Kristin Chenoweth Loves Her 'Villainess' Role As Carlene Cockburn On ABC's 'GCB'
Kristin Chenoweth is coming back to TV. The beloved Broadway star who’s appeared on shows like Pushing Daisies and Glee has her own one hour show on ABC. GCB, based on the book Good Christian Bitches, stars Chenoweth as a, well, you know.
Set in the Dallas suburbs, Chenoweth plays Carlene Cockburn, a queen of the high society drama. This is a major change of pace for her because in real life she is a total sweetheart. Chenoweth spoke with the Television Critics Association about her new show earlier this year. GCB premieres Sunday night on ABC.
Q: What do you love about Carlene?
Kristin Chenoweth: I love her villainess. It’s very different for me to play that part, get to say what I think, what she thinks is real funny.
Q: What do you think of the wardrobe?
KC: I like it. I love it, but really it's this that I love playing, and the shoes are pretty great. I might've taken one or two pairs.
Q: Have you found that there's something that you actually enjoy wearing?
KC: There's a couple of scenes with just a robe. I like that. That's real comfortable after hour number thirteen.
Q: What kind of reaction do you get now when you go back home to Oklahoma?
KC: It's funny. I just had a concert where one of the mean girls from my hometown in Oklahoma showed up at the stage door and they said, “So and so is here.” My assistant had heard me tell stories about her and I said, “I think not.” It felt so good. I mean, I've moved on, but it made me feel a little bit of that.
Q: Do you find that they want to be your friend because you're an actress?
KC: Yes, and they want help, they want you to help their kid. Usually when it involves their child I will suck it up because a kid had nothing to do with it, but yeah, I've had a lot of people come back to me.
Q: But then they can take after their parents and they're not so nice either.
KC: I know. Hopefully, and I have met a lot of them, I I hope be a good example. But it did feel good to not let so and so backstage.
Q: Is there a particular daily horror that you had in high school?
KC: There was a daily horror of a person who said she just wanted to beat me up because I was so happy, and I just kept telling her, “I'm not worth the punch.” But she was probably my worst nightmare. She was a bully.
Q: Have you been bullied in Hollywood, too?
KC: Yeah, you bet. I've had people say not so nice things about me, but that's okay. That's their opinion.
Q: The show Smash mentioned you in the pilot because of course they’re all about Broadway. Was there ever talk of you actually appearing on that show?
KC: No, but I know practically all of the people in it and the producers are, like, my best friends and Michael Mayer obviously directed me in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown which I won a Tony for. So, I obviously want it to do well because it's my peeps.
Q: Have you seen Smash?
KC: I loved it. I think that Katharine McPhee is pretty special.
Q: And Megan Hilty?
KC: I've just met her twice and I just loved her. I thought that she was perfect for this show, perfect.
Q: Will you be back on Glee?
KC: You never know.
Q: Do you think GCB will be your focus from now on?
KC: I think it is. This is my main priority now and April Rhodes has been a blast to play. She is a has been drunk and so that's fun, but Carlene has her own problems and I enjoy it.
Q: Do you have time to still work on music?
KC: Yeah. I'm going on tour in May and June. I'll be all over the United States and Europe.
Q: What will the tour focus on?
KC: It'll be everything that I do, dancing, singing, opera, musical theater, country, original, all of it.
Q: What's the most fun about taking your music to people all over the country? What do you get out of that?
KC: I love to see someone in the audience that hasn't paid to see someone else, that they paid actually to come see me. When I played The Met my brother said, “Dude, there's nobody opening for you. You're it.” I was like, “Yeah, I know.” It feels real good to know that they came mostly if they wanted to come.
Q: Do you still want to play Dolly Parton?
KC: Well, yesterday I heard that she said that I should play her again. It all started with her saying that many years ago, and of course I want to play her, but she better freaking hurry up and write it. I'm going to be visiting her plastic surgeon if she doesn't hurry. I'd love to play her. What's not to love about her? Everything. I love her. She knows how I feel about her and I'd love to play her.
Q: Which one do you prefer, the singing or the acting?
KC: To me it's one and the same. I love translating song. There's nothing better than to do it in front of a live audience, but I also love translating this character in front of a camera this big and hopefully making people laugh. What we've discovered about this show is that it's an all out comedy. Yeah, that word dramedy is there, but it's a comedy, and Madeline Kahn and Sally Field, those are the women that inspired me and hopefully that's what we're keeping going.
Q: Do you get to sing in GCB?
KC: I do sing but remember it’s Carlene Cockburn singing.
Q: Do you have any pets?
KC: Madeline Khan Chenowith. Maddie.
Q: What breed is she?
Q: Do you have any sort of GCBs in Oklahoma?
KC: Yeah, a nicer version, a nicer version. Everybody knows Oklahoma women are nicer than Texas women.
Q: Ah ha!
KC: I'm just teasing. Not really.
Q: Is this role really freeing? Do you get to say things you would never say in real life?
KC: I love it because we all thought it, but she gets to just say it and unabashedly and with no apologies. And I think her problems, all these people, their problems are real to them. The big barbecue, the affair, the this, the that, they're real problems in their community, as we know. And it's fun to just be able to say, "Ooh, bad hair day." It's just fun, you know, because you think it.
Q: Do you have to turn her off when you go home?
KC: Yeah, I do. I do have to. But she's so fun. Delicious.