Catherine O'Hara never expected such love for Moira Rose
'I just wanted to develop a character that I could stand to live with,' says Schitt's Creek star
After more than six years of playing Moira Rose, Catherine O'Hara is hanging up her wig.
As the wonderfully eccentric family matriarch on Schitt's Creek, O'Hara embraced all things over-the-top — including eye-popping outfits, obscure vocabulary and truly dramatic parenting. Now, as the hit comedy's sixth and final season airs to much fanfare, the celebrated actress is slowly letting go of her longest-running role.
O'Hara spoke to CBC's Anna Maria Tremonti about how she differs from Moira — "I don't have my character's nerve" — her strong preference for ensembles, and why everyone might benefit from a little improv training.
Their conversation is the first in Tremonti's new conversational podcast series More with Anna Maria Tremonti, which launches Jan. 28.
The following excerpt from their conversation has been condensed for length and clarity. Find the full interview here or on your favourite podcast app.
How do you let Moira go when it's over?
I cannot answer a question without going into Moira. I didn't plan Moira to have people like her this much. And now that I do meet people and get such a lovely response on this character I think, "OK, well she's way more interesting than I am." So, I end up answering questions from the audience as Moira more than as myself.
Moira has imposed herself on Catherine O'Hara?
Yeah. I love any excuse to do her because I guess I will miss — I know I will miss doing this character.
What about the wigs?
Yeah, although I could do that if I had any nerve. But I don't have my character's nerve.
So, you've been hanging out with this same group of people for six years ... you've talked about your wariness of locking into something like this.
Yes. I've never done a character for any real length of time other than in a film and that's, you know, a few months. And I didn't know how long it would go.
I'm stupid so I was kind of scared to sign on. I didn't know that it was going to be this joyful and a great experience. But I'm a one day at a time kind of person, I guess. Without any agenda. I've lucked into a career somehow because I've never had a plan. So I feel like I really lucked into this.
Thank goodness I said yes, because [co-star] Eugene [Levy] likes to say that he really fought to get me, but I think I was just stupid not to sign on right away.
How would you describe the family dynamic on Schitt's Creek behind the scenes?
I keep calling [Eugene and Dan Levy] the Levy gentlemen, but they really are. And, thankfully, they're all really talented too. When I signed on I thought, "Oh great, but if Daniel doesn't know what he's doing, I will never win an argument with Eugene."
I'm a one day at a time kind of person, I guess. Without any agenda. I've lucked into a career somehow because I've never had a plan- Catherine O'Hara
You've worked with Eugene for so long over the years. To be working with his son, that must've been interesting.
Oh, it was crazy. To sell the idea of the show, we shot a 15-minute pilot presentation. The first scene I did with the two of them, I'm sitting on a bed and I'm looking up and the two of them are looking at me. We are doing a scene and I almost started crying. I thought, "That's that little baby that used to come on the set once in a while on SCTV."
And here the two of them are with their eyebrows — one a little more manicured than the other — manscaped. That was very sweet.
That's such a nice image. You knew Dan when he was a baby.
You know, I was thinking a lot about this. One of the things that jumps out at me as I look at your career: you've been part of a whole lot of families, whether literally or figuratively. Like: Second City, SCTV, Beetlejuice, Home Alone, Schitt's Creek. Do you see it that way?
Definitely. I mean, I look at it now like you're looking at it now.
I said before I have no agenda. Not that I don't plan ahead, but when I think about it now I realize, yeah, I came from a big family. A lovely big family. A fun family. I have six brothers and sisters. My mom and dad were great and fun and funny. And I was part of a great team at home.
The idea of doing a one-person show just is sad to me. Don't you have any friends you like to work with?- Catherine O'Hara
I never felt like I needed to join any clubs at school or whatever because I felt I was part of the coolest club: my family.
And then I really lucked into Second City theatre. There's nothing better if you want to learn on the job, surrounded by really talented people who really knew what they were doing and are fun and collaborative and willing to share what they know. And so I did learn on the job with all those great people.
And then we did the improvised movies with Eugene and Chris Guest. And I felt like I was part of a very cool club there. And now once again I feel like I'm part of a lovely, fun, talented family. I'm really lucky.
The idea of doing a one-person show just is sad to me. Don't you have any friends you like to work with?
Well, I wanted to ask you about that because some people just naturally gravitate toward doing their own thing. But that isn't you, is it?
No, but they might be much more confident people who have stronger ideas about what they want to do. And I love being surrounded by people who know as much and more than I do about what I'm doing. It's more fun too, outside of the work, to hang out with people like that. Sorry, I give really long answers don't I?
No. I'm interested.
You say that you fell into things and you kind of suggest that you're not as confident. And watching you, I think here's this amazing woman who's done this amazing work. This collaborative work. There's something very special to collaborative work, is there not?
Yeah. It's all I know now. It's all I know and it's all I want to do, really.
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