The Booze Talkin’: My Exclusive Interview With ANDREA POWELL

Photo by Jordan Matter

[AlKHallism: All photos link back to Andrea Powell’s website (http://www.andreapowell.com/). Be sure to check it out.]

From the juiced-box and Andrea’s past: Journey – Faithfully

[Press ‘Play’ for a blast from Andrea’s past.]

i know y’all remember how much i loved My Own Love Song, the movie you may never get to see and it sucks to be you because it was a great freakin’ film. As understated as the power of the movie was, one of the most impressive and understated roles was that of “Devon’s Mom”, as portrayed by the very lovely and even more talented Andrea Powell. Though she only had a minor part, she lit up the screen like bicentennial fireworks reflecting off ice cubes in a gin & tonic on the 4th of July every time she appeared.

Well, believe it or not, in a heartwarming display of Southern hospitality, Ms Powell agreed to suffer through an interview with me, Al K Hall, your very humble Functional Alcoholic Sluperson. Let’s hope i don’t choke like a débutante with a bottle of Jack on her 21st birthday.

So there i was, floating down the mighty Mississipp’ on a riverboat, drinking a Mint Julep (hold the mint and double the julep, shaken and a little stirred—meaning me, i was pretty shaken and kinda stirred) watching those paddles spin around and around hypnotically when suddenly, in the reflection of the dew-like condensation fawning down the side of my glass, i spotted this glorious vision: Andrea Powell. Yes, the stunning, recurring star of the upcoming ABC supernatural drama The Gates was standing at the railing, gazing into the tequila sunrise. i grabbed my Julep in both hands, prostrated myself before her and asked if she would grant me the time for a few quick questions. Graciously, she acquiesced (which is a grown up word that means she figured it was safer to just agree).

Photo by Jordan Matter

Al K Hall: So, Andrea, what’s your favorite color? Wait, sorry, i suck at this. Let’s start slow and work my way up, OK? Where are you from?

Andrea Powell: I was born in Georgia and grew up in Florida.  But I’ve lived all over, including Hawaii and 10 years in New York City.  Now I split my time between NYC and North Carolina, although I’m happy to call North Carolina home.

Al K Hall: Obviously you’re a Southern Belle, how easy is that?

Andrea: If you’re saying I wear hoop skirts and say “fiddle-dee-dee” a lot, um, no.  Maybe “citified good ol’ girl” is a better term.

Al K Hall: Ooh, “Good Ol’ Girl”… i like that. Still, being from the South, isn’t there tons of pressure mixed up with that?

Andrea: Not really.  If anything, Southern-born women are pretty strong, although we do keep our manners.  Which means we can put pressure on other people without them even knowing what hit them.

Al K Hall: Yeah, i’m gonna have to watch out for that, huh? You speak with a Southern accent in Songcatcher and A Touch Of Fate. i love Southern accents. What kind of stuff can you say in a Southern accent? Like, can you say “I lost my tube top at a Band of Skulls Concert?” in a Southern accent?

Andrea: Of course!  Although if I remember properly it was probably a Journey concert.  Or Jimmy Buffett…they did lots of those outside in the hot Florida sun.

[Here’s some Jimmy Buffett for y’all to put you in the mood: “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (And Screw)” ]

Al K Hall: Hey, as long as the tube top’s gone… Speaking of how i have absolutely no chance of hooking up with you, your IMDB page says you’re married to Paul Ferguson. Is that THE Paul Ferguson, drummer of Killing Joke?

Andrea: YES!  OK, no.  My sweet Paul Ferguson is a writer/director…although he does have excellent rhythm.  He just had an Off-Broadway show in New York called Good Ol’ Girls.  Yes, it was partly inspired by me.

Al K Hall: Whoa! i knew i liked that name… And the reviews are stellar! Other than not listening to Killing Joke, what do you like to do in your down time?

Andrea: I got into triathlon last year (short distances, but still), so I’m usually training for something.  Biking is definitely my strongest event, and I just got a KICKIN’ road bike named Hummingbird. As far as swimming and running are concerned, I’m not fast, but I’m well-intentioned.

Al K Hall: Sounds like my sex life. Well, except the “not fast” part.

Andrea: Mostly, though, I’m a huge geek, so I’m either glued to my computer screen or my Blackberry.  Seriously, I can spend DAYS on the Internet.  Total addict.  Paul and I also love to travel.

Al K Hall: Paul. Married. Right. [i take my hand off the back of her chair.] i caught on your resumé that you’re multifaceted: you can fix running toilets, for example. Seriously, my toilet has problems and moans like Myrtle in the Harry Potter books. i’m not kidding. What are you doing this coming weekend? Care to help a brother out?

Andrea: You don’t need me…the Internet has lots of articles on it.  I know, I’ve read every single one.

Al K Hall: And singing all 50 states in alphabetical order? Really? But can you do it in a Southern accent!

Andrea: Oh ABSOLUTELY!  I’ve won more than one bar bet that way.

Al K Hall: Crap, there go my plans for having the next round on you. Do you have any cool vices people would be surprised to know about?

Andrea: Hm, vices.  Of course I’ll say no.  Wait, does an addiction to 90% dark chocolate count?  I keep it in the medicine cabinet, so maybe…

Al K Hall: The judges say i’m gonna have to take that as a “No” and stop asking that question in these interviews… But i am allowed to ask about your role as “Devon’s Mom” in My Own Love Song. It was a short role in which your performance was sweet.

Andrea: Thank you!

Andrea on the set of My Own Love Song

Al K Hall: How long was the shoot? Did you stay in a nice hotel? Free booze?

Andrea: The shoot was delayed for a few days because it unexpectedly snowed in New Orleans and everything just completely shut down.  Yes, nice hotel.  No free booze.  Not like the old days when New Orleans made sure you always had a drink in your hand.  I went to school at LSU so had easy access to the Big Easy…and the drinking age at that time was 18.  So picture a bunch of 18-year-olds going through the drive-in daiquiri cafes just off-campus, then making the 80-mile journey to New Orleans.  It’s a miracle we survived.  “Hey, you’re behind the wheel!  Here’s a 100-proof frozen drink to cool ya down!”  Crazy.

Al K Hall: Awesome! Do LSU girls still do that? Do you know any of them? Will you give them my number? No one’s gonna believe this, but for three years straight my, sister, buddies and i road tripped to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. i lived in Michigan at the time and so it was a 17-hour drive and we always did it in one shot. Great memories. Then MTV Spring Break went there and killed the mood like a drunken frat boy at a Miles Davis concert.

Photo by Jordan Matter

Al K Hall: Enough about me, let’s get back to My Own Love Song, shall we? Do you have any memorable anecdotes or cool stories to share?

Andrea: The French director, Olivier Dahan, was trained as a painter, so his approach to filmmaking is very visual.  Every little detail, from the hair and wardrobe to the streamers blowing in the background, was just gorgeous.  And oh, the catering.  The story I heard was that part of closing the deal to shoot in New Orleans was the promise that the food would be exceptional.  So every day at lunch we had these amazing cordon bleu meals and ridiculous dessert pastries, all served from folding tables.  “That’s lunch!” was one of the most-anticipated phrases of the day, even more so than “That’s a wrap!”.

Al K Hall: Very cool! What was it like working with Olivier Dahan? Did he, like, have wine wherever he went?

Andrea: I was surprised that he didn’t always have wine or a loaf of French bread in his hand, but he did wear a beret and smoke constantly.  His English was much better than he thought it was.  I tried to talk to him in French once and I think completely puzzled him.  God knows what I said.  However, my old standby, “Je parle mieux après que je bois beaucoup de vin,” (“I speak better after I drink a lot of wine”) did make him laugh.  I hope for the right reasons.

Al K Hall: Wow, i’m impressed! The only French i know is the kiss. [Oh, sacré Al!] With French like yours, you must’ve come to France for Love Song‘s World Premiere…

Andrea: No, I didn’t get to see it in Paris, unfortunately.  I planned to attend the premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, but a few days before it screened I booked a recurring role in the new supernatural ABC series, The Gates.  So I had to leave right away for Shreveport, Louisiana, where I’ve been shooting ever since.

Al K Hall:  Congratulations, babe! Wow, look at you on the verge of stardom! And your acting reel is super impressive. Your scene with Dylan McDermott at the beginning of Runaway Jury is suspenseful and highlights your talent well, as you play a range of emotions in just a couple minutes.

Andrea: Thanks again! That was a fun movie to make, and I loved working with director Gary Fleder.  All of the gunshots and screaming and breaking glass were added in later, so Dylan and I were reacting to lots of things that weren’t really there; however, Gary did a great job of setting the scene for us and side-coaching so we were able to get our heads in the right place for all the drama.

Andrea Powell in Cabin Fever 2

Al K Hall: Any other special acting moments you’d care to share?

Andrea: I’m so lucky to have done a lot of interesting projects, from film and TV to video games – I just did more voice work for a top 10 MMOG [AlKHallism: That’s “Massively Multiplayer Online Game” to all you non-gamers out there] called “Fallen Earth”.  I play the lead character, scientist Elena Winters, as well as a vaguely Romanian mutant merchant.  I know, typecasting.

Al K Hall: [i laugh so hard Julep comes out my nose.]You crack me up, babe! But don’t forget, you won Independent Vision “Breakthrough Performance Award” in 2006’s Visionfest for The Limbo Room!

Andrea: I was completely surprised and honored by the award, I just wish I’d paid more attention to all the incredibly nice things that they said about my performance in the intro…it was before they said my name, so I had no idea they were talking about me.  It’s always so nice to be recognized for your work, and that was a particularly special project for me.  I was feeling pretty low at that time in my life and had all but given up acting to take a corporate job that was ultimately very bad for me. Then my manager came to me with this script about a struggling actress about to turn 40, and all the pieces just fell into place.  Director Debra Eisenstadt had written this amazing story, and she absolutely would not let us Act, so it has this interesting dark documentary feel to it.  Plus she was just about to have a baby, so we had to do the whole thing in nine days in New York City.  It made it more like a TV shoot, which I love.  I always prefer to work fast…no time to get in your own way.

Al K Hall: i know exactly what you mean! i get in my own way all the time, especially after downing a few of these julep thingies. But you, Missy, obviously like to work fast. You are one very busy young lady. Just look at all the stuff you got coming out in addition to The Gates: In/Significant Others, Get Low, Main Street, Hero, The 5th Quarter

In/Significant Others still

Andrea: I like to stay busy, and I’m very fortunate that I get to.  In/Significant Others was an edgy little project we made in Charlotte, NC on a shoestring, and it’s getting a lot of festival recognition.  I hear that Get Low has gotten a great response at the Tribeca Film Festival, with reviewers already calling it Oscar-worthy (well-deserved for Robert Duvall…he’s amazing to work with).  Much better parts have come to me now that I’m a little older, and although I predictably play a lot of moms, they always have some interesting little edge to them.  That’s definitely the case with the mom I play in The Gates…although of course you’ll have to watch the series for the whole story. [Her grin and almost-wink are warmer than a Tequila Sunrise.]

Al K Hall: Yeah, i saw a very solid review for Get Low in Variety. And i’m really looking forward to The Gates, i just hope we can get it in Yeman! What about playing a drunk woman… How hard is that?

Andrea: It is incredibly hard to play drunk well, and so EASY to do it badly.

Al K Hall:i know!! Ask anyone in The Bar None—i’m always whining about what a crappy job most actors do playing drunk.

Andrea: They teach you that the best way to play drunk is to actually play someone trying really, really hard to act sober.  But somehow it almost never looks real and all the stereotypes come out (slurring, staggering, I-love-you-manning, etc.).

Al K Hall: Great tip! Man, you should pass that advice on to Hollywood. But don’t you think the best way to play drunk is to actually be drunk?

Andrea: I don’t advocate drinking on the job, although I will admit to doing an awkward love scene once that we could only get through with a shot or two of tequila.

Al K Hall: Oh Andrea, you wouldn’t believe the number of times i had to do that and i wasn’t even on camera! Continuing with your many talents, though, you sing in Harmonic Distortion and you have a killer voice! Is there any chance of your recording something? Hell, i’d be happy to have a CD of your singing the 50 States, in order (especially with a Southern accent).

Andrea Powell in Harmonic Distortion

Andrea: I’ve always loved to sing, and once I figured out that I wasn’t going to be a Broadway star (which didn’t take me too long…a few auditions in New York and I realized that those people are a whole different breed…AMAZING trained voices), I relaxed and just went with what I do best.  I’ve done plenty of musicals, but I especially love singing blues, standards, country.  Aretha.  And of course karaoke and classic Rock Band.  No CD’s, although maybe you’re onto something with “Andrea Sings the 50 States in Alphabetical Order”.  Sure to be a chart-topper.

Photo by Thaddeus Watkins

Al K Hall: i’m sayin’. Is there anything that i, in my infamous laziness, have neglected to uncover in the seconds of research i spent preparing?

Andrea: I think we just about got it all.  Your preparation was impressive [i blush brighter than maraschino cherry juice in a dirty Shirley Temple], and I hope you’ll stay tuned for future projects.

Al K Hall: Hell, if you can put up with me after this i’ll be right there to follow you up the ladder, all the way to the top. Anything you’d like to share with your many fans?

Andrea: The Gates premieres on ABC on June 20, Sunday nights at 10 PM.  It’s a completely compelling series with lots of surprises, so be sure to watch!  Oh, and I just started Twittering on that show and some other stuff I’m working on.  Follow me:  http://www.twitter.com/andipowell or on Facebook.

Al K Hall: i already signed up and i know many of the patronizers in the Bar None will do the same. [i’m counting on you, babes! Let her know i sent you, K?] i’m afraid now it’s time for the dreaded Bar None questionnaire. Don’t worry, just close your eyes and it’ll all be over in a minute. What’s your favorite alcoholic drink?

Andrea: My husband’s gin and tonics on a hot summer day.

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

Andrea: Minor: A few weeks ago with one too many glasses of red wine and not enough water back.  Brutal:  Prince “Musicology” concert.  Champagne.  What felt like a keg of champagne.  Let’s not talk about it.

[Here’s some Prince (from Musicology) to help jog Andrea’s lost memories: “Life o’ the Party”]

Al K Hall: i hear you. Do you smoke?

Andrea: No.  Ew.

Al K Hall: Yeah, i get that a lot. And not just when i’m smoking.  What’s your favorite swear word?

Andrea: When I was living in NYC it was definitely the “f” word.  So versatile.  Now that I’m living a much less stressful life I’d probably say it’s…hmmm…well, it’s probably still the “f” word.  I just feel the need to use it a lot less often.

Al K Hall: Ah, always a lady… Finally, what’s your favorite thing about me, Al K Hall?

Andrea: Your humility, definitely.

Al K Hall: You think that’s big, you should see my ego. Oh, wait, is that your husband coming? Oh man!

[At this point the interview abruptly ends.]

All right, kids, standard disclaimer time. Just as you suspected, i did not have the good fortune of running into Andrea Powell on a Riverboat (and especially not with her as an 18-year-old road tripping in a car-ful of hot ladies filled with booze—the car, not the ladies—on the way to N’awlins). The entire interview was conducted by e-mail over the course of a couple weeks.

i fiddled with my bits to make it read like we’d met face-to-face, but her answers are all hers and have not been altered in any way.

i would like to thank Andrea for all of the time and thought she put into this exchange. She was a sweetheart to accept the challenge and give this a try, especially as her getting the part and starting the shooting for The Gates happened in the middle of our correspondence. She’s as charming, friendly and fun to work with as she comes off in the interview and i’m just hoping i’ve done her justice.

So, BE SURE TO WATCH THE GATES on ABC on June 20, Sunday nights at 10/9c. Andi’s first appearance is in the 3rd episode, but you gotta start watching it from the beginning. You’ll be able to say you knew her when…

Photo by Jordan Matter

If y’all are interested in the other The Booze Talkin’: Exclusive Interviews, just click on the link.

9 thoughts on “The Booze Talkin’: My Exclusive Interview With ANDREA POWELL

  1. Hey Al, that is an awesome interview. Very insightful and interesting. And long. Must have been a blast to chat to her. It’s amazing who you bump into on a river as tiny as the Mississippi!
    And I must now go Google The Gates, and find out more!!!

    • Thanks for the props, Rodney!

      It was certainly a pleasure interviewing her; she has a lot of patience to “sit through” an interview with me, let me tall you.

      i’m excited about seeing her in The Gates. Hopefully she’ll be a superstar in no time and will take me along for the ride!

      Thanks for patronizing me, brother,

      Al K Hall

  2. Like a fine wine, Al goes down smoother with each interview.

    “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” Aww, come on Al, we all know that’s not the whole title!!

    • Cheers, Ken!

      Glad you liked the interview! i’ve amended the song title text, thanks for pointing it out!

      Thanks for patronizing me,

      Al K Hall

  3. Agreed with the first two comments. I just adore how you turn these interviews into short stories — all the puns, the descriptors, the sense of “being there” even though these are done by e-mail. Very nice work.

    I am very impressed with Andrea’s body of work, too. She is a very classy, professional, and consummate actress based on her résumé and written responses here. I’m really interested in The Gates and I hope that the series has great success.

    Kudos to both you and Andrea!

    • P.S. I just checked out the trailer and info for The Gates from the link you put in up there. Looks like it is going to be something like Weeds meets True Blood but for the primetime market on ABC. Interesting!! Lord knows we are going to need something interesting after LOST on ABC is finished! I hope we can check it out here in “Yemen.”

    • Thanks Babe!

      i’m just happy Andrea came off as cool in the interview as she was during our exchanges.

      i agree, The Gates sounds intriguing. We’ll have to find a way to make sure we see it!

      MWAH

      Al K Hall

    • Can you see the real me preacher, preacher
      Can you see the real me preacher
      Can you see, can you see, can you see, oh
      Can you see the real me doctor
      Can you see the real me mother
      Can you see the real me me me me me me me me me me me

      – The who

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