The Booze Talkin’: My Exclusive Interview With THE Erin McGrane

(c) Brian Collins of Fixation Media

From the juiced-box and Erin’s cabaret band’s first CD: Alacartoona – Every Saint Needs A Sinner

[Y’all gotta press ‘Play’ for the Alacartoona songs. As i couldn’t hook up with my normal dealer, i paid a buck for each tune here. Sure it’s a good deal, especially when you hear the songs, so you gotta get my money’s worth.]

‘Member how i did a Booze Revooze of Up In The Air? Erin sure does. See, in the Silken Butterflies section i mentioned Meagan Flynn (who i interviewed here), but misread my notes when it came to Erin. Only problem was, Erin and Meagan are friends so Erin called me out in the comments section of the review. i groveled with what will go down deep in my annals as The Shout Out post. Laugh all you want but i must’ve said something right because this amazing young lady not only agreed to an interview, but rocked it up one side and down the other.

Here then, is The Booze Talkin’ with Erin McGrane, who plays George Clooney’s ex-love interest and neighbor Dianne in Up In The Air.

[AlKHallsim: The photos link alternately to Erin’s two agents: Shirley Hamilton for Chicago and the rest of the world, and Exposure, Inc. for Kansas City.]

Try as you might, no one has been able to talk me out of the ridiculous mad lib intros. To remind you the rules: i asked Erin to give me 10 words and then plugged them into a text i’d already written. She had no idea what the text was. To change things up a little bit, i’ve decided to include the words i asked her to provide; her answers are underlined.

(1) Favorite city, (2) Favorite color, (3) Object, (4) Favorite food, (5) Adverb, (6) Favorite song, (7) Other favorite food, (8) Favorite drink, (9) Favorite body part, (10) Verb of speech

Erin and i crossed paths in the Paris airport. I’d been stopped at security for carrying this huge green guitar, but she stepped up and vouched for me. To thank her, i took her to an upscale, all you can eat pot roast with all the trimmings buffet. The lights were dim, the candles burned fantastically and the soft sounds of Blackbird” floated through the restaurant air like sushi on a river of Irish Whiskey. i reached over and timidly rested my hand on her mouth. “I must interview you,” i sang madly.

Al K Hall: Let’s rock and roll, baby.

Erin McGrane: That’s what I do best.

Al K Hall: You sure fit right in here in Paris. Have you always been a big city chick?

Erin: Actually, I was born and raised in northwest Iowa. Farm country.

Al K Hall: How corny! Get it!? “Corny”? [Erin gags a little.] C’mon, they got corn in Iowa, right? Man, i’m good at this stuff. So, Erin… Can i call you “Erin”? What do people in real life call you?

Erin: ‘Rin, EMac, E, Erinski

(c) Pam Taylor of PresentMagazine.com

Al K Hall: “E”. i like that. Like “beautiful-E”. Or “ink-E“. Here’s a transition for you, got any tattoos?

Erin: I’ll never tell.

Al K Hall: That’s OK, we’ll play “Find The Tat” later. What about cool scars?

Erin: I’m wretchedly clumsy so…oh yes.  My favorites are a wicked one on my right wrist/hand from when I put my hand through a window by accident, and then a triangle-shaped one on my left knee.  I got that one in 6th grade when I was jumping hurdles practicing for a track meet.  Except that I had just broken my left arm and it was in a cast, so my balance was off.  I wiped out real bad because I couldn’t break my fall. That one hurt.

Al K Hall: i could kiss them to make them all better… [Erin gags a little more.] Or not. Either way. So, 6th grade… How old are you now?

Erin: Here’s your chance to flatter me!

Al K Hall: Hmm, i’d say more than the sentence for statutory and less than the sentence for killing someone. Which puts you somewhere between jailbait and murder.

Erin: That’s a compliment?

Al K Hall: i’m pretty sure. How’s this: Is it fun being gorgeous? Do you realize that wherever you go, you go there with a hot girl while the rest of us can only say that if we slide up so slowly next to one in a bar that she doesn’t notice we’re there?

Erin: Sweet talker.  Hey – was that you last night hanging around the ladies room at the bar?

Al K Hall: No way! i was the guy in the ladies room next to the condom machine. Everyone needs a hobby, right? And if we’d hooked up there, what’s something i wouldn’t have known about you right off the bat?

Erin: I’m clumsy…

Al K Hall: Oh yeah, like the getting scarred up while hurdle jumping in a cast.

Erin: …and I like to sew.

Al K Hall: Great! Can you sew me a suit like the one George Clooney wore in Up In The Air? No? Maybe if i win “Find The Tat”…  So, how did you get the role of Dianne, Clooney’s neighbor and ex-love interest in Up In The Air?

Erin: Shawn Mullane at Exposure – my fabulous agent – called me in for the audition.  I auditioned through several rounds, culminating in reading on camera with Jason Reitman himself then having to be approved by Paramount in the final round.  Nerve-wracking to say the least!  I think Meagan and I talked every day during the waiting period before it was confirmed that we got the roles.

Al K Hall: What kind of director is Jason Reitman? Super laid back and lets you find your character or kinda bossy and hooked on the details?

Erin: Working with Jason was wonderful.  He’s very approachable and understands actors.  One of my favorite things about working with him was the audition; he read the scene with me himself.  Playing the scene together several different ways was delightful and the kind of experience actors live for.

Another Scoop: Erin *Rocks* Hats

Al K Hall: C’mon, how ’bout some dirt? What was the least pleasant thing about the shoot?

Erin: The worst thing about the shoot was that it was too short!  I would have loved to stay longer.

Al K Hall: I’m not sure that counts as “dirt”, babe. What about the producers. Did they treat you right? For example, did they pay for your bar tab?

Erin: The producers were great!  Um, yes, actually George paid my bar tab.

Al K Hall: Only because you’re way hotter than that Italian wench he hangs with. i know everyone asks what it was like to work with him, but i’m more interested in you. What was it like for him to work with you?

Erin: I had to let him down easy…

[i laugh out loud and a little of my vin rouge comes out my nose. Erin is a trip.]

Al K Hall: What souvenirs did you keep from the set? You can tell me, it’ll stay here in The Bar None, swear to god.

Erin: Just the usual stuff I skimmed from the hotel: towels, pillow, hairdryer, wall art…

Al K Hall: Yeah, it’s a bitch to unscrew those hair thingies from the wall. Back to the movie, what did you think— Wait, you have seen it, right?

Erin: I’ve seen it several times now in KC and in Chicago with friends.  So fun!

Al K Hall: What did you think of your scenes?

Erin: George is fabulous.  I was fortunate to spend most of the day with him on set and then had dinner and drinks that evening, so I got to know him some and I can tell you he’s great.  He’s warm, generous, totally hilarious and a goof ball, relaxed  — the kind of guy you want to come to every party you give from now on.  He’s the center of every room he’s in.  He’s also wicked smart.  Oh yeah – did I mention gorgeous?

Al K Hall: Yeah, i got that. What did you guys drink?

Erin: George drank champagne all night – before dinner and into the wee hours.  Don’t know what kind of champagne – none I had ever had – but it was beyond delicious.  I drank my usual…started the evening off with a blue sapphire martini up with olives, (a little wet and not too dirty thank you), wine during dinner, champagne with dessert, then switched after dinner in the bar to Jameson.

Al K Hall: You go, girl! What about your other projects? You play the role of Demi Fitzpatrick, one of the Unreal Housewives Of Kansas City. Don’t you think you’re a little young to play a cougar?

Erin: One of the things I love about Demi is that she tries so hard – too hard – and doesn’t realize she doesn’t need to at all.  She’s actually kind of sweet but definitely misguided…she thinks it’s really cool to be a cougar and she feels that she’s in training for when she gets old enough.

Al K Hall: Wow, i can see you’ve thought a lot about her! My favorite webisode of yours was “Pilot: Martinis & Monologues” because you make those kick ass cougar sounds. How many takes did it take you to nail that? How did you learn that? Will you ‘do the cougar’ for me later?

Erin: The cougar comes naturally, Al.  However, I don’t usually ‘cougar’ on command.   Tell me why I should…

Al K Hall: Um, i won’t hold you to our game of “Find The Tat”? Is the cougar purr how you got chosen for the part?

Erin: In fact, the producers (Meagan Flynn, Jen Plas and Michelle Davidson Bratcher) called me directly and asked me if I’d like to do it.  I had worked with Jen and Meagan before and they thought I’d be right for the role.

Al K Hall: A role you got an Emmy for! Congratulations! How many statuettes did they give y’all and who gets to keep one in their house? Are you going to take turns or did you play rock/paper/scissors?

Erin: Well, we eventually all got a statue.  FYI, they do make you pay for them and they ain’t cheap, lemme tell you.

Al K Hall: Babe! That is so stingy. And also why i decided not to win an Emmy. i just can’t afford to.

(c) Brian Collins of Fixation Media

Al K Hall: Being the professional that i am, i did some research between a couple sips of Smirnoff Ice and on IMBD i saw you have a film, Nailbiter, coming out this year. What’s the pitch for the movie?

Erin: Ooo – I’m really excited about this.  Nailbiter is a thriller/horror film that I describe as a cross between Twister and Aliens and it’s directed by the talented Patrick Rae.  The story is about a young mom who is driving her girls across Kansas when they get caught in a terrible storm.  They take shelter in an abandoned farmhouse and just when you think it’s safe….I’m under contract to stop there.

Al K Hall: Sounds awesome, i can’t wait! You’re the only actress listed in this film, what’s up with that?

Erin: I think the other girls are minors.  I’m definitely not!

Al K Hall: Like i said, between jailbait and murder… You’re also the singer Ruby Falls in Alacartoona, a cabaret act.

[Press ‘Play’ for Alacartoona’s “Ruby’s Lament”]

Al K Hall: How would you define “cabaret act”?

Erin: A cabaret is an intimate night spot where stars and unknowns alike face no restrictions on the type of music or performance, can experiment with new or avant-garde material, and can interact with the audience. The cabaret removes the “fourth wall” between artist and audience, thus heightening the synergy between the two.  It’s not “burlesque” or “vaudeville”.  It’s something else from those.

Al K Hall: “Baudeville”! Yeah, i get that.

(c) Jospeh Maino Photography

Erin: Within that framework, Alacartoona is developing a new performance form we’re calling, “theatrical music”.  We write original music and spoken pieces that our characters bring to life on stage through lipstick, accordion and gin. Our songs have back stories and loosely tie together to provide insight into these very interesting characters.  It’s dark, sexy, sad, funny and very entertaining.  Or at least we think so!

(c) Jospeph Maino Photography

Erin: Alacartoona has a standing monthly happy hour show at a great Kansas City Jazz club, Jardine’s.  The club serves Alacartoona’s signature drink, the “Alacartini”. It’s made from the tears of an angel distilled in hell’s cauldron.  Let’s have one, shall we?

Al K Hall: [Sips drink] Oooh, bittersweet. What’s your touring schedule like? Isn’t it tough to juggle a singing career, an acting career and a top modeling career (because you are just that damn beautiful)?

Erin: Flattery will go a long way with me, just so you know.  I work in two cities equally – Chicago and Kansas City, so I travel all the time.  Alacartoona hasn’t toured much lately, but more road dates are in the works for this year.  And yes – sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all I have going on and hard to keep the focus up, but I love it and I’m thankful that I get to do what I love for a living!

Al K Hall: You go by the stage name Ruby Falls in Alacartoona. i, Al K Hall, think fake names are kinda silly. Don’t you?

Erin: [She giggles so cutely even kittens are jealous.] I think you’re silly.  And very sweet and funny.  You’re paying me for this, right?

Al K Hall: Um, define ‘paying for this’.

(c) Joseph Maino Photography

Erin: Seriously, alter egos rule.  Everyone should have at least one.

Al K Hall: At least one. Wait, who said that? OK, how would you define the similarities and differences between Ruby and Erin?

Erin: Ruby is bolder than Erin and takes more risks.  Erin is concerned for others, Ruby is essentially concerned with her own survival.  And love.  And whiskey.  Both Erin and Ruby are passionate about everything they do.  Ruby is a better drinker than Erin these days.

Al K Hall: Cool! Give me Ruby’s number, k?

Erin: You can reach her at Alacartoona’s website, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

Al K Hall: Wow, she gets around! What about you? Any other projects that i was too lazy to discover?

Erin: I’m working on a team of talented KC artists developing a new cross-discipline performance work entitled, “The Oil Boiler” which will be staged in May in Kansas City.  It’s about a hit man who is losing his nerve (and his mind) and it takes place in a seedy night club full of hit men with a jazz band. Will I see you there?

Al K Hall: You know it. As soon as i get the ticket you send me. Oh yeah, i fly Business, remember. Have your people call my people. Speaking of, if a casting agent is interested in contacting you, what’s the best way?

Erin: In Kansas City: Exposure, Inc. In Chicago or other regions: Shirley Hamilton, Inc.

Al K Hall: Any words for your many fans?

Erin: I owe it all to Al K. Hall.

Al K Hall: Oooh, charming and witty. You really got it all, don’t you?

Al K Hall: Time for the dreaded Bar None portion of the show. Have you had your shots? ‘Cause here we go… what’s your favorite alcohol?

Erin: The one you’re buyin’, preferably Irish Whiskey.

Al K Hall: When was the last time you had a hangover?

Erin: Last time I saw you, Al.

Al K Hall: That’s true, i do make a lot of people sick. Do you smoke?

Erin: No way!  I’m an ex-smoker and never will again.

Al K Hall: Nobody’s perfect. What’s your favorite swear word? Do you swear a lot?

Erin: Shit, I dunno.  I mean, hell no I don’t swear!

Al K Hall: Finally, what’s your favorite thing about me, Al K Hall?

Erin: Bold and funny.

Al K Hall: As a Meagan Fox tattoo, baby. Speaking of ‘Meagan’, i almost forgot…if Meagan Flynn, your friend and co-star in Up In The Air and Unreal Housewives of Kansas City, should happen to read this, what’s a question i didn’t ask her in my interview with her that i should have?

Erin: She is multi-talented and totally hot.  “Meagan, is there anything you can’t do?”

Al K Hall: Meagan? If you’re here in The Bar None, we expect an answer! Meagan had this one for you, Erin: “Is Meagan Flynn the best co-star ever?”

Erin: The only drawback to working with Meagan is that she is so smokin’ hot and talented that it’s hard to get any love with her around.

[This is a reference to my oversighting her in the original review of Up In The Air… Erin jibes her elbow into my side and winks ferociously. i am so distraught, i drown my sorrows in a gallon jug of Alacartini and am unable to continue the interview. Tragically, i also have to take a rain check on “Find The Tat”.]

And that, kids, is all she wrote. Hope you’re sitting down for the disclaimer. Believe it or not, Erin and i never really met in Roissy-Charles De Gaulle airport outside of Paris. The whole interview was done through e-mail and, while i added bits to make the transitions smoother, i didn’t change an iota of Erin’s answers.

i have many things to thank Erin McGrane for. First off, i’d like to thank her for forgiving my unforgivable boner in not mentioning her in the original draft of my Up In The Air review. Second off, i’d like to thank her for her time, imagination, wit, honesty, and lack of pressing charges during our exchanges. She is as clever and sincere as she is beautiful, which is all too rare a commodity in a talented actress these days.

To thank you, my patronizers, i leave you with a bonus round: Alacartoona’s “Just A Drink Or Two”

[PS  Follow this link to see the complete list of The Booze Talkin’: Exclusive Interviews In The Bar None]