Ugly Betty Brings Back Kristen Johnston As Temp Cautionary-Tale Helen

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Photo: Patrick Harbron/ABC

Kristen Johnston will be reprising her role on Ugly Betty as office temp and aging party-girl Helen, the physical embodiment/cautionary tale of what Amanda could become in ten years (and a rather brilliant twist on Johnston's turn as aging party-girl Lexi Featherston on Sex and the City). At a recent lunch for her good friend (and potential Oscar nominee), A Serious Man's Michael Stuhlbarg, Johnston said she's currently shooting her return (which will air January 27), and is changing the character from her first appearance in the season premiere, since the part had originally been written for Paula Abdul. "It was all, like, hot-flash jokes," said Johnston. "So I rewrote it. And now they get it. She's an aged-up, dresses-like-Lindsay-Lohan party girl, who, like, is like, 'OMG!' and wears leggings and has lined lips outside the lip line."

Johnston admits that last character choice didn't really translate onscreen the first time around: "It just looked like she had a really bad lip job." This time, Johnston will have better lip liner, and a better plotline. "Now I move in with Amanda and Mark's characters because I'm homeless and living under the turntable at Butter," she said. "And so they invite me to live at their house. I'm like, 'Hey roomies!' It's going to be funny. Honestly, it's funny." Meanwhile, in between Ugly Betty appearances, Johnston is appearing in the stage revival So Help Me God!, which is trying to make the move from the Lucille Lortel Theatre to Broadway. When is that happening? "I don't know. I just stand here and look pretty. From afar."