Busy Philipps: Reality Show Wunderkind
By JARETT WIESELMAN
January 22, 2013
If you've seen any of Busy Philipps' film or television projects over the last decade and a half, you know she's a talented actress. But unless you follow her on Twitter, you might not know what a talented cake maker and seamstress she is.
Over the years, as she's amassed followers on Twitter and Instagram, Philipps has taken us inside her kitchen as she creates stunning cakes for daughter Birdie and recently revealed that she was equally qualified for a turn on Project Runway. I learned the second fact after ringing up the Cougar Town star to talk about the recently launched new season, and got a behind the seams look at her latest school project!
ETonline: Hey Busy, how's it going?
Busy Philipps: It's good. I'm in the middle of my own Project Runway challenge given to me by my daughter's preschool. All the parents have to make an outfit for their kids, for school pictures, made entirely out of recycled objects. I can not believe I have homework [laughs]. So, I am fusing plastic bags with an iron to sew them into a dress, and I swear I will post on Twitter when I am done [see the final result here]. It's a crazy Project Runway-style challenge.
ETonline: We've seen your proficiency with cakes on Twitter, and it's nice to see you're equally capable of being on Project Runway as you are Ace of Cakes.
Philipps: Also, this is what a pregnant Busy Philipps does in her free time, I'm taking master fondant cake decorating class with Anna from Ace of Cakes at Duff's Charm City Cakes. It's like 4 three-hour classes.
ETonline: Not that I'd want you to give up acting, but have you ever entertained the idea of doing this semi-professionally?
Philipps: Years ago, when we were filming White Chicks, I showed Keenen Wayans some of my cakes and he told me, "That's what you should do!" At the time I was really offended. I mean, I was one of the leads in his movie, and it felt like he didn't think I should be there [laughs]. But he just wanted me to do both. So Keenen was on that train long ago, I need to give him credit. But I don't know that I would have the time. It's so time consuming and I barely have time to do the things I want to do when I'm not shooting Cougar Town. And when I am shooting the show, I really have no time to do anything. I would have to charge, like, $4,000 a cake to break even -- I'd price myself out of the market.
ETonline: Well, you'll get no complaints from me because Cougar Town has been hilarious this year. What have you been enjoying about season four?
Philipps: With the move to TBS, I really love the freedom. Everyone was so energized by the love that TBS has been showing us since day one. Bill [Lawrence, Cougar Town creator] has been saying since day one that we know these characters better than anyone, so it's time to just have fun now. We have really taken that to heart. I love my scenes with the girls so much because a scene with the three of us really flies. We have such a blast. I love working with my girls. And I think the boys feel the same way [laughs].
ETonline: This season will see Laurie and Travis once again exploring their feelings for one another. I know you haven't always been a huge fan of this storyline because Travis was so young when the show began, but now that Travis has aged faster than any kid on TV...
Philipps: Except for that little girl on Growing Pains – she grew faster!
ETonline: Except for her, what do you think about the choice and how the writers bring Laurie and Travis together?
Philipps: I have to say, I have really warmed to the idea over the last four years, and I feel like the way the season ends is great and perfect. I'm excited to see where they go with it next year. It's tough, I'm married to a screenwriter, so I really come from the school of my character would do and say whatever the writers in the writer's room choose for my character to do and say. Even if I initially disagreed with a choice, I've gone with it full steam and eventually realized it was the best for Laurie.
ETonline: We recently chatted at TCA, where two of your Freaks and Greeks co-stars (Linda Cardellini and Samm Levine) were also plugging new shows. Looking back on that cast (James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr), are you surprised you've all gone on to have so much success in the industry?
Philipps: In a way, no. When Judd [Apatow, executive producer], Paul [Feig, EP], Jake [Kasdan, EP] and Allison [Jones, casting director] were casting the show, they were very specific about the kids they wanted on it. Judd and Paul really allowed us freedom on set -- one of the greatest gifts they gave us was to instill the idea that, even though we were young, our ideas were valid, collaboration was key and that we knew what we were doing. That was so invaluable to hear starting out in this business because so many people want to tell young actors they have no idea what they're doing. I think because they celebrated our uniqueness as performers, it really instilled in all of us the idea that we didn't need to bend to be something we weren't to work in this business. You see with a lot of us that there were really dry years where we didn't work a lot, I feel like I had some years that were big struggles, where I thought I'd have to go back to college to get an actual job. But ultimately staying true to who you are, letting that shine through, has been the best thing for all of us as performers and done wonders for us. In that respect, I feel like it's not strange that most of us now have writing credits. Being told, at 18-years-old, that your ideas are as valid as 35-year-old professional writer is really incredible. People don't encourage creativity in television the way Judd and Paul and Jake did -- and I know that because I've been on 47 million television shows.
Cougar Town airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on TBS.