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Hemlock Grove’s Lili Taylor Exclusive Interview: I Used to Be a TV Snob

Lili Taylor

Lili Taylor has been acting for more than 20 years in cult classics like Mystic Pizza and Say Anything, as well as new films like the horror movie The Conjuring. Taylor also had a major recurring role on HBO’s Six Feet Under and returned to television recently in Netflix’s second original programming show, Hemlock Grove. Taylor squeezed in time to speak with us in between shooting another new series, Almost Human, and her appearance at San Diego Comic Con.

Q: How did you get involved with Hemlock Grove?

Taylor: They asked if I wanted to do it and it seemed like such an interesting situation. I thought Netflix was on the cusp of something really exciting.

Q: How did you prepare beforehand?

Taylor: A lot of the work ahead of time was about the gypsies. I already knew a lot about the culture. But I needed to do more work and get more into their beliefs and their rituals. I also needed to figure out how they lived, specifically in modern society, and how they have adapted. I loved that and I find the gypsy culture really interesting.

Q: You have had such a successful career in both television and movies. Is there one medium you prefer over the other?

Taylor: We are finding that it doesn’t matter what platform it’s on, it’s the content [that matters]. I used to be a snob about what television I did before HBO. Then I just realized it doesn’t matter if it’s on a box, plasma screen, or whatever the heck you are watching it on. It’s the content. I don’t even know what to call Hemlock Grove. It’s one of the first streaming shows.

Q: As an actor, how do move from something like Six Feet Under to Hemlock Grove or from one movie to the next?

Taylor: It can sometimes feel like a one act play each week. Usually actors are pretty good at it. It’s like camp and things can happen really fast. One day is usually like a week, time-wise. Actors get right to it and start playing. Usually that’s okay. What’s tricky is when you don’t know what’s happening and you have to just let go. It’s hard. I like to build the characters, but there are things that you might not know until later. Like if I had known about things earlier I might have made different decisions. But what are you going to do? For Six Feet Under, they couldn’t tell us everything because they needed that secrecy. If one leak got out, the entire show was spoiled.

Q: You have done some cult classic films. What is it like now reflecting back on those?

Taylor: It’s fun. Time passing and getting old is interesting. I get to reflect back [on roles] through other people. I forget about [roles] because I have moved on, but then someone comes and reminds me. So I am able to reflect that way. It’s great. I am just happy that I have had a career and it’s working out how I had hoped when I was five. I always hoped that I would be working, always working.

Q: Can you tell me about The Conjuring and your character?

Taylor: Well, it’s based on a true story. I play a woman who had five girls and a nice marriage and moved to the country in hopes of getting away from the city and then things go very, very downhill.

Q: Is it harder to do roles like that, movies with supernatural elements?

Taylor: This is why this movie was so great. There was really very little CGI, it was all old-school special effects. So it was right there, happening right with me. That’s one reason the film was so great and why it’s getting a lot of recognition. Critics and fans are loving it because it’s like you don’t need to see everything. We have imaginations and we don’t need all of this computer generated stuff.

Q: To go back to Hemlock Grove, it was just announced that there will be a season two. Will your character be back?

Taylor: I am doing this J.J. Abrams show [Being Human], starting in a week. I am technically committed to it. But I know that my character doesn’t die on Hemlock Grove, so technically I could come back. I have let them know I love them. So, let’s hope we can work it out. I think what they are doing is really interesting.

Q: I know J.J. Abrams is very secretive, but can you tell me about the show?

Taylor: Sure. It’s set in 2050 and every cop is assigned an android partner. I am a captain and I assign the main cop a special android that they have experimented with [to have] feelings. So, it starts from there. His partner is very interesting, he is “almost human.” I am heading to San Diego Comic Con to take part in a panel about the new show. I am really excited.

Q: Anything else you want to say to your fans?

Taylor: Right now, fans can follow me on Twitter. I am also working on a Tumblr page, but it’s not ready right now. So, they could follow me on Twitter @drnolaa. And to the fans, I just want to say just keep looking at the work and enjoy.

You can currently watch Lili Taylor in Hemlock Grove on Netflix.

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Monica Gleberman began writing in 2000. She has been published on CNN and in the Suffolk Times, Examiner, The Daily Collegian, Demand Studios, Patch, and The Tattoo.

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