There were a lot of expectations when AMC debuted its Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul. Fortunately, critics and audiences love BCS’s quirky story lines and cast. OHSOGRAY recently talked with Julie Ann Emery, who you may also know from HBO’s Masters of Sex, about what she enjoys most about playing the eccentric Betsy Kettleman on BCS. Here’s what she had to say.
What’s the most fun part about playing Betsy Kettleman?
She is so delightfully sure of herself at all times. She so fully believes that she speaks her own world. That her version of truth IS truth. I wish I were as sure of myself as she is. Also, the scenes where Betsy gets under Jimmy’s skin are incredibly fun. I love watching Bob Odenkirk get comedically frustrated across from me. I would be amiss if I left out how glorious it is to get into the Kettleman hive mind with Jeremy Shamos. From an actor point of vies, Betsy’s headspace is so specific and completely unlike anyone I have ever known or played. Getting into her head each episode was both challenging and exhilarating. To change my very thought process in order to play her was truly satisfying.
The Kettlemans are a unique couple. Could you picture yourself being friends with them in real life?
I do not like to be judgmental of the characters I play. I like to accept them as they are fully and completely. I think Betsy would be a fascinating character study in real life. I am not sure I would go so far as saying we could be friends. If I think about it though, Betsy will go to any and all lengths for the people she loves. If you were a friend she loved, that she considered as someone in her circle, she would be a powerful advocate and ally in life.
What can you tell us about season 2 of Better Call Saul?
There are no spoilers in the Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad universe.
What can you tell us about Bob Odenkirk that people don’t know?
Bob is a true family man. He is a supportive friend. He loves to rehearse (a great benefit for those of us stepping in and out of episodes). And he worked harder during Better Call Saul than I have ever seen anyone work. His complete dedication to the role was inspiring and impressive. When Bob would look at me on set after a take, grin, and say “that was funny,” I knew I was doing okay. It made my day when that happened.
I read that your father is a dairy farmer and your mother is a computer analyst. How did you end up with the acting bug and what did they think about it?
There is a small theatre in my home town, The Cumberland County Playhouse. It is part community theatre/part professionals. When I was in High School, a woman on staff at the theatre became our drama teacher, her name was Mel Michel. She heard me sing in a choir concert and asked me to audition for the school play. She eventually took me to my first audition at CCP and taught me what it was like to truly step into another person’s shoes. She changed my life and I am forever grateful.
The show won several Critics Choice Awards. That must feel pretty good to have support of the critics.
I am so thrilled for Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks for their wins! Honestly, there was some skepticism about the spin off before we ever aired. So to be embraced by fans and critics alike was at first a great relief…what am I talking about, it is still a great relief! I really am honored to be part of the show at all. To work with this group of writers, directors, actors….I would have hauled cable or swept the floor on that set. Getting to play Betsy Kettleman, still seems too good to be true.
What has the fan reaction been to your work on the show?
Truly shocking for me. At best, I thought people would ‘love to hate’ Betsy. And there is certainly a fair amount of that. But I never expected The Kettlemans to be embraced the way they have been. I have really enjoyed interacting with the #Kettleheads on social media. The fan art has been AMAZING and if you have not seen any of it, truly impressive. It has been a wonderfully overwhelming experience all around.
What shows are you watching these days? Do you have any favorites?
I am a huge Game of Throes fan. Walking Dead, House of Cards, Grace & Frankie, Veep, Newsroom, and I can’t wait to sit down with Season 3 of Orange is the New Black.
What else are you working on?
I will be on Masters of Sex this season! Yet another talented group of actors and filmmakers on that set. And my character is so much fun!
(Photo: Nogen Beck)