Feature Interviews - Actresses
> Feature Interviews P to T >
Once More Around The Loop
by Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
March 21, 2006.
Mimi Rogers is
nearly impossible to pigeonhole. She is a
beautiful actress who has never relied on her beauty, but instead on a
fierce intelligence and talent. She can play devastatingly dramatic roles
in films like her recent acclaimed turn in The Door in the Floor as
well spooky and unsettling parts like her recurring character on
The X-Files. She has also tried her hand at more cartoonish people
like the matriarch in Lost in Space and even outright comic turns
like the spy girl turned future mother-in-law in Austin Powers:
International Man of Mystery.
She has a wide range of
outside interests which run the gamut from vitally important (she is a
staunch environmental supporter) to more frivolous (she’s an
internationally regarded poker player and a member of the board of
directors of the World Poker Tour.) As the first
wife of superstar Tom Cruise, she spent some time in the gossip columns,
but since their breakup she has tried to keep her life as a wife and
Mostly, though, she is a
smart and talented actress who has been able to sustain a career in the
unforgiving world of Hollywood for over twenty years.
Her latest project is
The Loop, a situation comedy for Fox. The Loop is the story of
Sam, played by Bret Harrison. He is the first of his crowd out of college
to get a real job – an executive position with a major airline. The
airline is run by Russ (Philip Baker Hall), a crotchety old school
businessman. Rogers’ character is Meryl, a beautiful older VP who enjoys toying
with the young exec.
“Mimi’s hilarious,” says
her The Loop co-star Harrison. “She’s one of the funniest ladies I
know… I’ve learned a lot from her.”
A few weeks before
The Loop was set to debut, Mimi sat down with us to talk about her
career and the show.
How did you first get
involved in acting?
Oh, gosh. You know, I
got interested in my teens. It was the sort of thing where I did local
community theater. I sort of thought of it as a hobby and then kind of
got the bug.
I saw in IMDB that you
graduated from high school at fourteen. I thought that was fascinating,
you hear so much about an actor over the years, but I had never heard that
you were that extremely intelligent. Why do you think things like
that don’t get publicized as much as...?
Like who you were
Yeah, exactly…That type
Yeah, well we had moved
around quite a bit when I was a child. I can’t even remember how many
different schools I’ve been to. So I was just anxious, really, to be done
with it. Fortunately my parents found a private sort of experimental
school at the time, where students were allowed to move at their own rate
of speed and put in as much time as they wanted to. So I didn’t graduate
at fourteen just doing the normal study day. I graduated at fourteen
because I just plowed through all the work all the time, because I wanted
to be done with it.
of things that don’t get publicized as much, you are also very involved in
environmental issues. How long have you been doing that and how did you
determine to give back to the Earth in some way?
I’ve been involved with
the group The Earth Communications Office really since its inception, I
think about ’87. For me it just seemed an obvious and logical concept
that we only have one planet. If we ruin it, there’s really no place else
to go. (chuckles) So it always kind of bemuses me that… I
actually do find it hard to understand that people can be really, really
short-sighted and sort of view the immediate gains at the expense of the
long term. I don’t understand. How can you not fathom the idea that if
you destroy a resource, that’s it. We’re done. That I just don’t get.
So, as I said, it seemed like something that was obvious to me – an issue
that needed to be promoted and supported and disseminated.
to your acting career, I
was recently watching a DVD box set of
Magnum PI and there was a very young Mimi
as a guest star...
I also noticed
in your filmography that you did a few episodes of
Hill Street Blues and
Quincy M.E. As a young actress, how big a break was it getting on
those classic shows, and how cool is it that all of those shows are now
coming back on DVD and people can see them again?
Well, that’s very cool.
Hill Street Blues, especially, that was my first professional job.
That was my break. So that was in some ways the most excited I’ve ever
been – when I landed that role. That was my entrée. (laughs) I
been my second job. So it was great. Especially now, looking back, it is
very cool to know that I participated in these shows that are looked at as
The first time I really
remember seeing you was
the movie Someone to Watch Over Me (a
1987 thriller with Tom Berenger), which was a terrific movie by the way. For a while in your career,
you were the next big thing, doing that movie and stuff like Street
Smart (with Christopher Reeve and Morgan Freeman), Gung Ho!
(with Michael Keaton) and The Rapture. What was that period
of your career like?
Yeah. Well, if I’m
quite honest, I don’t think I was ever really viewed as the next big
thing. I think what I was viewed as was an interesting actress. Or
a promising actress. But I never really experienced the “It
Girl” moment or the overwhelming heat moment. So I’ve actually been
very pleased. I’ve sort of been slow and steady. The fact that
I’ve been working steadily for twenty years to me is a wonderful
accomplishment. Because there are a lot of people who maybe have a
very hot period for a few years and then they seem to just sort of
disappear. I’ve never had the problems that go along with that white
hot intensity, but I’ve been able to work consistently. You know, a
craftsman… You’re in and you’re out. I work.
Ideally, how would you
like for people to see your career?
as consistently interesting.
I think one reason your
career has lasted so long and been so fascinating is because you have
always mixed very dramatic roles with comedy. Do you prefer comedy or
drama? Which one is harder for you?
Honestly, comedy is
always harder. Good comedy makes it look easy, but it has to be really
precise. The timing has to be kind of perfect, spot on. I really enjoy
that challenge. I enjoy any interesting, challenging role.
But doing comedy and doing it well is an awful lot of fun.
Now I have to ask you,
you had a recurring role on one of my favorite short-lived sitcoms,
It’s Like, You
Actually, the show was
cancelled right as you were in a big love triangle with series stars Chris
Eigeman and AJ Langer. I’ve always wondered what was going to happen
there… Do you know anymore? Also, what was that show like to work on?
Yeah, I have no idea
where it was going… But it was really fun. Those guys were great. The
creative team was lovely. Those shows – The
different in that we’re a single camera filmed comedy, but the five camera
stage comedies are great, because it’s a kind of hybrid between theater
That was one of the
things I was going to ask you, you also did
The Geena Davis Show which was a more traditional live in
Which was heaven, I
loved doing it.
I was actually in the
audience for a filming of one episode.
Yeah, it was an episode
– I don’t really remember the exact storyline, but as I recall it was
about Geena was doing a work on a charitable cause and said something very
And she and I ended up…
I think it was the one when I was trying to pretend that I liked…
(laughs) She was trying to get her husband and I to like each other…
She had told him nice things about him and she had told me he had said
nice things about me. And at the black-tie dinner we realized that was
not the case. (laughs again)
Well, you just mentioned
that the other sitcoms are more theatrical. In what ways is the making of
the Loop different or more of a challenge?
Well, like I said, with
a five camera stage comedy, you basically rehearse all week. Then you
tape the show in one night. Shooting The Loop is like shooting a
movie, with the single camera. We don’t have an audience. We’re not on a
stage. It’s a very, very different process.
The last thing I saw you
in was The
Door in the Floor. You were so good, but the movie and the role were
so devastating. As an actress, is it hard for you
to make the leap from that kind of
role to playing someone much lighter like Meryl?
Not really. The Door
in the Floor is one of my favorite films of the last six or seven
years. I think it was woefully underappreciated. I had a lovely time
working on that film. But it was a year before it came out. So I was
sort of, you know, long gone…
What attracted you to
I really felt that it
was that rare thing – which was an original idea. An original comedy. An
original perspective. I think of it as kind of intellectual lunacy. It’s
a very intelligent humor when you can pull that off. Have you seen the
I’ve just seen the pilot
episode so far…
So you see a little bit
of what I’m saying. It’s like on the surface it looks like it might be
slapstick, broad comedy, but it’s much more complicated than that. In the
way that the Marx Brothers or the Three Stooges – there’s a great deal of
intelligence that goes into that kind of lunacy.
Your character is
introduced in the pilot episode with the caption “Predator.”
In honor of your
It’s Like, You Know…, will Meryl need to get sexual harassment
Well, that’s what’s kind
of fun with our show. I amuse myself with the young man in ways that
should get me sued. But he’s kind of oblivious to it and never really
So why do you think a
beautiful woman can get away with a line like the one in the pilot “Why
aren’t your pants around my head?” without sounding too slimy but a man
I think part
of it is the inherent difference between the sexes. I think
the other part is that Meryl… she’s not really trying to get him in bed.
She’s just entertaining herself. I think that comes through.
Philip Baker Hall is so
Isn’t he just hilarious?
I actually think he was
the funniest guest role ever on
Seinfeld as Mr. Bookman the library policeman…
What is he like to work
all sort of live in awe of Mr. Baker Hall. He’s delightful.
He’s a sweetheart. And what’s really fun is that he is so enjoying
playing this insane man. The crazier his speeches become, the more
he relishes it. So it’s really fun to watch him having a ball.
He’s an ultimate professional.
Other than yourself and
Philip Baker Hall, most of the cast is relatively new to series TV. What
are they like to work with?
Well, honestly I don’t
work so much with the other members of the cast.
Okay, I wasn’t sure if
there was going to be more of a cross-over between the
business and home worlds in later episodes. But you
definitely are working a lot with Bret Harrison…
I work with Bret all the
time and I’m madly in love with him. I’m so impressed, because, really
Bret has to carry the show. They work him mercilessly. And I really
think, as I said earlier, the really best people make it look effortless.
Bret makes it look easy, but I’m really just impressed with how talented
he is. I think he’s seriously, majorly talented.
The airline industry is
so depressed these days.
That makes it ripe for
Why do you think that
leads to comedy?
I think it’s perfect,
because one of the things that goes on with our show is that Philip Baker
Hall and I are dealing with some new crisis in business every episode. In
this business, that’s kind of the way it is. We’re always on the brink of
Well, like I said, I’ve
only seen the pilot so far, what are some of the kind of things that we
can expect for down the line on the show…
Essentially, here’s the
premise you’ll see repeated. Poor Bret is essentially Wile E. Coyote and
the rest of us, both at home and at work, are the Road Runner. So you’ll
see him falling off cliffs, smashing into buildings (laughs),
getting blown up. Basically you’ll see him thrown into utter disaster and
pull it out magically, miraculously, at the end. Over and over and over
again. In increasingly bizarre and hilarious ways.
Do you have any ideas
for the show that you’d love to see them do – either about Meryl’s
character or more generally for the show?
One of the nice things
is that if you do well and get on the air, then the creative team has time
to further explore all the characters. I think that’s what their plan
would be and that’s what I’m looking forward to, although I’ve been having
a great time. In the first seven episodes, you have to really, really
establish your show. I love doing the show, so I’m hoping with everything
that we do well. Because I think there’s just limitless areas to mine.
The Loop is getting a
timeslot right after American Idol…
At least for our
premiere episode. We premiere March 15th right after
American Idol and then we go the next night, March 16th
into our regular timeslot, which is Thursday nights at 8:30. Right after
That 70s Show, leading into The OC.
So do you ever get the
cast and crew together and clean them up in poker?
We did have one poker
night here at my house, with the producers and some of the writers and
Bret and Eric (Christian Olsen, who plays Sam's
ne'er-do-well brother Sully). I actually felt guilty and embarrassed, because I did win
the most money. Which, normally would be fun
– but this is what always
I find that I feel horrible about taking money off of my
Email us Let us know what you think.