The brilliant British actress Tara Summers (Boston Legal, Damages, Ringer, Factory Girl) sits down with us for a sneak peek into her new Fox show, Rake, which premieres tonight (Thursday, January 23) at 9 PM ET after American Idol. We chat about working with the esteemed Greg Kinnear and walking around the city of L.A. with a tuna in hand. Get ready to laugh - or at least giggle - out loud!
Can you tell us a little about what viewers can expect from Rake?
Rake is funny, dark, sexy and intelligent. It explores the life of Keegan Deane, an amazing criminal defense lawyer whose life is a complete disaster. The cast of characters make up Keegan’s family who all love him, but despise his childish ways.
What sets the show aside from others on TV right now?
This is more of a character driven piece that happens to have legal cases each week. Keegan's moral compass is slightly different to others who might defend cases because of injustice. Keegan is just out for money. He'll represent anyone who will pay him. The majority of his clients are guilty. The harder the case, the more Keegan shines in court and brilliantly defends them. It’s darker than a comedy, and funnier than your average drama. And Greg Kinnear dazzles as Keegan Deane. I feel very privileged to be part of this show.
How was it working with Greg Kinnear?
Greg really likes to make fun of me. I've spent most of the season finding ways to play tricks on him. He's so giving as an actor, and approachable. His energy is amazing as he is in virtually every scene of the show and yet is never tired or cranky. He's a true gentleman and very very funny.
Anything you have learned from working alongside him?
He could have been a politician.
Do you have a favorite film of his?
I loved him so much in As Good As It Gets but seeing him conjoined with Matt Damon was pretty special too.
How is the cast on set?
We have a really fun cast; we mostly just laugh ... a lot. There's a lot of laughing.
Any funny stories you can share?
The first episode I spent most of the time dragging a huge dead tuna fish around Los Angeles. I haven't been able to eat tuna since.
You’ve portrayed a lawyer in a couple of notable TV series (Boston Legal, Damages); how do you feel about being on a "law" show and not playing an attorney this time? Do you miss filming courtroom scenes?
My character is in many of the courtroom scenes with Keegan as his assistant, but the pressure is off to have to actually get up and impress a courtroom. Most of the time, Leanne is doodling on her notepad. As I mentioned, Rake is more of a character driven story than the other law shows. Keegan is a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer, but a complete disaster in his personal life. He excels in court, but spends most of his time doing damage control and running from whomever he has irked that week.
Do you in any way relate to her, and if so, how?
I relate to Leanne in many ways, but she is a little more no-nonsense than I am. She's also got more balls! She's not afraid to speak her mind no matter the consequences.
How does Leanne develop throughout the show?
By the end of the season Leanne has significantly changed. She will really surprise us.
Had you seen the Australian version of this show? If not, have you now? What are your thoughts about the original?
I hadn't and I didn't want to watch too much so as to create my own Leanne and world. I sat down to watch one and ended up watching six episodes back-to-back. It's wonderful and really really funny.
You have quite the resume. Can you tell us a little about one of your favorites?
Boston Legal was so special for me, it was my first real job and I loved that cast so much. They threw me in at the deep end and I learned so much from working with [James] Spader and [John] Larroquette and Candice [Bergen]. They were like family to me. I was very sad when it ended.
After competing in 2 back-to-back seasons on Survivor, one of America's favorite contestants sits down to tell us about life, love, bar-tending, ninja turtles, his memoir and surviving... Conversation with a possible super hero.
How did Survivor come about?
I was trained from a young age to be on Survivor. My parents would regularly leave me alone in the woods for weeks at a time – ostensibly to train me in self-reliance, but as I grew older I began to suspect it was so they could watch their M.A.S.H. marathons uninterrupted.
In addition, actually getting casted for the show was never a doubt. Several international corporations had a vested interest in my future, and thus hired teams of experts working round the clock to create the perfect audition video for the show. Nothing was left to chance.
You weren’t the Sole Survivor, but you did survive 2 back-to-back seasons. Tell us a little about the experience.
It’s actually not what most people think. The starving is real – I lost 40 pounds between two seasons. The bugs are awful – I looked like I had the Chicken Pox. The weather will destroy you – by the end of the rain my hands were more wrinkled than Betty White’s left @ss cheek.
Are you watching the current season of Survivor?
What’s been happening is, whenever I like a couple, one of the pair gets kicked off the show. I liked Candice and John before the game started, and Candice was one of the first kicked off. Tyson and his girlfriend were awesome and I rooted for them once, but then she got eliminated minutes later. I’m like a voodoo shaman – I curse people. I’ve stopped supporting anyone out of guilt.
We hear you’re writing a memoir.
I finally put the finishing touches on it. On a personal level, the most difficult part has been coming to terms with putting some of these anecdotes out for the world to see. All of it is told lightheartedly and the book is a ruckus (self-call), but the stories are from the year after I graduated college.
What I realized was that, with this book as in life, the very best thing I could be is genuine. If you put yourself out there and completely own it, people respond positively and are drawn to you. Overcoming that fear of judgment was a trial, but the writing, the stories, and the book as a whole are better for it, and I’m proud about how it’s turned out.
What is the motivation behind your blog: Whiskey and Ninja Turtles?
We live in a confusing world. I’m here to explain some of the important aspects that may be throwing the average American/human/entity for a loop. Some concepts – things like Disney songs, Whole Foods, infant erections, Super Mario Bros., and the Pope’s scent to name a few – need to be broken down for the public. I’m providing a service.
Take us through a day as Malcolm Freberg.
I wake up each morning and do somewhere between three and four hundred pushups. My manservant then gives me a morning brief while assisting me in the process of preparing for my typically arduous day -- running one of the largest corporations on the planet.
To be honest, it’s at night when I really come alive. I don my black animalistic disguise, hop in my weaponized vehicle, and take to the streets. I spend the evening hours stopping criminals and thwarting the mob wherever I find them. My relationship with the police is strained – some support me, some think I’m a dangerous vigilante who’s taking the law into his own hands. But if I don’t clean up the streets of Gotham, who will?
Your previous profession was bartending. What’s your favorite drink?
Most any drink is acceptable so long as it fits in with the atmosphere and time of day. Except Jager. Never Jager. Men, please note this is not an acceptable beverage choice after high school.
Also, to anybody who visits a bar ever: if the bar is busy, DO NOT ASK FOR A MOJITO OR MINT JULEP. These take forever and your bartender will hate you for making his day miserable. If you must have one of these laborious cocktails, don’t be surprised if there’s an added garnish of mucus mixed in.