Lisa Edelstein is a television veteran, with memorable appearances on many shows like Ally McBeal, Seinfeld, ER, and Frasier. Lisa can now be seen on Bravo’s first scripted drama, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, airing Tuesdays at 10/9c. Lisa spoke with DIRECTV about the show, some of her previous roles, and what charities mean the most to her.
How much of you is in your character Abby?
There’s definitely more of me in Abby then I’ve ever really been able to use, but I’m not Abby in real life. That said, no one ever seems to believe me when I say that. For crying out loud, people thought I had a penis for several years because of one role I played. If they’d ask me now, “How much of you was in your character when you played that transgendered person on Ally McBeal?” I’d say, “Just my penis.” Why fight it?
You’re recently married, so it must be weird to be so invested in a character with a newly failed marriage.
Must it be? No, it’s not weird. When you get married, more than any other time in your life (I’d hope), you’re thinking about what makes a good marriage and where you might fall short. Shooting a show about divorce is a fabulous reminder of the latter. Keeps us on our toes.
Abby’s quest is to have “the perfect divorce.” Is that even possible?
Having the perfect divorce is like having the perfect death. Assuming you don’t really want to die, even the most carefully arranged and painless death scene is a tragedy. Divorce is the death of a lot of carefully fabricated fantasies that failed to pass the tests of real life. Losing what you once thought of as your future, your family structure, even your home can never be easy, good, or perfect. Abby and Jake are going forward with their separation with the best of intentions, but they’re unprepared for the emotional roller coaster ahead of them.
The tagline for the show is, “Go Find Yourself.” Why is that such a challenge for so many people?
I don’t think it’s the tagline that challenged people. It was the tagline combined with the finger, and on the finger the tan line, and the whole gesture done by a woman who is clearly happy. Since the poster came out before the show did, people assumed a lot of things about it, specifically that we were mocking marriage and the commitment it takes. But we don’t. What we do say that’s perhaps challenging to some is that divorce doesn’t need to be a shameful experience. The woman on the poster has made a choice to take care of herself the best way she knows how, and she’s not going to do it in the shadows.
You’ve guest starred in a ludicrous number of hit shows, including Seinfeld, ER and Frasier. Do you have a favorite role from your many, many appearances?
I loved the whole thing. Every great job led to another one, and that was really exciting. Like many people, I went into this business blind with absolutely no idea how a person gets from nowhere to somewhere to there. I didn’t even know where there was. I’m not even sure I do now. It is always changing. It keeps things interesting. I will say that whatever this place is, where I am now, it’s fricken fantastic. I love this job, the folks I’m working with, the writing, all of it. If I could slow time down, I would.
You work with some great charities, including Best Friend Animal Sanctuary and Planned Parenthood. Why are these particular charities so important to you?
Planned Parenthood is the ONLY source of reproductive health care that many, many women in this country have access to. I support them because the work they do for underprivileged women is irreplaceable. I support them because they fight for me, for all women, to be educated about our bodies, and to be trusted to make our own choices regarding them. Best Friends is just an incredible place. If you are ever in Utah, you should check out their animal sanctuary. They also do outreach all over the country and the world. From helping local rescues get their animals adopted to rescuing strays in war zones and disaster sites, they’re serious about what they do for animals, and they do it so well.
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Bravo (Ch. 237)