Mayim Bialik Discusses 'Saving Grace', 'What Not To Wear', And Yes 'Blossom'
Mayim Bialik: Hello!
Mike: Hi Mayim, how are you?
Mayim Bialik: OK, how are you?
Mike: Pretty good. First thing: How did you get involved with "Saving Grace"?
Mayim Bialik: Just, kind of, standard audition (laughs). I just auditioned for it and I got it; I was super excited (laughs). It's a recent thing that I was auditioning again.
Mike: Have you been making a concerted effort to act in drama as opposed to comedy?
Mayim Bialik: You know, not actively. It's funny, I think of myself as a comedy person but, as I said, I'm auditioning for what I'm sent out on ... I actually just got a recurring role on "Secret Lives of the American Teenager" which is, kind of, technically a drama. But, my part is kind of funny so I'm actually the comedy relief in that role. But, yeah, I think it's kind of cool that I got to do a part that was not comedy.
Mike: You're playing the murder victim's daughter. That's kind of a dark role for you.
Mayim Bialik: Yeah. And also the plot is this Hasidic Jewish family which is also funny because I have a lot of family that is Hasidic. It was really neat on a lot of levels. You know, I'm not used to super drama roles like that.
Mayim Bialik and Holly Hunter on Saving Grace © TNT
Mike: Are you a suspect?
Mayim Bialik: I think in those type of shows a lot of people are suspects early on. I did a guest spot on "Bones" and I was in the first scene and everyone thought I did it. Because why else would Blossom be in the first scene of "Bones"? (laughs) I think with something like "Saving Grace," that's part of the allure of the show. Everything is open for exploration.
Mike: You left acting for awhile. Now we see you on "Saving Grace," "Bones," and a few episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Do you like guest starring more or would you be open to being a regular on a series again?
Mayim Bialik: Oh! I would definitely be open to being a regular. I think part of the, sort of, blessing and curse of being this former, you know, TV person is... Part of it is starting with auditioning and getting out there and seeing what people want to hire you in. I think the industry swings different ways and I think, right now, it might be a little harder for me to have my own TV show [compared to] when I was 14 years old and I was just in "Beaches" and somebody wanted to have me star in a TV show.
Mike: I recently interviewed Mark-Paul Gosselaar about "Raising the Bar" and obviously he's in a similar situation where he's very known for a character he played when he was younger. Do you go out of your way to seek out roles to say, "Hey, I'm not [Blossom Russo]"?
Mayim Bialik: I think it's important, I think, to a certain extent. I'm not exactly saying "beggars can't be choosers" but you're also at the mercy of what the industry allows you to audition for. If you're submitted and you're accepted for something you go out for it and do your best. I think what's important -- like in terms of what my manager thinks (laughs) -- is for people to see that I can do different things and I'm not the same person I was. I mean, no one is the same person now as they were when they were 19 ... It's funny, on "Secret Life" they wanted me as this sexy, evil school counselor, which I think is fun. I think people are going to laugh a lot when they see this. You know, I can wear tight clothes,I just choose not to for the most part (laughs).
Mike: It's funny so say that. I was going to bring this up later but this seems like a good segue. So I was flipping through channels a few weeks ago and I'm not admitting I watch this show...
Mayim Bialik: (Laughs)
Mike: But I'm flipping through channels and I thought to myself, "Hey, that looks like Mayim Bialik!" Was that as much of a surprise as it looked like on the show?
Mayim Bialik: Do you mean the "What Not to Wear"?
Mayim Bialik: Yeah, they actually did surprise me on the street...
Mike: Did you know it was coming up at some point?
Mayim Bialik: I mean, look, I've been asked to do a variety of different things to spruce me up so it wasn't completely out of the blue. As I said on the show it's pretty clear that if anyone needs a makeover I'm probably going to be picked over (laughs) Lindsay Lohan.
Mike: Well, that's debatable these days.
Mayim Bialik: (Laughs) OK, Lindsay Lohan wasn't the right example. I've shied away from a lot of reality type stuff for a lot of different reasons. But, I also feel like in terms of having you do things over and over and over again... that wasn't what "What Not To Wear" does. So, that was actually good. The only time I was asked to do things over was because I'm too verbose (laughs) so they asked me to stop using so many words. I think they did a pretty good job. The editing is a whole other story because it was a whole week of filming that they have to encapsulate into that one hour. To me it wasn't the full story of what my entire experience was but I think, ultimately, you know, they made me look good. That's what they wanted to do and that can't hurt these days. That's kind of a lot of what this industry is about.
Image © Discovery Communications
Mike: I have a few questions from readers, is that OK? And, to warn you, a few of them do deal with a show you were on some time ago.
Mayim Bialik: Sure. That's fine.
Mike: (From Diana in New York City) Who got on your nerves more: Stacy or Clinton on "What Not to Wear"?
Mayim Bialik: That's funny. Ummm... He was tougher on me. And again I don't know if this is reflective in what they edited but I found she had more of a sense of humor in her criticism and he just had criticism (laughs). But, off camera, they were both super sweet. She liked to soft pedal things a little more, you know? (laughs).
Mike: That's interesting. So they're basically playing characters when the cameras go on?
Mayim Bialik: Absolutely. Oh yeah. But they did all the styling off camera which I was extremely impressed about. That sat there when the cameras stopped rolling and picked out all the outfits and stuff, so that was pretty cool.
Mike: (From Colleen in Baton Rouge) Did you stick with the lessons you learned on the show?
Mayim Bialik: For the most part, yes. I don't have enough clothing from what was part of the show to last me for all four seasons of a year and for every purpose in my life. But, when I have gone out shopping I have absolutely kept to the rules. At a couple celebrity events where they give out swag, I've turned down some things that are not with the rules. But, for the most part, my life -- you know, when I'm not working -- is a lot about just hanging out and being with my kids and nursing a lot so, for that I just need more that's in line with what they had and for me has just been a little bit harder to find. But I know it's out there.
Mike: I'm going to read this exactly as written. (Also from Colleen in Baton Rouge) Do you have to struggle not to murder people when they call you "Blossom"?
Mayim Bialik: (Laughs) No. I don't have to struggle to not murder people. I mean, the fact is, that's how most people know me and I have a very difficult name to pronounce. It doesn't bug me that much. I think what surprises me is that people do still expect me to be a person that I was 20 years ago on a television show. Yeah, that still kind of surprises me. Even adults.
Mike: (From Alice in New York City) Did you get to set your own style on "Blossom" or was that from the studio?
Mayim Bialik: Funny enough, we had a designer whose name is Sherry Thompson and she's actually the designer on "Secret Life of the American Teenager." I've kept in touch with her on and off but it's really neat to work with her again. You know, when the show started in 1990, she actually had sort of a vision to have this mix-and-match style with ethnic fabrics. Things that people weren't really doing. She actually had a lot of clever stuff that she did. I didn't dress like that off-camera; I definitely had my own sense of style but I always favored more vintage stuff. And I, also, wore a lot more plain things because I didn't need to be on a television show in my regular life.
Mike: (From Nikki in PA) Did you get to keep any of the clothes?
Mayim Bialik: No. Our show was a Disney show and Disney was pretty strict about everything being boxed up when the show was over. I did keep a pair of earrings that I always loved on the show. And I did have a shirt that was on "What Not to Wear" that they threw out. It was a vintage yellow laced shirt.
Mike: I liked this question (From Alice in New York City) a lot because it's a video that I don't think a lot of people have seen. It's a fascinating video. The Michael Jackson "Liberian Girl" video.
Mayim Bialik: That is true! I was in that video.
Mike: I assume it was scripted but they made it look unscripted. The question they have is: What was it like being in that video and was it scripted?
Mayim Bialik: Yeah. You were assigned what part of the video you were to rehearse and have prepared. He was not at the filming of my part. I'm assuming he wasn't at everybody's part, he might have been at somebody's part, but he was not at my part. That was after "Beaches" and I was really kind of new in the industry. And I do have a letter -- I don't know if he signed it -- but it was a personal letter thanking me for my participation. Obviously, it was a very powerful couple of weeks for anyone who grew up in the 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's. So it's funny to know somewhere in Michael Jackson history, you know, I was in that video.
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at email@example.com or submit reader questions for celebrites to Mike on Twitter.
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