Portia de Rossi plays another chilly character in new series 'Better Off Ted'

by Rick Bentley

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

18 March 2009


Portia de Rossi, the actress who has starred on television shows from “Arrested Development” to “Nip/Tuck,” is in the quirky new ABC series “Better Off Ted.”

“Better Off Ted” offers a twisted look at life inside the walls of Veridian Dynamics, a company that will invent anything as long as it makes a profit. Those inventions range from cow-less meat to fruit that can be used as weapons of mass destruction. Veronica Palmer, the character played by de Rossi, is a beautiful company executive who lacks emotions.

She joined fellow cast members and the show’s creator, Victor Fresco, to discuss the series with television critics in January. Q: Have you ever worked at a ruthless corporation like Veridian?

A: I actually think that’s part of what’s so interesting about this show for all of us. We don’t come from this world. We’re actors. We don’t really know what it’s like to work in an office place. I don’t think anyone’s really had a job like that where we all live in cubicles.

Q: How does this role compare to past TV projects?

A: I’ve got to tell you, Veronica is my favorite character I’ve ever played, bar none. I’m really attracted to strong women. Let me rephrase that, actually. Strong female characters.

I just love her sensibility. I love how cold and uncaring she appears to be and how focused she is. She’s just a very fun, interesting character for me to play.

Q: Would you be willing to be in an “Arrested Development” movie?

A: Veronica is my favorite character. But I also enjoyed making “Arrested Development.” I’d love to do the movie. I’m excited about it. And it’s not scheduled to shoot yet. I don’t think it’s fully green-lit, but I know the cast are all on board.

So we just have to figure out when we can all do it. I know everyone in the cast has kind of moved on and are all very busy. So we all have to figure out when we can get together and make it. But it will be soon.

Q: Are there any similarities between Veronica and your role on “Ally McBeal”?

A: Yeah, I think there are actually. When I first met Victor (Fresco) after reading the script, I was very excited about it. I met with him and was talking about “Ally McBeal,” assuming that he had seen it. He hadn’t.

I kind of have to throw myself at him, saying, “I played this character, Nelle Porter on ‘Ally McBeal,’ who has similar qualities in that she was very work-driven and strong and insensitive and slightly chilly.”

And so I had to convince him that I could play this character well and that I was familiar with a character of that nature. So he made me audition.

Q: How is Veronica different than Nelle?

A: She is funnier than the character I played on “Ally McBeal.” So it kind of has a similarity in that she’s very strong, very determined. But the dialogue is crisper and wittier and funnier.

And I’m Australian, and I grew up watching the BBC and admiring comedians like John Cleese. I get a sense of that kind of absurdist, kind of hyper-real humor in my character, and that’s what I really enjoy playing in this.

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