Megan Hilty: I'm Just Like Ivy
Last week, America got its first look behind Broadway's velvet curtain thanks to Smash and discovered that the drapery is stained with the blood, sweat and tears of hundred.
Tonight's second episode -- titled The Callback -- not only reveals which lovely lady scored the lead in Marilyn: The Musical, but proves that Smash wasn't simply an excellent pilot as it evolves into one of the most consistently entertaining shows on television (I've seen the first four ... trust!).
I caught up with breakout star Megan Hilty to talk all about this sensational series and find out what you can expect from the upcoming episodes!
Insider.com: When you first heard about Smash, did you feel an Ivy-esque need to be a part of it?
Megan Hilty: Oh my gosh, yes. But the thing was, I didn't think I could do that part. I read the pilot and I was like "Yes, please!" I knew America needed to see this, and I wanted to be a part of it, but in the character breakdown for Ivy they said she was a really good dancer, and I'm not! [laughs] I am what you would call a "mover." And so I was like, "Oh I know what they're looking for, and I am not that girl!" I was dying to be a part of the show no matter what part it was, and thank god they have this amazing choreographer, Josh Bergasse. He is like the biggest star of the whole show. Seriously, he makes it look like I know what I'm actually doing [laughs].
Insider: The pilot episode sets up Ivy and Karen as adversaries in a lot of ways. I have to imagine when the show goes on, whoever gets that lead role, that you and Katharine [McPhee] end up working more intimately together as the episodes role on?
Megan: It's funny, I was wondering how the same thing too at the beginning. We are put against each other for a very long time, no matter what happens in the show, but [the writers have] found some really beautiful moments where we come together and then go back apart. The writing is so fantastic that the relationships between all of the characters are so interesting, especially that dynamic between Ivy and Karen. They know each other in the beginning, and they have no reason to dislike each other, but they're always put up against each other, and that makes for some really interesting scenes, as well as some comedic scenes too.
Insider: Are you an Ivy or a Karen?
Megan: [laughs] I feel like everybody can relate to either character, if not both. Everybody knows what it's like to start out and not have any credits, no matter what profession you're in. Everybody knows what it's like to be the new person in town. For Ivy's case, I feel like a lot of people can relate to feeling stuck in their careers, and just wanting to make that next step forward, and how when the stakes are that high, you'll do just about anything to move forward.
Insider: Do we find out tonight who got the part?
Megan: You will find out very quickly who has it in the workshop. Keep in mind that we are staying very true to what actually happens in Broadway, and that means that no matter who gets the part, they can lose it very quickly too. In the course of mapping a Broadway musical and the years that it takes, different people will assume different roles all the time, so just because one person gets it doesn't mean that they'll necessarily keep it.
Insider: Will we see which ever one of them doesn't initially get the role, doing things to either knock the other one down, or try to prove that they're the one that should actually have the role?
Megan: To a point, yes. Nobody does anything really malicious, but I think both of them are so ambitious and want it so badly. Both Karen and Ivy also get placed in several precarious situations where it's very uncomfortable for both of them -- and for the audience. There are a lot of moments where I read the script and I was like "Oh my gosh!" But that's what makes it interesting, and I think that's why people will watch, to see those stomach twisting moments.
Insider: So there's no homage to Showgirls, where Elizabeth Berkley pushes her rival down the stairs?
Megan: [laughs] Not yet! But I'm sure there’s room for it somewhere in the series.
Insider: What are you excited for fans to see, beyond episode 2?
Megan: My whole thing is that I keep on going back and forth as to whether or not I actually want to see [finished footage] because I don’t want to turn into a headcase or something [laughs]. I saw the pilot after it was edited and I started to obsess about my singer face, because we are actually singing. Some of the songs are prerecorded, but a lot of it is actually recorded live, because we want to show that you do miss notes. So I saw my singer face and I was like, "Oh ... I have to adjust my face so that it looks prettier!" [laughs] But that's real. That's what singers look like when we are singing. I've learned that it's not going to be perfect, but we are doing a show about theater, and I want to be as authentic as I can. But to answer your question, I'm really, really exited for them to hear this original music. It is thrilling! I feel so lucky to get to introduce Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's music to America. I think people are just going to go crazy over it.
Insider: I'm already obsessed with Let Me Be Your Star -- but what's the ratio between original songs and covers?
Megan: We have a healthy balance of brand new original music, and also new arrangements of pop songs that you may either know, or have never heard of. What I really love is that they pick songs that further the plot, there is never a moment where someone just breaks out into song for no reason. It makes sense lyrically for each character to be singing exactly what they're singing, and they've arranged these pop songs in a way that they fit the character in the situation beautifully.
Insider: The first episode incorporated the songs in a really organic way, moving forward is there more of a push to get performances in? For example, will we ever see Ivy having a moment to herself where she sings wistfully on the balcony?
Megan: It's never really that. It's never really like, "Oh Ivy's having a moment, and she's going to start to sing." It's more like she's having a hard day, and she goes out with her friends and they do karaoke. That's what we do in the theater community! We go out to piano bars, we go out and sing karaoke, and there's some really interesting ways where it's not too far fetched that they would sing.
Insider: You are deeply rooted in the Broadway community -- given that, do you feel extra pressure to accurately bring this show to life?
Megan: You know, I have to tell you, I'm really glad that they have hired so many people from the Broadway world, because they didn't have too. They could have gone for a pretty face and had somebody else sing for them, but they really are going for the authenticity of bringing Broadway to television, and making it accessible. I'm really proud to have the background that I do and be able to go into [Smash] rehearsals and say, "Well, we wouldn't really do this in a workshop, we would do this." Obviously we have to make some adjustments, but I think people who know what happens in these rehearsal studios will appreciate what we’re doing. People are going to want to watch the show to see the incredible characters and the crazy relationships they have with one another because literally smashing them together creates all this crazy drama ... pun totally intended [laughs].
Smash airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.