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May 19, 2011

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Ten Questions: Natalie Morales

Posted by on May 19, 2011

The five of us have often discussed that one of the problems with being huge nerds is that we tend to like television shows that are awesome but misunderstood (Actually, now that I think about it, that’s true of almost everything related to nerd-dom).  The consequence of this is that many of our favorite shows don’t get the opportunity to rise to their full potential.  One such show that was loved by many a nerd was ABC Family’s The Middleman, which you’ve probably seen us mention before.  Fans of the show instantly fell in love with its camp; its comic, movie, and video game reference-filled sense of humor; and its beautiful and snarky lead, Matt Keeslar Natalie Morales.  While this was the first time many of us had seen her, it would thankfully not be the last.  Since her time as middle-sidekick, we’ve seen her in USA’s White Collar, Wall Street 2, and briefly on NBC’s Parks & Recreation.  She’s got some new stuff coming out, and we were thrilled when she agreed to sit down with us and answer some hard-hitting questions celebrity duel questions.  So read on.  I think you’ll agree that her responses are sheer elegance in their simplicity.

1. What got you interested in acting, and how did you get to where you are today?

I wanted to be a lawyer – there was a mixup with the magnet school that I was going to go to for law and I ended up going to my local public high school instead. I didn’t know anyone, so I decided to take some summer school classes to meet people and get accustomed to not wearing a catholic school uniform every day. That summer, I took a drama class and my teacher, along with the people I met there, changed my life forever. They are still some of my closest friends today. Then, I moved to LA, hustled like a mad woman – got myself an audition for a movie in New York, with no agent – and met my wonderful manager, who has become family and who believed in me from the very beginning. And from then on, little by little, working hard, every day.

2. Who/what are your biggest influences as an actor?

Definitely Buster Keaton is my biggest influence. From the first moment I saw one of his movies, I felt a connection and a deeper type of inspiration than I’d ever felt before.  My family also plays a big part in all the characters I play. If I need inspiration for anything – weird, smart, funny,  loving – I look to one of these crazy people. It’s all there.

3. Having played (at different times) a starving artist/superhero in training, an undercover FBI agent, a power hungry stock trader, and a bartender, with which of your characters do you identify most?

Oh boy. I have actually been one of these in real life.  I won’t say which…. But besides what they do, I feel like all of these characters had really different personalities. I think I related to Lauren Cruz a lot. I’ve been the new girl a lot. I’ve had to prove myself a lot. Still do. But Wendy Watson is the closest I think, because I’m artistic and I am pretty damn stubborn.  And then there’s the overwhelming nerdiness. There is that.

4. If you had to name a person/thing/activity to be your arch-nemesis, what would he/she/it be?

Just one? But I hate so many people/things/activities!  Okay. Fidel Castro/potatoes that are growing roots out of the eyes/working out.

What about Fidel Castro WHILE he's working out?

5. Wendy Watson, your character on The Middleman, was portrayed as an avid comic book reader and regularly references Star Wars, video games, and classic zombie films, earning you the love of nerds everywhere.  Have you always been into these sort of things, or have you found that, since “The Middleman”, you have developed an interest in nerdom that you didn’t have previously?  What do you read or watch when you aren’t making your own art?

I was always into a lot of things Wendy is into – but my mind, it was blown with a whole new world of obscure shit Javi introduced me to (Usagi Yojimbo does kick serious ass). I like all old movies, monsters and no monsters. I love zombie movies. I love any Hammer film. I love comic books. Been reading Fables & [email protected] lately.  I love anything Alan Rickman does.  I could watch that man breathe.

6. The Middleman was highlighted on NPR’s All Things Considered for not only passing the “Bechdel Rule” (for it’s realistic depiction of female relationships) but also the “Deggans Rule” (for minority characters).  The “Morales Rule”, named after you, was also posited as an equivalent for Hispanic characters.  As an actor working in television, why do you think it’s so hard to find shows that can follow these “rules”, despite their fairly reasonable expectations?

You know, I got called a racist for that Morales rule. Stupid Internet trolls, trollin’. They just don’t get it. I love and appreciate my culture, I just don’t like being reduced to only stereotypes… Which happens all the time.  I think, no, I know, that many networks and showrunners think their audiences are stupid. And we are if we like and continue to watch shows that use these stupid, old fashioned, easy jokes on us. Look, I love anything that actually deals with race. I think going there is bold and funny because it makes people feel uncomfortable and awkward.  That’s always funny. I just think going for the “sexy Latina maid that screams in Spanish and dances salsa and seduces the man and calls him papi” is a tired, cheap joke. But it happens, because it’s easy.  We’re smarter than that, aren’t we?

7. In the least pervy way possible, we were big fans of your collaboration with Brit Morgan in the music video for David Lynch’s single “I Know”.  How did the two of you get involved in that project?  Are there any other Middlereunions (official or otherwise) in the works?

Thanks! We’re both very proud of that.  My friend who happens to be a brilliant director/photographer, David J. Dowling came up with the idea, called us up one day and we did it the following day. No crew, no lighting, just us, Dave and his camera. I hope for a Middlereunion. Javi and I have kicked around the idea of a MiddleMovie. What do you think?

8. If I Google “Natalie Morales” I get plenty of hits about you, as well as a bunch about the NBC Today co-anchor of the same name (not to mention a bunch of stuff about an affair one of you may or may not have had with Matt Lauer). In the immortal (pun intended) words of Sean Connery in Highlander, “In the end, there can be only one”.  Which Natalie Morales would win in a duel?  What would be the weapons of choice?

Let me just begin by saying, Matt Lauer seems nice, but he is not my type. Whoever it was, it wasn’t me. And as far as which one of us would win in a duel, I don’t need to dignify such an obvious and insulting question with a response. But, I think what’s more important is instead of being just one…. We can work together … Like the parent trap. Except we don’t look alike. I… Still haven’t thought that one through.

My money is on the Natalie with a gun and training from Sensei Ping.

9. Your IMDB page mentions a few upcoming projects, Freeloaders and 6 Month Rule, both set to come out this year.  What can you tell us about these?  Anything else on the horizon we should know about?

I have no idea what’s going on with Freeloaders. I don’t even know if I’m still in it.  However, 6 Month Rule is a movie I’m really, really proud of. It was written/directed/leading-manned by the incomparable Blayne Weaver. It also stars Dave Foley and Martin Starr, to name a few. It’s coming out soon. Check it out at www.6monthrulemovie.com….also, some other big, fun news is that a pilot I shot just got picked up by NBC. It’s called, “Are You There Vodka, it’s me Chelsea” and it’s based on the bestselling book by Chelsea Handler – who is also in it along with Laura Prepon from “That 70’s Show”.

10. What is your quest?

To create change, happiness, and make you laugh so hard you fart involuntarily.

We want to thank Natalie so much for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to us and answer our questions.  Look for her soon in 6 Month Rule, and this fall on NBC in “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea”.

  • Having just read Fables I can attest that it’s awesome, so a good choice

    • Silent Pok

       A middlemovie… yes please! 🙂

      •  I think we can all get on board with this.