Interview: Natalie Morales from The Middleman

by Emma Loggins

Wendy Watson thought mindless temp jobs were tough. Then she bravely faced a creature way beyond the bounds of her reality, and in so doing, impressed the straight-laced hero known as the Middleman. Hello, new career! Now she’s balancing her art, her friends, and saving the planet while battling alien evils for the world’s most ludicrously secret organization. The Middleman — fighting evil so you don’t have to.

We had the honor of sitting down with The Middleman star, Natalie Morales. Here’s what he had to say:

In real life, how are you with weird things, like are you jaded or do you usually freak out?

N. Morales: You know what? No, I grew up as an only child and so I’ve always kind of been curious and interested in a lot of stuff. In that, I think Wendy and I have a lot in common.

What do you enjoy most about playing her?

N. Morales: I think, I get to have fun with her. They kind of let me have free range on the comedic styling’s of Wendy Watson. I get to deliver lines in a crazy fashion if I feel like it. I love doing that. I love the fact that she’s sort of the comedic relief of the show in a way, even though Ida pretty much steals the show. She’s very funny.

What’s the stunt work like?

N. Morales: The stunt work is pretty interesting, actually. Greg Burnette, who’s our stunt coordinator is just amazing. If you look him up, he’s got like 300,000 credits. He just rules. He teaches me stuff and I actually get to do a lot of my own stunts. I’ve done wire work and a bunch of things like that, a lot of falling and yes, I actually love the stunt work. I really do.

What drew you to the role of Wendy and made you want to play this character?

N. Morales: I really like the fact that she was—that they wanted a Latina for the role and it wasn’t your regular stereotypical Latina. I wasn’t smoking hot and sexy and stealing men away from people. She’s just a regular girl who is a lot like me and lot like my friends and that’s just the really cool part of about her that turned me on to it the most.

You do a lot of weird things on the show or strange things. What’s the strangest thing that you’ve got to do so far?

N. Morales: As myself or as the character?

Well, maybe both.

N. Morales: Okay, I’d say they’re the same thing only slightly different. As Wendy, punching a fish and getting into a fight with fish. As Natalie, getting into a fight with a fish that wasn’t actually there, so that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever had to do, I think, so far.

Can you describe a typical day on the set? What do you do all day long?

N. Morales: Well, I come in earlier than I’ve woken up in my life. I go into hair and makeup for about an hour, do rehearsal and then just scenes all day long, just work. And then I sleep during lunch and I go back to work, just scene after scene after scene and then I go home and fall in my bed. That’s it.

It seems like the cast has a lot of fun together at least on the show. Do you all get along outside of the show?

N. Morales: Yes, yes. We really do. And a lot of these things, the casting director cast sometimes for chemistry, but honestly, it’s also off screen. All these people in this cast are just amazing and I’m friends will all of them. They’re all really funny. Brit Morgan and Mary Pat Gleason are like my favorite people on the planet, along with Jake and Matt. Everybody is just so cool and it’s just great. It’s really an awesome job.

Can you tell us, I know Kevin… has been on this set this week. Can you tell us anything about his guest role on the show?

N. Morales: Well, he is awesome, let me just say. His guest role, he is a middleman that used to, came before Matt and he has kind of come back to help us out on something. It’s a really interesting role and I love this script, so I’m really excited about it.

Other than pimping the middleman, are big thing is Internet sketch comedy. I was wondering what you can tell us about Quitters.

N. Morales: Oh, Quitters is a pilot that I produced late last year with—and the writer on the show is Bain Hanson, who is an incredibly talented man who produced it along with me and directed and he’s in it. It came off of a sketch that we used to do in this company called Sitcoms Blow. It was a sketch company here in LA. We used to do this sketch that was just wildly popular called “Tape Recorder,” which is at the end of the pilot of Quitters. So we kind of based it on that. I’m hoping that I get to do a lot more episodes of that as soon as I go on hiatus because I don’t have time to do it now. It’s great, I’m really proud of it. It just go into the LA TV, independent TV festival, so.

Can you talk about how that came about? Did it happen after the pilot?

N. Morales: Yes, exactly. Britt and I just totally completely hit it off the day that we met. And so after I came back from Vancouver from shooting the pilot, I had one week to shoot Quitters before I went to Miami to spend Christmas with my family. I asked Britt if she would be in it and she said yes and so that’s how that happened.

My favorite part of watching the show are the monsters and villains you get to fight. What are you most excited about? What monster haven’t we seen yet? Can you give us a taste of like who you’re most excited for the audience to see?

N. Morales: I thought we had a monster, but we also had a gorilla. I really don’t know. The episodes to me just get better and better and better. The whole thing right now is episode nine. You heard earlier, it’s with Kevin… I think the villain in this is really, really awesome. And I think it’s really cool. I don’t know. It has kind of a James Bond feel, this episode, and I think the audience will really dig it. So I’m excited about that. Next week’s episode I also really like, so.

A lot of people notice that sometimes you’re in glasses and sometimes you don’t. Is this some sort of like character trademark or does this represent something in the show for you? Or is it kind of whatever it happens, it happens?

N. Morales: It’s kind of like a Clark Kent kind of thing. Whenever I’m in the middleman outfit or doing middleman type work, I’m not in the glasses. Whenever I’m regular Wendy, I am in the glasses. It’s not super strict. Sometimes I’m not in the glasses when I’m Wendy. She’s… It happens. But that’s the general rule.

I’m loving the flow, very playful tension I’ve seen with some of the characters. Are you excited about any of the characters hooking up and if so, who?

N. Morales: Well, yes, we’re actually adding a ton of, not adding a ton of people, but there’s a lot of new people on the show. There’s a character named Pipp who is one of our neighbors who I think is great. All of the people who are guest star and our costars, I don’t know, the casting on this show is just ridiculously awesome and everybody is good. I know I sound like I’m just praising everybody, but I’m dead serious. It’s really, really cool. Kevin… like I said is amazing and Todd… is coming up soon who’s on the Riches. He’s really great, so yes, you’ll see some people that are good.

So there’s no like specific crazies on or character or like weird alien or zombie that you like, I just cannot wait for my friends to see this… in the future. Is there anything that comes to mind?

N. Morales: Definitely the villain in this episode that I’m doing right now, like I said, the one with Kevin… is going to be episode nine. The villain in this is called The Candle, so it’s kind of cool.

Does he have a specific super power or?

N. Morales: He’s has a melting ray gun he can just melt an entire city with. Pretty awesome.

Can you talk a little bit about what we can expect for Wendy this season as far as the character goes?

N. Morales: Well, I think you can expect to see a few more layers of Wendy. There’s a lot of sides to her. There’s the sarcastic cynical side and then there’s the sweet side. There’s the side that’s a friend to Lacy. There’s a side that’s a coworker to the middleman. There’s a side of her that’s creative and artistic and there’s also the romantic side of her. You’ll all get to see a lot of all that. I love it. It kind of a different angle than one character and you don’t often get to play that.

I was wondering how you initially prepared for the part because it’s very fast paced speech.

N. Morales: Yes, I kind of just put my sides in a Ziploc bag and took them in the shower with me and the slept with them next to me and just did as much work as I could on it. Eventually you kind of get the flow of it.

Did you find it easier to learn them, though?

N. Morales: I do, surprisingly enough, I do. But, yes, it’s an insane amount of dialog and very fast paced. So in the beginning, it was a little difficult, but I think finally episode nine, I’ve gotten the hang of it.

Have you actually read the comic book?

N. Morales: Of course, I have, yes. It’s really great. I’m actually sad that there probably won’t be any more. I don’t know if there’s going to be any more, but I love the comic book. A lot of our scripts are directly from the comic book.

As a young actress starting out in your career, is there anybody you admire and seek to emulate in your own career as an actor?

N. Morales: That’s always a tough question for me because there are just so many people in this business that are so incredibly talented. I always answer with people that no one would expect me to answer with. I think Alan Rickman is my favorite person in all of Hollywood. No one ever expects me to say, but he’s unbelievable. As far as someone who I admire, John… is someone who is really overlooked and underappreciated. He’s unbelievable. He started out doing comedy and then has just done everything from playing a woman, a transvestite to playing a French little person. He’s just great. I really would love to be able to be that versatile.

What are your thoughts on how Latinas are portrayed in the current television landscape? Do you feel it’s improved recently?

N. Morales: Definitely, it has. I think it really has. I think America Ferrera has a big part to do with that and Salma Hayek doing Frieda and stuff like that. I think it’s good to be a Hispanic woman in Hollywood today. We’re definitely getting better roles. And Javi did a really good thing in casting a Latina in this role. Originally in the comic book, she’s a Caucasian red head. So not only because I got the part, that’s not why I’m saying it. I just think that’s it’s cool that she’s just a regular girl and she just happens to be Hispanic.

Are we going to get to see Ping in the future?

N. Morales You are, you’re actually going to see him next week. He rules. Mark Decasco is like the coolest dude ever. Wait until you see him fighting. You’re going to just flip out, he’s amazing.

That’s the episode with the Mexican wrestlers, right?

N. Morales: Exactly.

Where is the series shot?

N. Morales: It’s shot in LA. We shot the pilot in Vancouver and then we moved to LA.

Who do you think is the target audience for this show?

N. Morales: If I would say, I know there has to be a target audience officially, but I would say it’s probably anywhere from eight to 45, although one of our directors, Norman Buckley, showed it to his 82 year old mother and she loved it. I don’t know.

Do you know anything about the time slot change, moving to later, why that was done?

N. Morales: You know, yes, we all just found out about that. I think they’re just trying to test out different markets. I was like, I asked my producer, John Zifferan, he’s just like so great to have on set, I couldn’t even tell you. I said, “Hey, what’s up with the change? Little kids won’t be able to watch this if it’s at 10 o’clock.” And he said, “Well, the little kids who can’t stay up past ten aren’t watching us anyway. They’re watching the Disney Channel. So the little kids that can stay up past ten, think we’re way cooler for being on at ten.” I was like, “I’ll take that answer. That’s fine.”

Are you going to Comic Con. I know the show is going there, but is the whole cast going to go or is there anything big planned for that?

N. Morales: Hell, yes, I’m going to be at Comic Con. I’m so excited about that. I’m totally going to be there. So far I’m going to be there the Thursday and Saturday and Matt and I and Javier are going.

It sounds like you have a really big love of stuff along the comedic end. Can you give us a little bit of your comedic background, where did you start to doing the funny?

N. Morales: Well, in the womb basically. Well, I don’t know. Obviously, I tell people that I think being Cuban, you’re kind of born with a need to entertain. I guess it helps that I’m an only child. You just start with that need to get attention. I started doing magic tricks for my family when I was like five. I had this whole magic box set up and I was really awful at it, so to cover, I would just make jokes. So I guess that’s where it got started.

And then I got a little bit older and I started doing a little bit of stand-up, which was awful. Then I did a little bit of improv and a little bit of sketch and I wrote and I did some stuff in college. I got out here and I did sitcoms… which is a sketch company out here and then I did a little bit of…

So Wendy is a little bit of a geek girl. She has a very specific list of comic books that she likes and very specific Xbox games that she likes to play. Do you have any similar traits?

N. Morales: I do like video games. I have to say that. I just got the Wall E Game for the Wii and I am really excited about it, but I don’t want to play it until Wall E comes out this weekend because I don’t want it to give away anything. While I was filming in Vancouver, I was known to at like midnight when I couldn’t sleep after working, play Wii golf in my underwear in my hotel room. I do like video games and I guess I’m kind of similar. I’m such a nerd, I am very similar to Wendy. I can’t lie about that.

So are there comic books that you do read, other than obviously other than the Middleman for research purposes?

N. Morales: I read a little bit of Dead at 17, which is awesome. I wish I had more time to read stuff. I used to read to like Batman and Superman when I was a kid. But all I read these days are just scripts and scripts and scripts, so.

What are your plans after Middleman wraps here in a few weeks? Are you going to start looking for other stuff right away or take a vacation or what?

N. Morales: Well, I definitely need a vacation, at least a little bit of a week. I probably head to Miami and see my family. And then hopefully I can start on some other projects, maybe do another episode of Quitters and get that on the road and we’ll see what happens, what comes along.

This show seems prime to become a cult hit or show that could keep going. Have you given any thought to that or what that might mean for you?

N. Morales: Someone said the other day that, someone asked me what Wendy Watson would be like when she was 30 and I was like, “Whoa!, that’s so scary!” I don’t know. I have given thoughts on the fact that I might be doing this for a while, which really doesn’t bother me in any way. It’s the kind of show that’s really doesn’t stay the same at all. There’s no formula to this show, not really and we can do whatever we want.

A big part of your back story involves your father and what happened to him. I know that it was dealt with in the comic, but is that going to be resolved this season on the show do you know?

N. Morales: I hope so. I think that would be one of those things that are kind of season finale cliffhanger type things. I don’t know anything yet, so we’ll see. There’s more mention of her father as the show goes along, but you’ll never know.

Is there any chance for a love interest for Wendy?

N. Morales: Yes, Wendy is a very passionate, loving girl. Actually you’ll meet sort of a love interest for her in the next episode, the one that airs on Monday.

So after The Middleman does its critically acclaimed seven to ten year run, what do you want to do?

N. Morales: What do I want to do? I would love to direct, maybe do some film. I don’t have a plan for myself. I like to just see where things go, so I would love to do film, I would love to direct. I would love to produce stuff. So I hope all that gets to happen, we’ll see.

How do you see The Middleman fitting into the ABC Family lineup?

N. Morales: Well, it’s actually, I’m sure you know it’s very different from what they have currently. I think it’s really different from anything that’s on TV at all. So hopefully it will do good things for the network. They’re trying to expand and go into different directions and I definitely think The Middleman will do that. I’d say it’s a good fit in that way. They were looking for something I think that was different and they definitely got it.

You are a little bit younger than Matt, did you know of his work beforehand and of his hotness?

N. Morales: Oh, his hotness, wow, I had seen him in a few movies. Waiting for Guffman is actually an amazing movie that I had seen him in. So yes, I knew about him before I worked with him.

The Middleman


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