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Spotlite

THE OUTLIER

Deviating from the Mean with Actress PAULEY PERRETTE

By Jonathan Metzelaar

Spring 2013

The fact that I knew who Pauley Perrette was despite never having watched the show NCIS is a testament to just how popular and, consequently, how recognizable a figure she’s become. According to her Q Score, which is used to measure the popularity of celebrities, television shows, and brands, Perrette is the most popular actress on American primetime television. This is in large part due to the cult-like following that has developed around the character she plays on NCIS, Abby Sciuto. The appeal of Abby is manifold, but a lot of it surely has to do with the fact that, in a television landscape that is sorely lacking layered, interesting characters, Abbey is an outlier.

In analytics, an outlier is defined as, “that which appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs.” In other words, it’s something that stands out among the others because it’s different. It’s a term that Abby Sciuto would be familiar with, given her forensics background. But it’s also an apt description of the character Perrette is portraying through Abby. Every television crime drama has its own iteration of the forensic scientist. But all too often they seem to have been pushed through the same mold. Perrette broke new ground with Abby though, who’s a young, brilliant, female forensic scientist that loves tattoos, choker necklaces, loud music, and decorating her lab with dolls and stuffed animals. She’s a nice splash of color in a generally drab genre of television, and it’s in no small part because the woman playing her is as eccentric and interesting as she is. Pauley Perrette brings life to Abby in a way that’s hard to imagine anybody else even coming close to replicating, and fortunately I was able to talk a bit with her about both the fascinating character she is, and the fascinating character that she plays.

Jonathan Metzelaar: Your character on NCIS, Abby Sciuto, is considered one of the most well-liked characters on television. What do you think it is about this character that is so identifiable? How much of Abby are the writers responsible for, and how much of her is a reflection of your own personality?

Pauley Perrette: Abby is one of those iconic TV characters that comes along every once in a while. By combining her role as a genius scientist with an alternative style, a genuine sense of self, and a great sense of humor–along with the fact that she has such a huge heart–she has become one of the most unique television characters ever.  Abby is adored by people of all ages all around the world.
She was an amazing character from the first time I read her in a script 11 years ago, and over the course of 230 episodes the writers, the wardrobe department, and myself have added even more flavor to this eccentric little being.
JM: Are there any ways in which you, as Pauley Perrette, ever feel confined by Abby Sciuto? Do you ever feel any pressure to live up to this big public persona that’s been created of you, whether in terms of your personality or your style?

PP: Abby is way more awesome than me. She’s very well put-together, very focused, and very neat–all characteristics I personally do not embody.  I have to remind people that I am not actually Abby; I’m just an actor with an awesome job. I am a huge Abby fan though. I love her. But I’m not her.

JM: You’ve got a tremendous following of passionate fans. In fact, during my interview with your friends Darren and Matthew over at Donna Bell’s Bake Shop, a group of your fans came in looking for you, and said they traveled all the way from Arkansas. Have you ever had any crazy encounters with a fan or group of fans? On the flip side, were there any particularly endearing moments you’ve shared with your fans?

PP: NCIS fans are the best. Abby fans are very passionate. Because Abby is such a big hugger, I often have fans just come throw their arms around me. One of the best things is getting my fans involved in the causes and charities that I support. They sponsor me for AIDS walks, we collect money to buy kevlar vests for police and military dogs–all kinds of things. My favorite fan is a young boy who saves his allowance all year then sends it to the animal rescue I work with.

JM: Speaking of Donna Bell’s, was cooking a big part of your life growing up? How has the experience of lending your mother’s name and likeness to the bake shop been for you so far? Do you offer any input to the guys with regard to future menu items or anything like that?

PP: My mom was always cooking and baking. She, my sister, and I were always baking and decorating cakes. It is wonderful having such an amazing homage to her in Donna Bell’s Bake Shop.

Ironically, I don’t eat sugar or white flour, so Matthew [co-owner of Donna Bell's] makes me awesome whole-wheat and fresh berry muffins. Yum!

JM: You’re probably best known for your acting, but you’re also a writer and a musician. Do any of these passions take precedent over each other, or do you enjoy them all equally? Have any of these artistic endeavors ever directly inspired one of the others, and if so, when?

PP: I love my job, and it’s super important to me that I do a great job at it every time I hit set. My job as Abby is my priority; they pay me for that. But my other little piece of heaven is in the music studio. It’s my happy place. I love writing and recording music. I’m not interested in performing live, just getting music out there.

JM: You’re featured on DMC’s song, “Attention Please.” How did that collaboration come about? Do you have any plans to collaborate on any other musical projects, or any plans to release any of your solo work?

PP: My awesome drummer Veronica Bellino wrote that DMC song, and they had this great idea for our collaboration. I adore DMC, and I love the track. We had a blast.

My new record is almost finished. I am so excited about people hearing it. I’m just trying to figure out how I want to distribute it and get it out there. I can’t wait.

JM: Do you have any projects coming up that you’d like people to know about?

PP: Just continuing to work with over 30 charities and non-profits. I’m also planning on getting this record out, as well as finishing my documentary, Citizen Lane, which is about the life of legendary civil rights attorney Mark Lane.

Pauley Perrette is an actress, best known for her role as Abby Sciuto on the crime drama NCIS. She was also featured in Dawson’s Creek, 24, and the film Almost Famous, among other projects.

LINKS:

NCIS Official Website

Donna Bell’s Bake Shop Official Website

Written and Edited by Jonathan Metzelaar

Photography by Patrick McMullan, Andreas Branch, David Crotty, Brian Lindensmith and Joe Schildhorn

Design by Lulu Vottero

Captions:

Page 1/Cover:

Pauley Perrette, HEART TRUTH RED DRESS 2010 Collection, NY Public Library, NYC, February 11, 2010, Photography by Patrick McMullan for PatrickMcMullan.com

Page 2:

a. Pauley Perrette, 12th Annual Golden Heart Awards, Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills, Ca, May 7, 2012, Photography by Andreas Branch for PatrickMcMullan.com

b. Pauley Perrette, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT EMMY After Party Vibiana, Los Angeles, Ca, August 29, 2010, Photography by David Crotty for PatrickMcMullan.com

c. Pauley Perrette, THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES celebrates the 2013 GENESIS AWARDS BENEFIT GALA, The Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, CA, March 23, 2013, Photography by David Crotty for PatrickMcMullan.com

d. Pauley Perrette, HEART TRUTH RED DRESS 2010 Collection, NY Public Library, NYC, February 11, 2010, Photography by Joe Schildhorn for PatrickMcMullan.com

e.  Pauley Perrette, The 2011 ET Emmy Awards After Party, Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, September 18, 2011, Photography by Brian Lindensmith for PatrickMcMullan.com

f. Pauley Perrette, The Paley Center For Media’s PaleyFest 2013 Honoring THE BIG BANG THEORY, Saban Theater, Beverly Hills, CA, March 13, 2013, Photography by Andreas Branch for PatrickMcMullan.com

g.  Pauley Perrette, LA Zoo Elephants of Asia Under the Stars, Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Ca, December 15, 2010, Photography by David Crotty for PatrickMcMullan.com

Page 3:

Pauley Perrette, HEART TRUTH RED DRESS 2010 Collection, NY Public Library, NYC, February 11, 2010, Photography by Patrick McMullan for PatrickMcMullan.com

Page 4:

Patrick McMullan and Pauley Perrette, Bryan Rabin Birthday Party, Chateau Marmont, LA, March 5, 2005, Photography by Patrick McMullan for PatrickMcMullan.com

Page 5:

Pauley Perrette, Club USA, New York City, 1990/91, Photography by Patrick McMullan for PatrickMcMullan.com

Pauley Perrette, HEART TRUTH RED DRESS 2010 Collection, NY Public Library, NYC, February 11, 2010, Photography by Joe Schildhorn for PatrickMcMullan.com


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