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TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2008

THE MIDDLEMAN: NATALIE MORALES

Natalie Morales, who plays Wendy Watson on ABC's The Middleman, was the subject of a telephone press conference late last week.

Below is an edited transcription of the call in which Morales talks about her character being a Latina, handling the motor-mouth dialogue and what's in store for Wendy the rest of the season.

Question: In real life, how are you with weird things, are you jaded like your character or do you usually freak out?

Morales: You know what? No, I grew up as an only child and so I've always kind of been curious and interested in a lot of stuff. In that, I think Wendy and I have a lot in common.

Question: What do you enjoy most about playing her?

Morales: I think, I get to have fun with her. They kind of let me have free range on the comedic styling's of Wendy Watson. I get to deliver lines in a crazy fashion if I feel like it. I love doing that. I love the fact that she's sort of the comedic relief of the show in a way, even though Ida pretty much steals the show. She's very funny.

Question: What's the stunt work like?

Morales: The stunt work is pretty interesting, actually. Greg Burnette, who's our stunt coordinator, is just amazing. If you look him up ... 300,000 credits. He just rules. He teaches me stuff and I actually get to do a lot of my own stunts. I've done wire work and a bunch of things like that, a lot of falling and yes, I actually love the stunt work. I really do.

Question: What drew you to the role of Wendy and made you want to play this character?

Morales: I really like the fact that they wanted a Latina for the role and it wasn't your regular stereotypical Latina. I wasn't smoking hot and sexy and stealing men away from people. She's just a regular girl who is a lot like me and lot like my friends and that's just the really cool part of about her that turned me on to it the most.

Question: You do a lot of weird things on the show or strange things. What's the strangest thing that you've got to do so far?

Morales: As Wendy, punching a fish and getting into a fight with fish. As Natalie, getting into a fight with a fish that wasn't actually there, so that's the weirdest thing I've ever had to do, I think, so far.

Question: Can you describe a typical day on the set? What do you do all day long?

Morales: Well, I come in earlier than I've woken up in my life. I go into hair and makeup for about an hour, do rehearsal and then just scenes all day long, just work. And then I sleep during lunch and I go back to work, just scene after scene after scene and then I go home and fall in my bed. That's it.

Question: It seems like the cast has a lot of fun together at least on the show. Do you all get along outside of the show?

Morales: Yes, yes. We really do. And a lot of these things, the casting director cast sometimes for chemistry, but honestly, it's also off screen. All these people in this cast are just amazing and I'm friends will all of them. They're all really funny. Brit Morgan and Mary Pat Gleason are like my favorite people on the planet, along with Jake and Matt.

Question: People notice that sometimes you're in glasses and sometimes you aren't. Is this some sort of like character trademark or does this represent something in the show for you?

Morales: It's kind of like a Clark Kent kind of thing. Whenever I'm in the Middleman outfit or doing Middleman-type work, I'm not in the glasses. Whenever I'm regular Wendy, I am in the glasses. It's not super strict. Sometimes I'm not in the glasses when I'm Wendy. But that's the general rule.

Question: Are there new characters?

Morales: Well, yes, we're actually adding a lot of new people on the show. There's a character named Pipp, who is one of our neighbors ,who I think is great. All of the people who are guest star and our costars, I don't know, the casting on this show is just ridiculously awesome and everybody is good. I know I sound like I'm just praising everybody, but I'm dead serious.

Question: Are they any specifics or or crazies that come to mind?

Morales: Definitely the villain in this episode that I'm doing right now, like I said, the one with Kevin is going to be episode nine. The villain in this is called The Candle, so it's kind of cool.

Question: Does he have a specific super power?

Morales: He has a melting-ray gun he can just melt an entire city with. Pretty awesome.

Question: Can you talk a little bit about what we can expect for Wendy this season as far as the character goes?

Morales: Well, I think you can expect to see a few more layers of Wendy. There's a lot of sides to her. There's the sarcastic cynical side and then there's the sweet side. There's the side that's a friend to Lacy. There's a side that's a coworker to the Middleman. There's a side of her that's creative and artistic and there's also the romantic side of her. You'll all get to see a lot of all that. I love it. It kind of a different angle than one character and you don't often get to play that.

Question: I was wondering how you initially prepared for the part because it's very fast-paced speech.

Morales: Yes, I kind of just put my sides in a Ziploc bag and took them in the shower with me and then slept with them next to me and just did as much work as I could on it. Eventually, you kind of get the flow of it.

Question: Did you find it easier to learn them, though?

Morales: I do, surprisingly enough, I do. But, yes, it's an insane amount of dialog and very fast-paced. So in the beginning, it was a little difficult, but I think finally episode nine, I've gotten the hang of it.

Question: Finally, I'm just wondering if you have actually read the comic book.

Morales: Of course, I have, yes. It's really great. I'm actually sad that there probably won't be any more. I don't know if there's going to be any more, but I love the comic book. A lot of our scripts are directly from the comic book.

Question: What are your thoughts on how Latinas are portrayed in the current television landscape? Do you feel it's improved recently?

Morales: Definitely, it has. I think it really has. I think America Ferreira has a big part to do with that. I think it's good to be a Hispanic woman in Hollywood today. We're definitely getting better roles. And Javi (Grillo-Marxuach, Middleman creator) did a really good thing, casting a Latina in this role. Originally in the comic book, she's a Caucasian red head. I just think that's it's cool that she's just a regular girl and she just happens to be Hispanic.

Question: Who do you think is the target audience for this show?

Morales: If I would say, I know there has to be a target audience officially, but I would say it's probably anywhere from eight to 45, although one of our directors, Norman Buckley, showed it to his 82-year-old mother and she loved it. I don't know.

Question: Do you know anything about the time slot change, moving to later, why that was done?

Morales: I think they're just trying to test out different markets. I asked my producer, John Zifferan, he's just like so great to have on set, I couldn't even tell you. I said, "Hey, what's up with the change? Little kids won't be able to watch this if it's at 10 o'clock." And he said, "Well, the little kids who can't stay up past 10 aren't watching us anyway. They're watching the Disney Channel. So the little kids that can stay up past ten, think we're way cooler for being on at 10." I was like, I'll take that answer. That's fine.

Question: Are you going to Comic-Con?

Morales: Hell, yes, I'm going to be at Comic Con. I'm so excited about that. I'm totally going to be there. So far I'm going to be there the Thursday and Saturday, and Matt (Keeslar) and I and Javier are going.

Question: So Wendy is a little bit of a geek girl. She has a very specific list of comic books that she likes and very specific Xbox games that she likes to play. Do you have any similar traits?

Morales: I do like video games. I have to say that. I just got the Wall-E game for the Wii and I am really excited about it, but I don't want to play it until Wall-E comes out this weekend because I don't want it to give away anything. While I was filming in Vancouver, I was known to, at like midnight when I couldn't sleep after working, play Wii golf in my underwear in my hotel room. I do like video games and I guess I'm kind of similar. I'm such a nerd, I am very similar to Wendy. I can't lie about that.

Question: So are there comic books that you do read, other than obviously other than the Middleman for research purposes?

Morales: I read a little bit of Dead at 17, which is awesome. I wish I had more time to read stuff. I used to read to like Batman and Superman when I was a kid. But all I read these days are just scripts and scripts and scripts, so.

Question: A big part of your back story involves your father and what happened to him. I know that it was dealt with in the comic, but is that going to be resolved this season on the show do you know?

Morales: I hope so. I think that would be one of those things that are kind of season finale cliffhanger type things. I don't know anything yet, so we'll see. There's more mention of her father as the show goes along, but you'll never know.

Question: I had quick question about how you see The Middleman fitting into the ABC Family lineup.

Morales: I'm sure you know it's very different from what they have currently. I think it's really different from anything that's on TV at all. So hopefully it will do good things for the network. They're trying to expand and go into different directions and I definitely think The Middleman will do that. I'd say it's a good fit in that way. They were looking for something I think that was different and they definitely got it.



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