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Q&A – Lauren Hodges (Tanya MacGaffin)

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Lauren Hodges, who plays API analyst Tanya MacGaffin, spoke exclusively with AMCtv.com about getting her start as an electrician, the most challenging thing about playing Tanya, and the scariest person on the set.

Q: I read that you started out working as an electrician. How did you go from that to being on Rubicon?

A: To me it’s kind of a no-brainer. I had grown up around the theater, and the first thing I got curious about was the lights. So I asked people questions and learned, and eventually people put me to work and then they paid me. After that, I got curious about acting and kind of the same thing happened. How I ended up on Rubicon, I have absolutely no idea. I auditioned, but beyond that I have no idea. The big thing was there was no plan.

Q: When you read the scene where Tanya tells Miles she failed her drug test, did you think you were about to be written off the show?

A: I was positive I was being fired. I’m always positive I’m being fired. TV isn’t really known for job security. So I was putting on my happy face and going about the day. I was actually on my way to my dressing room to clean it out when I bumped into my boss Henry Bromell, the show runner, who is usually not on set but he was on set that day. He just kind of blurted out, “Oh, by the way, you’re not fired.” [Laughs] I was like, “Oh, good. Thanks.” He was very empathetic, because he’s a writer so he’s been there.

Q: That’s great that he knew.

A: That is exactly where my head was. I was already like, “Oh well. It was a nice job. Good people. Learned a lot.” My philosophy with TV is that everyday I’m there, I’m happy. Every day I’m still employed, I consider it a win.

Q: It looked like your character was getting fired, but then Truxton Spangler surprised her by offering to help her with her drug problem. Have you gotten a break from someone you would not expect in your acting career?

A: This job was a huge break. Tanya had two lines in the pilot, and I thought she was just going to drop off paperwork or pop her head in and act strange occasionally. But I really like AMC and I just wanted to work for them. Then the writers ended up giving Tanya this great arc. Every script was a constant surprise.

Q: Is working with Michael Cristofer as intimidating as working with his character, Truxton Spangler?

A: Cristofer is intimidating at first because he won the Pulitzer and he directed Streep and De Niro. When I met him, I kind of geeked and acted odd, because I do that. But he’s actually the warmest, easygoing, nicest human being. When I think of Cristofer, I think of fuzzy teddy bear. And he’s very fun to work with because he usually has at least one curveball in his pocket. You’re not going to get just what’s on the page.

Q: Is there anything from the show that you can’t get out of your head?

A: There’s one episode, and I’ll never admit which one, that I kind of hate my performance. But life moves forward but not backwards — What is it? — We live life forwards and understand it backwards.

Q: What is the most challenging thing about playing Tanya? What’s the most fun?

A: Tanya always comes from completely out of left field. It would take me a while to get to where she might be coming from. When you look at the script, it seems like she’s not doing much and then all of a sudden she completely falls apart. Of course, you have to trace that back. My running joke was that she suffers way too much. I’m hoping in season two she gets a few more jokes, maybe a boyfriend, something lighter. The other thing was that she dresses strange. I’m hoping in season two she sobers up enough to dress a little better. And then the most fun thing would obviously be a season two.

Click here to read an interview with Christopher Evan Welch, who plays fellow API analyst Grant Test.

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