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Jul 24, 2017

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Laurie Holden
by Bob Blumer
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 3.3

With the exception of a momentary lapse of reason when she thought she wanted to be an investment banker, Laurie Holden has been acting all of her life. She landed her first screen role at age seven, when she was thrown in to replace an absent actress as Rock Hudson's daughter in The Martian Chronicles. It helped that the director was her step-father, Michael Anderson (Around the World in 80 Days), but the nepotism stops there. Today, the curvaceous twentysomething actress is flying on her own, shuttling between her recurring roles as Marita Covarrubias, Maulder's U.N. informant on X-Files, and Mary Travis, the only female cast member in the CBS series The Magnificent Seven. X-Files creator Chris Carter has big plans for her character, and Laurie's handlers are in negotiations with yet a third high-profile TV drama.

In order to keep within the meager Wine X celebrity entertainment budget, I lured Laurie to my house with the promise of a surreal meal accompanied by anything she wanted from the shower stall I call my wine cellar. She selected a Chateau Ste. Michelle "Horse Haven Vineyard" Merlot and a Silverado Vineyards Limited Reserve Chardonnay. Perched on a stool in my kitchen, Laurie answered my questions as I prepared dinner.

Bob: X-Files, Wine X... Do you sense a conspiracy?

Laurie: I thought it was a neat tie-in.

B: What's the truth?

L: (with a sly grin) People always want to know what's really going on with X-Files. And the truth is even we don't know. I get all this fan mail from people wanting to know what I meant in a scene or what a particular word meant. I think it's kinda fascinating that everyone is so obsessed. On the inside, there's a level of ambiguity. Chris Carter's the only person who really knows what's going on. But we do have an inkling because we're playing those parts.

L: (with a sly grin) People always want to know what's really going on with X-Files. And the truth is even we don't know. I get all this fan mail from people wanting to know what I meant in a scene or what a particular word meant. I think it's kinda fascinating that everyone is so obsessed. On the inside, there's a level of ambiguity. Chris Carter's the only person who really knows what's going on. But we do have an inkling because we're playing those parts.

B: So what can we expect from Marita?

L: On February 14th, people are going to see her in a way they've never seen or imagined her before. It's going to shock the world. To prepare for the episode I had to go to some places inside me that were very, very unfamiliar territory.

B: Do you think people have a hard time differentiating between your character and your real-life persona?

L: A lot of people have animosity toward my character because they think she's trying to come between Mulder and Scully.

B: I think Larry Hagman had the same problem. Do you get recognized a lot?

L: Yes, but sometimes it's embarrassing. Yesterday the FedEx guy came to my house. I had my pajamas and a green facial mask on. I opened the door to get my package, and he said, "Hey, aren't you on the X-Files?" I just know he went home and told his wife that I looked like Godzilla.

B: And then he broadcast it on the Internet.

L: Yeah, I bet he did.

B: It's them and the garbage men who...

L: Yeah I know. I bought a shredder.

I pour the Chateau Ste. Michelle merlot.

B: This is a Washington State merlot.

L: I know this wine. It's a pretty bottle. (Laurie recognizes the glasses). You know, I think it's true that wine tastes better in Reidel glasses.

B: Who or what convinced you of that?

L: Someone bought me Reidel glasses, and every time I have a glass of wine from them it's an experience. (Sniffing the wine). Mmm, this is like roses.

B: I love the glasses too, but I find they tend to jump spontaneously out of people's hands -- unlike the 99 cent store variety that adhere to you like Velcro.

L: You're right. A friend of mine who was upset dropped by and wanted some water. All my glasses were dirty so I gave her one of my Reidel balloons. She grasped it and immediately smashed it. She apologized, but she just didn't understand.

B: How'd you come to enjoy wine?

L: I grew up with my stepfather's influence. Ever since I was a teenager, having a glass of wine was a regular part of our meal. And I've been throwing dinner parties since I was sixteen. Recently I started hanging out with film people who are really big into wine. They introduced me to some of the better ones. It's hard to go back.

B: Do you remember any of those wines?

L: Oh yeah. Camus '94 cabernet, Opus '93 and Silver Oak '94 cab. I've always gravitated toward the reds, especially merlots. Wine is nostalgia for me. It takes you back to a certain time or event. It's like a smell, a scent, a song. I guess I'm a romantic. And port... Port is something you can drink a bottle of. It's like liquid candy. Especially Fonseca Port.

B: Just what exactly were you thinking when you went to McGill University (in Montreal) to study investment banking?

L: I wasn't thinking. I acted as a kid and went to an all-girl school which was one of those overachieving environments where all of my friends were scholarly. Modeling or acting was looked on as a hobby. One of my greatest strengths is math, so I kinda fell into the investment banking thing. Smells great in here. I really like this. It's a really nice way to interview people (nibbling on the bruschetta). I'll probably say a ton of things that I'll regret.

B: Do you cook?

L: I made Thanksgiving dinner this year for some orphans from the show. After I invited them, it dawned on me that I had never done this before. Dinner took me two days to make, and it was the best thing I've ever tasted in my life. I think fear drove me to overachieve.

B: Did you use recipes?

L: I used one recipe. But call me the Gelson's [an upscale Los Angeles grocery store] stalker. I showed up at Gelson's in panic mode and went up to everybody in the store and said, "This is my first Thanksgiving dinner. Is there any tip you can possibly give me?" I ran into two chefs who lead me through the aisles... It was the meal of the century. You'll have to take this bruschetta away from me. It's just too good. I have to fit into a dress for the People's Choice Awards in three days -- and it ain't gonna happen.

B: Personal experience has taught me that acting isn't always as easy as it looks.

L: I think a lot of people think that acting is no big deal because there are a lot of shows on television that are very T&A. They think that Baywatch is acting. But if you look at some of today's independent features, or Anthony Hopkins' consistent performances, you realize that acting is a science. It takes years to perfect and hone your craft and get into someone's skin. I take it very seriously.

B: What are some of the favorite roles you've played?

L: I'm insane. I do everything. I've done period pieces, Russian accents, Scottish accents. There's nothing more thrilling than when you get a part and the language, the heritage and everything else about it are completely foreign to you. But by the end of it you're fooling everybody. You've become that character.

B: Do you stay in character throughout the production?

L: Yes, I guess I'm "methody." Whatever gets you there. I heard that when Dan Day Lewis was doing My Left Foot, he stayed in character the whole time. He was handicapped off the set for the entire production.

B: I find that less scary than thinking that he could be in his trailer drinking a beer, then come out and get right back into his character. (Pulling dinner out of the oven) This is seabass cooked with lime juice and ginger in a brown paper lunch bag, served with a papaya salsa. Before I pour the next wine, what are your final thoughts on the merlot?

L: It's spectacular; I love it.

B: I want you to know you're getting the special treatment. Usually I use paper towels but today, in your honor, I have paper napkins.

I open the Silverado chardonnay.

L: Just a splash please, I'm a bit of a lightweight, and I have an audition tomorrow morning. (Sipping the wine) Mmm. Delicious. Buttery. (Tasting the food.) Mmm, how do you get the potatoes like this?

B: You schedule an interview, and when the interviewee arrives an hour-and-a-half late, they're done to perfection.

L: Sorry, it was the [WineX] photo session.

B: Just kiddin'. You get much time off?

L: No, I'm like a machine.

B: Do you suffer from "this-may-be-the-last-job-I-ever-get" syndrome?

L: I don't, but my managers do.

B: What were that last CDs you bought?

L: Brian McKnight, Women In Song

B: What do you do with all your money?

L: I'm not exactly Ivana Trump. I don't live in a huge mansion. I live in a sweet little place in the Valley. I'm a big antique collector. Gothic, Victorian, French. They make my place so homey.

B: Some more wine?

L: I can't because of my early audition. On another night I could've enjoyed many more glasses.

B: (jokingly) Okay, enough about you. Let's talk about this fish in a bag.

Laurie called me a couple of days later. The moment I heard her chipper voice on the phone I began scrolling through the interview in my mind, wondering if she was calling to clarify an X-File detail, tell me a story about the dress, or check to see if I’d kept my word about one of her "off the record" comments. "Floral" she said. "It's been bugging me since I said it...about that chardonnay, it was floral, not just buttery.

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