EXCLUSIVE: Megan Follows talks about her new lesbian role and Anne with an “e”

 
 

AE: You’ve stayed active in film and TV and particularly now theater. Is there a medium you prefer?
MF: No, I mean I love them all. What I like is good writing. One does not always get that, or one gets bits of that. But good writing can be found in any and all mediums. The thing with the theater, especially these classical pieces, is you’re working off these enormous texts that are daunting and so much bigger than you that you are always reaching for something. It is a very different process that way.

I think television now is actually better for women than it’s ever been, and better for women as they’re getting older. It’s quite tragic, because as we know the older you get the more you have to offer, the more you have to contribute. And there is a richness to that which we’ve always allowed for with men. There is a depth of character or wisdom or experience that is intriguing. That is sexy because it is life and experience. And we’re allowing for more of that now with women. We’re recognizing that more. And that’s exciting as an actor. You really have your own life experience to contribute to your work. So the more experience in life you have, how much more interesting things you can give. The theater always has had an understanding of that.

Yes, there have always been the ingénue roles. Visual beauty has its own incredible power. And I obviously had a lot of my own success when I was younger. So I understand that too, that youth as well is incredibly beautiful and mesmerizing. It’s just an interesting journey you go on as artists. You just want to keep working. That’s the bottom line.

AE: You were just on an episode of the new series Longmire, why do you think television has opened up more for actresses of all ages? Is it just recognition that women are such a large percentage of the audience?
MF: Well, I would imagine for purely economic reasons. [Laughs] The dollars and cents of it, the economics of it are allowing for the expression of it. I would be naïve to think that is not the case. And the audience, those are the people who are watching. Because these shows are often cable shows, so the economics of it, it doesn’t have to be tied into who is going to go out to buy the car they are advertising. There is actually a lot of great writing on television right now.


Credit: Photo courtesy A&E

AE: You’ve had a long career in an industry not always known for its longevity, particularly for women. Have you seen it from a teenage perspective and your perspective now, how do you think it has changed the most over the years, particularly for female actresses?
MF: The main thing that has changed is the playing field. There was a time when there was a real hierarchy. Film was the golden realm. Television was below that for sure. And theater was always its own thing. But that has completely changed. When I started out when I was younger, you could almost be poo-pooed if you wanted to get into the film world. That snobbery doesn’t exist anymore. And the globalization of television and the internet has changed that whole dynamic. You turn on your internet you see major comedians doing these little webcasts. Would you call that a democratization of the industry? In a way there’s something really good about that. It was never really true, that just because something was on television didn’t mean it was any less valid and important and perhaps even more sustaining than film.

And a great example of that is something like the Anne of Green Gables miniseries. Something made by PBS and CBC. That thing has had a huge global impact. It was made very well and very economically at that time. So within that is also the change in the voice and the presence of women, and women of all ages. It is still something that has to be fought for. It’s by no means utopian in terms of an even playing field. But it’s much better because the stories are interesting. We went to such an extreme with reality television, which we still have in abundance, and some of it is interesting and a lot of it is shit. But people are hungry for good stories. Because storytelling is just a huge component of our culture. That’s how we grow. We need stories. That’s how we learn. Give me good stories. If I am going to invest in a television show and its characters and people, I need to relate to them, if I am going to give you my time. Because there is a lot of competition out there and a lot of channels and other things that can get people’s attention.


Credit: Photo courtesy PBS/CBC

AE: What are things that are on right now that you are interested in? Are there particular shows?
MF: Well I am traveling and now I don’t have access to anything. But I did just rent Shame last night. And that was quite something. Jesus. I’m out here in the country with Shame. All kinds of things going on out here.

AE: And you thought your short film role was risky.
MF: Yeah. [Laughs] Also Girls. I think it is extraordinary what that young woman has done with her story and I think it is incredibly commendable. I watched the first episode of Newsroom, and I enjoyed that. I like Veep, and I think it’s f–king really well written. It’s clever and sharp. I enjoyed that. I am a True Blood fan. I love True Blood. I definitely got into Game of Thrones, because I read the books. When I was younger I was not someone who read Anne of Green Gables at all. I didn’t know it until I auditioned for it, I must confess I was that person. I loved fantasy novels. I grew up reading all of the Wizard of Oz, I would have lived in Oz in a heartbeat. But then I loved the Lloyd Alexander Black Cauldron, Narnia, all that fantasy.

Let’s see, what else? I watched some Breaking Bad. I watched a bit on the plane of Downton Abbey and I was enjoying that. And you know what I’ve actually had a blast watching, which my kids turned me onto? Community. I really have had great laughs watching Community, and I wouldn’t have found it through the way it was marketed on TV. I didn’t want to watch it, but my kids Hulued it or downloaded it and we’d sit and watch four episodes in a row and I think it is very funny the writing and acting. So that’s shaking it up there.

AE: Well since you’re a big fantasy fan you should get into the whole fantasy realm. There’s a whole subset and fanbase for the fantasy genre. You could be at Comic-Con right now. You could be at conventions forever.
MF: [Laughs] Well, my son was a huge Lord of the Rings fan. But, no – no, thank you.

AE: I know you finished a play in Toronto earlier this year. What’s next on the horizon for you?
MF: Next on the horizon is getting my son to college this fall. That’s a big life transitions. I have a daughter already in college. Then I’m doing a remount of The Penelopiad in Toronto and playing Penelope again. I did a little bit in a miniseries that was shot in Hungary last year, World Without End, Ken Follett’s epic. Cynthia Nixon is in that, and I play a small part in that. That is coming out in September.

And then I did something quite interesting, that I hadn’t done before. I was asked to perform at this festival in Ottawa, a festival of words and music. It was this baroque thing. Christopher Plummer did it the year before, Ralph Fiennes did it before. So I read pieces of The Penelopiad and chose poems from Margaret Atwood as well. And I was working with incredible opera singers singing some incredible arias. Oh, and I’ll also be on (the Nick at Nite series) Hollywood Heights, so that’s a 160 from opera to Hollywood Heights. I did some episodes on that Nick soap opera.


Credit: Photo courtesy The Peneolpiad

AE: Well I have to confess it’s a thrill to be able to talk with you. I was an enormous Anne of Green Gables fan growing up and I even made my family vacation on Prince Edward Island one summer. I really did. I made them visit the house and do all the tourist things.  
MF: [Laughs] Oh nice! But did you have a good vacation?

AE: I did, it’s really pretty there.
MF: It’s a beautiful place.

Where Are the Dolls is beginning its festival run across the United States and internationally, and is working on being picked up for distribution. For more visit the Where Are the Dolls Facebook page.

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