Why the show was banned from filming at USC and what it was like kissing Josh Duhamel
By Lie Shia Ong
Fans of NBC’s “Awake” have been trying to figure out which reality is really real since the show premiered earlier this year. For those familiar with the show, “Awake” follows the life of detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) who is struggling between two realities following a car crash. In one world, his wife Hannah (Laura Allen) is alive, and in the other his son Rex (Dylan Minnette) survives. In order to differentiate between the two realities, Michael wears a red rubber band when his wife is alive and a green one in the world where his son is alive.
In the episode titled “Oregon,” airing on Thursday, March 29, some new clues may be revealed. MSN TV spoke with Laura Allen about what’s ahead.
MSN TV: Happy belated birthday, by the way!
Laura Allen: Oh, you’re so sweet. Thank you! Yeah, it was last week.
Did you have a good one?
I did. I got up to see my family. I brought my son, and my sister just had a baby, so we were surrounded by family. It was a very good birthday.
Are they still in the Pacific Northwest?
That’s where I was. I was up in Seattle over the weekend. I grew up on Bainbridge Island. …I got lucky, too because it was so beautiful! The mountains were out the whole time.
I hear your character has some major developments coming up on the “Oregon” episode. What can you tell us about what’s going to happen?
Michael Britten is solving in the green world the case of a serial killer—Gemini killer. While he’s preoccupied with that, Hannah in the red world has taken initiative and has applied to law school and has actually gone up to Oregon to scout out a collect campus. In doing so, I think we see in Hannah a new sense of hope and renewal, and Dr. Lee (BD Wong) really poses the difficult question to Michael: “Are you sure Hannah really just wants to leave LA, or does she want to leave you?” So, it calls into question our relationship. Many marriages don’t survive the loss of a child. I think we’re confronted if this marriage can survive.
Are fans going to get some sense of resolution in the episode, or is it just going to start pushing forward in that direction?
We have a sit-down kind of come-to-Jesus discussion—Michael and Hannah, and it was beautifully written, and Jason is such a great actor. I won’t give too much away, but Hannah can’t let Michael go. I mean, it’s only through him that she’s still connected to Rex, so they’re able to kind of reach out to each other. It’s some beautiful writing. I’m excited about the episode.
Have you finished shooting all of Season 1?
We are finished with Season 1 and waiting to hear about Season 2. We wrapped at the end of February and it was just in time because I am 7 ½ months pregnant! I’m expecting a baby in June, so they were doing all kinds of makeup, lighting tricks, wardrobe, hiding me behind boxes, that wort of thing.
What was it like working on set while being pregnant? Was it difficult?
I was in my second trimester for most of it, so it was kind of great. A lot of the crew came form “24: and I know they dealt with, what’s her name, she played Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub), she went the full term on that. I think they hit the writers’ strike and she started out not pregnant, and then they came back, and it was 5 o’clock and suddenly she’s like giant-pregnant. So, it’s Hollywood magic. Stunt double and body doubles, so I don’t think you’ll know I’m pregnant.
Are there any memorable moments form shooting that stick out in your memory or is there a particular scene you’re excited for fans to see?
[Laughs]. There’s a scene coming up in I think it might be 2-3 episodes form now where Hannah and Michael go skinny-dipping, and Jason insisted on being bare-assed in the swimming pool and was running all around and we’re talking like 2-3 o’clock in the morning. And we got, as a crew, we got in trouble with the security at USC to the point where, when hey wanted to shoot another scene in our season finale at the USC pool, we are forbidden from going back there! [Laughs] I mean it’s NBC< so I don’t know what they’ll actually show at the end of the day, but I’m sure there’s a lot of raw footage out there of Jason’s naked butt.
I’ll have to YouTube that and see. No, I’m kidding! [Laughs].
[Laughs] It’s got to be out there somewhere.
What do you think sets “Awake” apart from other TV shows that are on the air right now?
Well, anyone who sees it can answer it really well. It’s a copy show and yet we go home with this man and he’s got two worlds and there’s a heart and soul to it that is so beautifully written. I mean, we have the writers from “24,” but we also have Kyle Killen and there’s a broken-hearted man at the center of this who is trying to overcome his loss and trying to hold up these two worlds and sustain them at the price of his own sanity. I think it’s just beautifully done. Gorgeous cast with the likes of Cherry Jones and BD Wong, and we’re really lucky to have the talent behind it.
Fan reaction to this show has been really positive so far. Have they reached out to you and the rest of the cast over the social media sites at all?
You know, at first there was a real tug between is the red world real? Is the green world real? Kind of Team Hannah and Team Rex, and I think as we get going, the point of this is not to root for one side or the other, but to empathize with [Michael’s] struggle—he lost his wife and his song—so I’m noticing on the fans sites like Twitter and the NBC homepage and whatever else is that there’s a real desire to see what’s happened but not necessarily to solve one side or the other.
Speaking of your fans on Facebook and Twitter, when they found out I was going to be interviewing you, they sent in some questions they wanted me to ask. Tom wants to know “do you have a feeling for how long fans will be willing to follow the show without knowing which reality is real, or might there be a third possibility?”
I think these writers are really smart. They won’t ever disappoint the fans by what might bet he obvious choice which is Michael’s dead—if Michael’s in a coma. The truth is, one of these worlds, green or red, is a dream. I don’t know. Dylan doesn’t know. So, I think there could potentially be a third possibility. So, I think [Tom] is really on to something to think that. The end of Season 1 offers a real glimpse into that possibility.
How far in advance do you know the storylines? Do you try to pry info out of the writers to tell you what’s going to happen?
[Laughs] It’s always wardrobe who knows the most first because they have to dress us. No, I truthfully don’t want to know. … I may find out that it’s been a dream all along, and it’s going to hit me hard. I don’t want to know. I do want to know when it comes to are we going to have a fighting scene. And there’s an episode coming up where Michael might get stuck in one world and can’t wake up for the other and those kinds of twists, I love hearing about, but I don’t need to know if I’m dead or alive right now because I just play it like I’m alive.
Angela wrote in “You acted as Leo’s (Josh Duhamel’s) one-wife on “All My Children.” Was he a good kisser? And how do you feel about ‘AMC’ getting canceled?
[Laughs] Oh, I was kind of difficult on “All My Children” because I broke up two super-couples. Leo and Greenlee were a couple—they were so hot on “All My Children” and my character, who was coincidentally named Laura, broke them up for a minute. I did get to kiss Josh and he’s very dreamy and was my first on-camera kiss. I watched his scenes with Rebecca Budig who played Greenlee, and I was like ‘man, they are so sexy!’ and I was intimidated by it. But he was kind with me, being as green as I was, and I think he even came back in the last episodes because they did wrap “All My Children” after 35 years or something. People have gone on to do great things. Susan Lucci is on “Army Wives” now, and she’s on a pilot coming out. It’s sad. But I think daytime soap operas are seeing its last days.
Do you keep in touch with everyone from “All my Children”? Are they watching you on “Awake” now?
It’s so funny you ask that. “All My Children” was almost like a sorority to me because we all started on that show and it was like our first job and it was in New York. Then all of us, in our own time, came out to Los Angeles and so we’ve reconnected. I’m really close with Eden Riegel who played Bianca, Erica Kane’s daughter, and also some smaller roles—Alana de la Garza (Rose Santos) went on to “Law and Order”—she’s a good friend, so a lot of girlfriends from that time. I also keep in touch with Josh because we have the same acting coach.
Any message you want to send out to fans of “Awake”?
Stay tuned. It’s just getting better and better. I mean, it’s sort of like a steam engine and it starts taking off with this storyline and people can’t even imagine where this show can go.
“Awake” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.