We had the honor of sitting down with Surviving Jack‘s star Claudia Lee when she came through Atlanta last week. She chatted with us about the new Fox series, 90’s fashion, and supporting her friends.
FanBolt’s Interview with Claudia Lee
Can you walk us through how you became involved with Surviving Jack?
Claudia Lee: Yeah, it was a really fun process. I had a meeting with our head casting director and from the get-go I think she really fell in love with me. I think personally, in my inner gut, that they kind of already had me picked in a way. I met with Bill Lawrence, Patrick Schumacher, Justin Halpern. It was really cool; it was an exciting meeting. It was cool to just see them and talk with them. They worked with Donald Faison on Scrubs and I worked with him that past summer on Kick-Ass 2, and we were talking about that and how cool he is. We just kind of bonded.
At the end of the day I was like, “If I get this, I get this and I’m so thrilled and elated, but I’m so happy I got to work with them for these thirty minutes and just chat and create and talk about the project.” Then, I tested for Fox which was really exciting and then we filmed the pilot, and it’s been a year later. So it’s kind of cool to look back and look at the process of how this show’s evolved.
With your opening credits but it’s kind of a montage of ‘90s themes. With like the Full House graphic in there. I know we grew up watching TGIF. It kind of feels in a way, like one of those shows – but modernized.
Claudia Lee: Yeah, definitely.
Do you know if that was an intention of the show?
Claudia Lee: I don’t know if that was an intention. I think those shows inspired us because in fact, like those shows were very relatable. They were very real. You watch Married with Children and you sat down and you felt like you were kind of a part of their family and as dysfunctional and quirky as they all were, it was really exciting to watch them. I don’t think that was kind of like a design for our show but I definitely think it was an inspiration to kind of go for that, because if you look at TV now it’s kind of hard to find that nowadays, which is really sad. It’s really cool that we have these amazing writers that have written so many awesome episodes. If you guys love the pilot, the episodes after the pilot just keep getting better. The storylines are growing and the characters, you learn more about them and see more of who they are and it’s really cool.
Now with your character, we got to see a bit of your hijinks with some guys in the few episodes. What else are we going to see from your character?
Claudia Lee: You get to see a very cool wardrobe. She never repeats an outfit. You definitely get to see her join the wrestling team. [laughs] Yeah. You get to see her stand up for what she believes in for the Homecoming Dance. That’s something that she’s very passionate about, that viewers might be like, wow that’s a little daunting that a teenager’s passionate about that. Also, what else do you get to see Rachel go through? You get to see Rachel just kind of be a little bit naive about life and her boyfriend and how things are kind of going to go. She has this vision of what she wants to be and at the end of the day, she knows she going to get there whether or not if it’s based on her good looks or however she gets there. So, that’s kind of the struggle that you get to see her and Jack kind of fight about. Not fight, but kind of bicker about, because he wants his daughter to reach for all of these goals and she just knows that she can get by with her good looks.
Speaking of fashion, you have an incredible sense of style.
Claudia Lee: Oh, thank you!
So, I’m kind of curious how that transition from your style to the ‘90s style, which … I hated ‘90s fashion.
Claudia Lee: Really? I loved it! I think it was so cool. Marion Toy, our designer for the show, did such an amazing job. She would go to flea markets; she would go to people who had these collections of clothes from the ‘90s that were from Contempo-Casual, or whatever you call it, that still had tags on them that people never wore. It was so cool to see her mix and match modern day clothes from Urban Outfitters, because style now is kind of going back towards the ‘90s. Especially Urban Outfitters and the hipster crowd. It was really cool. I was so excited to see what outfit I was wearing every day. There was one awesome outfit. It’s a two-piece. It’s black with orange dragons on it. It was like orange, purple, and it’s a turtleneck, it’s a crop top, and it’s all matching. So it was just really cool. And the bigger the hair the better for me. I love that.
Have you gotten any say in the fashion?
Claudia Lee: Yeah, definitely. There was not an outfit that I didn’t like. I mean, there was one thing that I tried on that I was like, this is not my character, but other than that it was really, really cool.
Now, I figure you have to have some interesting stories from the set working with Christopher Meloni. Can you share any of those with us?
Claudia Lee: Yeah, Chris is such a very professional and intense person on and off the screen and I think people look at him and they see his work in the past from being on Oz and being on Law and Order, and they’re like, wow, okay he must be really uncomfortable to be around. But working with Chris is such a joy, and I love spending time with him and seeing him take on this new role, and just how he is with his family in real life is amazing. I hang out with his thirteen year old daughter, and it’s just really cool, and we kind of bonded over that.
Fun stories on set? Literally, there’s so many that I can’t even count. There’s one episode where we had this crazy gag, and I can’t really reveal much, but it involved a pool and it involved people getting really wet and it involved people being thrown in the air. He was really cool about it and really funny. And you saw these people who were kind of the victims and they were just like, “Okay this is dangerous”, and he was like, “Hell yeah. Next one, which one, whose up?” So he was really cool for that. And how he would, not direct and give his opinion, but just how he saw the scene, and it’s just a very open vibe. We could constantly try to find a way to make the scene as good as it could be, not good, as amazing as it could be. We would spend our rehearsal times, which usually should be like ten minutes, done, put down the tape, lighting, you’re good? We would spend like twenty to twenty-five minutes discussing the scene, how they thought that it could be better, us kind of just playing around, talking with Justin and Patrick – it just was really cool.
What kind of prep did you have to do to play a character from the ‘90s?
Claudia Lee: What kind of prep? Well, I definitely did a lot of research with looking up Tori Spelling fashion-wise, for hair. When I first received the material, I was thinking like ‘90s, I was like, okay cool, grunge. But really our show takes place in ’91 so we have the tail end of the ‘80s. So I was looking at Saved By The Bell, Tori Spelling, a lot of Kelly Bundy from Married with Children, and just kind of like catching up on what was going on there and all of the music too. I was really fascinated with making little playlists of my ‘90s music that we would turn on in the hair and makeup trailer and dance to. It was really fun. I have some new favorite songs from the ‘90s. “Crazy” by Seal. I love that song! So good. So good! Then Rachel is always like, “Peter Gabriel, Claudia, you have to listen to Peter Gabriel. That got me through some heartache.” I was just like, “Okay Rachel, I’m not going to listen to Peter Gabriel, because I’m not feeling the vibe.” [Laughs] Yeah, it was really cool to dig deep into the pop culture of that time period.
Do you think we’ll get to see your character transition into a little bit more grungy of the ‘90s?
Claudia Lee: Yeah, I think so. There are little hints of the grungy ‘90s look. There was this really cool dress that was like the overalls, and floral. But it’s still very fresh and the tail end of the ‘80s, so you have lots of like the bright neons and muted pastels. Scrunchies. I love the scrunchies. [laughs] And the plastic hoops. It’s really cool.
For you personally, what do you geek out about?
Claudia Lee: That’s very tough. I geek out over … I love listening to music, recently I’ve been really into Jack White, as well as listening to the whole Drake album. That’s what I’ve been geeking out over. I love fashion. I geek out over fashion all the time. Anything pop culture related, I’m like always on the web trying to stay up to the know. A lot of projects coming out, who’s in it, seeing my friends and supporting them. I get really excited about that. When you see your friends succeed in their own projects and they’re filming other stuff, it’s like really cool and really good energy and I love that, that’s what I geek out about.