Paula Marshall sits back at her Sydney hotel clearly bemused
that she's been flown halfway across the world to talk about
herself. "It's hard to do that when you're not a huge star,
when you don't have a substantial body of work behind you and
when you're still an unknown commodity."
"I owe a lot to
But this beautiful and confident Washington-raised actress is
no stranger to American TV viewers. After all, she guest-starred
in what remains one of the all-time classic Seinfeld episodes,
playing a student journalist who inadvertently 'outs' Jerry and
George - not that there's anything wrong with that. "It was
an amazing experience, and I owe a lot to Jerry, who was present
during my audition, for giving me the opportunity." It was
at a time when Seinfeld was really taking off big-time. "I
think it was on the real cusp of success. It was one of the most
fruitful periods in the history of that show."
"I'm still trying to
find a good movie role"
She has done other guest-stints in the likes of The Wonder
Years, and last year was lead actress in the short-lived sitcom
Chicago Sons. "Even though the material had problems, I have
no regrets about doing it, because I came off relatively well, I
think." Marshall must have done something right - she has TV
networks clambering to create the perfect TV sitcom for her. And
she gets paid while she waits. "Yeah, that's Hollywood.
Where else do you get paid to hang around while everyone else
does the work for you." But that's not the be-all of Paula's
existence. "I'm still trying to find a good movie role, and
even though I'm not hugely ambitious, I'd like something that's
"I didn't get the part
because I knew anybody or because I slept with anyone"
Despite her TV success, she says she still had to fight to do
That Old Feeling "and I didn't get the part because I knew
anybody or because I slept with anyone", she adds
laughingly. That Old Feeling, directed by veteran Carl Reiner,
tells of a divorced couple who basically loathes each other and
is reunited at their daughter's wedding to an ambitious
politician. After the pair gets stuck into each other, they
discover they're still in lust, so on the daughter's honeymoon,
they run away, much to the chagrin of their respected families.
"When she finally tells
her prissy fiance to basically go fuck himself towards the end,
that was more me, not that other chick."
Marshall plays, what she describes, "as the real square
in the movie, conservative, moral, knees crossed kind of
girl." Playing her was a challenge, "because I'm so her
opposite. When she finally tells her prissy fiance to basically
go fuck himself towards the end, that was more me, not that other
chick." Marshall, who has a sly "but
reality-based" sense of humour herself, admits she found it
frustrating playing a straight role amidst the barbed humour
around her. "I kept on asking Carl Reiner: 'why aren't I
funny'? 'Because you're the straight guy.' " It was for that
reason that she struggled to even get an audition. "The
casting director didn't even want to see me, but once I was
there, I had them."
"I want to do the kind
of sitcom that is based on reality"
Marshall, who is also an avid photographer, is still searching
for that all-elusive film role. "I just finished a small
part in an independent film which I hope will go to Sundance, and
I'm still looking. It's damn hard work." And there's always
television. "I want to do the kind of sitcom that is based
on reality, a sort of youthful Mad About You. Imagine Jamie and
Paul when they first lived together. Helen Hunt is a genius, my
hero. And that's the kind of comedy I'm drawn to."
Australian release date: July 24, 1997