Interview Date: 02/19/2010
Run Date: 03/04/2010
It’s happened many times in the past: A character is introduced to a television series as a one-off, but because of either fan interest or a burst of creativity from the show’s writers, they’re brought back. Sometimes they become a recurring character, but in other cases, they go on to become a full-fledged series regular. Such was the case with Kimber Henry, Kelly Carlson’s character on the long-running FX series “Nip/Tuck.” Kimber made her debut in the show’s pilot episode, but by Season 3, she was officially considered to be part of the main cast right up until the show’s final season, when she bowed out, so to speak. Now that “Nip/Tuck” has wrapped up (and, FYI, can now be found in its entirety on iTunes), Bullz-Eye was able to chat with Carlson about her character’s legacy, including how Kimber grew in prominence, the way she came to her end, and, of course, all the sordid stuff that went on in between.
Kelly Carlson: Hi, Will!
Bullz-Eye: Hey, Kelly, how are you?
KC: Good. How are you doing?
BE: I’m not bad. Good to talk to you. Well, congratulations on the show coming to iTunes. Your character’s legacy is now officially online.
KC: (Laughs) Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you!
BE: So it’s an established fact that Kimber was originally intended to be a one off character. I presume she wasn’t terribly well developed when you first stepped into her shoes, but do you remember anything about the initial description of the character?
KC: Yeah: “26 year old blond from Minnesota.” Which is what I was: 26 and from Minnesota. So that was kind of funny. But, yeah, there wasn’t a whole lot to her at all. And I think when you take a character like that, with not much background and history, it starts in the eyes, you know what I mean? And that’s simply what I just tried to do: to try and bring some depth to her, and some emotion, for the audience to connect with. Otherwise it’s boring. “Cute girl, yeah, who cares,” you know? And that’s not how you get your female fans. So I wanted to bring some layers to her that everyone could relate to or understand.
BE: So what was her evolution from one-off to full-time character? Was it a case where, after the first appearance, they were, like, “You know, there’s more to her that we need to explore”?
KC: Well, you know, when we were shooting the pilot…in the middle of the pilot, we were all walking to dinner, and (series creator) Ryan Murphy said, “I think Kimber is going to come back.” And if you know Ryan Murphy and how he talks, he’s a very funny guy, so I was excited, but I didn’t put too much into it because, you know, you don’t want to be let down or whatever. But then one night, after we finished the pilot, they continued filming. Julian had called me up, and he said, “Let’s go out for dinner, let’s go do something.” And I said, “Sure, okay, great. Where should I meet you?” And so I went to a restaurant, and everybody was there, and they were, like, “Kimber is coming back!” So they surprised me. It was great. To this day, they won’t tell me why she came back, so I don’t know really know why, but I can…you know, I think Kimber tested fairly high in the ratings in the pilot, but you would have to ask them. I have my own reasons, and I think it’s because I made her more of a three-dimensional character.
BE: At what point in the series did you yourself begin to feel like she was really becoming a vital component of the show?
KC: Wow, that’s a good question. Wow!
BE: No pressure.
KC: (Laughs) I have two answers to that. If you’re asking me, I always think I’m a vital component to a show… (Laughs) …but I say that she was kind of vital from the beginning. I don’t mean the pilot, but…maybe the fifth episode into season one? And I feel that way because she is, visually, a bright character. Physically, with blond hair and, you know, somewhat tanned skin, I am bright on television. I think they needed that visual balance on the show, and I think when Kimber was there it just seemed more of a balanced television show. And I think if you were to ask fans that, I think they would tell you that as well. Maybe not in those words, but… (Trails off) So I think she just seemed to fit from the very get go. It seemed right, you know?
BE: Well Kimber has certainly been different things throughout the series: wife, mother, porn star, businesswoman, even a scientologist. How hard was it for you to keep a grasp on the character throughout all of the transitions and incarnations?
KC: Not hard.
KC: And I’ll tell you why. It’s because there’s this one thing that I kept in my mind: everything she did was in spite of Christian. So it didn’t matter what she was doing. As long as I had that in me, as an actor, I kept that in mind as her motive, and that the audience was always going to forgive her and understand what she is doing. They’d get it. Which is what happened. Now, the other part of that question is that, as an actor, I had to do different research for different things, and that was a challenge to do. But emotionally, as an actor, I always just kept that one thing in mind throughout the entire show.
BE: Well, that may actually tie into my next question, because I was going to say that you found yourself in quite a few strange situations over the years. Was there ever anything that you were asked to do you either drew a line and said no or that you ended up doing but you were extremely worried as you were going into it?
KC: Well, simply, no.
BE: Well, okay, then.
KC: I always…you know, I always had a good sense of humor about it, but that’s kind of me as a person, anyways. I’m not very uptight, and so I was okay because I always trusted them as well. “Them” meaning my producers, the editors, the studio. Because it was always done well, you know? Like, you never know what’s going to translate to camera after editing and stuff like that, but every single time, for me, I was happy with it. And so when something would come my way that I thought, “Well, I’m going to be a little uncomfortable,” I wasn’t worried about the finished product; I was just worried about doing it on set, maybe a little bit. But I never said no. But trust me, if something made me that uncomfortable, I would. But it always was okay, you know? I mean, my family probably wishes I would have put my foot down… (Laughs) …but I didn’t.
BE: Okay, this would be kind of a dodgy question for any other character, but for Kimber I figure it’s fair to ask: who was your favorite actor to do sex scenes with? Because let’s face it, you had plenty.
KC: (Laughs) Well, you know, it’s Julian, simply because we are friends and we do have a lot of trust professionally. together.
BE: Given how many you did, did it get to a point where any past awkwardness gave way to a feeling of ridiculousness?
KC: Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, Julian, in the pilot, totally broke the ice with me the first day. Because the pilot was so graphic, and it was our first day working together. I mean, it was brutal. It was really an uncomfortable situation for both of us, and I had never done a love scene, but he is a funny, funny guy, and he broke the ice for us. But I think after that, the recurring characters were much more nervous than I was. After awhile, it just became routine for me, like…I don’t know, like I was a broodmare or something. (Laughs) Really!
BE: So do you as a person have anything in common with Kimber?
BE: That you’re willing to admit to?
KC: (Laughs) Yeah, exactly. There you go. Yeah, of course, I think I brought…the reason why… (Hesitates) Okay, let’s see, how am I going to answer that? Kimber always lets men define her, which is why I have so many female fans, which with this type of character is rare. So I just brought my past relationship experience to her. Granted, it was nothing like hers, but if I can bring the emotions to her…? So a lot of those moments were real for me. Like, there were a couple where, even though my personal life never pertained to what was going on in the show at all whatsoever, I tried to make it as real as possible and relatable for myself to do this. Because I’ll tell you what: if it wasn’t believable, if it wasn’t real, my character would have been gone a long, long time ago, because there wasn’t much to her to begin with. So I had to expose myself as much as I could, safely.
BE: Okay, you touched on this a minute ago, so…how has your family reacted to Kimber over the years?
KC: Well, it was hard for them in the beginning.
BE: I would think.
KC: After we won the Golden Globe for Best Series, that’s when my whole family was, like, “Oh no, we love the show. No, it’s great!” (Laughs) You know, they jumped right on the bandwagon. But my mother…she lives in Minnesota, and she’s a very great, kind woman, and she called me for the first time after the episode where Kimber died and said, “Okay, that was a little much.” (Laughs) And I said, “All right, I understand. It’s over, I promise!” But they had a good sense of humor about it.
BE: So what was the general feeling on set as the show began to wind down? I mean do you think everyone was at the “we’ve done all we can” stage or was it emotional and still hard to let go?
KC: I think it was more “we’ve done all we can.” And we had, you know. That’s just the truth. It’s time to move on and end on somewhat of a good note.
BE: Well for as often as we loved Kimber, we hated her just as frequently.
KC: Yeah, yeah. (Laughs)
BE: Do you think she got the ending she deserved, or would you have liked for her to have a happier sendoff?
KC: No, I wouldn’t have wanted a happy sendoff for her, because it wouldn’t have fit her character at all. It just wouldn’t have. But I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t mind that she died at all. I think that’s absolutely appropriate. But I thought it was fairly quick. I don’t know. Visually, it wasn’t that stimulating for me to watch. So I’m lukewarm on that.
BE: What did you think when you heard about Joan Rivers coming back to the show and connecting to your story?
KC: Oh, yeah. (Laughs) I got to meet her. It was great. I thought, “How appropriate.” I mean, look, I tried to make Kimber, you know, visually, with the big hair and a lot of makeup, that girl. And she would be Joan Rivers, do you know what I mean? So I thought it was funny. I thought it was appropriate.
BE: Do you have any other favorite guest stars over the course of the show?
KC: Rosie O’Donnell was lovely. I have so many. Everyone who came on the show was great. Like, for some reason, we had a very nice, positive working environment, and we never had any problems. We may have had a diva here and there, I don’t know, but I never had issue with one person I worked with on “Nip/Tuck.” Not one. Never. It was great. I loved Melanie Griffith. She came on as my mother, and she is lovely, a beautiful, cool person. But everybody was great.
BE: Do you have a particular favorite episode or storyline from the series? Maybe something that resonated as particularly truthful to you?
KC: Truthful to me as a person?
BE: Well, just in general, really. Something that you could imagine someone actually going through.
KC: Um…no. (Laughs) I mean, everything we did was so…see, I’m such a square in my real life that I’m, like, the polar opposite of Kimber. But I get her. In kind of a voyeuristic way, I had so much fun playing the character because my life is so structured and, like, I’m very strict with my lifestyle and what I do. So going to play this character was very fun for me. You know, it was liberating. Did I answer that question right?
BE: Possibly. Would you say that the experience was educational?
KC: (Laughs) Um, maybe, in some ways, yes. (Laughs) Yeah, I’m sure. I mean, I always said that we should have The “Nip/Tuck” School of Lovemaking, because I’ll tell you what, I’m sure not one woman has made love on television more than I have. I could start, like, the Strasberg School for Lovemaking on Television.
BE: Quick, get the marketing boys on that right away.
KC: (Laughs) Yeah, exactly.
BE: So where’s the Kimber doll these days?
KC: She actually lives in a much better place than I do. She is on the water in Malibu, in a beautiful home. Like, really, on the best plot in Malibu, period. She lives there right now. I hate her.
BE: And is it indeed true that the doll is fully functional?
KC: It’s fully functional, yep.
BE: Do you find that at all disturbing?
KC: (Laughs) Yeah, it is. It’s kind of cryptic in a way, though, because it’s not what you think. Like, I watched the episode of “Real Sex” on HBO, and I was openminded. I was, like, “Okay, all right, I get it.” But then when she came, I was, like, “Um, no, that’s not what that is. It’s not what it seems like.” It was pretty funny.
BE: So what are the chances of you popping up on Ryan’s other show? Can you sing well enough to cut it on “Glee”?
KC: No. No, no, no, (Laughs) I can’t sing. I am one of those who’s probably tone deaf. I mean, maybe I could play someone who was trying to sing but can’t. I can dance. I can dance very well. But I can not sing.
BE: Oh well.
KC: Yeah, so, no, I don’t think I’m going to be on “Glee.” (Laughs)
BE: Okay, last question: where do you go from here? Because for fans of the show, Kimber is kind of an iconic character.
KC: I know. That’s what I’m trying to work out right now, but…I don’t know. You know, it’s, like, I want to go to another great show. I would love to do film, and I’ve done some film, but I would like to do some more. It’s tough. It’s tough because Kimber’s such a dynamic character, so it’s, like, where do you go? I’ve been sitting here meditating on that in front of 25 scripts for, like, the past three weeks. So I’ll let you know.
BE: Sounds like a perfect ending to me.
KC: Oh, God, I hope it’s not the ending for me!
BE: (Laughs) Sorry, no, I meant the interview.KC: Oh, okay, then! (Laughs) Thank you, Will. I appreciate it. I look forward to reading it!