THE INSIDER: MADELINE ZIMA
The unlikely hero of Californication takes a new role on Heroes.
Cable subscribers were shocked, awed, and probably a little bit psyched last year, when Madeline Zima – otherwise known as the little girl from The Nanny – appeared topless and on top of David Duchovny in Californication. Now after two seasons playing the underage vixen Mia, Madeline takes another role – this one as Hayden Panettiere’s mysterious roommate on Heroes. We caught up with the Madeline on her day off…
This story was published on September 23, 2009.
Filming Heroes must get tricky, because the plot is so intricate. Yeah, the only sane part is they film it sequentially, unless we have to go back and reshoot something, so at least we can keep track of the story.
The story’s secret though, right? So you don’t know if your character is good or evil yet, do you? I honestly know nothing; it’s so sad. I feel like I’m shooting in the dark a lot of the time with my choices! My storyline is very mysterious, so I have to sort of make things up on the spot. But it’s the funnest show, and I love working on it. The writing is great, it really is, and I’m just happy to be on a show.
Are your scripts delivered to you via armed guard? Yeah, I have to have a password, and there are lasers involved. It’s pretty standard.
Is there a difference between the way you approach a script now, and the way you did as a child? That’s such a good question! When you’re a child, your imagination is so readily available to you, if someone tells you your mom is dead, you just imagine it and start crying. You don’t need mental work to get there emotionally. I still work from an instinctual place... but I’ve had to do a lot more technique and craft to get consistent results. When you grow up, you’re taught to shut off so many of my feelings, but that’s good – I’d be a basket case if I held onto all the emotional reactions from when I was a kid.
No, you seem to be pretty well adjusted…
A lot of us are! Child actors, I mean. There have been a lot of transitions from young actor to adult actor, but people only focus on the transitions that went badly! I mean, Reese Witherspoon started really young, and Hayden [Panettiere]’s been doing it forever, and as far as that’s concerned, she’s great. And Kristen Stewart… I mean, many child actors turn into really good, productive people.
As opposed to your character on Californication.
Yeah, she’s cool though… I know so many people that loved [her], because you hear all these horrible things that men do to women, and for a woman to turn the tables and do that to a man, it’s really inspiring. And she’s so strong – she’s not on the good side, necessarily, but she’s so strong. When I got scripts at first I was like, what? How am I going to justify [her behavior]? But now I realize she’s just doing what she wants. It’s Machiavellian and underhanded, but you know, people who employ those underhanded tactics seem to get ahead. And she’s playing the game.
There was also that scene where you made out with Pete Wentz.
That was so awkward! He was so super nice, but I feel so weird kissing someone I don’t like, and that was when there were rumors about Ashlee’s pregnancy… It was just weird. You’re like, “Oh well, I’m just going to be make believe.”
This is our TV issue. Any favorite shows?
I just bought the box set of Freaks and Geeks... I also like watching really old stuff, like The Dick Cavet Show – my sister gets it on Netflix, and there are like Woody Allen interviews on that, and Orsen Wells. People don’t talk like that anymore and nobody handles themselves with such intelligence and manners. It’s nice to watch that lost art form and see how people interact.
Fill in the blank. The last time I went to New York, I _________
I went to Renee Zellweger’s birthday party!
Whoa! Intense! Okay, new question – how can we get your hair? Everyone asks that and I feel gross answering. It’s just a question of whether or not I’m going to wash it that day. My favorite shampoo is a caviar shampoo. It’s a little pricey but it’s really nice. And every day I ask my sister if I should wash my hair and she’s like, “Madeline, I don’t care!” Seriously, it’s like a heavy question for me, even though it’s really stupid.