Magazine article Newsweek

Playing by Her Own Rules: She's Smart. She's Sexy. She's Taken. Thanks to a New Season of 'The West Wing' and a Role in 'Red Dragon,' This Moment Belongs to Mary-Louise Parker

Magazine article Newsweek

Playing by Her Own Rules: She's Smart. She's Sexy. She's Taken. Thanks to a New Season of 'The West Wing' and a Role in 'Red Dragon,' This Moment Belongs to Mary-Louise Parker

Article excerpt

Byline: Devin Gordon

When you think about it, three years is a really, really long time to go without sex. "The West Wing," NBC's romance-starved White House saga, has won three straight Emmys for best drama series, so it seems to be managing just fine. But enough is enough. And Mary-Louise Parker, who joined the show late last season as lobbyist Amy Gardner and was so electric she earned an Emmy nomination for only six episodes of work, believes she's just the woman to end the dry spell. "I want a seven-minute sex scene," Parker says with a troublemaker's glint. "Just imagine it: me and Brad"--that would be Bradley Whitford, who plays love interest Josh Lyman--"and the whole time we're talking in really fast, really perfect paragraphs." Early this season, the two characters cross paths at a fund-raiser at the House of Blues. "I didn't know what to wear," she recalls, "and the producers said, 'Maybe a tank top, but we don't want you to look too sexy.' And I was like, 'Look, I am happy to wear the tank top. Somebody needs to wear the tank top.' I mean, do they have sex, ever? Does no one on that show f--?"

The word on Parker, 38, is that she's extremely private and quite shy. Private is accurate. We'll get to that. But shy? Ah, no. To be fair, Parker's outburst didn't come until about two hours into a long interview at a cafe in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. By then, she seemed good and cozy. Typically, Parker says, she's most at ease when she's acting--specifically, acting onstage. If you've seen her only lending a sonic charge to "The West Wing" then you've seen just a hint of what she's capable of. For nearly a decade, the actress has been a Broadway golden girl, winning a Tony in 2001 for her dazzling work as a gifted mathematician's daughter in David Auburn's "Proof." She's popped up in some nice film roles over the years--"Fried Green Tomatoes" here, "The Client" there. But now, finally, she's getting her moment on screen, big and small. This week she rejoins the "The West Wing" cast for 10 episodes. And starting Friday, she has a small but pivotal role in the Hannibal Lecter prequel "Red Dragon," in which no one, we're pleased to report, eats her brain.

Parker, who also stars this month in the indie film "Pipe Dream," won't be buying a ticket to see "Red Dragon"--too scary. But she's long adored "The West Wing." Her character, Amy, is the kind of cheeky, whip-smart type who wraps guys around her finger like pipe cleaners. In one scene last year, Josh was on the phone trying to kill a bill that Amy supported, and she nonchalantly grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the telephone cord in half. Series creator Aaron Sorkin wrote the part for Parker after she left him an admiring message about the show. The plan was for just one episode. Then he visited the set to watch her shoot her first scene and was nearly tackled by Whitford. "He came running up to me, saying, 'I love her! I love her! Can we keep her?' And I said, 'Well, OK, if you promise to walk her and feed her and everything'."

So why, if she's so darn gifted, isn't she everywhere? Part of it is that Parker's too good an actress. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.