In this week's New York Web-video extravaganza, we told you that the new MySpaceTV series Quarterlife might make a crossover star out of actress Bitsie Tulloch, who plays Dylan on the show. We spoke with her about working with Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the team behind Thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, and about the dangers of playing — yuck! — a blogger!
This is a kind of a double-edged sword, right? Playing a blogger on an online show. Already you've been taking some lumps.
Because it is an online show, and because I feel bloggers tend to be pretty smart and have a higher sense of awareness of everything, I think we should get ready for some people to be like, "Oh, that's not what it was like."
I heard you met [My So-Called Life creator] Marshall Herskovitz in jury duty?
I had no idea who he was. I was an actor, I was working, I had no clue who he was. He said he was a screenwriter, and I thought, I'll take pity on him, thinking I was doing this writer-actor a favor. And I was in this workshop: We have Jim Uhls who wrote Fight Club and the guy who wrote The Bourne Supremacy and there's a couple actors, and they basically workshop screenplays that they're working on, and he said he was a screenwriter, so I was like, "Oh, I'm in this group, maybe you can come check it out." Being like, "I'll throw you a bone." And he appeases me by showing up to the group, and afterward he's like, "Yeah, not really my thing," and all these people were like, "Do you know that is?" "No, who?" "He wrote The Last Samurai!" "He created My So-Called Life!" and I'm like, "What?"
You play an editorial assistant — but for once, your character isn't just some naïve, pure innocent who gets corrupted by big media. Dylan is selfish, complicated, and competitive too.
That's a great way to put it. There are a lot of films right now, like in Devil Wears Prada, where you have young women going into magazines because it's an interesting scenario. But I'm always shocked — it's always these pure, untainted, innocent young women who want to make it in the big city and they run into careerism and have people knock their values out of whack. And then the young person teaches the old person to remember who they used to be. And that seems sort of bogus to me. Most young people I know are much more complicated than that.
I was very happy that Dylan seemed to messed-up. She's really a wreck in some ways — not totally adorable.
A lot of characters tend to be the hero-woman, but Dylan is confused. She screws things up for other people. Her intentions are great, but there's a lack of self-control. She still has these bumbling childlike qualities still. They slowly wear down through the next episodes, because she has to step up to the plate and act like more of an adult. It's like the older you get, the ties are loosened and you start to fit to the mold of the adult. It's like the Russian doll: At first you're the big one and you don't fit yet, but eventually you kind of do. Until then, you're in it for a while, rattling around.
So, can you speak for your generation? Make any generalizations? Marshall Herskovitz told me that his first pilot didn't work because those twentysomethings were at loose ends — more like slackers from the nineties. These kids seem more ambitious.
I do think that now people go straight out of college and straight to the work place faster, but regardless of the career choices, the years in between 20 and 30 are really crucial and really transformative, and generally kind of confusing whether or not you want to admit that to yourself. It's like, on paper, to the rest of the world, at 25 you're an adult. But you may not feel like that. For me, I graduated from Harvard and was going to go to graduate school and ended up going to Hollywood, but as soon as I graduated, my family was like, "Okay! You're on your own!" And there's this weird sort of confusion where you want to go back to being protected but you can't anymore.
In terms of interactivity between you and your audience, do you have a strategy for how you're going to handle this along the way?
I think that my approach with Quarterlife is that, because I've been doing so much press for it, I'm going to be there every step of the way as much as they want me to. It's built into the role. They have people shooting stuff every day — we shoot the episodes and they kind of pull me aside and have me blog in character, kind of ad-libbing. There's a beta site up of Quarterlife.com that we have access to that's really cool, a social-networking site. I already put my own page up as Bitzie. Production has already taken care of Dylan, like Dylan has a page on MySpace and she'll have a page on Quarterlife.com. And I don't really have a lot of say in that. Except someone had put some band on MySpace and I was like, "She wouldn't listen to that!" —Logan Hill