1. What's the first album you ever bought?
I think it was a Bee Gees album. Or it might have been a Shaun Cassidy album — that'll date me.
2. Describe your style in three words.
“I would love to do a movie with Kristen Wiig.”
Elegant, easy, chic.
3. Who's your celebrity doppelgänger?
Kristen Wiig. I had a short haircut wig on recently and someone was like, “You look like Kristen Wiig.” People have said that to me before, too. That would be awesome. I'd love to do a movie with Kristen Wiig, I'm a huge fan — who isn't? And there are certain times we look very much alike.
4. What's your craziest fan story?
I had this super-fan, May, who came to see me in my play, If I Forget, about five or six times. And she was awesome. I love when people come see me do live theater and it makes me feel so good when they come from all over the world. My brother saw the play four times, but he was eclipsed by May. She made little personalized candy bars for everyone in the play – she was obsessed with it and it was really kind and awesome.
5. Which emoji do you use the most?
The dancing lady in the red dress!
6. What's your guilty pleasure?
“One Tree Hill was my TV show back in the day.”
It used to be One Tree Hill. That was my TV show back in the day. I also just love laying around and doing nothing and hanging around with my cats.
7. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
The first thing that comes to mind is when tags on clothing scratch my skin. I get sensitive skin. And also, loud talkers. I get a little sensitive to noise. Although I do have a loud voice myself — I don’t realize how loud my voice is sometimes.
8. What's the one thing you can't live without?
9. Dream vacation spot?
Anywhere with powder white sand and turquoise water. I've never been to the Seychelles Islands. I'd love do that or the Maldives.
10. What's the last book you read?
“I don't watch myself in [Grey's Anatomy].”
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
11. What's your favorite reality show?
I really don't watch a lot of reality shows. I like a documentary or anything about nature — I love Animal Planet.
12. How often do you go back and watch Grey’s Anatomy?
I don’t! Once in a while I'll see a gif somewhere online. It would be really interesting to go back and watch now — that would be really cool. It was funny, I was on The Today Show and I didn’t know that Taye Diggs was guest-hosting and they showed a little clip of us when Sam and Addison were dating [on Private Practice] and I was like, “Oh my god, who is that girl?” It’s like watching someone else. I don’t usually watch myself — I get a little freaked out. It’s not good for me.
13. What's a vivid memory you have from playing Addison?
“I kind of
the Wicked Witch.”
That entrance [at the end of Season 1] that changed my life. I got more calls and attention from that 60-second scene than anything in my career before. Isn’t that funny? Shonda [Rhimes] is a genius. Everyone hated me, but at that time there was no Twitter. There were chat rooms, but I never really went on them. I kind of liked being the Wicked Witch from the east. Or the wicked bitch. Shonda’s really gifted at flipping every character that’s seemingly awful. It’s a great lesson in how to have compassion for people that you initially hate.
14. Which death on the show were you particularly shocked about?
Well, I was surprised when they killed off Patrick [Dempsey]. It had been so long and I was like, “Oh, really?” And I tuned into that episode. It was like, “Oh, I guess I should watch this.”
15. Let's talk 13 Reasons Why. Did you expect the show to take off the way it did?
We dropped it on a Friday and on Monday the entire world knew about the show — it was pretty phenomenal. But no one expected it. I had no idea because it was a new show.
16. Was it similar at all to when Grey's really took off?
With Grey’s, I remember because I came in at episode 8, at that time the morale was really low. They kept changing the name of the show. It was Doctors and then Surgeons and then Complications and I was like, “What a bullshit show title!” Grey’s Anatomy is the perfect title. To keep our morale up they started showing us episodes at Friday lunches that were already edited. And I was like, “This is a really good show” and I was so excited to be a part of it. I was supposed to do a pilot for another sitcom on ABC, and it didn’t end up getting picked up and then they called me to be a series regular on Grey’s and the world changed. It was stunning right? It was really phenomenal. And that Super Bowl episode! That was what put us into the stratosphere.
17. What was your favorite memory from filming Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why?
“Katherine is such a beautiful kid and such a gifted actress. It makes me a little teary.”
Every scene I got to shoot with Katherine [Langford] was a favorite memory, because she’s so adorable and beautiful — I mean, all the kids on the show are so wonderful. And the adults too. But really every scene I got to shoot with her, especially the flashbacks. I don’t have kids (I've been a stepmom, which I loved) so it was a really beautiful opportunity to be a mother. You know how there are some actors who are like, “I don’t want to play a mom!” For me, maybe it’s because I’m not a mom, to be able to find that and play that and have that space in my life to be a mother, I really loved it. Katherine is such a beautiful kid and such a gifted actress. It makes me a little teary.
18. What do you hope for your character, Mrs. Baker, in Season 2?
That she gets some answers and gets some resolution.
19. There was a theory that went viral showing Dylan Minnette as a child in an episode of Grey’s where Mark Sloan helped fix his hearing, and people made the connection that it happened so he could grow up and listen to Hannah's tapes in 13 Reason's Why. Have you heard that one?
I don’t even know if I was on the show then! Oh my god, I love that. I hadn’t even heard that. I had heard that he was on Grey’s, but I didn’t know that. That’s really funny. Well there it is, it’s in the universe. The cosmos. I love it.
20. How has the fan reaction to the show been for you?
“I’ve gotten some beautiful letters from mothers and fathers saying they'd never seen it accurately portrayed like this. It was such a huge honor.”
It’s been pretty phenomenal. People seemed to like the work I did as Olivia Baker. We’re just so thrilled with the fan response to the show in general. We all hoped that it would be successful. It’s fiction — it’s still entertainment at the end of the day, but it’s so heavy. It’s dealing with such complex and huge unimaginable issues that we really all hoped that it would be successful. And that it would make people feel heard and that they matter. For me it was such a gift portraying a woman who had to go through this — going through the unimaginable of losing a child to death by suicide. I honestly wanted to do a really good job and wanted to honor the parents who have had to go through this. I think that people seemed to believe it. I’ve gotten some beautiful letters from mothers and fathers saying they'd never seen it accurately portrayed like this. It was such a huge honor. I’m lucky that I get to leave Mrs. Baker in Northern California on set and go live my life. Whereas other people aren’t that lucky. To hear that somebody got heard or seen or that their experience was mirrored in some way was very powerful.
21. So, you're starring in this summer's Girls Trip, but what's the best trip you've ever taken with your ladies IRL?
There’s a lot of them and they involve press tours for sure. One trip we went to Cannes. This was my former manager and one of her other clients and me, and we didn’t see a single film at Cannes. We showed up to parties, we were on yachts — it was ridiculous. It was like an R-rated comedy. But it was so fun — I had never experienced Cannes and I’d never experienced that decadence and opulence, so that was a seminal moment. And additionally I would say the European press tour I did for Grey’s back in the day, but it wasn’t just girls — T.R. [Knight] was on that and Ellen [Pompeo]. But I had my best friend Corinne with me too and we just had a great time. We were able to travel and see so many places we never would have been able to see.
22. What's something that's on your bucket list?
To go to Antarctica!
23. Biggest fear?
Going broke — my mother was born in the Depression, my dad was an immigrant. I think there’s a lot of people in this country who have that fear. What happens if you don’t have any money? You’re going to end up on the street or on welfare. Or not having health insurance which is really real. I lived without health insurance for a lot of years and it’s not fun. I’ve worked since I was 14 and have paid for everything. Luckily, I got on a hit TV show so I could pay off my student loans to a college I didn’t even graduate from.
24. What's the best advice you've ever gotten?
To be kind, always. And to know thyself. That’s always been a mantra of mine.
25. Describe the perfect day.
Sleeping in. Making a delicious cup of coffee with full cream. Staying in bed with the cats and dog, taking a few Instagram stories of them. Then I meditate. I go out, walk around. Read a book. And then go eat delicious food somewhere. Come home, watch something — I’m currently binging on The Last Kingdom Season 2 — and then get some sleep.
26. What's the best part of your job?
“So many women have come up to me and said I went to medical school because I saw Addison.”
I get to do what I love, and not a lot of people get to do that. I just feel very fortunate. It didn’t just come to me. I had to work my ass off. I didn’t have anybody in my family in this business, I just had to make my way and it’s what I dreamed. I was the daughter of a an immigrant and grew up working class, sometimes being on welfare, food stamps, and having a single mom. I dropped out of college because I was trying to do something that I thought I should do, but it wasn’t my passion. And then coming out of college with a ton of student debt and then following my dreams and having countless waitressing jobs and temp jobs and being able to do what I love — that’s the biggest gift. And I guess living in a country where that’s possible. I feel like I have a blessed life. Part of what I also love about what I do is hopefully contributing to the culture like Grey’s did — so many women have come up to me and said I went to medical school because I saw Addison or because I watched Grey’s Anatomy. Or people who have reached out about 13 Reasons Why — even as controversial as the show has been for various reasons — and are grateful that there’s language around suicide and sexual assault, which is still so uncomfortable for people to talk about in this culture. For me to be able to do projects that matter — that’s all I want for other people attaining their dreams — and living in a country that makes it possible still.
27. What do you hope for the rest of 2017?
I hope there’s some peace. Keep the peace in the world. I hope that we keep people who have health insurance insured. And I am thrilled to have this work to do and that will take me through most of this year. You know — health, wealth, prosperity, and love. I’m really excited by what’s happening in the world right now in that people have become so activated politically and culturally. I think that’s the positive to take from things we see in the culture that we may not like. Where there’s vitriol and hatred and fear, there’s always an opportunity for love and generosity and kindness and abundance — and caring for others. I feel like that’s been an incredible moment. People are reaching out and caring for each other in communities and just showing up for each other.
Catch Kate Walsh on the big screen in Girls Trip, in theaters everywhere July 21!