Juliette Lewis on bisexual rumors, her new role on “The Firm” and starring in an iconic Melissa Etheridge video


Juliette Lewis has played a myriad of characters over her career, which began when she was 12 years old. (She’s now 38.) But while she’s mainly focused on film projects and later delving into a music career, she’s coming back to television to play Tammy, a fiery legal assistant on NBC’s The Firm.

Tammy doesn’t appear until later in the pilot (which aired last night), and Juliette explains that viewers have a lot to be caught up on at the show’s start. The series is set 10 years after the film/book version of The Firm ends and the new Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas) works at a small firm with his wife Abby (Molly Parker), Tammy and his brother (also Tammy’s on-again/off-again lover) Ray McDeere (Callum Keith Rennie). So while the first episode is a little slower than I’d hope for, Juliette is a welcome sight before it concludes.

Juliette promised we’ll see much more of Tammy in future episodes, including her friendship with Abby.

“I’m always attracted to contradictions, people you wouldn’t necessarily think would be friends but they’re best friends and they compliment each other energy wise,” Juliette explained at the NBC party at TCA last week. “Meaning, Molly — her character is more academic, I’m street smart. But they have something to offer each other.”

She’s also excited about an episode in which Tammy goes undercover. “That’s what I like about her — she’s a people person and she can kind of make anybody at ease and get information and files and go undercover by being really extroverted.”

And while she might sound like a Kalinda-type, Juliette says Tammy is, unfortunately, only involved with her co-worker. “I’m sorry, I can’t please everyone,” she said. “She’s madly in love with Ray.”

As much as I love that Juliette will be on my TV screen weekly beginning this month, I wanted to know when we’d hear some more music from her. As a singer, she’s released four albums, and her stage show is unrivaled. She screeches, writhes, flips and demands attention. She’s fearless and she looks like she’s having the time of her life, which is why she looks so sad when I ask her about it.

“I get sad like that because it’s like talking about a lover,” Juliette said. “The live show is everything, that’s where I thrive. That’s the hardest part thing of doing a series is I miss being on the road. During my time off, that’s when I’m going to plan special shows. I’ll still play live because I’m not done with that journey by any means, I will just be doing it less — not being on the road for a year.”

Her musical past also includes her starring role in the iconic 1994 Melissa Etheridge video for “Come to My Window.” Juliette shared some memories about the experience.

“It’s so funny because there’s so many little urban legends about me that I love because people think I’m really intense and I hope that I am in my work as I should be, because I commit,” she said. “Somewhere the director was like ‘Oh, she got so into it and couldn’t break out of it when we said cut’ and it’s like ‘I’m just being focused, what’s your problem?’ I was playing a mental patient! But I love Melissa Etheridge. I had that first album. [singing] Does she love you? Captivate and shock you? I wore that out. And that connection was through a friend and I’m so happy I did that video because I’m always looking for new things and ways to act and bring drama and joy.”

And as far as bisexual rumors that have surrounded Juliette, as they do with so many other female celebrities who spend fun nights dancing with girlfriends at clubs and exuding sexuality on stage and screen, she is straight-forward (no pun intended).

“About me? Oh I don’t give a s–t. I’m straight, but let me explain something to you: I am not into those girls that try to play gay to get attention from dudes. I think it is the worst desperation of attention. People who are in love, they’re in love, period. I don’t like that trend.” She continued, “I didn’t know there were rumors about me! As a rock ‘n roller, you’re just a magnetic force. You call it sexuality, I call it mojo!”

The Firm airs Thursdays on NBC.