When I first met Andrea Muller nearly a year ago I was immediately taken by a level of talent and drive not often seen in young actors today. So few seem to be truly optimistic about their chances for survival in this difficult “industry” of the arts.
After watching Andrea perform a monologue, I couldn’t resist telling her she was born to play ‘Laura’ in The Glass Menagerie.
Fast forward to now.
Muller is five weeks in to a production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie at The Sierra Madre Playhouse. Director Christian Lebano, with the aid of set designer Erin Walley and an effectively moody lighting design from Pablo Santiago, has presented a fresh, vital staging of what is widely considered Williams’ finest play.
With Andrea Muller right where she belongs. In the role she was born to play.
One reviewer wrote: “Andrea Muller is perfect as Laura, evoking every nuance of self-consciousness and fear.” All who have seen the show would agree.
Timing is indeed everything. But equally important is an optimistic outlook, that, when paired with an enormous sense of purpose and craft, can produce amazing results.
I sat down with Andrea last week at a Magnolia coffee spot in Burbank. She arrived on time, looking more like a young Elizabeth Taylor than is even fair, and carrying a small container which she handed me as we sat.
“Puff pastries topped with cantaloupe,” she informed. “I made them for you.”
It’s good being Lars Beckerman.
Once she sat and we settled in, the conversation was all about Andrea’s love for her craft.
Lars Beckerman Well, Andrea, you’re mid way through your run of The Glass Menagerie. Are you exhausted?
Andrea Muller Yes!
LB Has it been everything you expected it to be?
AM Well, it was a lot to live up to, because I’ve been dreaming of this role for so long. At this point, yes, it’s everything I’d dreamt it would be. I’m so happy. This is such a beautiful production. From the sets to the clothing we are wearing. We even have an original score! It’s really amazing.
LB Is this your first full run of a play?
AM No. I’ve been doing theatre for most of my life, but this is only my second eight-week run. I did two national tours of a Fifty Shades of Gray parody. Three person cast, very minimal sets, nothing like The Glass Menagerie. Talk about exhausting, national tours are exhausting.
LB Would you tour a show again?
AM If it was the right role…with a good contract. It’s a huge time commitment.
LB Do you want to work in film and television?
AM Yeah. I do. But I will always go back to theatre. That’s my real love.
LB Tell me about Scythe.
AM It’s a horror film I’m in that started out as a 15-second teaser; then the director, Jim Rothman, was so happy with it that it became a short film; then it went to festivals and people loved it… and now we’re preparing to make the feature.
LB And you’ve been getting stellar reviews for your work in it. In one you were called “…the new Queen of Scream.”
AM I know! I’ve been compared to Jamie Lee Curtis and Janet Leigh…which is really cool. I mean, Psycho? We are in pre-production now, looking to start filming the full length in late September, early October. I’m very excited.
LB Biggest difference between stage and film work?
AM The preparation is similar. It’s the execution that’s different. With theatre you get the full momentum – in film you play a scene at a time, a moment at a time.
LB Are you a big movie watcher?
AM Yes. I love Paul Thomas Anderson’s films…I loved Birdman. One of my favorite films ever is A Fish Called Wanda. I was floored by how brilliant Kevin Kline was in that. His commitment. Everything about him…he’s so different from other actors. So unique. He was brilliant in Sophie’s Choice too. He’s amazing.
LB Well, you have very good taste.
AM I love Vivien Leigh, too! Have to throw that in there. So amazing in A Streetcar Named Desire.
LB Tell me about Custody.
AM It’s a wonderful film written and directed by John Lacy. Kind of a modern day western film noir about a divorced couple coming up on a custody hearing, and the ex-husband kidnaps the ex-wife and holds her captive out in the desert mountains so that she’ll miss the hearing. It’s a very exciting project to be involved in. Really talented and generous cast led by the one and only Josh Daugherty and the lovely Erin Fleming. I just love the whole process with this group. Everyone is so committed to the film. To the storytelling.
LB And you play Loretta. Tell me about her.
AM Ah, Loretta. She’s a runaway who gets picked up on the highway by Otis, played by the amazing Frank Crim. He is a much older man, and they develop a romantic connection. And then they get hired to watch over the ex-wife…and it’s a real mess. It’s really fun to not be the ingenue. I love the character. She’s an old soul. She loves to read, she’s thoughtful. Kind of lost. Almost like a displaced settler from another century. I just love her!
LB Any thoughts on Hollywood’s tendency to pair up older men with much younger women?
AM I think if it serves the story then it’s okay. If it’s just done for shock effect, and it’s gratuitous…then not so much? But in Custody it really fits the story. It’s necessary. Our story is an examination of the nature of male/female relationships; and the Loretta-Otis relationship is an example of a realitvely common situation. Maybe. One that more often than not doesn’t work out. I think that’s what John wanted to explore in his script.
LB What has your training been?
AM This past year, mostly Meisner. But I don’t follow one specific method or technique. I kind of tailor my work toward what the specific character calls for…or needs. I do a lot of imagination work. And, of course, I draw from my own personal life, but that only gets you so far.
LB When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
AM I think I was five…my parents took me to see The Lion King at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Seeing it all live, the animals coming down the aisles…I’d never seen a play before. I turned to my Mom and said “I will never forget this!” When we went home I said “I want to be an actor.” I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
LB And you’ve never looked back?
AM Nope. I’m more passionate than ever. Especially doing The Glass Menagerie. A dream come true. I’m passionate about all of my creativity. Music is a huge part of my life. I love music from the 60s. I love to cook. My Mom’s Greek so I do a lot of Mediterranean cooking…and I’m a vegetarian, so that’s kind of interesting having grown up in a house that always served meat.
LB I think you may just be the first Greek vegetarian I’ve ever met.
AM Well, there you go. I’m honored.
LB Career goals?
AM If I had only one thing I could do in my career it would be to star in a film version of The Glass Menagerie.
LB Who would direct it?
AM Emma Thompson!
And on that note of female solidarity, Andrea and I decided to go antique shopping. After I ate my puff pastries, of course.