‘The Detour’ Actress Natalie Zea on Switching to Comedy in TBS Series

Natalie Zea The Detour Interview
Jose Mandojana for Variety

Her show is “The Detour,” but Natalie Zea’s career has taken a direct route from drama to comedy. The former star of “The Following” and “Justified” is now on season two of the TBS road-trip sitcom, which sees her character, Robin, and the rest of the Parker clan heading from Syracuse to New York City.

How did you join “The Detour?”

I had let it be known to whoever would listen that I wanted to do comedy. It was a real struggle, because I’d been known as this dramatic actress for my entire career. I got a phone call one day saying that [creators Jason Jones and Samantha Bee] wanted me to read the script. I had just been released from a project 48 hours prior, and I had said, “I am not going to take the next thing that comes, because I really want it to be right.” I assumed I would read the script and politely pass. I read it and thought, “I am so fucked, because I have to do this now.”

How is comedic acting different from dramatic? 

It really does color the mood you’re in. You’re thinking in comedic terms as opposed to doing a drama, which puts you in a specific mindset that’s not always the most fun. I enjoy it, selfishly, because it puts me in a much better mood every day. Sometimes I feel really guilty about it.

What’s it like working with Jason Jones?

If Jason and I didn’t have a similar sensibility, it just wouldn’t work. I know this sounds so cliché, but he really elevates my performance because he’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and when you’re doing scenes with one of the funniest people you know, if you don’t step up your game, you’re going to be the default straight guy, and nobody wants that.

What can you tell us about the new season?

Well, we’re in New York. Everyone else is very excited about it. I am not, because Robin has a past in New York. She doesn’t want to be confronted with that past, because her family doesn’t know about it. A lot of the season is discovering those parts of her past, but it’s not all about that. It’s also about this couple integrating themselves into places they shouldn’t be and completely messing up all the time, even while really trying to do good deeds.

What you didn’t know about Natalie Zea

AGE: 42 BORN: Houston ALL-TIME FAVORITE SHOW: “The Larry Sanders Show” LAST SHOW SHE WATCHED: The AffairFAVORITE APP: Pinterest

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