvised, is there ever a time when people get stumped? Is there ever like, someone says something and all of a sudden it's just like 'blank'? Because everyone's so talented, so I wonder.
CH: Well, I don't think that really happens. I don't really think anyone goes blank. I think that once in a while we'll be doing a scene and at the end of a few takes, it's like, not funny. (Laughter) We could talk all day but it's just not funny. So, then you know, we have to decide 'oh maybe we need to try taking a different direction or try something different. But because it's not in front of a live audience, I mean, a live audience is when you see people give for me anyway. Because its like people are watching you going 'what did you say?' (Laughter) So you don't know what you're gonna say, and you feel the pressure, but when you're shooting something like Curb Your Enthusiasm, although I'm sure we probably have guest stars that maybe give Brent a look, such a different process of working. But most people don't, everybody that gets cast, not everybody, but most people that are cast have had an improv background.
How do you deal with the guest stars? Do you have a hazing process where you?
CH: (Laughter) We haze them. Most everybody auditions for Curb because, you know, it is such a different way of working that; Jeff is from Second City, I'm from the Groundlings and Larry has a standup background so between us we kind of pool all the people that we know and they come in and they audition with us, with Jeff and Larry and they basically walk in and don't know anything about the show, they might not know anything about the scene and you'll just tell them, 'in this scene you get in a fight with Larry because he stole your wheelchair.' And that's it, then you start improvising.
Let me ask you about RV then because Larry said he's pretty stickler to the script and likes to play it straight so obviously you and Robin make great improv actors. What was it like to kind of tone it down and then say, 'you know, we could actually do more here.' What's your opinion and reaction about that?
CH: Well, what was really good about it, and Robin, Robin's a true, professional actor. I mean he's really a very focused actor, which I mean I know I'm not saying anything you don't know but for me, I thought maybe like when he does drama he's very focused and when he do comedies he's like 'wow!' But its not, he's like, he so knows what he's doing. So when we do takes we're strictly by the script and then we would maybe do a take or two where he could do whatever he wanted. So it was a pretty good compromise, you know. But we also sat down with Barry before we started shooting and went through the whole script and if we had ideas that we thought would make the scene better or the (12:27) better, we would talk about it before we started shooting. Because Barry does, he's very; he has everything planned out when you shoot. You know what you're doing, what you're gonna shoot and how you're gonna shoot it. It's interesting.
And you've worked with so many comedic people, you know, people from every generation of your show, you know, Berman, Robin Williams. How scary are their dark sides?
CH: Well, I mean, I guess that is true that a lot of comedians have had a painful life. I haven't been around anybody that, you know, if I was sitting in a room with them and they went to their dark side and I would think 'God, he's gonna kill us both.' I've never been afraid of anybody's dark side. But and especially about my personal experience, people that I've worked with, I haven't really, it's not that big of a difference. You know, it might be that they just get quiet as opposed to; you know, my life sucks and everybody sucks, and I hate the world, if they only knew who I really was. Now, I know there are people out there like that, but I haven't really met them.
That's like Larry every day.
CH: (Laughter) Yeah, he's open about it. So yeah, you see his dark side, no secrets.
You mentioned before about doing supporting work and I think you really kind of nailed the sort of funny, supporting wife role, when are you gonna be doing a film or a show where somebody's gonna be your funny supportive husband?
CH: I know, that's very nice of you to ask. I would like that, maybe next. (Laughter) I would like that. I don't know, but it would be fun. Especially you know, with my training at the groundlings. I mean, all my sketch comedy work, I would just, anyway, so hopefully, soon.
Were you influenced by certain comedians?
CH: Well I love Carol Burnett and I love Mary Tyler Moore. I mean those are definitely my big influences. Yeah.
DRE: How's the show going? Did it get renewed?
CH: Yeah we got picked up and we're working on our second season. So, yeah we're doing, its doing great. That's a show that has this cult following, people keep coming to me (Laughter) it's just like Oh my God, Campus is like the funniest thing I've ever seen. We're like, 'I know.' Its crazy, it's out there. I don't know if you've seen it, but you should see it.
How involved with it are you on a daily or weekly basis?
CH: Well when we got the show up and running I was there all the time for all the shooting of the pilot and getting the outlines together it's not like Curb improvised. And then when I started shooting of course I was away from it. So I had stepped away from it a little bit but when I wasn't doing anything else, shooting something, I was on the set of Campus Lady. And I directed an episode and hope this season we're working on the new outlines and I will, I'll be on set as much as I can, but you know, kind of overall creative force.
Is that headed out on DVD?
CH: I hope so. Yeah, we need to figure that out. We just finished up our season.
Because more and more people turn to DVD and Curb is a really good example.
Did you ever have a really horrible family vacation experience to go with the great ones?
CH: I think they all have a little horror. (Laughter) Yeah, we would go from Florida to North Carolina and rent a cabin by a stream. Our chance to bond with nature and my parents thought it would be a great idea to, instead of using a refrigerator, to put everything that needed refrigeration in the cold stream. And so our job was to build a dam all day. So in the freezing cold stream building a dam and it was thirteen that night and all of our food washed away. So, basically for the next few days we would go on a hike looking for a soda. So, you know, looking back it's really fun. But at the time, you know, you're ten and its like, I'm in search of food and really you're just hoping you find the carton of eggs that flew down the river. So it was kind of fun, but you know, at the same not that exciting that year, we didn't have anything to eat that night.
You didn't all bond and get closer?
CH: In this movie or like we did in the movie? Yeah, because, you know, he laughed about it at the time. Although I did go camping with my Dad once and one night while we were sleeping, I was cold. I was trying to keep the fire going and I burned all of our toilet paper and napkins and paper towels. Nobody was happy when they woke up. Who knew? I didn't know about anything to keep the fire going.
(Laughter) When are you going back into production for Curb?
CH: That's a good question.
It's not announced right?
CH: No. I'm still waiting for Larry to decide if he definitely wants to do another season or not.
And do you think there's a lot more to do?
CH: I think there's probably one more season left and then I think we'll survive.
And what would you like to happen? That they'll have kids or something?
CH: Oh we'll never have kids. (Guffaw laughter) No, I don't know. I don't know what's gonna happen. But yeah, I don't think kids. I don't think anybody wants to see Larry procreate. (Laughter) although in real life Larry's cot cute kids but anyway on the show I don't think people want to see it.
RV opens on April 28th, 2006
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