Iíve been a TV Addict forever, watching hours of TV when my mom told me not to. One of my favorite characters ever to grace the small screen is Samantha Micelli from WHOíS THE BOSS?, played so wonderfully by Alyssa Milano. I recently had the great pleasure of catching up with Alyssa to talk about her new Lifetime movie airing this weekend.
The movie, called WISEGAL, is the true story of Patty Montanari, a widowed mother, trying to make ends meet, who in doing so, joins the mafia. Alyssa portrays the title character with strength and vulnerability. James Caan and Jason Gedrick costar in a movie that fits the mold of a Lifetime film Ė the kind that gets you all teary-eyed Ė but goes above and beyond that to make you really think about what you would do for your family.
I love the movie. Lifetime has been doing some really great stuff lately.
Alyssa Milano: Yeah, itís definitely, itís interesting. Itís an interesting combination. Itís definitely a movie that Lifetime audiences will enjoy because the crux of it is a single mother trying to make ends meet.
What made you want to play Patty?
There were a lot of elements. When I first read the script, before we started production, I just felt like I had a really good grasp on who she was. And what motivated her to make the choices that she makes. And also, I think it shows the mafia in a way that weíve never seen before, through the eyes of a woman. What that enabled us to do was to really show a side that where it cares about family and about being accepted in a family and about feeling protected and taken care of. And I think that because Patty never had those things, it was very attractive to her.
Is it hard playing a real person, or a true story?
Sometimes, it can be. In this case, it wasnít hard, because right after I read the script, I felt like I had a really good grasp on who she was. I didnít talk to her, at all, I still havenít talked to her, about how I was going to portray it or how I portrayed it because I didnít want anything to get in the way of my take on who she was. But her son was on the set, blown away by how accurately I was playing the character without having met her.
That has to be validating, to know that youíre playing what he expected of the character.
Itís a great, great feeling. I did one scene with James Caan, the scene where I actually ask him to get out, and after we cut, her sonís eyes were filled with tears. I just thought ďoh god, thank you.Ē
Whatís it like working with James Caan?
Heís such a great guy. And so not intimidating like you think he would be. He was joking around when the cameras werenít rolling. It was the most amazing thing Iíve ever seen because he was doing like these magic tricks, and getting everybody to laugh. And as soon as the cameras started rolling, he was this intimidating, scary person.
Why should viewers tune in?
I think what the movie is really about is a mother doing whatever she has to do to make a better life for her sons. And thatís sort of the foundation of everything and why she makes the choice that she makes. People kind of lead her to the wrong choice but at the time, she was very loved and didnít know what else to do. As far as why people should tune in, itís just a good movie. Itís entertaining, the actingís great. Iím really proud of it.
Switching gears a little bit, having the opportunity to talk about My Name is Earl. Are you in for the rest of the season?
I donít know exactly. Thereís been a discussion about me doing the full back nine. I donít think anything has been notified yet.
I was talking with someone today about the fact that I was going to talk to you, and we talked about how you can switch between this dramatic role where youíd do anything for your kids and broad comedy. It just shows your talent, and itís really nice.
Oh thank you so much. I think thatís the best thing about being an actor for me, getting to do all those things.
Is there one that you prefer, drama to comedy?
Thatís a really good question. I donít know if I ever thought of that. I think comedy is a lot more challenging; itís a lot easier to play a dramatic character, to find that something that people are going to be able to relate to, and thatís what itís all about. The audience remembers something that makes you relatable so you feel for that character. With comedy, peopleís senses of humor are so different, I think to do comedy, and do it well is a very tricky thing. I do think that the writing for My Name Is Earl is so genius that you could put any hack on that show and theyíd do well haha.
What are some of your favorite TV shows?
I love Dexter. I love Top Chef. I canít wait for it to come back. I love Friday Night Lights. [editorís note, thatís awesome!] I think TV is in a great place right now. Itís definitely getting better and better. I think there is some of the most complete writing for women and female characters, theyíre done in television production and not really film production.
Youíve spent a lot of time in long running series. Would you be willing to get involved in another show?
Who havenít you worked with that you would still like to?
I love Jennifer Jason-Leigh. I love Parker Posey. I love Christian Bale.
Besides Wisegal and My Name Is Earl, what else do you have coming up, if anything?
Nothing! Iím actively looking at pilots in the very limited pilot season that is about to begin. Lots of work for my clothing line which is extremely exciting.
I saw that it had expanded, and I thought that was really cool!? Yeah, itís cool right? Itís so nice when a plan comes together.
Are you going to be doing stuff with Major League Baseball like you did last year?
Yes, Iíll be doing more stuff for them this year.
Who are your favorite teams?
The Dodgers. My favorite hockey team is the Kings. I like the Clippers in basketball. And I like USC college. Football, the Giants.
Check out Lifetimeís latest original movie, Wisegal, airing Saturday March 15 at 8PM.