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Exclusive: Odette Annable Talks House, The Double, Breaking In

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Exclusive: Odette Annable Talks House, The Double, Breaking In

Odette Annable (formerly Yustman) has escaped from an otherworldly beast, in “Cloverfield,” but finds herself dealing with another larger-than-life personality, opposite Hugh Laurie in the eighth season of “House.” ShockYa recently had a chance to speak to Annable one-on-one, about the hit Fox series; her new film “The Double,” with Topher Grace; memories from “Kindergarten Cop” and “Cloverfield;” and more. The conversation is excerpted below:

ShockYa: So you’re shooting “House,” but also commited to “Breaking In,” is that right?

Odette Annable: Yes, it’s a very busy time for me. I’m not used to being quite this busy, but it’s a great time for me as well. It was one of those weird things. We were so confident that “Breaking In” was going to get picked up, and when we got that call saying that it was canceled it was a bit of a shock. So everybody started to move on, and I was lucky enough to be called by “House.” And Fox was so gracious as to let me jump on another Fox show. But then they called back and said that they were going to pick up “Breaking In,” so I didn’t know what to think. So I didn’t know what to think, I thought it was a joke. I still can’t really believe it’s happening, but I will be doing double-duty. At some point it will start back up into production in January, so that will be a bit of a scheduling conflict. I don’t know if I’ll be in all of the episodes of “Breaking In,” just because of “House,” but I will be in a few of them, absolutely. They don’t shoot that far away from one another; “Breaking In” shoots at Sony and we’re shooting “House” on the Fox lot, so it’s about a five-minute drive — not too bad.

ShockYa: “The Double” is a throwback, in a lot of ways, to these espionage spy thrillers of days of yore, from the 1980s, with much more starkly defined villains. Do any movies of that era stand out to you, personally?

OA: I don’t know much about the genre, actually, and that was one of the reasons I initially wanted to do the movie, because I loved the script and it was a throwback, and so, so great, and I wanted to be a part of it. But I never really grew up watching many spy movies, or anything from that genre, so that’s why it caught my eye. I was excited to do something different. I thought the script was great, and I haven’t been stereotyped thus far in my career, so I was happy to be able to play a new type of character.

ShockYa: You go into a film like this expecting a certain number of twists and turns; it’s called “The Double,” for God’s sake. But reading a script, things can sometimes be a little less clear than seeing something unfold on screen. So did you have any trouble keeping track of [motivations] and characters?

OA: I think that’s part of the beauty of the film, that you play with that fine line of what actually is going on. And that’s a testament to the writers, that they wrote such a clever and smart flick. So I did have to read it a couple times to catch everything that was going on. I do that on all my episodes on “House” [too]. I always think it’s really great writing when you have to go through a couple times, and it’s not the obvious things that pop out, you have to see the double entendres and everything that’s going on.

ShockYa: Topher mentioned of all the training that he had to do for the film — Russian dialect work and the Systema martial arts — that the thing that terrified him the most was holding the baby, and he claimed that you were a natural, but both of the babies (on set) hated him. Is that true?

OA: (laughs) It was so funny, it was hilarious. It really was true. He loved doing all the action and that stuff, but when it came down to all the domestic stuff, showing the family, he had a really hard time with holding the babies, and not really knowing what to do. I don’t know if it was womanly instinct of what, but I fell into that role very naturally. He was like, “How should we do this, how should we do this?” And I was like, “Hey Topher, relax!” You’ve been in relationships before, and this is how things go, we don’t need to force anything. After a while he started to warm up to the kids but it was really funny because I think whenever one of the babies started going crazy he would hand it to me and it would calm down. But it seemed in keeping with the themes of the movie — my character works at the local library, but she mainly takes care of the family, and the two kids. She’s a very patient wife, especially with Topher’s character, and so it makes sense that the kids would be more naturally comfortable with me. So I felt like it was the kids, the babies, being method (actors), even if they didn’t know what was going on.

ShockYa: Without giving away specific spoilers, was there any discussion of whether your character, Natalie, knew the full extent of her husband’s identity?

OA: No, I don’t. I think she knows enough about what he does, but not the full extent of what’s happening.

ShockYa: What memories, if any, do you have from “Kindergarten Cop”?

OA: Oh my God, you know what — I actually remember more than I probably should. (laughs) I was four years old, turning five at the time, and I had no idea we were even really shooting a movie. I was just having fun with 30 kids my age, torturing Arnold (Schwarzenegger). I didn’t even really know he was this big movie star, of course, but my mom freaked out when I got the part. So it was quite a trip. I only have great, great memories from that movie.

ShockYa: You took a bit of a break, I guess, and considered going to college and majoring in finance. You’re not one of these child actors who came up through a television show — you were both around the business and not. You did a few things here and there. Can you reflect on those years, in adolescence through teenagedom? Was acting something you were still interested in, or was just a couple cool one-off experiences?

OA: I was always interested in acting. I lived about an hour-and-a-half away, in Palm Springs, and the commute was very, very difficult, but I think naturally — the human me — I gravitate toward work, and I loved working, and acting at that young age. It became a thing where my parents said, “Look, if this is something you want to continue to do we 100 percent support you, but we don’t want you to feel like we’re forcing you to do it.” They weren’t stage parents. But of course sometimes I just wanted to be a normal kid. Sometimes auditions were a drag, being in traffic and what not. But I really, genuinely loved it, and I knew that I wanted to be an actress. I remember going back home a couple of months ago and looking through all of my old school work and those things that you keep over the years. There was one [assignment] where every kid had to make a portfolio of what they saw themselves doing and who they were, and I always said that I wanted to be an actress. My family is very business-oriented, so that’s why I thought I might go to school and study that, because I am very intrigued by the business side of this industry, and pretty positive that one day I’ll have my own production company. But I’ve always been very interested in acting.

ShockYa: Can you take me back to the audition process for “Cloverfield,” which was a project cloaked in quite a bit of secrecy?

OA: That was quite an experience. (laughs) I was shooting a TV show called “October Road,” and during our hiatus I auditioned for that. It was called “The Untitled J.J. Abrams Project,” I think, and Paramount was going to release the movie — that was all we knew. But I figured… that was enough for me! We got sides that I think were old sides from “Alias,” and one scene that I think ended up being the opening of the movie. …I had no idea what was happening and nobody was revealing anything, so we were flying blind through this whole audition process. But I embraced it, and thought it was fun and interesting. And I auditioned all of the actors for the role of Rob, which was an interesting experience. I got to sit in with J.J. and sort of audition all these people that I thought I would have chemistry with, so that was cool. And after they said I got the role I was so excited; they asked me what I thought the movie was about, and I said, “I don’t know, is it a romantic comedy?” And they said, “No, not so much.”

Written by: Brent Simon

Odette Annable

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A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International and Magill's Cinema Annual, and film editor of H Magazine. He cannot abide a world without U2 and pizza.

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