After a season of critical acclaim, (one critic called it “a small-screen gem,”) “Get Shorty” is one of television’s hottest shows. As a result, Megan Stevenson, who plays a high professional in the entertainment industry, has hit a milestone in her career. How did she land the role of April Quinn? What was it like working with Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano? And what’s next for her? All the answers to those questions below!
How did you get your start in acting? When did you know you wanted to be an actress?
I didn’t ever have an “aha moment” of knowing I wanted to be an actress… I think I just always kind of knew. I grew up watching “I Love Lucy” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” with my mom, and I definitely felt that I wanted to be either Lucille Ball or Mary Tyler Moore when I grew up. So when it was time to go to college, I chose a school in New York City so that I could start studying acting at night and on the weekends. As I graduated, I got a headshot and started putting myself out there in the world. After getting my first agent, a show I booked brought me out to LA, and it all kind of went from there (with LOTS of ups and downs and moments of extreme anxiety of it never working out along the way, of course).
What is your worst audition story?
Oh man… is it weird that I have many to choose from in answering this?! I’ll go with one that happened not too long ago. It was a producer session for a show that I was super excited about. I had built it up in my head before I even got to the callback, which in my experience is never a good thing to do. I walked into the room just beaming of excitement only to see about 10 faces of people who looked like they had just received the worst news ever and were utterly pissed. Needless to say, it took the wind out of my sail and performing the material for a half hour comedy was brutal. I walked out of there, cried all the way to my car, then got a Snickers and listened to some depressing song during the drive home. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t have let whatever hideous energy I was getting from the people affect me and would have wowed them with my comedy chops, but that day I failed miserably and it took about a week for me to stop reliving it in my head.
How did you get your part on “Get Shorty”?
I knew the casting director, Rachel Tenner, from my previous show on Comedy Central, which she cast. She brought me in and we put the role on tape. Then, I was called in by the creator Davey Holmes and director Allen Coulter for a producer session. We worked the material a bunch of different ways during that session, which was both really challenging and fun. It felt like I was really put to the test because at that point they didn’t know how funny or dark the show would end up being, so they needed to see my full range. I guess I passed the test of that day because that night I was told I would go in the next morning to do a chemistry read with Chris O’Dowd. That session was very enjoyable because Chris is a dream to work with and I loved getting to be in the room with Holmes and Coulter again. The next thing I knew they were sending the tape from that session to network and studio for the screen test. I found out about a week later that I got the part. That was a very exciting day!
How did you prepare for this role? What characteristics do you share with April?
Hmm… more than anything I just put myself in a CEO state of mind when prepping to play April. I tap into that place in myself that is a power women and won’t let anything or anybody knock me off course. April has been in a man’s world for the duration of her career and has worked her way up in a very short amount of time. What I love about her is she stands on her own in the room despite her young age or the fact that she’s usually the only woman there. I think what I share with her is a passion to overcome obstacles and come out on top, although she’s much more fierce at tackling that than I am in my own life.
What message of Hollywood – especially of your character in general being such a high industry figure – do you hope viewers take away from watching “Get Shorty”?
The message I hope people take away from watching April is that you only really have yourself to rely on, and if you spin that the right way in your head, it can be liberating and positive for you. April takes a huge hit in episode three, but to watch where she ends up in episode ten is inspiring, especially for people working in an intimidating industry. Things are always going to go wrong and bad things will inevitably happen to you, but it’s what you do with it that really defines who you are.
What has working on this set been like for you in comparison to other projects you’ve been a part of?
Each show is so different depending on the tone of the show and so many other factors at play, but with “Get Shorty,” it’s just a very enjoyable production to be a part of because everyone involved is excited to be there and gives it there all. We’re all anxious to get the latest scripts to see where the story goes. The actors have great respect for one another, and the directors, writers and crew are of the highest caliber. It’s a very professional work environment. At the same time, I feel like I’m going to work with my closest friends. There’s a ton of fun on and off screen while shooting this show.
Has there been a most memorable moment for you while shooting?
For the first season we shot over half of the show on location in New Mexico, so the most memorable moments were taking side trips with the cast and crew on the weekends. We went to some great mineral springs and would find great hikes to go on as a group. We all marched together in the Women’s March – that was a lovely experience, especially with all the men from the show supporting us by marching along side us. It’s fun when you’re on location together – it feels like summer camp. It also forces you to get to know each other since you legitimately have nothing to do on your weekends.
If you could have been cast as any other character in the show, who would it be and why?
Oh good question! I’d go with Sean Bridgers character of Louis. A Mormon who works as muscle for a large crime ring in Nevada?! Can’t get much better than that! Sean does a phenomenal job in the role, but if I come back as a man in my next life, that’s the role I would want.
What is your reaction to the praise the show has received?
I’m thrilled! I love that people are responding well to it. I know we all enjoyed making it but you never know what the feedback is going to be when it goes out into the world, so I’m more than excited that people are welcoming it with open arms. Especially in the world we live in now with so much content to choose from. The competition is fierce!
What can you tell us about your next movie “Silver Lake”?
It’s a lovely film with Martin Starr as the lead. It follows his journey in life as a writer living in LA. I believe its set to come out January 2018. I played a very fun little role as a rich housewife new to LA life.
Is there anything else we can expect from you in the near future?
We start shooting the second season of “Get Shorty” in February of next year. Other than that I’m just working on getting some things lined up to do in the mean time. Will keep you posted!
What has been the biggest pinch me moment of your career so far?
Being on set the first day of “Get Shorty” was a pretty big pinch me moment. Ray Romano and I were shooting a scene and it was the first day of shooting for both of us, so we both had the typical first day jitters. It was a good bonding experience to have with him. And I grew up watching “Everybody Loves Raymond,” so being on set with him and having the reality sink in that I was now working with this person I have admired for so long as opposed to watching them on television at home was a pretty cool experience.