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Law & Order: SVU Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Rose McGowan

This is a transcript of an interview with Guest Star Rose McGowan and Co-Executive Producer Dan Truly on March 15, 2011 about the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Question:
Rose, what was most challenging for you about playing character within such a sexual world that had network limitations?

Rose McGowan:
Well, I don't think the network limitations were the part that were challenging. I believe I was grateful for those. Sometimes they can actually benefit you, you know? It was funny because Dan Truly is kind of a genius in the way that he couched it, and once you see the episode you'll know that Bombshell has a double meaning.

Dan Truly:
Rose is correct that the network limitations in this episode actually worked much to our favor and the network stuff for us always about that this character needed to be a bombshell, which Rose obviously delivers in spades. But, she needed to be smart and clever and there are some plot twists that happen in the story that that's why we thought she was perfect for the part, because there's a cerebral level to it that delivers in addition to the sexuality. And the sexuality, like I said, she gets there effortlessly and we also knew that she is the clever, there's always something working behind the scenes for Rose McGowan, so she was perfect for this role.

Rose McGowan:
I'm not bad; I'm just drawn this way.

Question:
Rose, are there any similarities with your personality and your character, and what was your motivation in accepting this role?

Rose McGowan:
I would say there are actually no similarities in my personality or attitude, particularly with my character Cassandra, and that's what's delightful. I get to be me 24 hours a day, so I obviously jump at the chance to play something that is very, very different.

Question:
The episode is titled Bombshell, are you a bombshell in any way?

Rose McGowan:
Well, when I'm at home in sweatpants I don't feel like it. Sometimes I'm dressed up, but I don't know, I don't put the name tag on myself. That's something for somebody else to do.

Dan Truly:
We and the producers and the writers of this show, we were actually very, very excited to get Rose because she - we have a bombshell already on the show named Mariska Hargitay. And it's difficult for us to find actors, actresses, and also actors that can hold their own against Mariska, because your eye sort of goes to her. Rose effortlessly sort of presented on-screen and she, from the production side of it, she is 100% bombshell.

Rose McGowan:
Thank you.

Question:
I was wondering, what was the inspiration that you used for this particular character? She seems like a Dita Von Teese.

Dan Truly:
It was. We knew that because SVU deals with specifically sexual crimes, we knew we wanted to do something that was a little bit less gruesome. I mean, there's a lot of dark material on SVU, and we wanted to do an episode that was slightly different than that. And then it was just a matter of, how do we make that character interesting?

We always joke that on SVU you get three choices. You can be the perp, you can be the victim, or you can be a dead body, and so we knew that the bombshell character would be the perp. But, we also know that she was working things in a way that was different than our normal perps, who are usually sexual deviants and people that are aggressive and violent, and that's not who the character of Cassandra was. So, it was slyer. We wanted to do something that was more fun than dark and more kind of sly than overly graphic.

We never really talked about actresses until the script was written, and then the name Rose McGowan came up and it was like, "Oh, that's exactly who it is," and then we were lucky to get her.

Question:
What actually drew you to the role, Rose?

Rose McGowan:
Well, the first thing that drew me to SVU, besides the fact that I actually watch it, my sister and I once got sucked into a ten hour marathon and watched an entire Saturday. I was like, "Dear God. And wow, what an amazing show." But, because they've had amazing people in it, such as Maria Bello, Jeremy Irons, Marcia Gay Harden. I mean, they have had such an amazing lineup of people that, you know, go in and out of it.

And, you know, if it hadn't been the case, I don't know that I would have been as attracted to it, but they get such powerful actors. And Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni are so good, you know, so to be able to be in that world that I've lost many hours of my life to watching was definitely a treat.

Question:
And the character itself, what did you like or dislike about her?

Rose McGowan:
Well, I didn't really dislike anything about her? I mean, I think I don't know much I'm allowed to give away. If you're playing somebody you just are them, so you don't like or dislike them. It'd be like whether you like or dislike yourself, I suppose. You can't really look at it from the outside perspective, she just is.

Question:
Has this inspired you to do more guest appearances on shows or do more more films?

Rose McGowan:
Yes, I'm shooting a film right now and I'll probably mostly continue to do films.

Question:
What film are you doing?

Rose McGowan:
I'm doing a film called Rosewood Lane. And the thing is is that, you know, I was on Charmed for five years and it's a grind, and so I haven't been quite ready to go back to that yet. But, that's what's brilliant about this episode is I get to go in and work with some knockout actors and leave.

Question:
So, rumors of a Charmed reunion show are not true?

Rose McGowan:
That is not true.

Question:Rose McGowan:
Right. It's so odd because, you know, you go into the interrogation room and I was like, "Oh, it's a lot bigger than it looks on television," and my sister, who's actually brilliant, but doesn't really know anything about the business, she asked who made the (da-da) sound on the set and I was like, "No they don't." I was like, "No, no, they don't," but that would be pretty great if they did. Maybe that should be a requirement for next guest stars.

Question:
How would you compare your time spent on the Law & Order set to that of some of your other projects?

Rose McGowan:
Well, it's always interesting going into another world that's been set up. Obviously they've been doing this for a long time, so they're a pretty well oiled machine. And feeling like your guest in somebody else's house is, you know, it's both awkward and fun, but it wasn't awkward at all because everybody was so warm and amazing. You know, Mariska and Chris are great and the crew is fantastic. It could have certainly been a lot more intimidating than it turned out to be.

Question:
Dan, is there ever a challenge to keep the writing fresh for the show?

Dan Truly:
Yes. It's always a challenge and we're always trying to figure out a way to do what is essentially the same thing, better and fresher and newer every time. The Law & Order shows are different than a lot of television because we don't really carry serialized stories forward. There's a little bit of information with Benson or Stabler and we all know Benson's story. But, for the most part our marching orders are the actual case is the story and we don't really get a lot into the main characters personal lives.

So, it just puts a little bit added pressure on making interesting twists that we don't quite rip from the headlines as much as we rip from Page 24B, because we have several researchers that are working all the time and just kind of ferret out a lot of interesting information. So, we try to build a story that touches on technology and social issues and legal questions, and then figure out a way to do it that's dramatically interesting.

I was talking to Dick Wolf last week and he said that he thought this season of SVU was one of the best we've ever had, and certainly as writers we feel like there's a lot of stuff out there that we can kind of riff on and it just makes it fun. It's less a pressure than it is just like a, "How can we make this episode more fun than the last one?"

We say it's fun. Fun is a weird concept to use with a lot of the dark material, but you know we feel, we hope that the audience senses what we mean by fun in that it's dramatically interesting and it sort of pushes your emotional buttons. And at the end of it you can go, "Wow, that was another great episode." And when, like Rose was saying, when they run them in an SVU weekend on USA Network, you know, you can sit there for ten hours and go, "Wow, they just keep topping themselves," hopefully.

Rose McGowan:
I figured out the trick though. There's no commercial in between episodes. They roll into the next one.

Dan Truly:
Yes, that's very true.

Rose McGowan:
And that's how they suck you in.

Dan Truly:
If we try to craft our teasers the first three or four minutes well enough so that you really do go, "Okay, well, I just got figure out how this one goes."

Question:
Rose, what can you tell me about Cassandra, and what is like working with Ryan Hurst?

Rose McGowan:
Well, Cassandra is certainly a complex character and that's what I liked about her. She had a lot of different layers and certainly not necessarily what made meets the eye, but she's got her own plots going no matter what. I think she's always thinking of a different angle.

And Ryan was a doll. I really could not have liked him more. He's a gentle giant and he was great fun to act with, and so that was a good stroke of luck for me.

Question:
Dan, Law & Order SVU deals with really difficult issues, so can you talk about the preparation that goes into each episode, as far as research and being able to illustrate various sides of such sensitive topics?

Dan Truly:
A lot of our stories are generated by there is an issue that particularly excites or angers or infuriates or intrigues one of the writers, and it's just a matter of gathering enough information and then trying to figure out what's our way into the story. There are a lot of issues that I'm not sure would hold a full hours worth of drama, so sometimes the story shifts from one crime to another one at the half-hour point, or two years ago I did an episode that the first half of the story was kind of inspired by the girls, the pregnancy pact.

The girls in Massachusetts who all decided to get pregnant together, and then one of them commits suicide at the end of Act 2, and then we discover that it's more like the case of the My Space mother who goaded one of her daughter's friends over the Internet into suicide. So, we're lucky because we move so much narrative freight per episode where the whole story can twist in the fourth act into an entirely different thing.

We have our research people and they generate a lot of material, and then our legal department checks it all out to make sure that we're not stepping too closely on things because we're more interested less in the specifics of current cases than in the issues that they sort of raised. But at the end of the day, we also have to make that kind of dramatically interesting. So, you don't want it to be too dry, you don't want it to be too close to the real thing or eople could just watch the news. So, it's a little bit of a balancing act, but you instantly know when you have a story you instantly know that that's a story.

With this episode there was a little bit less of issues, but there was a character, which is the character of Cassandra, and like Rose said, she's always scheming and her mind is always turning one step ahead of the people she's in the room with. So, as a writer that's just exciting to try to outwit our detectives and try to keep the audience guessing as to what's coming next.

Question:
Being a fan of the show, and the fact that the show has been on for 12 years, did you feel intimidated when you first came onto the set?

Rose McGowan:
I was because again, when you walk into somebody else's family, you know, it's like coming into a family dinner, but you know only some of the people know you've been invited. I was immediately put at ease. And I'm not going to lie, I don't know if was intimidated as much as a bit scared. I was like, "Oh, I hope everybody's nice," because sometimes you don't luck out. Sometimes people aren't nice and, you know, it's really harder in some ways to do your jobthey really understand that. I mean, they're just really kind and really generous, and that's not often the case.

Dan Truly:
SVU was really lucky because we get great guest stars and there's always this excitement about who's coming next, who's our next guest star going to be, and I believe when I revealed that Rose McGowan was in my next episode I think the crew broke out into a wave, if I remember correctly. It was almost a riot of excitement, so people were ready to welcome Rose, because in a lot of ways when guest stars arrive for the crew that works together all the time it's sort of like news from the outside world. So, we were all very, very happy that Rose agreed to do the show because she brings something really kind of special and movie-starish, and it was terrific.

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