She’s a small-town girl from Toledo, Ohio, and she’s making her mark on Hollywood. No she isn’t the certain gal who left the Creek to go on a Cruise, but Adrianne Palicki’s future is looking just as bright as her predecessor Katie Holmes’.
She’s appeared on CSI, Supernatural, won a role on the short-lived North Shore, and even conquered the role of superhero as Supergirl on Smallville, a role she would love to expand on in another way someday. But her current role as Tyra Collette on NBC’s Friday Night Lights has challenged her beyond what she could have ever imagined.
Expanding on the hit feature film based on the small rural town of Dillon, Texas, where the coveted state football championship rings are held in the highest regard, Friday Night Lights is filmed using a loose script, which relies on the actors’ improvisational skills for an engaging delivery.
Palicki’s character is the town bad girl who always has the best of intentions. A former homecoming queen runner-up, Palicki is anything but a bad girl, but she can relate to Tyra’s tenacious spirit and drive. Plus, she loves the fact that she can play a badass on set and get paid to do it.
C Magazine caught up with Palicki during a break from filming the show in Austin, Texas to uncover her obsession with Supergirl, test her on her football knowledge and find out what exactly a girl from Toledo has to do to make it big.
What made you want to act in the first place?
Well, I’ve always acted. I would do little plays for my parents, since I was five. My best girlfriend and I would set up these little performances that would go on forever and ever. I’ve always wanted to act. Finally, in high school, I had the courage to try out and ended up booking it. It was a seven-man play and I got one of the roles. I was playing Brianna in Lend Me a Tenor. After that, I knew it was what I had to do.
When did you decide you wanted to do it professionally?
I just always knew I wanted to do it. I was filling out art school applications and my mom wanted me to get a degree in acting. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I didn’t want to put money into something I didn’t need, a diploma for acting. I was filling out applications sitting in the kitchen with my dad and I looked up at him and said, “I’m moving to New York.” My dad put his head down and my mom was like, “What are you going to do if it doesn’t work out?” In my head, this was the only thing I could do.
How old were you?
I was 18. I moved to New York for about a month and spent all my money on Broadway shows, which is ultimately what I want to do. I love theatre. I had to move back to Ohio and work a couple of jobs and then I moved to L.A. The rest is history. I was out there for about five years, but I was only there about two years before I booked my first job.
You’ve booked some pretty substantial roles in a very short time.
The first job I ever got was a pilot that John Woo did for Lost In Space. That was huge. I got to work with Jayne Brook (Boston Legal) and play Judy Robinson, which was pretty awesome. Then, after that, it just kind of spiraled. I got a lot of guest stars and I booked South Beach.
What was the hardest thing you ever had to do to get a role?
Being in a room with Pete Berg [the show’s executive producer]. It was great and awesome, but insane. He’s very much into improv and that’s the basis of our show. A lot of the scenes you take the writing and go further with it. When I met with him we went through the scene a couple of times and he’s like, “Now, I want you to do the scene like you are on heroin.” I was like, “Ok, let me pull from my days of heroin abuse?” But I did my best to improvise what that would be like. I walked out of there and thought even if I didn’t get the part, I felt like I got an acting class for free.
What is the easiest thing you had to do to get a role?
Show up. No, that’s making it sound easier than it is. No, I mean it’s difficult to be confident every time you walk into a room. It’s difficult to be turned down so many times and get up the next day and go to more auditions.
You mentioned that much of Friday Night Lights is considered improv, but was there someone you used as a model to base your role of Tyra on?
My character is great because, like all the characters on the show, she is very realistic. You knew the cheerleader in high school. You knew the bad girl. So I kind of just went back to high school and thought of that girl. I had a really good friend of mine who was like Tyra.
How would you sum her up in three words?
That’s really hard to do in three words. But my best phrase that I like to use to describe her is, “She’s a bad girl with a heart of gold?” She means well, but she’s very honest. She says what everyone wants to say, but don’t have the balls to say it. She’ll be honest with you. She’ll tell you that you look bad in those jeans or she’ll tell you look great and you know she really means it because she’s so honest.
Is it surreal being back in a high school setting and reliving things you did or didn’t do in high school?
It is surreal. In fact, when I first set foot on the set, I hadn’t seen the wardrobe for the jerseys yet, and I stepped on the field and it was the Dillon Panthers and we were the Whitmer Panthers in Toledo at my high school. Same exact jerseys. Same exact cheerleading outfits. Same colors. It was just weird. I felt like I was literally at my high school.
A lot of people will compare Ohio High School Football to Texas Football in the way that small town football is treated and how people live to go to these games. Do you agree?
I grew up being a football fan. My dad used to play and got me into it at a young age, so that was pretty cool. But I’ve never been around anything like this. It’s true—going to high school football games there is madness. You have to buy tickets a head of game. It’s like going to a college football game, and college football games here are like going to a pro game. It’s a different world, but definitely being from Ohio has helped me in that situation.
Have you had a chance to experience the local games in Austin?
Pete was very much into us doing our research and our homework by going to high school and following people around and really getting to know them.
Being from the Midwest, what do you think you bring to Hollywood?
That’s a loaded question. The thing is, at the end of the day, I’m here to do my work. One of the great things about shooting in Austin is being outside of Hollywood. We’re in this little community and we’ve developed these close friendships with each other, since we are here with no one else. It’s been a great learning experience and it makes our cast stronger because we have these real friendships. It makes it that much more real. I think that’s what makes it such a great show to watch.
Is it true your family contacted Katie Holmes’ family to gain some insight of what a young girl from Toledo could expect from Hollywood?
My dad called Katie’s mom when I was still in Toledo and just asked for her input. She was very kind and spoke to my dad for over an hour. She didn’t have to do that. But it was good to have that insight, because coming from a small town you just assume you are going to L.A. and be an actress, but there are so many turning points and drama to go through. It’s not easy. Speaking to her was good preparation.
You mentioned that you would love to perform on Broadway. Is there a particular role you would like to play?
I would love to be in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I think it’s the best Broadway performance I’ve ever seen. I was in L.A. prior to 9/11 and saw it, but then they canceled it. That or Rent, or, of course, if they would put Supergirl on Broadway, that would be awesome.
Do you ever feel like Hollywood is like high school?
Absolutely. There is so much drama and so much needless angst. But at the same time, it can be very fulfilling and help you learn. My experience in Hollywood has only made me a stronger person, and the same with High School. You look back even here and the things you thought mattered so much really don’t matter at all. But I’m glad I went through it.
Now, even though you’re from Toledo, we have to test your Ohio Football knowledge. So, if we were to say “O-H,” what would your answer be?
That’s a good question. I don’t know.
Oh!! Well, I’m actually a Wolverines fan. Same as my dad. I can walk to Michigan from where I grew up.
Now to test your other football knowledge. How many points do you get for a safety?
I have no idea. Three?
I was only off by one.
How many points for a touchdown?
Who on the cast has the tightest end?
I can’t answer that question. I know the answer, but I can’t answer it!
If you could put together a Powder Puff Football team together, who from the acting world would you put on the team?
Angelina Jolie, Pink, me, and Gwen Stefani. It would be a tough team.
If you could put together two movie casts up against each other in the ultimate football game, whom would you choose?
The actors of Bravehart. I wouldn’t want to mess with them. I would put them up against the cast from Goodfellas. That would be a messy game. Blooshed everywhere.
You played basketball and ran track in high school, so what was the best advice you ever received from a coach growing up?
Never give up. I think that’s the strongest thing you can tell anyone, especially in this industry.
Was there ever a sport that you wanted to play and you weren’t able
I wanted to play football. I wanted to play with the guys. I’d kick some ass.
George Clooney or Marlon Brando?
Justin Timberlake or Mick Jagger?
That’s tough. Mick Jagger then or now? I guess, Justin.
The Surreal Life or Real World?
I don’t know. I don’t watch either.
Legends of The Fall or Gone With The Wind?
That’s hard, too. I have to go with Gone With the Wind.
Chocolate or vanilla?
Straight up or on the rocks?
Flirtini or Manhattan?
If you could give superpowers away to the following people, what super power would you give to:
- Your best friend?
This is difficult. Teleportation.
- Your mom?
The power of healing.
- Your beau?
For my beau, I wouldn’t want my man to have powers. I want to be in control.
- Your worst enemy?
That doesn’t make sense. I wouldn’t want to give them a power. I guess, the power to see the future, so they could see how awful their lives would be.
Define a true hero?
Someone who always strives for the greater good, and only uses their powers to heal and help and never uses it to help themselves, only others.
Friday Night Lights airs on NBC.