Life according to Sarah
The Malay Mail
April 8, 2008
by Nur Ainne Johar
WHO is Sarah Shahi?
That was the first thing that came to mind when I landed the assignment to interview the actress. A quick Google search yielded an impressive resume.
The 28-year-old's credentials include Miss Fort Worth USA (1997) and a stint as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader from 1999 to 2000.
Also, she was ranked at 66th in Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list in 2006.
She's also showed up on critics' radar by playing Mexican- American DJ Carmen de la Pica Morales in the drama series The L Word and Sonya Aragon, a stripper who spends the weekend with Tony Soprano in HBO's acclaimed The Sopranos.
It quickly became clear that she's that rare and desirable balance of beauty and talent.
This quickly led her to renowned producers, Rand Ravich and Far Shariat, who eventually gave Shahi a lead role as Detective Dani Reese in their new crime drama Life.
It was a wise choice.
Since its premiere on September 26 last year in the States, the show has become one of NBC's Top 10 money-makers.
Here's what Shahi had to say about her Life experiences.
What was it about your character Dani Reese that appealed to you?
I was immediately interested when I read it. I really like playing characters that are not just a bunch of fluff. I like the fact that she has a dark side and she has some demons that she needs to overcome. There's a struggle within her, given her alcohol and drugs past. She has a struggle with her father. So there's a lot of dynamics going on with her. She's not a simple character at all. But then I also found out Rand Ravich and Far Shariat, our executive producers, were wonderful and very well-respected in the business. I really wanted to work with them. And so it was a combination of great script, great story, great characters and good people involved.
Will we get to see more of Dani's past as the story progresses?
I think so. You guys are launching season one. There are bits and pieces of her past that come out in season one. But in season two, which we will begin shooting in May, we are going to dive even deeper into the ghosts of her past.
You played roles that were very cheeky in the past while this role is a lot more serious. How did you prepare for this role?
It started with the practical stuff first, I went gun training for about three months. I went to the gun range just to make sure the gun was an extension of my arm, so I can be really comfortable with that. It's really a matter of tapping into that side and letting it come out. I have a cheeky side and a dark side. My cheeky side came out in the previous roles and I'm glad that the network took a chance on me, knew that I could play this role and gave me the opportunity to do so.
When you play a female cop in Life, how do you make your role believable?
Thank you for saying that it's believable! I have a great cast around me that makes it look like I know what I am doing. But I don't know. I try to stay true to her story and how she feels. I try to ground her. I think Dani is a grounded character and she's the realist. I think it's the combination of the stuff that go on inside of me with the script provided.
How is Life different from other dramas?
There are a lot of cop shows around. There are lots of legal shows but I think this one is very different. Not only because you have the crime of the week which we solve; on top of that, there is an on-going case which is the Charlie Crews conspiracy. And everyone is involved in that one. Everything finally comes to a head at the end of the first season. There's that. And we have really great characters that are really well written. And everyone has got their ghosts, their problems and their past. I think it's a fun show. There's a lot of humour in the show. The show doesn't take itself too seriously, but it definitely has its dramatic beats at the same time.
Your character is both serious and funny at the same time. Was it hard to play that?
There are times when it's hard for me. Thank God I have a group of wonderful people around me who make me know what I am doing. For the most part, our job is to tell the story and my story is maybe more complex than the others. But she's very sarcastic. She's a no bull-shit kind of girl. I don't think she's hard to play. I hope I have done a good enough job for the viewers to enjoy her. I think we are definitely going to see a much bigger side of her in the second season than in the first season.
What's it like working with Damian Lewis on and off set?
Horrible (laughs)! He's one of the most charming fellows I have ever met! I love working with Damian. We got along very well. We bicker with each other. He is a wonderful actor to work, with and all of the co-stars are. I work with him and I learn from him. We have a great chemistry together and I think it shows on-screen. We really have a great time working with each other. You know, Damian really likes me! It's hard because he has such a big crush on me (laughs) and I have to reject him so many times! I'm just kidding! I don't want to get him into any trouble.
Life has many layers to it. Do you and Damian have any theory about where the show is going?
I have no theory! Maybe if you have it, you can help me out. We get the script at the beginning of every week. We don't have any idea as to where it's going to go. They can take us to any direction anytime. I actually prefer it that way because the script is so well- written that I want to be part of the audience myself. I'd like to be in suspense and wait to read the next script to find out what happens. I don't really want to know too much ahead of time. I think that kills the excitement of it.
You started your career as a cheerleader and you posed for men's magazines. Do you think there will be a point where you say `that's enough'?
No. As long as it remains true to the storyline, I am not going to do a nude scene just to be nude. I feel like that can take you out of the story and all the sudden you are watching a very different show. Given the right time and the story, I would actually be as uncovered as I would need to be. My mother is Spanish and she raised me, this is going to sound weird, but from the time when I was 10 years old, she said there's no difference between your hands and your breast. And she's a very liberal woman and she's born and raised in Spain. She's beautiful and she's very open. She's very European in that sense. So I wouldn't do it just to be nude but if it makes sense to the story I would do it.
You have an extremely cool mom!
You are one of the fashion icons in Hollywood. But what you wear on the show is very different. How do you feel about wearing your wardrobe on the show?
I'm fine with it. My body is not mine when I am working. I am a character and I am someone completely different from real life. And I am fine with it and I don't have a problem with it at all. But I have heard that the network is planning to loosen a few buttons on her shirt and sex her up a little bit! But trust me I love being buttoned-up. During much of my career, I have walked around half- naked with The L Word and the men's magazines. So I am more than happy to be covered up from head to toe.
You have been listed as one of Maxim's "Hot 100." Why do you think people think you are sexy? And would that get in the way of getting more serious roles?
That's such a weird question (laughs). Maybe you should ask the boys that question. The boys should be able to answer that question better than I could. It has in the past kept me from getting more serious roles because in the past I made my living [by playing] the hot girlfriend. And it wasn't until Life came along that someone gave me an opportunity to play something other than that. Life has opened up a lot of doors for me and people in LA don't even recognise me! When they found out that I play Dani Reese, they can't believe it's me. That's a compliment in a way. So yes, it's been difficult in the past but hopefully, with the continued success of the show, I will become busier.
And go get some boy and ask them the first question! I want to know what they think (laughs)!
If you are confronting a burglar, will you give up your life or your money?
I will tell him take my money and give me my life because I can make the money back.
Are you married now?
No I am not married. But my fiancee, my dogs and my bottle of tequila make my life very happy.
Will you ever come to Asia?
Oh yes! Are you kidding me, I would love to come to Asia! I have been in China, I went to Guilin. That's the only Asian country I have been to. So I would love to come back.
From: Life according to Sarah by Nur Ainne Johar
Source: The Malay Mail, 4/8/2008.
Via: HighBeam™ Research
Copyright 2008 The Malay Mail