Interview With “Dante’s Cove” Actress Erin Cummings

 
 

AE: That’s so interesting because on the surface, looking at your being a Rangerette and because you were cast on Dante’s Cove, I wouldn’t think of you as a Shakespearean actress. Do you feel like you have to fight these kinds perceptions of as you as an actress?
EC: I think that … any young, attractive woman who comes to Hollywood is going to have to expect it until you get some credits or something on your resume that says, “I’m a serious actress.” There is going to be that struggle. … I don’t blame the industry; I don’t blame men. I’m not upset about it because when I first moved here, I saw women that were more than happy to do special favors for producers in order to get jobs. And I saw women who expected to get a role simply because they were beautiful and not interested in actually doing work as an actor.

And so I understand why that perception is there because that reality is there. There are a lot of women in this town who don’t give two hoots about taking [an] acting class or being a good actor — they want to be on TV. They want to be on the red carpet, they want to have a famous boyfriend, and that’s it. And so to fight that [perception], I think that the biggest thing for me was, I just knew I had to train and train and train. It’s why I’m always in acting class when I’m not working on a production. It’s why I went to London and studied Shakespeare because I did not have a background in Yale School of Drama or Tisch School or Juilliard. I needed something, at least for my own confidence — not necessarily for my resume but for my own confidence — to go, “You know what? I do deserve to be playing Lady Macbeth. I do deserve to be starring on a television show.”

And a lot of times … if you don’t have a strong theater background or you don’t have really strong training or credits, it’s very easy to fall into the categories that people will want to put you in, and bimbo is not one that I’ve ever been interested in being a part of. … I remember [a friend said], “The director saw your picture and he wants to cast you in this movie.” And I said, “Awesome, that’s great,” thinking that he’d see my resume. “What role?” “Oh well, naked girl in shower.”

I was like, “Are you kidding me? You can take that role and shove it up your ass! Don’t even insult me by suggesting that.” And of course if you’re saying Dante’s Cove — we’re not kidding ourselves, nobody’s winning Emmys for this show [laughs], but number one, I think the fact that it’s the very first horror genre show to feature a cast of prominently gay and lesbian characters — that’s groundbreaking as far as gay and lesbian television is concerned. Did you see Season 1?

AE: No, just Season 2.
EC: They made leaps and bounds from Season 1 to Season 2. They brought in new writers; they brought in a lot of new actors.

AE: There’s a lot more full frontal male nudity, from what I understand [laughs].
EC: Noooo. Actually, well, Episode 3. Here’s the thing: The second season, there’s actually a story and there’s a lot of sex thrown in as well. Season 1, it really was like the story was just a catalyst to get to the next sex scene, and the sex scenes were really, really long. And I talked to everyone that was involved with it, and it was a good experiment but they learned a lot of lessons from it, and in Season 2 they made a lot of changes. And the thing about the nudity — especially with the guys — is the audience, if you read the stuff that people write on the website, that’s what they want to see.

AE: Sure, they’re awesome. Every guy on the show is unbelievably beautiful.
EC: Gorgeous, I know.

AE: Way better looking that what you see on regular TV.
EC: Mm-hmm, exactly, which is great. Dante’s Cove is a beautiful island with beautiful people and they’re all gay [laughs] and happy.

AE: And they’ve added more lesbian story lines to Season 2.
EC: Exactly. The reason why I brought up Girls Gone Wild was because the sex scenes between the women were basically that: gratuitous lesbian sex for the purpose of having two hot chicks getting it on, and that’s not a story at all. We knew that Van was a lesbian but the only way we knew that was because occasionally she’d hook up with a girl. Well, I knew lots of straight girls who do that when they get drunk [laughs]. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lesbians; that just means that they like attention and that they have Daddy issues.

I think it was really nice to see Van in a relationship, and also I think that this year because … the introduction of the character Brit was so strong and really interesting and exciting, I’d hopefully think that they’d continue in the third season with more of a lesbian story line. I know that when we finish this season, a lot of people from the network were commenting on how that was so strong and how they wish that they had shot more.

AE: Michelle Wolff should be a huge star; she’s unbelievable.
EC: Yeah, she’s great. I really loved working with her, and I have an immense amount of respect for her. That was my first sex scene like ever [laughs], and so again another situation, “Oh you’ve never done a sex scene, why don’t you go in that deep end right there.” So I was really nervous about it … I just want to make sure that we do this right, and I want to make sure that people like what they see. And if we’re going to do it, we’re going to go for it — we’re not going to hold back — and once we got into the room it was really comfortable. The dolly was farting so that was really fun.

Like literally we’re in the scene [laughs], the fans are blowing and we’re kissing and the camera was on a dolly and sort of moving along the side, and it was supposed to pan back and forth and Sam goes, “And action.” And we’re kissing and it was really intense, and the dolly starts moving and all of a sudden he goes [makes fart sound], and we’re laughing and it totally broke the tension of, “OK there’s two naked girls here.”

AE: The crew must have been really happy.
EC: They were so respectful. The boom operator was this 22-year-old kid … and he would look away, and whenever we’d break all the guys were staring at the ceiling. It was really cute, and they were incredibly respectful. And then afterwards a couple of the guys came up to me and they gave me a hug and they were like, “You were great; I’m really proud of you,” which was so nice ’cause they knew that I was nervous. They knew that I was a little scared — I mean obviously the first time that you do a sex scene where you’re exposing your body, there’s so much bare — I’m not saying that means you’re a good actress by any means, but it is because we don’t run around naked. When you expose yourself of course you’re going to be like, “Do my boobs look OK? Have I done enough crunches?” Stuff like that, all these stupid things that go through your head which are all about vanity, and you just have to [think], “OK, what’s going on here? Oh, there’s a gorgeous, naked, beautiful woman in front of me. All right, let me get on that.” [Laughs.]

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