Sally Golan and Rebecca Blumhagen talk The Girl's Guide to Depravity Series Premiere
Cinemax continues its quest to rule the world, or at least late night television, with the hot new Max After Dark series The Girl's Guide to Depravity, which debuts Episode 1.01: Rule #12: The Break-Up Rule this Friday, February 24th, at 11pm. Sally Golan and Rebecca Blumhagen star as best friends Lizzie and Sam, two young women out to conquer lust and a series of scandalous relationships with a set of rules originally set forth by the popular blog of the same name.
We recently caught up with Sally Golan and Rebecca Blumhagen to find out how they're helping to further push Cinemax's reputation as one of the leading forces in original cable programming. And to find out a little bit more about them before devoting our Friday night to their wicked ways.
Here is our conversation.
Which one of you is the biggest bitch in the room?
Rebecca Blumhagen: That would be Sally. (Laughs)!
Sally Golan: We love that question! Which one of you is the biggest bitch in the room? It depends on which day it is, honestly. I mean, come on! You know that! I can definitely be the biggest bitch in the room. But I don't have one up on Rebecca. She can get her way! (Laughs!)
I think you'll both be getting your way after people get a taste of you on this show...Or, are you afraid of just that? That some people might get the wrong idea about you two?
Rebecca Blumhagen: I think it's definitely more about us getting our way. So it all depends on whether or not their way is our way...
Sally Golan: It's so funny. We are actors, and we are playing parts. Both of these parts are such far stretches from who we are in real life. Of course there are some similarities to the characters as well, naturally. I think anyone watching this show should watch it with a really lighthearted approach. Expect some fun adventures that you might fantasize about being with us on....This is not a documentary or anything. Its not like they decided to follow the lives of Sally and Rebecca. It was cool to step behind the eyes of these characters!
Being removed from the characters, as you say, in your own personal lives...Having the show be based on a blog has to offer you a wealth of character building material. There is a lot of information here that you might not have access to with any other character or show...
Sally Golan: Hmm. That is a good point...
Rebecca Blumhagen: We did meet with the author of the blog. She has a book coming out in May. It has the same title. The Girl's Guide to Depravity. She is awesome, and great. She is always willing to help out. We say, "We need more rules!" And she sends us some right away. Yeah, it's cool that you mention that.
Sally Golan: When you are on a set, you really don't ever get any new material to build on. But we definitely had the advantage of this blog. It was up for a long time coming. It gave us a very good starting point.
At the same time, it has to be a little like getting a new BBQ or a TV set. You pull out the instructions and you don't want to read them. You just want to jump right into creating an building the character for yourself...
Sally Golan: It was a bit of both. Yeah. For me, I read the blog as much as I could. Kind of while I was auditioning. Once I got in there, I had to throw all of that away. Look, the blog is not really based on Sam and Lizzie. It's mostly based on the rules themselves. There really wasn't too much to build on in terms of character. It was just the tone and the style of the show that we were able to pull from.
Rebecca Blumhagen: Anytime you bring yourself to a role, it colors it in ways that the author may never have intended. In a good way. There are things they may not have thought of, or ways that it will be interpreted that speak to a wider audience, more so than just one person. That is the beauty of the scripted theatrical art.
Glancing over the rules that each episode will be based on in Season One, it seems like a lot of these are universe common knowledge ideas that we all know, or should know. Was there anything in these rules that surprised you, or shocked you? Or was this all stuff you knew going into the show, before even looking at the material?
Rebecca Blumhagen: In terms of people knowing and believing in these rules? It all depends on where you come from. For me, I didn't come from a place where these rules existed. These rules are completely different from how I was raised, or how I think. It's a totally different way of thinking. Whether you choose to live by these rules is fun. It opens your eyes to choosing the life you want to live.
In building off of that, what was the chemistry like between the two of you when you first met, and how has that evolved over the course of shooting Season One?
Sally Golan: It was kind of an amazing happening. Because Rebecca and I were literally brought into the audition process not knowing one another at all. We had such a great time reading together, it was so obvious that we belonged together. If it weren't for me, she wouldn't have gotten the part. And if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have gotten that part. Because we went off each other so well. Definitely, we have become a heck of a lot closer. We are shooting thirteen episodes in five and a half weeks. Between hotels and car rides, and make-up...There are countless hours that we have to spend with each other. I have spent more time with her than I have with any boyfriend I have ever been with. It's kind of amazing. Our friendship is very, very real.
Has there been anything that has sprung up between you that has eased its way into the show?
Rebecca Blumhagen: For sure. That's what makes it so fun. You go out, you talk, you tell secrets, and it reads on screen. The relationship is more real, because we spend time off screen as well.
I'm seeing a change in the value of shock with some of the new edgier series coming out. The idea of a taboo subject being tackled has been done to death, and now, it seems shows like yours are pulling back, holing their punch for a minute, and then taking that sharp left turn, going down the road of the unexpected as opposed to just throwing something scandalous in the face of the audience to garner that wide-eyed response. How do you feel Girls' Guide is taking a slightly different approach to what audience might find to be taboo? And turning that on its ear?
Rebecca Blumhagen: You can look at it as a positive or a negative. We like to take the opportunity to go anywhere we want to. To explore material, and tell truths, and not be afraid to go into any situation, whether it is a sex scene or a bar scene. We find a way to speak to our audience from that place. I think the show really goes all out. Cinemax is expanding and changing, and this is on at a perfect time at night. This is a new thing for them. We are the only comedy on the network. We are a show aimed at women.
Sally Golan: And to expand on that...Yeah, we are on late night. But we are like any other show you would see on any of the cable networks. There isn't much different there, and our show is less edgy than some of the really edgy content you've been seeing. It's less in your face. You can expect that Cinemax is changing the game. They are growing. They already have Strike Back, which is an awesome series. We are really proud to stand as the female voice of the network.
Were you guys always comfortable, right from the start, with some of the vernacular that is presented on the show?
Sally Golan: Man, that is such a good question...I have a potty mouth. I will admit that...And I was blushing. There are some really crass things that these characters are saying. That is the beauty of acting, though. You get the chance to do all these things you wouldn't get to do in real life.
Rebecca Blumhagen: For sure, it's like a genre. Its like William Shakespeare. You figure out how to talk in it, then you get used to it.
Sally Golan: I think it's a little more shocking, because its two women talking like this. Normally, you hear men talking like this. But coming out of our mouths, and the way we look, and the way we act? People are like, "Oh, my god! Did she really just say that?" If the exact same line came out of a guy's mouth? You'd be like, "Whatever." I don't think it has evolved enough, to be quite honest with you. It has evolved, but I think our show might be a bit of a shocker for people. But that's what's so attractive about it.
So you guys are really pushing boundaries with this.
Rebecca Blumhagen: Yes. That's the goal.
Tell me about this stable of guys you have running through Season One...
Rebecca Blumhagen: They are all beautiful in different ways. (Laughs)!
Sally Golan: The men are so much fun on this show. Rebecca put it so well earlier. She said, "They all just seem confused. How did this happen?" There are two love interests, if you don't mind me saying. They spike some interest from Lizzie and Sam, and they continue to occur throughout the series. They challenge were we stand on these rules, and they make us look at ourselves differently.
Rebecca Blumhagen: I would add that as actors, the men on this show become really good friends. They are great guys, and very respectful. It shows you that men are ready for a change too. It creates such a strong dynamic on stage when you also have that off stage.
Looking at the cast list, you have a character like Dirty Hot Guy, who shows up in at least five of the first episodes. Would you categorize this as a serialized comedy more than a show were each episode stands alone?
Sally Golan: Yeah. It definitely progresses as the season goes on. You should watch it from the beginning onward. It does build an arc. Every episode brings in a new rule from the guidebook, and how that rule plays out.
Are you guys able to learn something new about your characters everytime you open a script?
Sally Golan: Yeah, definitely. We shot the entire series out of sequence, so it was a little hard to create that. Rebecca and I really worked with each other. That's why we became so close. We asked each other the tough questions, and we really created this world.
Tell me more about Jesse Liebman. I know he has a recurring role on the series. Is he one of the romantic interests that you referred too? Or is he just a friend?
Sally Golan: That is an interesting question. I can't tell you the whole answer, otherwise I will reveal the secret that you need to watch the entire season for. I will tell you that he is Lizzie's co-worker. Though she really treats him as an assistant. And he does hang out with us off stage. He loves us...But he gives us a really hard time about the rules that we follow. He is the male voice. He looks at what we are doing and says, "You guys are pathetic." He serves as that Greek chorus for the show.
What has it been like to build a relationship with Jesse both off and on screen?
Rebecca Blumhagen: He was my friend. I got him cast in the show. Which is one of the crowning achievements of my life. Because he is a fantastic actor, and I think he should work all the time. They were looking for a lawyer. A good guy. Handsome. Slightly awkward. I said, "I know the guy! Jesse!" So he sent them a reel. They loved him. He came in. I had been in acting class with him for three or four years. He is a great support and a great friend. Because of that, we had a great time shooting those scenes.
Cody Deal is also coming in for a couple of episodes, right?
Sally Golan: Yeah. I think he is in two episodes. Cody? He is the biggest man I have ever seen in my life. He is huge. We have this one scene where we are spying on him to see if he is cheating on one of our friends on the show. We're like, "Let's go get him." When we get him at the bar, my character is supposed to grab him and pull him. But literally, my god, I could not do it. He is huge. He is very funny, and easy to act with. He is a very cool guy. But he is a seriously astounding wall of muscle. (Laughs)!
For each of you, what one episode really stands out in your mind as the defining stamp on what this series is, and can be in the future?
Sally Golan: Yes. Episode 11. I know it doesn't come on until later in the season. Its The Pill Rule. That episode takes a dark turn. It's when the two characters start to realize that this is not working. Sam gets...Rebecca, if you want to speak about it...There is the addiction...How that happens...
Rebecca Blumhagen: Things are not working out, and Lizzie gets annoyed with my frustrations. So she suggests an easy fix. She sends me to the psychiatrist. He prescribes me something. I am not happy with my prescription, so I trade it in.
Sally Golan: It takes a dark turn. It's a deeper episode, and it's a little bit more dramatic. Because you see these two characters really examining themselves.
Rebecca Blumhagen: Its also really beautifully shot. It is shot like a really beautiful cable show, in a way you don't get to see on sitcoms. It looks like a movie. It is just a beautiful episode. Our director is great. He has a very specific style. I think our show looks great. I am really proud of it.
Sally, I have a two part question for you. First of all, you went blonde for this role. You were a brunette for a long time. How does that change or affect your psyche in what you are able to bring to this character?
Sally Golan: When you dye your hair, it changes everything. I auditioned as a brunette, and Rebecca is a brunette. I think they wanted us to have a different appeal. They came to me about the blonde hair ages ago. They were like, "Can you go this blonde? Will you do it again?" I said, "Yeah!" We ended up dying my whole head blonde, and that took five hours to do. It definitely gave me an edge. It felt different. No one recognized me. But it did help create this character. At first, I didn't think Lizzie should be blonde. Blonde, to me, speaks to a more light, naive type character. But it really worked for her.
Now this...I know you must get this all the time. But, "I am the Queen!" Is that a true story?
Sally Golan: I knew it! (Laughs) That is a very true story. My family moved me around to a lot of different cities when I was a kid. Because my dad was an aeronautical engineer. We had to go all over the place. Because of that, I was a mute as a kid. I never spoke up. Because I was constantly in culture shock. I was fed up with listening to so many people speak. I think it was in kindergarten or first grade. I stood up on a chair and shouted in English, "I am the queen!" The whole class was astounded...
Rebecca Blumhagen: And she hasn't stopped since! (Laughs)!
Are you going to work that line into the series somehow?
Sally Golan: Our writer, Heather Rutman...She has to now. I get asked about that all the time.
It's something that has to be asked. Its one of the funniest things I've read in someone's bio. It made me laugh out loud. I don't know if it's meant to be funny...Maybe it's sad...
Sally Golan: No, you are right. I was embarrassed by it for a little while. I even tried to have it removed from IMDB. They never updated my request. I was like, "Maybe IMDB likes it too."
I certainly like it. Now, last question...Do you consider Lizzie and Sam the Betty and Veronica of this generation?
Sally Golan: Oh, my god! I love Betty and Veronica...Yes, kind of!
Rebecca Blumhagen: I have no idea who they are, but I am pleased to be compared!
Sally Golan: They were the two chicks from the comic book. The blonde and the brunette.
Rebecca Blumhagen: Oh, yes...
Sally Golan: I'd say that is really good....Yes, these guys are a modern day Betty and Veronica. I love it!