Ellen's Wife's Wishes
It's hard to know where to start with Portia de Rossi: Do we get straight into the gay marriage chatter or let the newlywed talk up her character on ABC's upcoming comedy Better Off Ted? Since she agreed to sit down to talk Ted, SheKnows decided to start there.
Di Rossi stars in Better Off Ted, set to premiere March 18. The show revolves around the often disturbing and absurd offices of Veridian Dynamics -- a massive conglomerate that's leading the charge in creating the seemingly impossible, be that a weaponized pumpkin or cowless meat.
A familiar allySome may immediately recognize a similarity to de Rossi's character Nelle from Ally McBeal. The actress doesn't shy away from the parallel, but does make one big distinction.
"It has a similarity in that she's very strong, very determined, but Veronica is funnier than Nelle," de Rossi maintains. "The dialogue is crisper, wittier and funnier. I'm Australian, and I grew up watching the BBC and admiring comedians like John Cleese: I get a sense of that kind of absurdist, hyper-real humor in my character, and that's what I really enjoy playing in this."
One might assume her work as Nelle made landing this new role a cinch, but Portia says that wasn't the case at all.
"When I first met Victor (Fresco, executive producer), I was very excited about the script and was talking about Ally McBeal, assuming that he had seen it: He hadn't!" de Rossi recalls with a laugh. "So he made me audition and I had to convince him that I could play this character well. I kind of threw myself at him, saying, 'I played this character, Nelle Porter, who has similar qualities in that she was very work-driven, strong, insensitive and slightly chilly.'"
If de Rossi had little trouble stepping into Veronica's shoes, however, Veronica's hallways posed a bit more of a stretch. It's not like this beauty has ever had a desk job!
"I actually think that's part of what's so interesting about this show for all of us," she considers. "We're actors. We don't really know what it's like to work in an office place. I don't think anyone's really had a job like that, where we all live in cubicles."
Arrested Development movie?
Her new character may rank as her fave, but that doesn't mean she's going to leave Arrested Development fans hanging. Crushed by the Fox show's 2006 cancellation, a very vocal group has been tracking the chances of seeing a movie made -- and chances are finally looking good.
"I enjoyed making Arrested Development and would love to do the movie," de Rossi promises. "It's not scheduled to shoot yet and I don't think it's fully green-lit, but I know the cast (including Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter and narrator Ron Howard) is all on board. Everyone has moved on and are all very busy, so we just have to figure out when we can all do it, but it will be soon, and it is definitely happening, according to (show creator) Mitch Hurwitz. I'm excited about it."
Playing it straight
As one of comedies hottest beauties, de Rossi has made a career of playing the straight-man – or should we say, straight woman.
"It's so important to live an honest, open life and I didn't really realize that until I started doing it. I guess you grow up thinking that you have to please everybody. You think that being gay is not going to please some people, and maybe some networks and executive producers. But I just have to do my own thing."
These two funny women have remained completely open about their relationship from the start, even sharing wedding photos with the public when they tied the knot in August 2008.
Those feelings quickly translate from the personal to the political, especially when considering California's Prop 8, the controversial 2008 measure that changed the state Constitution to include the phrase, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
In the meantime, she'll continue enjoying life with Ellen, while diving into her new show, Better Off Ted. Catch the premiere on ABC March 18.