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Spotlite

COMPLICATED CHARACTERS

A Spotlite on Actress LAUREN STAMILE

By Sarah Heikkinen

Summer 2015

As a culture entranced by the advancements the entertainment business has made over the past century, we often find ourselves forgetting about the people behind the characters we have grown to love. Known for her work on Burn Notice and Grey’s Anatomy, actress Lauren Stamile brings a little bit of herself to her latest dramatic endeavor, Complications. With veteran collaborator Burn Notice’s Matt Nix, Stamile continues to develop a well-rounded, interesting, and complicated character through Dr. Bridget O’Neil. I spoke with the actress about Complications.

Sarah Heikkinen: When did you realize you wanted to be an actress?

Lauren Stamile: I grew up watching old movies and musicals with my parents and siblings. I remember thinking, “People can sing and dance in the street because they’re in love and it’s raining?! I want to live in that world!!” I would smash bottle caps into the soles of my shoes so they would “tap” and then dance and sing around the house in my “spinniest” dress. In my mind, I could always dance and sing extremely well. Unfortunately, as I got older, I realized that it was pretty much just in my mind. So, I focused on the acting part. But vocal and movement limitations aside, those musicals got me hooked!

SH: You’ve worked as an actress in both TV and film. What are the differences in working in each medium? Do you prefer one or the other?

LS: I just love to work and each medium offers its own challenges and rewards. The main difference for me concerns pace. TV is much faster. We’re creating a mini-movie every week. There’s less time to think–which can be a gift, actually–I always have to remind myself to “keep up” since the pace is so rigorous. But TV also creates the space to live in the world and as the character for months–or even years if you’re really lucky! That potential is so inviting, as is the aspect of community that can build on a set over time.

In film, the moments seem to last longer. There is more time to just…breathe, and there is an intimacy in that. I always have to remind myself to “slow down” and by doing so, I tend to feel consumed by the alternate universe that we’re creating and then…”poof!”–it’s gone when production wraps.

SH: Tell me about your upcoming show Complications.

LS: Speaking of pace, Complications is a fast-paced thriller for USA about a doctor who gets himself in the middle of a gang war–sending shockwaves through his life and the lives of everyone around him. What’s so fascinating to me about the show is that these two seemingly very different, life-and-death worlds–a hospital and a gang war–are, at the end of the day, not so different after all.

Complications examines just how far people will go to protect their way of life and the very gray area between right and wrong. Each character’s actions seem justified, but the actions themselves are questionable at best and horrifying at worst. It’s a visceral, uncomfortable and crazy ride…

SH: You play Dr. Bridget O’Neil.  You’ve played a medical professional before in Grey’s Anatomy.  How does Dr. O’Neil compare to Nurse Rose?

LS: I’m honored to portray medical professionals–my dad’s a doctor, my mom’s a nurse and my brother’s a pharmacist–I grew up doing rounds with my dad at the hospital–so being on set is like an extension of home and some of my favorite memories. Dr. O’Neil and Nurse Rose are similar in that they’re both intelligent and extremely competent at their jobs. Rose found herself in an awkward situation in the middle of a workplace romance, while Bridget is just socially awkward–all her energy goes towards her work and she just hasn’t mastered pleasantries in the same way that she has mastered emergency medicine. While Rose was not afraid of a mess–which is probably why she didn’t hesitate to step in between Meredith and Derek (in all fairness they were on a break but still…it’s MerDer!), Bridget tries to avoid disorder at all costs and cleans up after everyone else.

While there was a light quality about Rose, Bridget’s probably been drinking her coffee black since she was seven. She’s a perfectionist and lives by an impossible standard that leaves no room for levity. Bridget is tightly wound but at the center, she is actually much softer than Rose

SH: Matt Nix, creator of Complications, also brought Burn Notice to the USA Network. You played Dani Pearce on Burn Notice. How has it been working with Nix again?

LS: Working with Matt Nix is an absolute privilege–he’s one of the most talented, supportive, hard-working and kindest people I know. Matt imagines these insane, exciting worlds. His enthusiasm’s infectious. He honors creative collaboration, treats everyone with respect, and is constantly expressing gratitude. I’m so grateful to Matt for giving me some of the best opportunities of my career so far, and I hope to work with him on a hundred more projects.

SH: What actresses do you admire? Whose career do you use as a model for what you”d like to do?

LS: There are so many actresses to admire! I’m a giant fan of Cate Blanchett, Vera Farmiga and Claire Danes–strong, smart, stunning women whose work is so nuanced and revelatory. They breathe life into their characters–so much so that I completely forget that I am watching someone who isn’t actually real. And somehow, they manage to balance their inspiring careers with family. I aspire to achieve even a tiny have fraction of what these women have. I hope to tackle work that challenges me as an actor and person, to leave some positive mark in this world and to balance it all while being the very best mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend that I can be. 

SH: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors and actresses? What do you wish you had known when you first started performing?

LS: I often think about what I would tell my younger self if I had the opportunity now… First of all, you are fantastic–just the way you are. Live your life and never at the expense of your career. Take that trip, visit family, prioritize friendships and relationships and put your awesome self first. The richer your life is, the richer your work will be. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or make a mistake. You really do learn from them all–even the most embarrassing ones. Sometimes those are the most important! And, yes, there may be a million wonderful actors/actresses ahead of you in line, but there’s only one incredible YOU. Don’t rob anyone of the honor of getting to see what you can do.

SH: What showrunners or directors would you like to work with in the future?

LS: So many! I’d love the opportunity to work with Vince Gilligan, Matthew Weiner, Lena Dunham, Alex Gansa, Jay and Mark Duplass, Sofia Coppola, Richard Linklater, Ben Affleck–they helm projects that become an experience by forcing the audience to completely invest and spark much needed public discourse on important social, emotional and political subjects. Honestly, the list goes on and on and I may start to really embarrass myself, so I’ll stop there. I’ve had the good fortune of working with so many wonderful people and hope to be lucky enough to continue to do so. 

Lauren Stamile is an actress. Her new show Complications premieres on the USA Network on June 18th, 2015.

LINKS:

Lauren Stamile on IMDb

Written by Sarah Heikkinen

Photography Courtesy of Pinnacle PR

Design by Mina Darius

Caption:

Photography Courtesy of Pinnacle PR

 

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