Beauty, brains and a razor sharp wit are just a few of the amazing qualities the multi-faceted Kathy Searle brings to the table. Born in New Rochelle, New York, she developed a love for acting early on in her childhood and was scouted at the tender age of 12 for commercial work. She went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she focused on Drama and later attended the Upright Citizens Brigade to hone her comedy skills. A force to be reckoned with, Searle has made her mark on some of comedy’s biggest blockbusters including Tina Fey’s wildly hilarious ‘Baby Mama’ and ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ with Isla Fischer. On the small screen, Searle has graced the primetime airwaves in ‘Hope & Faith’ alongside Kelly Ripa, ‘Lipstick Jungle’ with Brooke Shields and ‘Gossip Girl.’
Multi-talented, comedic actress Kathy Searle ignites the big screen opposite John Stamos and Tika Sumpter in the Lionsgate summer Romantic comedy ‘My Man Is A Loser’ in theaters nationwide July 25th. The romantic comedy focuses on playboy Mike (John Stamos). When it comes to women, he has all the right moves. So when Mike’s buddies (Michael Rapaport and Bryan Callen) ask for advice on how to reconnect with their wives, Mike figures he’ll share some secrets and help the guys regain their marriage mojo. But when Mike’s lessons start backfiring with hilarious results, it takes a beautiful, no-nonsense friend (Tika Sumpter) to show Mike he still has a thing or two to learn about relationships. Searle lights up the screen as “Lianne,” wife of “Marty” (Michael Rappaport) which amazing showcases her range and comedic talent.
Jason price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Kathy Searle to discuss her blossoming career, bringing her character to life in ‘My Man Is A Loser,’ the challenges involved and what she has in store for us in the months to come!
What got you started as an actor and made you pursue it as a career?
My background is that I came out of the womb wanting to do this really! [laughs] I started acting professionally when I was about 12 years old. I was doing commercials and little bit parts here and there. I just knew it was my path and my journey. When I got out of college, it was difficult. I went to an acting conservatory here in the city called the American Academy for the Performing Arts and it was great training for me. I got out of college and I was really trying to figure out who I was when I was 21 years old. I think I was sort of plucking around with my type. I remember dying my hair red, which is really my natural color and I sort of came into my own! That is when I started booking work and it was fantastic! I started back in with commercials and that parlayed into my legit career with more theater, television and film work. It has been great and I have been working ever since! I do a lot of commercial work, voiceover work, theater and, of course, theater and television, which is the goal to always be doing!
Who would you cite as your biggest influences as an actor?
I was raised watching reruns of ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I was really inspired by people like Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. There was also Carol Burnett. I was definitely into old school comedy. Today, I think Melissa McCarthy is doing amazing things. She is a true comic genius in my eyes! I feel the same way about Kristen Wiig. Those two women I really admire and look up to, along with Sandra Bullock. I know she doesn’t do that much comedy anymore but what she does is amazing. I also love Rachel McAdams and I think she is such a chameleon. I would be friends with her! [laughs] I want to be friends with Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone! Can you make that happen! Can you call their people for me? [laughs]
Absolutely, I will get them on the horn and see what we can get worked out! [laughs]
That would be terrific!
Your latest project is a film called “My Man Is A Loser.’ You really stole the show with how quick and funny you were in so many scenes.
You are so sweet! Thank you! I thank you and my Mom thanks you! [laughs]
How did you get involved with the project initially?
I auditioned here in New York. I remember getting the audition. I had read the script and I laughed out loud. I really did! I thought it was so funny and I had always wanted to do a romantic comedy. I worked with my acting coach on it and I remember saying “It is a lead role. They are probably going to cast a celebrity but I am going to do whatever I can to try and book this!” I worked with my acting coach and went to the audition. I remembering going in and thinking the thoughts of the character in the waiting room. I went in and Mike Young, the writer/director, was there and we chatted for a little bit. I did the scenes and I finished. He said “Thanks. That’s it.” I said “Oh, OK. Thank you.” I walked out of the room and thought “Oh my God! I am the worst actor in the world! I wanted this movie so badly!” I went into total negative actor brain which is what you should never do! That is my advice for any actor! We never know how we do in the room! Two weeks later, I get a call from my agent saying I booked the film. I remember crying and saying “That is insane! I can’t believe I booked this movie!” Later, I said to Mike “What the heck was that statement “Thanks. That’s it.” [laughs] He said, “It was exactly what I wanted. That’s it!” I said, “Wow! I guess us actors go to that horrible place of one take and you’re out.” It was what he wanted and I was so happy because I oddly connected to the character even though I am not married and don’t have kids. There was something about her that made me want to bring this woman to life. I went to the audition wearing a workout outfit with Manolo Blahniks. I felt if I went to the gym as this character I would be in heels! [laughs]
What do you feel you might have brought to the character that wasn’t on the written page?
As Lianne is written, there are parts of her that are very sexually frustrated and she is filling the void in her marriage by working out a lot but what I love about the character is her bluntness. She says exactly what she thinks and feels. I hope that the energy I brought to the character really does shine through. She has no regrets about what she has done; it comes out of her mouth and it is her truth and her honesty. I hope that people will see that side of Lianne and that I brought my own sense of comedy which is completely real and completely blunt. I am not necessarily like that in real life where I say exactly what I am feeling! [laughs] She gets away with it!
You worked with many talented people on this project. What did you learn from watching everyone work and from the whole experience as a whole?
It was such a great process for me because I really was working with actors I love and admire. I have loved Michael Rapaport for years. I have been a fan of his work for years and to play his wife was such an honor. Learning from him was a great experience. We have a lot of scenes in the film where it is just him and I. We shot that over the course of a week and shot the scenes back to back. I learned so much about coming prepared. I think as actors we have to know the lines, the character and then run with it. Writer/director Mike Young was so great and so willing to be collaborative with us as actors. If something didn’t feel natural, he said, “Do what feels natural. Bring it off the page and make it come to life.” Michael and I would do what was written and then we would improv. It was so great that we had the freedom to play and I got to play with one of the best! Michael Rapaport is a true comic actor and such a great dramatic actor as well. He brings his own personality to every role he does. To get to play with that every day was amazing! I think what I learned was that when you have down time, which a lot of time is the case on films, you want to keep it fresh. I had a couple weeks between when I was shooting. I would work with my acting coach on the material so it would be fresh and I would be ready to go. You have to go to set prepared, then you throw it away, you live in the moment and see what happens. I was so lucky to that I had the freedom to do that every day.
You had great chemistry with Michael Rapaport on screen and it was a lot of fun to watch!
Thank you! He is so great. He is so tall too and I am so short! [laughs] It was very funny that every scene it would be, “Ok. Bring in another apple box for her to stand on!” [laughs]
What do you feel Mike Young brought to the project and what did you learn from him as a director?
Mike Young was amazing. This was his directorial debut. He is also a brilliant comic and does a lot of stand up. Coming from that background, he was ready to work with us, let us play and bring these characters off the page. That collaborative process was great and very freeing. He said, “I cast you because you are Lianne. I trust you.” Having a director make you feel like they trust you is the best feeling in the world because you feel you can bring yourself to these characters. He really allowed every actor to do that! It was a fun set. There were no egos or drama. Everyone was there to have a great time and make a really great, funny movie that people would walk away from laughing.
Looking back on your career, how do you feel you have evolved as an actor along the way?
I think I am ever-changing, ever-growing. As I get older, hopefully people will agree that my work gets better because I think life experience makes you a better actor. Early on in my career, it was all about booking the job and getting the next. Now, it is all about how can I bring myself to this role and make it real, honest and truthful even when I am playing a character. For example, I was fortunate to play a Serbian killer on a series called ‘Body of Proof.’ Even though the character was so far away from me, as I am not that type of person, I had to bring an element of myself to that role. Never judge the characters you play and always make them three dimensional. Make them real people because on-screen, art imitates life and life imitates art and both do exist. We want to find empathy for certain characters and then just make people laugh. I hope that is what people will see; my comedy is changing and I am hopefully getting better! I am constantly learning, growing, taking workshops and watching! I think it is really important to see movies, watch television and see live theater. I am lucky I am in New York because I am in the Mecca of entertainment!
Is there a particular type of role, genre or project you are anxious to tackle in both the short and long term?
I definitely feel the romantic comedy world is one I have always wanted to live in. I look at someone like Leslie Mann and I love and admire her career so much. I hope I can kind of follow in her footsteps. The same thing goes for Kristen Wiig. I hope I can follow in their footsteps. I love the idea of these amazingly brave comedic actresses being able to drop the mask and be so real, so vulnerable and do dramatic work. I think having the balance of really great rom com and then doing a really gritty, edgy movie would be amazing. The ultimate goal would be for me to be on a multi-camera sitcom and do a Neil LaBute play at night. I would love to have that yin and yang, the light and then the dark and gritty. That is the kind of dream job I hope for; having the balance of funny and then the edgy, sexy and sassy at night!
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along for those looking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Never give up! I know it is cliché and a lot of people have said that before but if this is something you believe you are meant to do and there is nothing else in the world you want to do then keep going. You never know when it will hit. This entertainment industry we are in is one where your life can change direction on a dime. It can be one project that catapults you to the next great job that you are up for an Emmy. I look at a show like ‘Orange Is The New Black.’ We are seeing these amazingly daring new shows online and on TV and they are changing the face of the entertainment world. Don’t give up! No matter what your skin tone, body shape or ethnicity is; it no longer matters. What matters is being yourself and bringing that forward because there is no one else out there like you. That is what we have to offer! Never forget that! There is already a Melissa McCarthy and she is one of a kind. There isn’t another Kathy Searle either. It is all about reminding ourselves that we are one of a kind gems and eventually it will happen if you really want it to. Just keep going and stay grounded with good friends around you that can boost you up and aren’t in the business! [laughs]
What is next for Kathy Searle? Where do you see things going in the months to come?
I shot a pilot that was all independently produced via Kickstarter with five actor friends of mine. A good friend of mine, Guy Oliveri, wrote this great script called ‘Freak Me.’ He wrote it with all of us in mind. We shot that and will be shopping it around. Then I am working on another collaborative project that is an improv-based pilot with Ken Davenport, who is a big Broadway producer, who is getting into TV. It is myself and nine other actors, which is really exciting! I truly believe in making your own work!
Absolutely! What about charity work you are involved with? Is there anything we can help you shine a light on?
Plan USA is one of my favorite organizations. They are one of the best! Locally, I work with Comedy Cures. I think it is such a beautiful organization started by a women who had, I believe, stage four ovarian cancer. Her whole message is that laughter is the cure. Comedy Cures is definitely an organization that I love and adore so much! Saranne, the woman who is in charge of the organization, is truly incredible!
Thank you so much for your time today, Kathy! It has been a pleasure. You were turned in a terrific performance in ‘My Man Is A Loser’ and we can’t wait to see what you do next!
Thank you! From your mouth to God’s ears. Hopefully, someone wants to cast a quirky redhead in their next project! [laughs]
We will be spreading the word! I am sure we will be talking again sometime very soon!
Yes! I would love that! Thank you so, so much!