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Tammy Blanchard Gets Hedy!

The award-winning actress discusses playing the sexy Hedy La Rue in the hit Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. logo
Tammy Blanchard
(© Tristan Fuge)
Tammy Blanchard has had a remarkable decade of professional acting, from her Emmy Award-winning work as Judy Garland in Me and My Shadows, her Tony Award-nominated performance as Louise/Gypsy in Sam Mendes' Broadway revival of Gypsy, and her acclaimed work last year as Izzy in the film version of David Lindsay Abaire's Rabbit Hole. Now, she's back on the Great White Way as the brassy, sassy Hedy La Rue in Rob Ashford's hit Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. TheaterMania spoke to Blanchard about the show and her career.

THEATERMANIA: Your Hedy seems a lot smarter than the way that she's been portrayed in other productions. Was that a conscious decision?
TAMMY BLANCHARD: People have been telling me that, but I had no idea, because I haven't seen anyone else's Hedy! I just went into my audition and did what I felt was Hedy. The women in my family didn't have much education or what one would call modern-day class, but like Hedy, they have that sense of what's going on in the world and how to get by. Also, she was the head cigarette girl at the Copacabana, and I bartended at Roseland once on New Year's Eve - and serving people is a rough business to be in, so I know why Hedy wants to get out. I know I am getting good audience response this way, but part of me thinks it would be fun to just play Hedy as a bimbo one night and see what happens.

TM: How did you prepare for the part once you got it?
TB: I read a lot about Marilyn Monroe, because while she always played a ditz, she had this quality of Hedy -- a woman who was smart, but because she was born beautiful, men was all she knew about. I kind of created a similar back story for Hedy.

TM: How much do the costumes and wig influence your portrayal?
TM: I never imagined the wig and costumes to be like they are, and at first, I felt like I was working against what they created. But the more I got used to the fiery red hair and the classy costumes -- instead of the trashy clothes I was thinking she'd wear -- I realized that Hedy is trying to act older, look older, and be something that she's not, and that became part of the creation.

TM: Are you enjoying being in period clothing every night?
TB: I do! If I could have been around in the 1950s and 1960s, I would have been so happy -- I love being so done up all the time. Also, all my life, I've been to drawn to the women in the movies from those days, like Judy Garland and Bette Davis -- I even named my daughter after Ava Gardner. Like me, they came from a small place and dreamed big and made it big -- that's the American dream.

TM: Is it a dream to be working with Daniel Radcliffe?
TM: Yes, we really love each other, and we tell each other that all the time. It's not often you get to support someone like Daniel, where you're thrilled to watch him succeed. He's been raised right, he's smart, and he's humble, and I just love what he's doing for the younger generation by getting them into the theater. And his fans are smart kids; they're keeping up with jokes, even if some of them are outdated.

Daniel Radcliffe and Tammy Blanchard in
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
(© Ari Mintz)
TM: Before you came back to Broadway, you were working steadily in film. What's coming out that you're most excited about it?
TB: I did this great independent film with Mira Sorvino called Union Square, where we play estranged sisters who have to reunite. I hope it proves that all it takes to make a great film is good performances and good writing, and not millions of dollars. I also have a small supporting role in Moneyball, where I got to work Brad Pitt. He's so sweet -- after we finished our scene, he said to me, "hey, you've really got the chops." You know when you work with those kind of actors, it raises your game.

TM: Some people don't know you got your big break on the soap opera, Guiding Light. How do you feel about all these soaps being gone or canceled?
TM: I'm sad and I'm praying for all the people on them who have to find new jobs and new lives. And I think the fans need to do whatever they can to support them -- start a blog or make requests to see them in shows. There are lot of great actors in soaps. I could have stayed in daytime, but I decided to leave because I didn't like my storyline, and my last day on the set, I booked Me and My Shadows.

TM: We're talking just before all the award nominations come out. You've been down this road before, but are you thinking about this?
TB: You get sucked into the whole hoopla of awards, and then it starts to get into your heart, and you think if they just tell me I'm good, it would mean so much. I would love to experience being nominated again -- just for another reason to get dressed up -- but if it doesn't happen, I have to accept it. And I know the show and some of my co-stars will be nominated, so we'll all have reasons to celebrate. And if I'm not being congratulated, I'll be happy to congratulate other people!

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