|Which director would you like to work with that you haven’t before? “Cameron Crowe and Paul Thomas Anderson because they make movies I’m interested in seeing, films that offer a unique and truthful look at the human soul.”
How do actors balance commerce vs. art? “I’ve never had to balance. I have always taken the jobs that were given to me.”
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Felicity Huffman was drawn to the role of transsexual Bree Osbourne in “Transamerica” because she admired how the story tackled not just physical changes, but also the emotional trauma that goes with them.
“I understood her sadness and self-loathing,” says the Emmy winner, recently honored for her work on “Desperate Housewives.” “Everyone’s been self-conscious on an excruciating level, not fitting in, wishing people could see you as you really are.”
While Huffman believed in the pic from the get-go, she’s astonished that the film — which also concerns the budding relationship between Bree and a son she had 18 years prior — has garnered any attention at all.
“We made it for something like $2.50,” she recalls. “I never thought anyone would see it except the 10 people in my living room.”
Huffman, who learned of helmer Duncan Tucker’s offer on the same day as the table read for the “Housewives” pilot, says the first thing she did was beg him to rethink his choice.
“It’s daunting,” she explains. “I’m a woman playing a man who is turning into a woman. I told him he should cast a guy, because everyone knows what’s under my skirt. He told me he was interested in what was in my heart, not under my skirt.”
To prep for the role, Huffman read the script with one question in mind — what was Bree’s internal journey?
“She wants to become who she really is,” says Huffman. “Then I thought, ‘How do I tackle this?'”
With just six weeks to prepare, Huffman readied herself for the role by watching docus and reading autobiographies about transsexuals. She dug through library archives, attended transgender conventions and surfed the Internet.
It was online that she learned of two women — Andrea James and Calpernia Addams (on whose life the award-winning Showtime movie “A Soldier’s Girl” was based) — who taught Huffman everything she needed to know about gender dysphoria.
Huffman also credits her vocal coach Danea Doyle with helping her to find the right pitch and “making sure she didn’t sound like Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot.’ “