Not So Wicked
Kristin Chenoweth talks to The Daily Beast about her faith, her work ethic, and pitches an idea to Lorne Michaels.
Kristin Chenoweth talks to The Daily Beast about her faith, her work ethic and pitches an idea to Lorne Michaels.
How did you find the time to write a book? So many people say they will, but few actually do.
I didn’t think I had it in me either. Simon & Schuster came to me and said I was a person of interest. At first I was like “Uh, no, because I’m not Shakespeare and I’m not going to try to be.” Then after they were asking me questions about my life, I thought maybe that [my journey] would be inspiring and helpful to some people. There’s a misconception about me, that I’m just happy and perfect all the time. I’m the most imperfect person I know, and I have my really bad days. Whether you’re in show business or not, everybody has dreams. Writing about how I achieved some of the dreams and how much more I want to do was really important.
“There’s a misconception about me, that I’m just happy and perfect all the time. I’m the most imperfect person I know, and I have my really bad days.”
You’re in the middle of so many projects, will another book be warranted in a few years?
People have asked me, “On your deathbed, are you going to give it up? Are you going to do the tell-all?” I think that I won’t, because I like to think I’m a little classier than that, but you never know. [ Laughs] I do have a lot of good stories I didn’t tell. There have been nasty people and the loves that were never mentioned, so maybe when I’m 90—if I make it—I’ll do it.
What’s your advice for those trying to make their start on Broadway?
New York is competitive enough that unless you’re just born with perfect pitch and know how to read music and can act perfectly and know how to dance, why would you need to rush here at 18? If I moved to New York when I was 18, I would have never stayed because I personally wouldn’t have been able to make it. My biggest advice is to get your education and your training, because you can only get better. College is a time to really grow as a person. People think, “Wow, things came easy for her.” No, they didn’t! I worked my butt off, and when I came [to New York], I worked my butt off again. I still work my butt off, train, and study. You have to continue to do things to improve your craft and hone it.
Next month you’re performing in a gala evening at the New York City Center. How important is it to work on your voice?
Singing is my passion, for sure. Acting, to me, is part of singing and dancing. It’s all an extension of who we are as artists. We sing because we can’t speak anymore. I do think if I were to lose my voice it would kill me.
You discuss your “First Four Great Loves” including West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin. Was there any hesitation to include your romances?
Of course there is because you think, “Where are we going to be?” I always feel like it was a pretty public relationship and people know about it, and for me not to include it would be almost weird. It was a huge chapter of my life, and I happened to fall in love with someone who is one of the best writers we have alive today, so I am a very lucky girl that he said he would write about how we met. I’m so grateful for that and grateful I had that relationship. I will always love him. He’s a very special person.
Much of your book focuses on your faith and upbringing—how difficult is it to maintain that in a business where religion is considered very private?
For me, it’s a part of who I am, so it’s not like I wear it on my sleeve. If people ask me, I’m going to tell them what works for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll judge them for not believing. I work with all kinds of people with all kinds of faith or no faith, and I don’t judge them. I also want to say that I think it takes a lot of faith to not believe in something, just as much as it takes faith to believe in something. When people judge me and say, “How can you believe in God?” I say, “How can you not?” It takes just as much faith and work to do that.
Your book tour is going to Oklahoma. What kind of homecoming do they give you?
I do think they’re giving me a book party, which is really cool. I’ll see a lot of people from my past. My brother teases me and says, “If they could give you a freaking street, they would.” They always say: You can take the girl out of Oklahoma, but you can’t take the Oklahoma out of the girl, and it’s absolutely the truth. I always wonder who’s going to come from high school, and if the girl who wanted to beat me up in eighth grade is going to show up.
Is it fair that ABC is dumping the last three episodes of Pushing Daisies at 10 p.m. on Saturday nights?
The fact they’re airing them means I’m going to give them credit. We worked hard on those last three episodes. There’s been talk with [show creator] Bryan Fuller about making a movie, because when we finished we didn’t know we were done and there are a lot of unanswered questions in those last three episodes. He’s also in the works to do a comic-book series on it. I can’t believe the show is gone. I’m still in a little bit of mourning over it.
How far along in development is the film?
I talked to Bryan and he keeps promising that he’s working on it, but you know how writers are. I’m hoping within the next couple of years you’ll see Olive, Ned, Chuck, and Emerson back at work.
You’re also making an appearance in Fox’s hyped new show Glee about a high-school glee club.
The show is fantastic and I love the role that [ Nip/Tuck creator] Ryan Murphy wrote for me. I play a girl that was kind of a big deal in high school for glee, and people thought she would go on and be a big success, and when we find her, let’s just say…she’s not. She gets to go back to school because she never graduated. I get to sing three really awesome songs. The kids were amazing to work with, and a lot of my scenes were with Matthew Morrison, who is such a talent.
Can you manage that role and Skippy Pylon, who’s described as “a cheerful and brilliant attorney who nonetheless exhibits flashes of psychosis” in your new legal drama?
We’re waiting to see what happens with Legally Mad. I can’t really do anything until I know if that gets picked up or not. Of course I have high hopes there too. It’s David E. Kelley and another really great role that he wrote for me. I’ve always wanted to work with him, and I’ve finally got my chance. We’ll just have to wait and see.
And finally—do you ever get mistaken for Amy Sedaris, another blonde with a multifaceted career?
I haven’t actually. That’s so funny! I’ve gotten Cameron Diaz, Kate Bosworth, but I’ll take Amy. I think she’s a lovely girl, and she’s funny! We should go on Saturday Night Live as sisters.
Kara Cutruzzula is an assistant editor at The Daily Beast.