[5 January 2009]
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)
HOLLYWOOD - Actress Anna Torv used to dream about being an actress over the kitchen stove. “When I was about 15 or 16 Mum would work and I would often cook dinner at home,” she says over coffee at a hotel on Hollywood Boulevard.
“And where the stove was I could see myself in the reflection of the window. I’d stir and remember thinking, ‘My God, I can’t wait until I’m at NIDA (the National Institute of Dramatic Art) and studying on my own, in my own flat.’ I remember thinking how cool that would be and remember pretending I was all grown up doing what I wanted to do.”
Two years later part of that dream came true. Torv was studying at NIDA and staying in her very own apartment.
“I was standing in my ... little flat, I was studying at night. And I caught a reflection of myself stirring a pot, going, ‘Oh, my God, this is NOT what I imagined.’ I think that was a big thing, and I get the giggles about how you can dream in great detail, but it never really is what you imagine it to be.”
The actress, who plays an intrepid FBI investigator on Fox’s sci-fi thriller “Fringe,” grew up on isolated acreage an hour outside of Brisbane, Australia.
Her parents split when she was 8 and she hasn’t seen much of her father, a radio announcer, since then. She and her younger brother were raised by her mother, who started her own company making hats and later shirts and accessories.
“I think everyone makes such a big deal about staying in the moment and being present and here, and I kind of love holding on to my past and imagining the future,” she says. “I think that did change my thinking. I’m a dreamer and nostalgic, and I like the combination.”
After graduating from NIDA, she plotted out her career. “I went with one-year increments,” she says, her honey-colored hair falling over her shoulders. “The first was could I get work? And I did. And the second year was could I JUST act? And I did. Then could I earn my living doing only the things I wanted to do? Then I wanted to see if I could work overseas, so I moved to the U.K.”
But before she left Australia for London she suffered a crisis of sorts. “I was in a bit of a stalemate and I felt like I was treading water,” she recalls, her hands entwined around her cup.
“I would’ve been about 26 or 27 and I was no longer excused for being a kid. It was time to grow up. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The mid- to late-20s is a really funny time. The early 20s is great because you’re not a teen-ager, everything’s open. You believe you can do everything. You’re strong.
“And then it kind of washes down a bit and friends I went to school with were getting married and having children, that was just implausible to me that could even be happening. I was still kind of bumming around and living this carefree, bohemian life. What was I doing? I’d put everything on hold for a career. So I said, ‘What am I sitting around for? I want to do something that will salve my spirit too.’”
Her father, who is of Estonian heritage, was born in Scotland. So Torv, 30, already had a British passport. “I went to London and didn’t work for so long, four or five months and just lived on my credit card,” she says.
“I got a job teaching some little kids one day a week, which amounted to 60 pounds, but I loved that - these little English kids with their English accents. I’d forgotten how old they were and I prepared probably what would be the equivalent of a 10-year-old (curriculum) and went in and was actually teaching 3- and 4-year-olds and 5- and 6-year-olds and realized these little kids can’t even clap. But they were very sweet.”
Then she landed a job doing voiceover and motion-capture for a computer game that was shooting in New Zealand. On the way back she stopped in Los Angeles.
“I auditioned for heaps of pilots and did network tests but didn’t get any work. Then I’d spent my money and went back to London and did a part on a TV series called ‘Mistresses.’ Then a tiny part on ‘Band of Brothers,’ then the writers strike hit.”
At last came the audition for “Fringe,” which begins airing new episodes on Jan. 20.
Torv is both stunned and thrilled with the role. “I feel just totally blessed. I can’t explain how exciting it was ... I think you always have a sense of feeling a little bit out of place, like, am I really right?”
She’s right, all right, according to one of the show’s creators, Alex Kurtzman, “The minute we saw Anna, we went, ‘This is who we’ve been writing for this whole time. We just didn’t know it.’ It was a very easy decision for all of us.”
Torv, who’s neither married nor in a relationship, says she hopes to marry someday. And while she’s in a field that demands bravado, she says, “I oscillate, sometimes, if you get me in a good mood, I’m quite extroverted and sometimes, if I’m in a quiet mood, I’m quite shy.”
Ever wonder what the department of Homeland Security really does? Well, ABC is about to inform us with its new reality show, “Homeland Security USA,” premiering this week and airing for 13 weeks on Tuesdays. The troops snoop into passports, adoptions, drug transport, terrorism and contraband of all kinds - including that forbidden delicacy, barbequed bats. The show, which is based on a five-year-old Australian hit, is filmed with the cooperation of the Homeland Security officials as well as U.S. Customs, the Coast Guard and Immigration.
James Roday, who plays the goof-off Shawn on USA’s “Psych,” hints that there might be romance in the future for his character when the show returns with new episodes on Jan. 9. “The idea of Shawn trying to negotiate a relationship with a woman is brand new territory,” he says.
“I think everyone will get a kick out of that. And I think it’s probably fair to say that you don’t have to worry about Shawn being locked into a relationship for a prolonged period of time. But as an experiment, absolutely I think we’re definitely going to give that a shot.”
HDNet Movies has been offering sneak previews of movies before they hit theaters. So far the choices have all been excellent, with sturdy stars, crisp scripts and unusual points of view. Next up is “Yonkers Joe,” starring Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti. The film premieres on Wednesday and hits theaters on Friday. This is not only a thrilling con-film, but also a touching family drama - not your usual combination.
Palminteri, who is both a writer and an actor (he wrote and costarred in “A Bronx Tale”), thinks he got his confidence from his parents. “My mom and dad just told me I was really good and special and really talented constantly, every day when I was little boy. And I guess I grew up just feeling that way. And when I wrote ‘Bronx Tale’ and they (the movie studio) tried to take it from me, I said, ‘No, I’m gonna make this movie.’ That’s difficult. They offer you over $1 million and you don’t have any money, but you just have to say no.”