Recently scoring roles in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 and on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Hightown (STARZ), Kate Miller is about to have a year to remember. With her role as Vivian Abetemarco in CBS’s Blue Bloods and as seen on Hulu’s RAMY, Miller is no stranger to the screen. Also known for her stage work, she has appeared on Broadway with Carol Burnett in the comedy-farce Moon Over Buffalo & Sir Peter Hall’s revival of Amadeus with Michael Sheen. Now, Miller tells The Tidbit about her upcoming projects and the advice she would give those looking to pursue a career in film.
The Tidbit: Congratulations on being cast in both The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Hightown! What can you tell us so far about both projects?
Kate Miller: Not much! Suffice it to say, I’m thrilled to be attached to both of these projects in any capacity. They are both incredibly topical and important stories. The film is about the seven people who were charged with conspiracy by the federal government as a result of the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The series is about the opioid crisis that far too many of our American communities have fallen victim to. Both very necessary stories that need to be told. Especially given our current political and socioeconomic climate.
TT: You’re in good company with Sorkin and Bruckheimer. What has been your favorite collaboration (either with an actor or director) so far in your career?
KM: Favorite collaboration? Definitely Carol Burnett. Working with her at such a young age did wonders for me, in terms of both craft and confidence. She taught me so much. Spending a year on Broadway with her was the most defining experience as an actress I’ve had to date. I also really enjoyed my time with Sam Waterston on Law & Order. I also did a pilot back in the day that Glenn Gordon Caron created & Bob Balaban directed. Those two cats are pretty cool!
TT: You’re also on CBS’s Blue Bloods and Hulu’s RAMY. How is it to juggle so many different projects?
KM: It’s tough straddling the coasts, but I’m also living my dream. I’ve always thought of myself as a “blue collar” actress. Work is work. What’s coming down the pike? I tend to be a yes person. I just love to work. I joke that I’ve done everything in this business short of porn and infomercials. I’m proud that I’m capable of doing so many things in so many genres. I think that’s your job if you are an actor. Do a commercial, some animation/voice over, some daytime and primetime TV, some theatre & film. An actor acts.
TT: What is your process like when preparing for a role?
KM: I’ve studied a lot of different techniques with a lot of teachers in my career. I’ve finally found my true love in the Warner Loughlin Technique. (It’s a wonderful book, by the way.) It’s pure psychological excavation and the most analytical and creative approach to acting I’ve found. It can be exhausting digging up past painful experiences and reliving them and using only yourself to draw from all of the time. I start with the givens of the character, then I develop some core knowledge for them. Whatever emotions might be tied to the character come quite easily after that. Then I imagine some flashes of memory from the character’s past – not mine personally. It’s a lot of writing. It’s almost like a dissertation. I do this now no matter how small or large the role. I feel my work is far more believable when I do this. I’m able to commit in a way I wasn’t before. I also tend to write out the dialogue to help me memorize it faster. And I must be totally alone when doing all of the aforementioned. Oh, I also try to get a lot of sleep! Being well rested makes me look better and my brain work better, too!
TT: Your background is in theater. What was it like transitioning from stage to screen?
KM: I think it was Michael Caine who once said that acting on the stage is like surgery with a scalpel and acting for the camera is like surgery with a laser. I think that sums it up perfectly. I tend to call on my old friend Les Ismore for camera work. In terms of character development – totally the same.
TT: Following the path of acting is a rigorous one. What advice do you have for people looking to delve into the industry?
KM: My advice is, make sure it is a CALLING – not a novel whim. Or because it looks like a fun life and you and your ego would like to be famous. This business is over-saturated like never before, mainly because celebrity is rewarded over talent. If you want to be an actor – it chooses YOU. You literally feel like your soul is dying if you don’t get to do it. (Whether that’s a class, or community theatre or professional work.) If you’re experiencing those feelings, trust your inner urgings and go for it. Make your own content. Never stop studying. Surround yourself with people who get you and are as passionate about your dreams as you are. There’s enough abundance in the world for everyone!
Photo credit: Matt Doyle