20 Questions: Miriam Shor

You’ve seen her as Janet Thompson in Swingtown, as Anna in Mildred Pierce and as Yitzhak in Hedwig and The Angry Inch (on Broadway and in the feature film)—to name just a few of this prolific actor’s roles. Now, Miriam Shor plays Cricket Caruth-Reilly, a hot powerful real estate agent in Dallas whose husband, Blake, is gay, in ABC’s new comedy, GCB, airing Sunday, 04 March.

Shor talks with PopMatters 20 Questions about her affection for two very special penguins, her squirmy kid, who refuses to be tattooed, and she speculates, come Armageddon, on which disaster film got it right. Indeed, as with her roles on stage, in film and TV, she gives her thoughts range.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

My sister gave my two-and-a-half year old this book called And Tango Makes Three, about the gay penguin couple at the Central Park Zoo. They cared for an orphan egg ‘til it hatched and then raised the baby penguin as their own. I cannot get through this book without copious amounts of tears and snot running down my face. I thought I did it the other night, but then my daughter forced me to read the author’s note, which is all about how it’s a true story and they’re still together and still a family… I totally bawled.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Olive Oyl, from Popeye. We both have extraordinarily small heads in proportion to our bodies. And we both had crappy taste in men until we met the loves of our lives.

3. The greatest album ever?

Seriously? That’s completely impossible. However, Bob Marley’s Legend; The Beatles, (all of them); Patti Smith’s Horses; David Bowie’s Hunky Dory; and The Original Muppet Movie album all make the short list.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

This is like Sophie’s choice for nerds. Hans Solo was the first man to make me tingle, but there’s a very small, hidden part of me that thinks the people from Star Trek actually exist. So… Star Trek. Hey man, they might be real.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Reading The New Yorker. I start on the last page and go backwards, reading all the cartoons. Then I read “Shouts and Murmurs”. Then I read the reviews. Then I read the articles that immediately appeal to me. Then I read the articles that I feel like I “should” read. Then I read whatever is left. Then for about an hour I feel like a genius.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Being a mother. Don’t care if it’s a cliché. Super proud of it.

7. You want to be remembered for…?

I would love to be remembered for ridding the world of disease, but my knowledge of science comes from episodes of Nova and shows on the Discovery Channel. I don’t think a superficial understanding of shark behavior and black holes can help cure diseases. So I’m gonna be hokey and honest and say I’d like to be remembered for being a good person.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Lily Tomlin, Judi Dench, Carol Burnett, Linda Emond, Meryl Streep, Janet Mctyre. I saw all these women on stage and I experienced a feeling that is the artistic equivalent of huffing paint — the world kind of went away and I felt exhilarated. Also, I drooled a little.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

My daughter. But she won’t sit still for the tattoo.

10. Your hidden talents…?

I’m brilliant at concealing the fact that I have an extraordinarily small head. And I have managed to convince myself that the characters from Star Trek are real.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

The best advice I ever got was from my doctor. She said exercise three times a week, minimum. Great advice. OK, I don’t actually follow it, but it’s excellent advice. Someone should. I snack.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Best thing I ever bought: my NYC apartment. It’s not huge, but it’s home.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?

I like to wear what my husband calls “inside pants”, as in “don’t wear those pants outside”. Comfort first. I’m not ashamed.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Cleopatra. She just seems like she’d be truly fascinating. And you know she could party.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

About 100 years into the future to see if we’re still here. And if not, to see which disaster film got it right.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

A nap. Can I say a nap? Just, like, a two-to-three hour nap.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?

Chocolate. Chocolate.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

New. York. City. I love this city with a passion bordering on the weird.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

You can’t please everyone, so just do the right thing.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on now?

I’m working on a pint of ice cream and I’m fairly certain I’m going to finish it. Also GCB, it airs Sunday nights at 10PM on ABC. I recommend watching while eating a pint of ice cream.