I recently had a chance to talk to Charisma Carpenter, star of ABC Family’s hit show “The Lying Game” which had its winter debut on January 2nd, 2012. Here’s an excerpt of our interview that will be airing on Sorcerer Radio’s “WDW Tiki Room” show 8 a.m./eastern, Friday January 6th, 2012.
Born in and raised in Las Vegas, Charisma Carpenter lived there until the age of fifteen, when her family moved to Mexico and later to San Diego. In San Diego, she attended the School of Creative and Performing Arts and was a cheerleader for the San Diego Chargers. In 1992, Carpenter moved to Los Angeles. After being discovered by a commercial agent, and appearing in more than 20 commercials, her career in front of the camera began. After just two years in LA, Carpenter made her television debut in an episode of “Baywatch”, which caught the attention of “Malibu Shores” creator Aaron Spelling. Carpenter was cast as series regular, Ashley Green, in “Malibu Shores”. Though, the series ran for only one season, Carpenter caught the attention of both viewers and series creators. Subsequently, she was cast in a number of series through the late 90s and into the mid 2000s including: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and “Veronica Mars”. It is through Carpenter’s portrayal of the character, Cordelia Chase, for seven years on the WB’s hit show “Angel,” which she is most famously recognized. Carpenter originated the role of Cordelia Chase in Joss Whedon’s popular show “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” and when the spin off “Angel” occurred in 1999, Carpenter’s character moved to the new show. In addition to Carpenter’s vast television series work, she has also starred in a number of television movies for ABC Family, Lifetime and Syfy. Most recently Carpenter can be seen starring in feature film, The Expendables, directed by Sylvester Stallone and starring in television films: Deadly Sibling Rivalry, House of Bones on Syfy, and Obsession on Lifetime.
Aljon Go: What is it about the role that really drew you to wanting to be a part of it? Were you looking at working on a series again?
Charisma Carpenter: I am definitely interested in finding a home, for sure. And it was not introduced to me that way. It was a recurring opportunity to be on a show and if more comes of it, it would be a welcome surprise but not my intention.
I was drawn to the complexity of a character that is not all that she seems which I’m a little bit familiar with; but not too much because Cordelia, really, from Buffy and Angel, if I were to compare the two characters, was way more up front. She was like a soothsayer. She just said what was on her mind. You always knew where you stood with things. She’ll give you advice when you don’t even want to hear it.
I think this character, Annie Rebecca Sewell, is not so forthcoming with what she’s really thinking, but you know that there are wheels spinning behind her eyes. I’m thinking this but I’m really not going to say it. And I think that also happens with age. You filter a little better.
Rebecca definitely has her filters and her radar highly tuned. She’s smarter, wiser, sophisticated. Apparently, she’s a little moneyed up. She’s lived and survived a lot, especially socially. The way she was treated when she was younger affected her in a way that either you sink or swim, and apparently she swam.
And now she’s back to these choppy waters to sort of navigate them and see what she can make out of it. I mean, I feel like her intentions are to set things right for herself mainly, but not in a vindictive, revenge way because then that gets into a whole other show altogether. I think what her intention is really is like one of her lines recently to Kristin was, “Between you and me, it is really fun to be back and turning heads.” She never turned heads in the past and she was really mistreated by her peers. So, it’s nice to come back on top. It feels good and I don’t think she’s really going to be willing to let that go anytime soon.
Aljon Go: I see you like to Tweet. What’s it like being part of the Twitter-verse getting all that immediate fan feedback?
Charisma Carpenter: You know, it’s a double-edged sword, the social media, because I’ve gotten in trouble for either announcing too soon something that the network or the studio wanted to do and it takes away from. So it is something like it’s okay to tease but I’m sort of like well, oh goodness, I said too much and I’m so sorry and I’ve had to apologize and like say, “Oops, I didn’t mean to do that.” Or what is that expression where you just, you steal some of the thunder, so to speak. You don’t mean to do that.
But, it’s hard because it’s like these are my fans and I want to give my fans what they want to hear and that is I’m on television and I’m going to be back on the show and I really want you to watch and you’re going to have fun doing it and you’re going to see more a grownup, sophisticated version of Cordelia, who you are familiar with. I think you’ll see a lot of similarities between the two, but they’re not, by any means, the same character.
Aljon Go: Did you know how popular The Lying Game was when you signed on?
Charisma Carpenter: Not at all; not at all. In fact, I had no idea what The Lying Game meant and I’m still missing the last five episodes of the first ten. So, obviously, I’ve got the first five and then I’ve got episodes ten through sixteen down, but I’m missing five there. I was given the link but I can’t get the link to work on my Mac, so I’m a little bit challenged in that regard.
I’m not that familiar with it; what it means. I’ve been exposed to it a little bit, but I don’t know in what sense it’s a game. Like why is it a game? I don’t know. I understand Sutton introduced it.
Aljon Go: How is the chemistry on the set of The Lying Game?
Charisma Carpenter: It’s one of the best sets I’ve been on. It’s probably on par with my experience on Veronica Mars. A lot of young kids with a great deal of pressure and responsibility just killing it every day. They get it. They’re appreciative. There is no diva. There is no attitude. There are no hang ups. Everybody, everybody, I mean everybody, has a fantastic outlook.
I think too, it helps like in this economy, everybody is really appreciative to be working. It’s not lost on them. It’s really a wonderful thing to see such young people taking on such huge responsibilities and jobs and hours and just do it with such grace. I really have been impressed a great deal. And Alexandra Chando without exception. She’s mid-20s and she’s not one character, two characters.
It’s a fantastic environment. The chemistry is great. The crew is great. I love working with Adrian. He’s crackly. He’s incensed; like he’s on fire. He’s like going to ignite at any moment. One little bit of accelerant and he’s just going to blow up. He’s so alive and his energy is just—it’s impossible to ignore.
Every time he’ll give you a line and you might have in your mind a way that the scene would be going or the way he would say something, but no. And then you’ll do the same thing again and it won’t be the same way either. And that, for me, just brings my level of acting up. I think for sure when you see the season, you will see it. You will see what I’m talking about. It’s an amazing work experience for me.
Aljon Go: You’ve mentioned that that Cordelia shares some similarities with your character in The Lying Game. Could you expand on that a little bit?
Charisma Carpenter: I think they’re very spoiled in a way. I don’t think she was always spoiled, Rebecca, I think she has sort of come into money and money changes you. It’s sort of like a—you can feel when people, I don’t know, there’s like an arrogance that comes with it, almost. And I think that that sort of is similar to Cordelia. There’s this sense of entitlement. I’ve found myself. I’ve made myself successful and get out of my way. And I think everything that she approaches is with intention.
I think Cordelia was very specific and very intentioned in her behavior and protective of those people in her vicinity that she grew to love and trust, but she’s a hard nut to crack, Rebecca. We don’t really know who she has an affinity for, if anyone. I think she will tell you the truth. She’ll say enough to make a person uncomfortable which is very Cordelia, but she’s not as blatant as Cordelia. I think she just says enough.
She’s like a garnish on a plate. Cordelia with just a little bit of Cordelia in it, but she’s not Cordelia. She’s grown and she’s sophisticated and she uses respects and she uses her resources in a way that maybe Cordelia didn’t always know to use yet.
Aljon Go: Have you had interesting stories about run-ins with your fans?
Charisma Carpenter: Yes, I have. I have had some fan encounters that were interesting, but most encounters are actually quite pleasant and endearing. But it was a little unsettling when a very sweet young girl actually did pee her pants. That was a little odd. You hear about that happening with people like the Beatles or Michael Jackson or something like that, so it’s a little unsettling to know that that level of excitement or emotional intensity is being caused by you.
It’s a little unsettling; I mean, it’s flattering but unsettling at the same time. I don’t know how to put it. It’s like, “It’s just me. It’s just me. I’m just a person.” It’s a little odd. I don’t know how Justin Bieber deals.
Aljon Go: Can you tell us what it was like to work with James Marsters again on Supernatural?
Charisma Carpenter: Oh, it was a lot of fun. What was so great about it is we didn’t spend time together at all unless he really—I never really had scenes with him, not that much and we’ve sort of been orbiting the same areas and various conventions, but when we’re acting, we don’t get to socialize. So when we’re on set, I really feel like I got back story and I know what’s going on in his life.
I know he has a kid. I know they love music. I know they play together. I know he’s involved. I really feel like I got to connect with him and kind of talk about the old days and what was your experience and oh, this was my schedule, what was your experience and kind of share and reconnect in a trusted way. It was really special to me.
Aljon Go: If you could go back and have this Twitter technology for just one year, or one T.V. season, from Buffy or Angel, what year or show season would you have picked?
Charisma Carpenter: Probably the third season of Buffy; my last season on Buffy. Graduation day, I think that probably would have been a good year to be on Twitter, because we were getting ready to exit. There would have been a lot of news to share, if I was allowed to share it is another story. But there would have been a lot going on. The rebar scene, some of the kooky stuff we wore, it was exciting for me. A lot of stuff happened to me. I knew I was jumping ship, so a lot of my character was getting some resolution with relationships in that season.
I finally got to vanquish a vampire after being a damsel in distress for three years. So that would have been fun to tweet. Pictures on the set with all the demons running around would have been fun. We were on a very specific lot which we called Weeden World. So it wasn’t on Fox or Paramount or any of that. We had our own sort of world going on. So that would have been interesting.
We were around on set, like we had outdoor sets, the graveyards and stuff. I think there just would have been a lot of fun stuff to tweet from that. On Angel we had a lot of indoor sets and things. Angel would have been fun too, especially when Andy Hallett was around it was always fun. It was a lot of fun too, but I just think if I had to pick one year, that would have been it.
Aljon Go: What are your favorite Christmas and holiday traditions?
Charisma Carpenter: Well, one of my favorite traditions, which is just to my family alone, we have what’s called “ Faux Christmas” the week before Christmas with my dad and my stepmom. Because when you have a large family like I do and we’re all married and all around the country, it’s impossible because you’re married and it’s my spouse’s family’s house this weekend or it’s this holiday or Thanksgiving. What we try to do is we, no matter what, do faux Christmas which is the week before so we can all get together either at my house or my brother’s house or my dad’s house and his wife’s house.
And then on the actual holiday, then we can go to the appropriate house for that winter. Because we all love each other so much and we want to be together but we know that we have to split our time, so to keep together every single year we celebrate Christmas one week before. And then we go to Australia to visit a family there. And then my brother’s wife’s family is in Tucson, so she’ll get to stay with her mom and nobody’s left out.
Aljon Go: Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Charisma Carpenter: I do. Some more personal than others, but I really want to practice not cussing; cursing at all. Definitely with this job, if we get picked up and I have to stay working in Austin, to try to make a bigger effort to be more consistent with my training, working out. I have a lot of New Year’s resolutions. More saving, make better choices in that regard. Travel, but making more time for the family. More timeouts, just re-appropriate my spending. Whatever I do, maybe whatever was important to me in my 20s, like I want to have three Fendi bags, or I want a Chloe bag, or whatever the in thing was. Okay, let’s not buy three Fendi bags at $2200 a pop. Let’s instead like sock that away, save it, and then oh, we have a little extra money. Why don’t we go up to Whistler and have a family ski trip?
I want to go to Montana. I want to spend time in Montana. I got plans. I want to brand out; brand out like sell out. Who says that? So bad. But I want to sell out. I want my own perfume line. I have some ideas about beauty regimen and care and that sort of thing. Those are the things that I think a book should be written about. I have some stuff to say. I got some stuff on my mind. I would like to get started on those things.
Aljon Go: In addition to Lying Game, are there any other upcoming projects in the works for you that you can give us any clues about?
Charisma Carpenter: Yes, there is something, but I’m not allowed to say and I won’t get in trouble. I can’t get in trouble. It will be announced very soon. Let’s just say that.
Be sure to tune-in to ABC Family’s The Lying Game on Mondays, at 9/8c!
The Lying Game Official Site: http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/lying-game
Hear highlights of this interview and more on Sorcerer Radio’s weekly wrap up podcast Weekend Expedition on iTunes!
- Sorcerer Radio Preview – DJ Sorcey’s NYE, Charisma Carpenter on Tiki, SR is #1 (chipandco.com)
- Sorcerer Radio Update – Happy New Year, Charisma Carpenter on WDWTR and more! (jedimouseketeer.blogspot.com)