Lisa Edelstein Interview–Transcript

As promised:

Q:                                So, as the season began, knowing that there was a whole group of new doctors coming in, did you have concerns as to how Cuddy was going to fit in with the sort of remixed version of the show?


L. Edelstein                 I felt the least affected.  I think both Wilson and I felt the least affected by that.  Certainly you wonder how they’re going to manage to give any of us anything to do with so many characters on a show, but they seem to have managed.  It’s really the same structure where you have the inner workings of the case and then the B and C stories of what’s happening amongst the personalities of the main characters, and it’s been great.  It’s a wonderful new group of people, and they have shown up with lots of excitement and eagerness, and they have great attitudes.   So it’s been a wonderful experience.


Q:                                Do you sense movement in Cuddy’s character in recent seasons?  Do you sort of see a place that she’s going from here?


L. Edelstein                 I do.  I really think that her character has been filled out and that her relationship with House has become a beautiful, complicated, adult relationship filled with all kinds of subliminal messages.  And it’s fun to play, and even when they don’t write it, I put it in.


Q”                               I was going to say, how much of that subliminal stuff is you and how much is the writers? 


L. Edelstein                 I think it goes both ways.  I think writers like to see how people bring their words to life, and it’s always surprising.  Always, no matter what, whether it’s good or bad, it’s always surprising because a whole human being is coming to that piece of writing.  And certainly there’s inspiration that comes out of that, but it’s also David Shore and what’s going on in his mind and where he would like to see things going.

Q                                 Hello, Lisa.  I just wanted to quickly ask you, given your time on this show with all the lingo you’ve picked up, the demeanor you’ve picked up, if we were to dress you up as a doctor and disguise you, but drop you into a hospital, how long do you think it would be before you would be found out?


L. Edelstein                 I think I could go half a day.  You know what, I’ve always been a smarty-pants, and the only thing that goes wrong now is that people know that I play a doctor on TV and so they quickly call me out on the fact that I really think I am a doctor.  But before, I used to get away with it much longer.


Q                                 And what would trip you up finally?  What would be the thing that would make somebody say, “Are you sure you’re a doctor?”


L. Edelstein                 If somebody had a heart attack. It would be bad because even though I say, “Clear!” really well, I don’t really know what else to do.


Q                                 Now we know Cuddy, in the finale, is in House’s head.  What is Cuddy doing in his head, and what will it mean for the future of their relationship?


L. Edelstein                 Well, it is very interesting what happens in the first half of the finale in terms of learning about how House sees people and kind of getting the world from his point of view directly.  And he’s suffering from a brain injury, so he’s trying to remember what he saw before this accident, and in doing so, he’s using the people around him in his imagination to kind of help him dig through his memory and bring things up.  And so when Cuddy enters into that fantasy, he decides he might as well have her strip, so we’ll see what happens.


Q                                 Now we know there’s a cliffhanger coming … House’s relationships.  Is it Cuddy or is it someone else?


L. Edelstein                 Oh, I can’t tell you that.  It’s a cliffhanger.


Q                                 Well, okay … but will there be any kind of change in their complicated, beautiful, adult relationship?


L. Edelstein                 I think so.  You know, I don’t know when, but I think it definitely has a life of its own and more will be revealed.

Q                                 Anyway, since it’s been awhile since the first season of House, what do you think of the fact that you’ve finally been able to play the same role for several years and it may keep going for several more?  Is it freeing, is it challenging, is it weird?  Is it all those things?


L. Edelstein                 I love it.  I’m loving the experience because it only gets more interesting.  You know, it’s scary when you sign onto a pilot of a series because, as much as you want the series to go, you also want it to be a character that you’d be interested in playing for a long time.  What ends up happening, well, on a show like this that’s so well-written, what ends up happening is that it just becomes more interesting because the layers and layers and layers that are added on and the complex relationships that start to reveal themselves.  It’s great to play.  I’m having such a good time.


Q                                 And being on a show where you can see all the different ways that a human being can get sick, does it ever mess with your mind?


L. Edelstein                 It does.  When anybody I know has any symptoms at all, I have a thousand things that run through my head.  A friend of mine has a rash that won’t go away, and I’m asking her if she had her immune system tested to make sure it’s not an auto-immune problem.  It definitely gives you more information than you definitely want most of the time, but most of it goes in and out of our heads because we have to compile so much stuff per episode.  We have to let it go.


S. Lanoue                    I just wanted to know, if you could write the show or you could direct where the show’s going to go, do you think Cuddy would have a romantic relationship with House or Wilson, or would you prefer she find someone new?


L. Edelstein                 I still think there’s more to explore with House.  I don’t think her and Wilson are attracted to each other, but I think they have a common bond in terms of their weird relationships with House.  But I do think there’s more to explore in regards to her relationship with House.


Q                                 Just talking more about the relationship with House, I’ve always had a theory that she loves House and all of the games she has to play to keep him in line.  What do you think of that theory?


L. Edelstein                 I think that theory is right on the money.  I think that she very much loves House and also lives vicariously through him because she’s a very smart woman who is very successful as a doctor and has a great job and a wonderful position, but also has had less and less to do with the actual practicing of medicine as the years have gone by, so I think she’s excited by what he does and how he does it and deeply frustrated by him at the same time.  But as all intense people are, they’re incredibly interesting and compelling, and she definitely falls victim to that.


Q                                 And I read that, in the two-parter, in the fantasy sequences, you actually have to work a stripper pole.  How did you prepare for that?


L. Edelstein                 I called Sheila Kelley, who has a company called S Factor.  She’s actually the wife of Richard Schiff, who I’ve worked with a bunch of times on The West Wing and on Relativity, and she did a movie a long time ago about strippers and realized that stripping was a great way to stay in shape and also a great way for women to kind of explore their sexual power.  And so I went to her, and she helped me choreograph this routine.  It was a very interesting experience. 


Q                                 My question was regarding the rumors about a potential spin-off, and I was wondering if you had heard about any of that—


L. Edelstein                 Only in rumor.  I’ve heard the same rumors, but I haven’t heard anything directly.


Q                                 And are you guys working on the next season already?


L. Edelstein                 Yes.  We just started.


Q                                 And there’s mention of a potential, another private investigator character being introduced.  Have you come into contact with that at all?

L. Edelstein                 No, no.  I’ve only read it, just like you, on the Internet. 


Q                                 Now, you already probably know the answer to this because you said you worked on the first new episode.  We have a section, the week after your finale, we have something called “Burning Questions,” and I was going to ask you what burning question would you like to ask the producer after you did the finale.  Was there anything hanging that you would love to say, or something that happened, “Why did you do this?” or “What’s going to happen?”


L. Edelstein                 No, it doesn’t apply this year because we had to go right into season five, but usually we know nothing until we return.  It’s a very exciting day when you finally get the first episode’s script.  But this year, there is no surprise.  I have no burning questions.  We started, like, the minute we were done with season four, we were on season five.


Q                                 Well, then, can you just tell us, do you think we will have some burning questions like, “Oh my God, what’s going to happen?”


L. Edelstein                 What will your questions be?  I think your main question will be, “What will become of House and Wilson’s friendship?”



Q                                 What do you think that House thinks of Cuddy?  Do you think he loves her like she loves him?


L. Edelstein                 I think he’s attracted to her.  I think he likes her smarts.  I’m not sure House is capable of love the way other people are.  I think he’s so disconnected to himself in that way that it would be impossible for him to truly be able to connect to somebody else.  I mean, I think he loves Cuddy and I think he loves Wilson, but I don’t know that it would be in the same way they love him.


Q                                 Yes, I’ve asked this question of David Shore before too, what do you think drives House?  Because I’ve always thought he can’t truly be as disconnected and unempathetic as he plays, although Shore sort of says, yes, actually he is, but what do you think?


L. Edelstein                 Well, I’d have to agree with David.  I think that he has become so disconnected through his pain and his treatment of his pain and his anger at the world that he finds the connection in the puzzle more than in the people.  And he’s so smart that he sees past everyone’s bull… to such a degree that people become uninteresting to him. 


Q                                 Why do you think all of that, though, ends up not disconnecting Cuddy and Wilson to him, but also us as viewers?   I just think that’s always such an interesting dichotomy that you’re like, here’s this really non-empathetic person, but you feel connected to him—


L. Edelstein                 Because he’s so smart about telling the truth about where you’re at, even when you’re not willing to admit it yourself, and there’s something very addictive about being around a person like that because you know you’re going to hear the truth and because they’ll talk to you anyway.  It’s like being naked and still being spoken to.  It’s being naked with all your defects.  There’s something about it, even when it’s cruel, that’s comforting.


Q                                 And the last thing is, having said all that about House, when you’re playing all that with Hugh Laurie, I mean, I guess what I’m asking is what’s Hugh Laurie like as compared to House?  Because it seems to me like he’s so very different than all that.


L. Edelstein                 Oh, yes.  He is a much softer person and very sensitive and very empathetic and hilarious, an extremely hard worker.


Q                                 How  would you say you and Cuddy compare to each other, like yourself and your character?


L. Edelstein                 I’m much more playful than she is.  I behave younger and I have a different kind of energy, completely.  I’m usually ricocheting off the set walls until they say “action,” and then I’m this serious person.  She wears skirts that you can’t even take long strides in.  But it’s great.  It’s great playing that part of myself with her, but I think most people are surprised when they meet me that we’re so completely different.


Q                                 So you said you’re starting right back up again, you’re still aiming for a fall premiere for season five?


L. Edelstein                 Oh, yes.  We’re starting season five.  As soon as we finished season four, we started season five.  We’re working straight through until August.  Usually we have May and June off, so we work through to August, then we take a break for a few weeks, and then we come back and work through December.  So, barring an actor’s strike, that will be our schedule.


Q                                 I was just curious, how would Cuddy’s relationship have been different if the strike didn’t happen, with House?


L. Edelstein                 I think they were planning on exploring her relationship with House a little bit in season four and decided to put it off, but I don’t really know to what extent because they don’t tell me.


Q                                 How does House’s mental struggle affect Cuddy and the team?


L. Edelstein                 Oh.  That’s really interesting because he ends up risking his own life in order to access his own mind, and none of the other people can do what he does, so they’re all willing to kind of participate in that risk. 


Q                                 They’re all keeping their fingers crossed, I guess.


L. Edelstein                 Yes, holding their breath for a minute and waiting to see if it works.  I mean, I don’t, for a long time, nobody really knows to what extent he’s risking his own life, but even when it becomes apparent, it still goes on.


Q                                 Oh, great.  Thank you so much.  I guess I was curious, you mentioned earlier that, if something wasn’t happening in the plotline that you wanted to happen, you would make sure that it did.  How involved are you in the development of the narrative and of the plot?


L. Edelstein                 Oh, I don’t think I said that.  I have zero control over what happens in the plotline.  I think I said that, if it wasn’t written in terms of subliminal messages, that I— I just think there’s always room for humanity in acting, one can only hope, so when you bring in the whole life of a person that’s playing a character, then surprises happen and are allowed to happen, and so it makes it more interesting.


Q                                 Is there anyone that you would just die to work with that you’re sort of angling to—?


L. Edelstein                 I only wish that Clint Eastwood was playing Hugh’s dad, but they had already cast his dad in the very first season, but it should’ve been Clint.



Q                                 What else can we expect in the next season?


L. Edelstein                 The next season, you know, they just don’t tell us.  I’ve only seen one episode so, in terms of script, but we really don’t have any clue as to where the storylines are going.  I think there’s a nice House/Wilson storyline to kick off the season that is kind of, their friendship is on the line, so that’ll be interesting.


Q                                 I was just curious, there’s been rumors about this.  I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m wondering, can we expect the finale to set the stage for a House spin-off?


L. Edelstein                 I’ve read that online also.  No, not the finale.  I don’t have any idea what they’re talking about in those rumors.


Q                                 How is the prospect of another potential strike sort of affecting the atmosphere as you go into this quick turnaround into the fifth season?


L. Edelstein                 Well, I think the fact that we’re doing a quick turnaround to the fifth season is part of it, but you know, we’re all kind of holding our breath because nobody wants a strike, and hopefully a strike won’t be necessary, but it’s very scary, the kind of tactics that the AMPTP is pulling again.  And it’s very sad, so fingers are crossed.


Q:                                on the side, the possibility of that?


L. Edelstein                 Yes and no.  It’s in the air, but we haven’t all gotten to that point just yet.  They haven’t sent out strike approval notices or anything like that, and it’s scary.  We were very behind the writers and the writers’ strike, and these are really legitimate issues that are being brought up, and some really terrible tactics are being used to work against the artists.  So I really, really hope it doesn’t have to go to that place.


Q                                 Hello, Lisa.  I’m just wondering, in House’s mind, Cuddy strips.  Do you think, if the situation was reversed and we were in Cuddy’s mind, House would strip?


L. Edelstein                 I don’t know.  I don’t think Cuddy’s like a Chippendale’s kind of gal.  I think women have a different idea of what’s sexy in terms of what they want to see their men doing than in terms of—Maybe it would be some kind of like laying there quietly, caressing her belly, like tickling her belly while doing a diagnostic. 



3 thoughts on “Lisa Edelstein Interview–Transcript

  1. Thank you very much for this! I enjoyed reading it. She is such a well-spoken person and always seems very nice and energetic.

  2. Good interview!
    thanks for posting it.

    Just one comment on the silliest of things, but I have forever thought Hugh Laurie looked like a younger Clint Eastwood at times. Something in his eyes and cheekbones, I think. Now hearing it from Edelstein’s lips, I feel vindicated. Silly, I know.

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