Natalie Zea is known mostly for her role on the soap opera Passions and her residency on FX’s Justified, both of which are heavy in the drama department. Though she’s no stranger to comedy roles, – you can see her alongside Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys – you can now find her in the very funny and very inappropriate (in the best way, I promise) new TBS comedy The Detour.
We’re a few days away from the official April 11 premiere, but TBS has kindly released the first episode on YouTube just in time for the announcement the show has been renewed for a second season already.
I admit, I was in the crowd that thought this looked like a ripoff National Lampoon’s Vacation, but it’s not; the only things in common is premise of a vacation gone wrong. I’m telling you, it’s pretty dang good! But I’ll let Natalie explain it in her own words:
How would you, personally, describe The Detour?
I’ve been working on this because I know it’s coming: it’s hard because it’s not exactly what it appears to be at first glance. At first glance, it appears to be this sort of family-friendly kind of PG/PG-13 comedy and that’s not at all what it is. It’s a lot more, it’s got a lot more edge than that and the fact that it encompasses a family and their kids and it’s a vacation setting it’s more about this couple that Jason and I play and how we sort of deal with adversity and deal with all of this sort of bad luck happening to us and how we manage as a team and a couple and husband and wife and parents.
You’ve done a lot of TV dramas in your career, how has it been switching gears to being a regular on a comedy series?
It’s a lot more fun. I would say the hours are better, but they’re not, which is often the appeal for people who are typically drama actors, they’ll switch over to comedy because the hours are shorter and easier but somehow I didn’t quite get that job – which is fine if you love what you’re doing! There’s a lot more room for experimenting and improvising and for changing things on the fly and adding jokes and ad-libbing. There’s a lot more freedom that you don’t necessarily have with a drama. There are some dramas out there, like Justified, we never stuck to the script but that’s sort of a rare luxury in the one-hour television world.
I hear you’re a new mom, congratulations! How has it been balancing a new baby and a new show?
Well, I was pregnant when we were shooting, so I haven’t had to deal with it yet, but I’ll let you know.
You’re character’s not pregnant in the show, though, correct?
Right, we wrote around it. We? Yes, we wrote around it. I’m sort of adverse to, as an actor, carrying purses and bags in scenes anyway, I really don’t like it, but for this I had to make an exception because we needed something that made sense. I think we did an okay job – we’ll see if people notice it. I kept forgetting that I needed to be aware we were camouflaging, so the camera crew and Jason helped remind me and also in wardrobe, they did a great job because I didn’t really think much about it.
How would you sum up your character, Robin?
She’s a character that I, personally, can relate to in a way that I’ve never been able to relate to a lot of other characters that I’ve played. She’s somebody that I would be friends with because she hasn’t sacrificed – this is going to sound crazy – she hasn’t sacrificed her personality for motherhood. I feel like, often, what happens with characters who are written as moms they are written as the “mom” character and what’s great about this character is she’s not playing an archetype. She’s a women who happens to have a career, happens to have kids, happens to have a past, who happens to have a complicated and great relationship with her husband, so she encompasses a lot of different aspects of being a woman.
Can you tease anything about the upcoming chaos the family encounters in this first season?
Well, my daughter gets her period and it’s a rather chaotic experience for all of us. There is an episode that features quite a lot of bodily fluids, which was really fun to shoot. What else do we have? Oh! There’s a wedding in one of the episodes that ends up sort of going terribly wrong. There’s also an episode that takes place in racetrack. Somehow, somehow, we end up in a racetrack, you’ll have to see how that happens, but we do. Those are just a few things I can remember.
What’s the one thing you’d want to know about The Detour? If someone was on the fence about watching, what would you pitch to them?
I would say it pushes the limits of what basic cable can do – it’s a basic cable show that feels like it should be on premium cable, is what I would say. If it appears to be something that’s a little more milquetoast, it couldn’t be further from that. It’s absolutely the opposite of that. It’s an edgy comedy, so if an edgy, dirty comedy is what you’re looking for, this is the show.
So, to clarify, it’s not something you want to watch with your kids, right?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. Nope. Not suitable for children, not a family show. Maybe you make dinner and watch it every week, but you don’t do it with the kiddos.