Katharine McPhee on Singing, Acting, and 'Community'

by Nick Zaino, posted Mar 11th 2010 2:03PM
Katharine McPhee in 'Community'Katharine McPhee is a singer turned actor made famous as a singer by a television show (more specifically, by 'American Idol'). If that's hard for fans to figure out, imagine how it feels for McPhee, who has a new album out, 'Unbroken,' a pilot for NBC called 'The Pink House,' and a guest appearance tonight on 'Community,' playing the stepdaughter of Chevy Chase's character. In between that, she's shifting tour dates around to accommodate her shooting schedule.

It's clear McPhee is where she wants to be, but it can leave her a bit scattered. "I'm just really grateful that I'm a person who doesn't just have to rely on one thing," she said in a recent media conference call, "because I'm a real - I mean I'm not ADD but two of my friends used to joke - my husband always jokes like that I'm ADD just because I can't really focus on something for very long."

McPhee grew up in Los Angeles, and though she says singing was her first love ("That was the first thing I knew as a kid I was good at," she says), she was an aspiring actor in high school. She remembers "creepy talent scouts" approaching her and her mother at the mall, telling them that young Katharine could be in movies and trying to scam them into taking acting courses. The extra attention made her a bit shy.

"I was always really actually nervous about doing acting as a kid," she says. "Something about it made me nervous. I don't know if it was maybe I was a little shy. I definitely was a little shy like meeting new people and I think that's what scared but, it wasn't really until high school that I got passionate - really passionate about both."

It was just a matter of which broke first for her. She had an MTV pilot that didn't work out, and then made the cut on 'American Idol,' which put her in front of a huge audience as a singer. "I was going out for pilot season and films and then just sort of fell into doing the 'Idol' show," she says, "and obviously music was always something that I wanted to pursue. But as soon as the show was over I got to like take time to go back and really focus on trying to pursue the acting a little bit more. And then, you know, I did House Bunny and stuff."

Katharine McPhee on 'Community'McPhee released her first album (appropriately titled 'Katharine McPhee') in 2007, and the next year, as she mentions, she was in the Anna Faris movie 'The House Bunny,' playing one of the sorority sisters (and also singing in the music video that played over the closing credits). She also tested for the NBC drama 'Trauma,' which was canceled before the first season was over.

That turned out to be a happy turn of events, as McPhee was the first major casting in 'The Pink House,' playing a Midwestern girl living in L.A. (Michael Cassidy was recently cast as one of the leads). "My character is the anti Hollywood," she says. "She doesn't worry about the calorie consumption she's taking in. She is very, you know, a nice girl but says what's on her mind."

McPhee doesn't see herself as a strictly comic actress, but those are the roles that have been coming her way. She admires actors like Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan who have done drama and comedy. "I've always like kind of seen myself more doing more like dramatic or dramatic stuff," she says. "I love both. They're just so different, and of course I would love the opportunity to do more serious films, as well. I grew up loving the actresses who could like pull off the really sweet comedy but also had their moments of real heart in the pictures that they've been in and that's just something that I hope to aspire to."

Things may get even more complicated for McPhee. She's up for a role in a Judd Apatow film (by the time this is posted, she may have already auditioned). If she lands the role, she'll be juggling music, TV, and a film shooting schedule. She'll be trying to prove herself all over again, as she did with 'Idol' audiences, with 'Pink House' casting directors, as she has for her entire career.

"I've got to go and meet this director," she says, "and it's like there are you are again, right on the stage, being set up to perform or, you know, either you perform or you fail. And it's always that, like, fine line."

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I like the blond look, but I'm sure Katharine McPhee did it to get people talking about her. Guess what...it worked! Some of you will be happy to learn that the hair is going back to brown for her role in the sitcom pilot "The Pink House."

March 20 2010 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What happened to her beautiful hair.... she's still very attractive... but why??? Her hair was amazing!!!! and blonde??? well??? Who am I.. no one.. just making a comment.....

March 16 2010 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She looks ridiculous with blonde hair.

March 11 2010 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to JennyL's comment

I love Katharine McPhee


March 11 2010 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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