After months of anticipation, Bravo is thrilled to debut our very first scripted show, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce, tomorrow at 10/9c. Based on the popular book series by Vicki Iovine, it stars Lisa Edelstein as Abby, who tries to navigate her life and career while going through a divorce and raising children.
Lisa is no stranger to television: she's had star turns in hit shows like House M.D., Mad About You, Wings, The West Wing and dozens of others. She also had one memorable role on Seinfeld, playing George Costanza's girlfriend (watch that throwback clip below).
As Lisa gets set to join the Bravo family, we caught up with her to talk about her amazing career, recently tying the knot to her husband, the artist Robert Russell, and hilarious behind-the-scenes scoop from shooting Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce. Plus: Watch a new preview of the show—and tune in tomorrow at 10/9c.
What was your first exposure to the performing arts growing up and what made you want to pursue acting?
I was raised in the 70's and therefore raised by television, hours and hours of television. I loved The Carol Burnett Show and The Sonny and Cher Show, Charlie's Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, Battlestar Galactica. I loved the fricken Gong Show. I ate it all up and I wanted to be it all, too. If I could have found a way to wear Cher's outfits while playing a superhero that saved the galaxy but was also really, really funny... But that wasn't available to me where I grew up, so instead, I was in every play that would have me, starting in first grade. I didn't care if my job was to just walk across the stage with a sign, I was thrilled to do it all.
Did you draw on any personal experiences to get into the role of Abby?
I can certainly relate to her, as a woman, but our lives are very different. One main difference is that I was single most of my adult life and she got married young. So a lot of what she needs to learn about herself in relation to the world—like the ins and outs and confusions of dating, are things I went through in my twenties and early thirties.
What were some of the best experiences of filming this show? Any funny stories or crazy tales from the set?
I have worked with some of the best crews around, but this particular group is a truly unique one. They frequently burst into song, for example. SONG. WITH HARMONIES. Mostly it's Happy Birthday (regardless of if it is their birthday or not) and mostly it's if someone does something awesome or awesomely embarrassing. Applause, too, they are big on applauding. It is just a fantastic collection of beautiful weirdos that have great leadership (Scott Williams, our DP) and a great work ethic.
What have been some of the most rewarding roles in your career? And what have been some of the most challenging?
Certainly House changed my life in the biggest way, it was an amazing show to be a part of for so long and the fans from that show continue to be wildly supportive. I love that! It is a great feeling. But there have been lots of exciting moments along the way. Really, every job meant something to me because I love my job. It's a great f---ing job. The challenge is not the job itself, but getting the job, getting jobs you like, working on projects you're proud of and dealing with the rejections when things don't go your way. We put ourselves through a lot in that regard. This is not a business for everyone.
You've worked with plenty of Hollywood legends. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned from them?
I think most of what I've learned is about leadership—what it looks like to be a great leader and what it looks like when you're just an asshole. There's a lot of pressure put on people when they are carrying a show and I really admire those who handle it gracefully; who create a great work environment, who by example, not only inspire everyone to work their hardest, but to feel fantastic about it.
You famously played George’s girlfriend on an episode of Seinfeld. What was that experience like?
I was THRILLED to be there. I could hardly believe my own good fortune. It was a very exciting job for me.
You’ve had a long line of being an activist, including participating in PETA campaigns. What causes are near and dear to your heart these days and why?
I do a lot for animal rescue with a group called Best Friends. I also feel very strongly about supporting Planned Parenthood and the work they do to make sure women from all walks of life have access to women's health care. And with everything that's happened this year I feel pretty inspired to support Doctors Without Borders. They've done amazing work in terrifying circumstances.
Any passions or hobbies when you're not working?
When I'm not working I live a simple life. I journal, I cook, I go for dog hikes, I travel... Pretty fantastic way to live as long as you're not spending too much time worrying about when the next job you like is coming along. I say no a lot to jobs if they don't feel right for me. I've done that since I started, long before I could really afford to. But it's a hard career to achieve and I think, if you're going to risk it, you may as well do your damnedest to get the version of it that makes you happy.
Any fave TV shows besides Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce?
I really enjoyed the first season of Transparent, what a great show!
Congratulations on getting married recently! How has your life changed since your wedding?
Well, the day after we got married I left to start shooting a show about divorce! But we had an amazing summer. The whole family came up to Canada (we shot mostly in Vancouver) and it was fantastic. I never needed to get married but it's a nice feeling. I like calling him my husband. It carries a lot more weight in the world then my boyfriend. The kids love it, too. Being an official step-mom is a lot different than being an almost-official one.
Watch a preview of Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce below.