Members of the media focus too often on the negatives of actors and actresses, highlighting their insincerity or one-dimensional skill. You’d be hard-pressed to do that with Christina Murphy, one of the stars of Forgotten Pills and Dance Flick, which opens May 22nd. In Dance Flick, the latest film from the unstoppable comedic force that is the Wayans family, Murphy plays Nora, the catty dancer out to ruin the chances at success of Megan, the film’s heroine. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, the charming and incredibly talented actress took some time to chat with FSR about her humble beginnings, the Wayans family army and why she can’t get cast as the good girl in spite of her down to Earth personality.
FSR: Christina, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I appreciate it.
Christina Murphy: No, I appreciate it. Thank you for having me. You’re my first Texas interview, so I’m excited.
Well, cool. I’m glad I could be the first. Speaking of Texas, you’re from Austin. I was led to believe that Matthew McConaughey was the only actor to come out of the town.
(Laughs) That’s not true. When I first moved out here, my friend from high school, Mehcad Brooks, is on Desperate Housewives and I remember running into him and thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s impossible to make it out here. It’s insane.’ But now I watch TV and I see my friends doing stuff. But we have Farrah Fawcett and don’t we have Marcia Gay Harden?
Oh, Marcia Gay Harden for sure. She’s amazing. Also, there’s Owen and Luke Wilson, right?
Yes. Owen Wilson, who also worked at The Container Store. Before I moved out here, I had work three jobs to make money to move out here. One of them was as a specialist at The Container Store and I heard Owen Wilson worked in warehouse too. I was thinking, ‘Gosh, we are so connected.’
(Laughs) That’s awesome. If you see him you should tell him.
He’d be like, ‘Who are you again?’
You’ll be like, ‘Don’t forget your roots, baby!’
(Laughs) I know. For a while there, I kept updating The Container Store because they had my back. I should probably write them and tell them to go see my movie. I hope they make it there.
I’m sure they will. Talking about the movie, you get to play the bad girl in Dance Flick. How much fun was that?
It was so much fun. My outfits were insane. Some days I would be head to toe in pink. Other days, I had so much jewelry on that I could barely stand, but it’s so much fun to play the opposite of you. You get to bring out sides that people don’t necessarily get to see. I bitch slapped a few people around. I’m kind of malicious in the movie.
I bet that’s how you got the part. You just went up to the Wayans Brothers and gave them a few good bitch slaps.
(Laughs) No, I walked in. I had six auditions for this part, so it’s not like it was just handed to me. I had to really work hard for it. So I walked in as this upbeat and smiley girl, then all of the sudden I had to turn into this catty brat, so it was fun to show them two different sides. Afterwards, they were like, ‘How did you walk in one way and now you’re so mean?’
It seems like those are the roles that most people remember from films like this. You watch Pretty in Pink and I always remember James Spader. To be honest, I could give a damn about Andrew McCarthy in that film, you know?
(Laughs) I actually tested for the lead role, the one Shoshana Bush has. She plays Megan. So when I was auditioning for Nora, the mean girl, I was also testing for the all-American girl, but they just didn’t see it, which is funny that they couldn’t see me as the nice girl. Nora was like she was on PMS every day. Her moods were so up and down. I had to have a lot of colors.
That’s funny because everything about your background screams all-American girl. (CM Laughs.) That’s interesting that they would cast you as that.
I don’t know why it’s so hard to convince people that I’m a sweet girl. I mean all I do is be myself and it still doesn’t work. I don’t know what that says about me.
That’s hilarious. Who knows, every actor loves to play the opposite. It’s cool that you get to do it in such a big film. What was it like working with the Wayans Brothers? It seems like they have every cast member from In Living Color aside from Jim Carrey in this film.
(Laughs) I know! When you see the movie poster, scroll down to the bottom and it’s like Craig Wayans, Keenon Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans. They had cousins, aunts and uncles in this movie. They honestly embraced each and every one of us like we were family. You show up to set and you’re getting huge bear hugs. It was the time of my life. They let us do improv. We really didn’t have to worry about continuity on this movie because once we did one take one way, they wanted you to do something different the next one. We were surrounded by comedic geniuses. Sometimes you felt the pressure because you had to be funny when you came to the set. When you weren’t there were like crickets in the background. It was definitely a blast.
I heard that Damon Wayans just supplied crickets so that he sounded funnier. I don’t know if that’s true or not.
(Laughs) When I first Damon Wayans Jr., I told him, ‘Dude, you are going to blow up.’ He can make a toothpick funny. I can not wait for people to see him in this movie. He’s all the Wayans family wrapped up into one and he’s got another level to him. Then there’s Keenan. He was the one on the set you wanted to make the most proud. If you can make Keenan laugh then you know you’re funny.
They really do have a long comedic pedigree. It will be great to see Damon Jr. do his thing. When In Living Color started, it was about Keenan and Damon, then Shawn and Marlon came along.
Yeah. I asked them how they were so funny, like everything they do, because we all have little jokes that make us laugh once in a while. These guys though, they can make anything funny. They said when they were growing up, that’s how they entertained each other. If you wanted to be the top Wayans, you had to think of the best joke. You can tell that they have been practicing for years. I was crying on the set. I was in stitches.
Another brilliant comedian on the film is Amy Sedaris, who plays Miss Cameltoe.
It’s Cameltoe (puts an accent on the name), Adam. Get it right. (Laughs) Oh my God, that woman was insanely funny. I don’t think they gave her a script. When she came on, she was so funny that I think they said, ‘Just do whatever you want.’ She improvised a scene in the ballet dance. There is a shot behind us where we were uncontrollably laughing. We couldn’t hold it together. I think Damien, our director, was like, ‘Hey Christina, can you wrap it up?’ That woman is insane.
Have you ever met any Miss Cameltoes in your dancing career?
(Laughs) I think my dance instructor when I was five had a cameltoe. But Amy, she had some props in her tights to become Miss Cameltoe. She walked around sporting her cameltoe like no other. She would lift her leg and put it on the ballet bar. She was trying to make us laugh while we were filming. I can’t wait to see her again.
I’ve always been of the belief that if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
(Laughs) I think the audience is going to have a great time. I don’t know how much you get to see since it’s PG-13, but we tried to push the limit. It will definitely be worth buying the DVD for the unrated version.
For sure. Shifting from the comedy, Forgotten Pills is another film you’re in. It looks like the feel good movie of the year.
(Laughs) Yeah, it’s an indie I did and I really wanted it bad. I read the script and it seemed like a great chance for an indie actress to delve into the darker side of how people are. Here I have this really lighthearted film coming out and then this dark one. I love both comedy and drama. This was a really cool idea. Four friends take four pills and forget everything in that four hour period, so all this drama ensues. There’s a murder and you’re not sure who’s done it. There’s a framing. It is definitely the feel good movie of the year.
It looks awesome. I watched the trailer and it’s such a polar opposite from Dance Flick.
Totally When you do indies, you know, you’re not sure how the lighting will come out. This did not have a big budget. The cast, we were watching it a few weeks ago and were blown away. We’re hoping to come to SXSW. The L.A. Film Festival definitely wants us. We hopefully will hit the festival circuit and get distribution, because our director was a genius. For the budget he had, he’s a genius.
Well he started out making it as a short before turning it into a feature, right?
Right! It was a short and I think he edited this whole movie on his Mac computer. I have a Mac and love them, but this looks so professional. It goes to show that anyone can edit a fantastic movie on a Mac.
That gives me hope. You got your Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Texas-Austin in Theater and Dance. Now that you’re getting into bigger films, are you going to continue to do theater?
This is almost shameful. I studied Theater at UT and had the time of my life. I took the best classes but I didn’t once do a play at UT. I always knew I wanted to do TV/film. I knew it was going to be really great training, because if you can learn your lines for something that is two hours long, then you can definitely learn your lines for TV and film. I’ve always seen myself doing theatre later in my career, so I’ll come back to it. Right now, I am so enthralled and passionate about TV and film.
Well my background is in acting and screen and stagewriting, so one I day maybe I can cast you as–
The all-American girl. (Laughs)
Absolutely! That or the heir to the Cameltoe throne. One of the two. Well thanks so much for the interview. If you get to SXSW, let us know. We’re stationed out here.
For sure. I’d let you know for sure. Absolutely. Thank you guys so much. Thanks for picking me up.
You can see Christina Murphy in Dance Flick on May 22nd.