By JOHN CARUCCI and MARK KENNEDY, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — When Tammy Blanchard was offered a juicy part in the film "Union Square," she had one big question: Why me?
The filmmaker Nancy Savoca thought the Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominated actress would be perfect to play an uptight, repressed young woman who lives in an antiseptic apartment.
"When I read the script, I asked her why she thought I could do this," recalls Blanchard. "And she said, 'I just know you can. And you're going to.' And I did it. I fell in love with Nancy and I fell in love with the script and it was on."
In "Union Square," Blanchard and Mira Sorvino play sisters who have become estranged after a tumultuous upbringing in the Bronx.
Blanchard's character has fled to Manhattan's Union Square, where she pretends she's from Maine and lives an organic life. Her chain-smoking sister arrives on her doorstep and throws her life on its head.
For Blanchard, a stunning brunette with pouty lips who is quick to laugh and easily commands attention when she enters a room, the new part was a departure. She says she's more likely to be caught in a bar fight than go organic.
"I am definitely not uptight about anything," she says.
That was made pretty clear during a recent three-episode arc when she jumped aboard the Showtime series "The Big C" playing Giselle, an uninhibited Pilates teacher who has a threesome with Broadway veterans Brian d'Arcy James and John Benjamin Hickey.
"My mother didn't love it but I loved it," she says, cracking up.
Blanchard, 35, burst into stardom when she played a young Judy Garland in the 2001 miniseries "Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows," winning an Emmy in the process. Her film credits include "The Good Shepherd" and "Moneyball."
The actress has just come off a 500-performance run as a sexy, dancing mistress in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," which earned her a Tony nod. Since it ended in May, she's been reconnecting with friends and spending more time with her 4-year-old daughter Ava, named after screen siren Ava Gardner. Blanchard is next to star in Woody Allen's yet-to-be-made film alongside Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin.
She recently sat down with The Associated Press to discuss what it's like having her nights free again, if she'll ever return to the stage and why she finds it difficult seeing "Union Square."
AP: Why is it hard for you to watch the film?
Blanchard: I've seen it twice already and I don't think I could watch it anymore because it's hard for me to see myself so uptight and so against family. It's so opposite of everything I am. And organic? I like a good cheeseburger.
AP: You've worked with theater veterans and actors who have done TV or movies but not theater. Any difference?
Blanchard: The difference between working with actors that have put their time in the theater and just straight film and television actors is that you trust theater actors a lot more. You know that they're seriously more trained than anyone else because theater is the best place to grow as an actor. You need to spend time there if you really want to be great at it, I believe.
AP: What was the end of "How to Succeed in Business" like?
Blanchard: My body doesn't hurt and that's a good thing. I thought I was so much older than I am. Now that I'm not doing the show anymore, I feel more energetic. I'm not so tired. I have a schedule with family and friends. It's just a blessing. It was a jolt at first not having things to do every day and not having somewhere to go and do what I love every day, which is act. But I have my little girl — my beautiful 4-year-old gorgeous girl — and I get to pay attention to her and spend time with her and my family, so it's good. But I've got to get back into it right away. I love acting so much that I have to have that as much as I have to have my time with my kid.
AP: You go for big musicals, small indie films, big blockbusters, TV series, soaps and made-for-TV movies. Which is the one medium you most gravitate toward?
Blanchard: I never had a favorite. I grew up doing stage work as a child and as a teenager, so the stage is my home where I feel most comfortable. Film and television I learned along the way. I've always had people sending me out on auditions and you just play the characters you love in whatever genre it is. As long as you love them, then you'll do them justice.
AP: Will theater still be in your plans?
Blanchard: I'll always be back to the stage. I have no doubt that the stage will always call me back. There will always be a character that no one else can play and I'll be back to play it. I can't wait. I can't wait to come back to the stage.