Charlotte Sullivan plays rookie cop Gail Peck on ABC’s “Rookie Blue.” Gail meets Holly on the job and Holly stirs up feelings that Gail never experienced. It’ll be interesting to see where this leads next season!
You’ve been acting since you were a kid. Did you, and do you now, have an acting coach?
I just started training at Ivana Chubbuck’s studio. My manager is dear friends of hers and arranged a meeting. Her method is substitution based whereby you take what’s unresolved in your current life experience and inject it into your art. It’s still very new to me but it’s important to train and keep yourself busy in between jobs. For years I would sign up for classes and just never go because I was afraid of not being good enough. I didn’t realize this until now but class is where you’re supposed to eat shit and fail.
Is it true that you wanted to act because you liked David Bowie in “Labyrinth” and Johnny Depp in “Edward Scissorhands?” Why’d you get into acting?
This question has left me flummoxed. Heffalumps & weasels!?!? Why do I act? I saved this one for last because I don’t know how to answer it. The reason I started acting in the beginning was because I loved fantasy and transformation. I think prosthetics and make-up are beautiful. There is a real artistry to molding ones face into a completely different entity. Bowie & Depp both inspire me to be more experimental in my expression. They’re just the cat’s whiskers. The hard part about acting is what you do with yourself when your not working. It’s important for me to get offline and limit my internet usage and instead read more books, enroll in courses that ignite my creativity, look at the stars, take more Polaroids, volunteer in my community, seek adventure and be more reckless and irresponsible or else I would have to slit my wrists from restlessness and boredom.
Your “Rookie Blue” character, Gail, is super snarky. Was this a feature of the character from day one or did the snarkiness evolve as you felt more comfortable in the role? Did the writers just make Gail snarky or did they choose to do that after seeing your early performances and knew you could pull it off?
From day one Gail was supposed to be a snotball. Her last name Peck was chosen because she pecks at people. When you’ve been playing a character for so long your own eccentricities are bound to barf out of you every now and then. Our writers are like covert spies so you have to be careful what you say or it will end up in the show.
Gail’s sexuality was never really revealed in earlier seasons. In your character’s mind, did Gail think that everyone at the wedding would think she was gay because her +1 was Holly?
I don’t think at that point Gail had started thinking about Holly in that way. You have to remember that Ms. Peck doesn’t have many friends. I think she was just grateful her date wasn’t a dingleberry.
A lot of people can’t separate emotional and physical feelings. In Gail’s case, it appears she’s straight but develops emotional feelings for Holly, which make her want to physically be with Holly. In your mind at the end of Season 4, what is Gail’s sexual preference?
I’m not sure I’m ready to define it or if one really needs to. I think if Gail had been born deaf, dumb and with no eyeballs she still would have been drawn to Holly. It’s not about gender in this case. It’s about when your heart splits open and it’s guts are splatter all over the walls. It’s about falling in love.
In Season 1 of “Rookie Blue”, why did you suspect Gail might have lesbian tendencies? Do you do table reads on “Rookie Blue”?
I’ve always questioned Gail’s sexuality and I casually mentioned it four years ago to our show runner Tassie Cameron. She thought it was a beautiful idea and I’m honored she made it part of my character arc. Certainly not everything I suggest will make it into the show. I may or may not have asked if I could wear a green wig and pretend I was a near sighted robot. Whoopsie daisies!! Table reads are indeed a very important part of the creative process. It allows for you to stitch the show together with imaginative knitting needles.
What happened behind the scenes prior to actress Aliyah O’Brien (who plays Holly) briefly kissing you and you passionately kissing Aliyah in the precinct? Was there any “kiss” preparation? Did you and Aliyah pretend to giggle or something to make light of it? Did you discuss anything at all amongst yourselves?
If my foggy/senile memory serves me correct I can remember eating lots of chocolate mini eggs beforehand. Doing intimate scenes of any kind are usually inelegant and uncomfortable but in a strange way I think being two women made it easier. Both Aliyah and myself agreed to pretend like we weren’t nervous. That would be our secret. It really helps having a scene partner who’s as warm and delightful as Ms. O’Brien but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. I was the lucky toad in that scene.
Charlotte’s Twitter: “I’m not on twitter. You can reach me by air balloon telegram.” Charlotte’s website: http://www.charlottesullivan.net. What’s not to love about Charlotte?!
How’d you meet your husband, Peter Stebbings, and how do you maintain a positive relationship with him since you’re both in the business of crazy hours and different locations?
I met my husband years ago in a graveyard. Our schedules don’t often align so at times it can be frustrating but when the cat’s away the mice do play. Dolly Parton who’s been married for 47 years says the secret to a happy and successful marriage is to “stay gone”. What a wise butterfly she is.
Have you ever had a crush on a girl in real life?
Women are the sweet nectar of this earth. I’m quite mesmerized and infatuated by many, particularly Evan Rachel Wood. I love watching her performances. What a talented bean. It certainly helps playing my character when I love and adore women so much.
What excites you the most about your “Rookie Blue” character Gail? What do you dislike the most about her?
I’m over the moon by my storyline this year and I’m so excited to get back to work with Aliyah. The response from LGBT people has been gobsmacking. I’m so bloody honored that I get to represent them on television and I would do anything to defend and protect the gay community. They mean everything to me. I gypsy wish (hand on crystal ball) for marriage equality. P.S. I dislike Gail’s wonky nose and noodle arms.
Anything else you’d like to say?
This advice is particularly geared towards young girls who are first starting out in this business. If you’re ever in a situation where a producer or director wants you to wear something or do something that you don’t feel is apropos and I’m talking about when things are being sprung on you the last moment that you didn’t agree to beforehand – if you ever feel uncomfortable say so and know that you don’t have to. I once lied and said I was a bible thumping Christian to get out of doing a nude scene. When I finally confessed my sins to the director after filming had wrapped she applauded me and said she would have done the same thing. Know your rights and lie if you have to. You’re never to be repeated again in the history of human kind so don’t go against your true authentic self. I stand by you.
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