Interview: JoAnna Garcia & Brian Hallisay from PRIVILEGED

Joanna Garcia, Brian Hallisay - Privileged

Recently, I took part in a conference call to interview JoAnna Garcia (Megan) & Brian Hallisay (Will) from PRIVILEGED, which airs on Tuesdays at 9pm on the CW. As things would have it, it only ended up being me on the phone with Jason from the TVaholic.com, asking questions back and forth. They were both really nice and fun to talk to and I think we got a lot of good information out of them.

So without further ado.

On how they got their roles:

JoAnna Garcia – She initially read the script, and because she had a long standing relationship with The CW [she was previously in Reba], she ultimately had meeting with Rina Mimoun (creator of Privileged) and fell in love with the show. JoAnna Garcia was also very excited to go back to The CW and with the people involved.

Brian HallisayPrivileged is Brian Hallisay’s first series. He had tested for a few pilots with Warner Bros. before, but nothing came of it. He was actually out of town when the audition for Privileged first came up, and they were not sure they would be able to reschedule it. Ultimately, they rescheduled the audition for Monday at 9am, and Brian Hallisay even considered not going because he was tired and not in the right mood. However, he ended up going and read on Monday. A week later, he was in front of the studio testing. He was of course thrilled to get the job.

On their favorite part about playing character:

JoAnna Garcia – She connects with Megan on many level. Megan is a strong young independent woman and a really strong female voice on TV. Megan represents the woman JoAnna is proud to play.

Brian Hallisay – He has enjoyed the mellow cool common collective aspect of Will. His past work was more intense, heavier, and turns out he has become a lot more relaxed in the past few months, because his job when he shows up to work is just to be cool and really good with everything.

On why people should watch “Privileged”:

JoAnna GarciaPrivileged is a young show, they deal with a lot of current issues, as well as offer a little bit of escapism. The show has a lot of heart and humor. JoAnna Garcia hopes that people tune in because it makes them feel good, but they still feel like they’re getting all the juicy drama.

Brian Hallisay – People should watch Privileged because they would be surprised at what they would find. There is a really sharp biting comedic aspect to the show that is not really present in other shows like Gossip Girl. If people tuned in now they would really get a sense of what the show is about.

On who Megan should end up with:

JoAnna Garcia – There is a nice chemistry between Megan and Charlie, especially because the two of them having known each other for so long. He clearly cares a lot about her, and knows about her and all that. But JoAnna Garcia did mention that there was going to be a lot that would surprise people that we don’t know yet. Megan is coming into her own. She tries to fall in love and open herself to that.
As for now, JoAnna Garcia thinks Will is someone that has the potential to be a huge love story for Megan and they discover things about each other that they didn’t really know.

On how different it is working on an hour show from a half hour show:

JoAnna Garcia – She calls it the difference between night and day, the difference between a 4 hour day and a 16 hour day. The training and foundation that Reba gave her is somethign that she will always treasure. She had the ability to work on a show at a very early age that said “just throw in everything you have, and go for the laugh.” And althought, JoAnna Garcia always liked the audience that sitcoms have, as an actor, she has always responded more to the opportunities to find the subtleties in the comedy and the drama.

“As an actor i relate and appreciate the subtleties of a single camera work.”

JoAnna Garcia is definitely enjoying every moment of it.

On how Will really feels about Megan:

Brian Hallisay – Megan is unlike any girl that Will has ever met. Because of all that wealth, he’s never had to think too much about what he really wants out of a relationship. Everything has come fairly easy to him, and then Megan came and made a real impression on him. Brian Hallisay thinks they bring out things in each other that they didn’t know about. There is a real synergy there. Will is starting to think about things he’s never thought about before, which might make him change his ways and see the possiblity of settling down with somebody.

On their favorite aspect of the show:

JoAnna Garcia – She loves that the writing staff is talented and allows actor to bring all the tools they have in their toolbelt. She enjoys being able to fall on her face or whatever duty calls, and also have a tender moment with another character. To her, being able to utilize all these tools as an actor is a blessing.

Brian Hallisay – a lot does come down to writing staff. the way they write the situation and character. the dramatic aspect as well as the comedic aspect and all the quirkiness teh cahracers are based on, form my experience there is a lot fo comedy in will’s relationsihp with megan, lot of fun there, lots of back and forth, and i have also found that being in scenes that are much more subtle and nuanced in ways there is a , having seen what i have seen, there is a lot of realism and the 20something plot line really captures a realness that shines through and to be in the scenes that, that’s what i enjoy the intimate scenes.

On what is coming up for their characters:

JoAnna Garcia – We are going to get to know Megan’s family a lot more and that’s going to bring out a lot of emotions. We will see how she relies on the drama in her life to avoid dealing with other things. We’re also going to see a beautiful love affair, and we’re going to get to know Lily a little better.

Brian Hallisay – We’re going to see a new vulnerability for Will. He’s walking on unfamiliar territory for the first time and continuing to learn more about himself with his new relationship with Megan, and as the relationship becomes more predominant, we will learn more about where Will comes from, his family, his past and also things that you might not necessarily expect.

On what made them want to play these roles:

JoAnna Garcia – Everything about the script. From the moment she read it, she knew she had to play Megan. It was the whole package.

Brian Hallisay – The sides that Brian Hallisay got for the audition were very limited, and he had a limited knowledge base of the full character. He didn’t have much time to think about it or spend with it. And Brian Hallisay even admitted that it came down to the fact that they offered him the job, and of course he was happy to take it. However, most of the discovery came in the last few months since he has been working, as the storylines have developed.

On whether there are going to be any guest stars in the show:

JoAnna Garcia – Sharon Lawrence will play Megan’s mother. Michael Nouri will play a love interest for Anne Archer (Laurel). They also just hired David Monahan to play Marco’s love interest/boyfriend.

On whether they had read the book, How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls, before:

Brian Hallisay – He had not read it before hand, but did read portions of it since, although he had someone else finish it for him. Brian Hallisay stopped reading it because he realized that it was very different from the show.

JoAnna Garcia – JoAnna Garcia has not read the book either, mostly because when she was approaching the role, she realized the undertaking that it was going to be, and she was a little concerned that she would get confused. Turns out she had a hard time remembering her character’s name when they first started filming. However, she is now eager to. Her mom loved it, so she thinks she’s ready to take the dive.

On whether the arch of the story has gone different than where they thought it would:

JoAnna Garcia – She thinks things happened a little quicker for Will and Megan than they thought they would. There is always a little bit of surprise as to where an arch of a story goes because in reality, these are real people playing these roles and bringing their nuances.

Brian Hallisay – He would agree with everything that JoAnna Garcia said.

On any other projects that they have going on right now:

Brian Hallisay – It’s all about Privileged at the moment. They are waiting to see what happens with the season because that will determine at what point they stop working and see when their availability is to pursue other things

JoAnna Garcia – JoAnna Garcia has a movie coming out this holiday season on Lifetime, A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride [airing December 13th at 9pm on Lifetime]. She also has another movie called “Extreme Movie” that is a bit up in the air at the moment.

On whether they get to watch much TV and which shows they do like to watch:

JoAnna Garcia – She watches a lot of Animal Planet and HGTV, but she’s also starting to get into HBO’s True Blood on her Tivo. JoAnna Garcia also used to be an avid Grey’s Anatomy fan. And she likes a lot of the crime drama, the CSIs, and all that kind of stuff.

Brian Hallisay – Brian Hallisay doesn’t watch a ton of TV. He has been watching True Blood, and he did watch Mad Men as well. However, most of the television he watches is by doing a few marathon weekends and watch some shows on DVD. His favorite shows in the last few years have been The Wire, and Lost. He hasn’t seen Reba yet, but he has all the seasons on DVD and is looking forward to watching them all.

JoAnna Garcia – She has actually selected some episodes he is not allowed to watch.

On Will and Lily’s relationship:

JoAnna Garcia – It’s safe to say that’s over. In fact, we’ll see a different relationship come out of that.

Brian Hallisay – He doesn’t have any information that suggests that there will be a resurgence of that relationship.

On how “We Reach” [JoAnna Garcia’s organization] is doing:

JoAnna Garcia – They are definitely in the embryonic stages and trying to figure out how to align themselves and in what way. She has a person that she is working with now that has been very instrumental in gathering all of the details and then sitting down with the right people that feel as passionate about it. One of the reasons she wanted to do the show is that she felt it echoed that same sentiment of being a positive role model, an image in a day when so many girls are inundated with images of unhealthy bodies and strange lifestyles. Supporting young girls is something she feels really passionate about.

On how JoAnna Garcia delivers her funny lines so naturally:

JoAnna Garcia – She thinks that she is really close to Megan. In fact, if you met herm you would find the line to be very blurry. JoAnna Garcia really understands Megan’s voice and that’s been very instrumental in the early stages of the show, as well as really understanding the voice that was put on the page by the writers.
As for her process as an actor, if it doesn’t sound real, there is no way that it’s going to come out of her mouth. She is supported by an incredible writing staff that knows her rhythm and the combination of the two are quite a quirky little character. JoAnna Garcia is having a fun time bringing Megan to life.

On whether JoAnna Garcia feels like the big sister on set working so much with the two girls:

JoAnna Garcia – Definitely, the two girls [she affectionately calls them “those two peanuts”] are extraordinarily talented and gorgeous and sweet and innocenet and lovely, she just can’t say enough about them. She respects them as young women, and she also feels it’s her responsibility to be there for them if they need it. Even though they have some incredible heads on their shoulders, there are moments when she steps in and makes sure they know that they need to be treated right by the boys in their lives.

JoAnna Garcia – “I’m not afraid to open up a can of woopass on anyone that screws with them.”

Brian Hallisay – “Me neither.”

JoAnna Garcia – “When you meet those two you can’t help but really fall in love.”