The Schitt’s Creek star on how she learned to speak up for herself and the moment she found out she got her life-changing role.
You may recognize Annie Murphy as quick-witted former rich girl Alexis Rose on the hit TV comedy Schitt’s Creek. Here, the actor talks about how she learned to cope with rejection in the industry, and find her voice offscreen.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
For a long time, I thought I was going to go into law, but theatre just kept being so present in my life. [But] being on stage and getting that [positive] feedback from the audience, it was a really incredible feeling that I didn’t really want to part with.
Why is it important to advocate for yourself?
When I started out in the industry, I felt the need to say “yes” to everything. You wanted to be an actor, so you took acting jobs. So your agent would call you up, and be like, “I’ve got an audition where you’re going to play a nude woman who transforms into a werewolf in the back of a truck!” And you’re like, “Yay, I can’t wait to do that audition in front of a stranger.” [That’s why] it’s very important to listen to your gut.
How did you learn to handle rejection?
There is so much heartbreak and letdown in this industry. You get your heart set on something, and then you’re sitting by the phone for three weeks and it never rings. I don‘t think that necessarily ever gets easier, but you learn that there’s going to be something else — that’s going to make you feel the same way — coming down the tracks. I don’t think the heartbreak ever gets that much easier to swallow. You just learn to look at it from a different perspective.
What advice do you have for some just starting out in this industry?
Really have the confidence that you have something awesome to bring to the table. Write and create as much as you can, because if you’re sitting around waiting for someone to give you a well-round, interesting, incredible role on a silver platter, you’re going to be a real cute skeleton covered in cobwebs when that happens.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
When I got the part on Schitt’s Creek! When I got the call, I just jumped around and giggled and laughed all over the place. That was my biggest, best moment so far.
How do you define success?
Success, I think, is a combination between a happy work [situation] and a happy life. As vague as that is, that’s what it means to me, at this point right now in my life.
The year so far has been crammed with so much great television that even with many standbys absent from the scene — fan favorites including “Better Call Saul,” “Game of Thrones,” and “Veep” have not broadcast episodes in 2018 — a list of the year’s great TV feels comprehensive, even with half the year to go. This list of 13 television shows and one TV movie, a mix of new and returning broadcasts, is an attempt to name some of what stood out most sharply to Variety‘s critics: Those shows that, in an unprecedentedly crowded landscape, demanded our attention and earned our appreciation. The first half of the year has been strong enough to make the eventual task of winnowing down a year-end best list seem very difficult indeed; for now, here are some shows from the past six months worth catching up on.
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
The Canadian comedy about a rich family stripped of everything began as a delightfully silly showcase for its cast, including Dan and Eugene Levy (who co-created the show), the ever-incredible Catherine O’Hara, and the surprisingly formidable Annie Murphy. But four seasons later, “Schitt’s Creek” has evolved right alongside its characters to become more confident and mature. Dan Levy, who also serves as writer and showrunner, finds a worthy partner onscreen in Noah Reid’s Patrick. Murphy more than holds her own as her spoiled Alexis lets herself open up. And the reliable team that is Eugene Levy and O’Hara build on decades of working together to make their married characters ring both true and deeply absurd. — CF
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(Annie is also in this interview.)
Four seasons ago, Pop TV comedy series Schitt’s Creek began with a compelling fish-out-of-water premise. Following the wealthy Rose family and their life of excess, the series really got cooking when they all went broke, resulting in them moving to a run-down town they once bought as a joke.
The Contenders Emmys 2018
While this conceit is essential to the series, for co-creator and star Daniel Levy, the show has always been about love. “It’s been about leaving them in this town to realize what is truly important. That was really the thrust of the show from the very beginning, and fortunately, you can tell so many stories about love,” he told TVLine’s Michael Ausiello last month during the comedy’s panel at Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys. “It presents itself in so many different iterations. That’s been what the joy has been for us, to continue to reveal that to these characters.”
Co-creator Eugene Levy, appearing on the panel with his son as well as co-stars Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy, discussed Schitt’s Creek as a place of inclusivity, emblematic of the series’ values.
“Now, the town itself is a community that deals with people for who they are, and not what they are. This is not a black, white or brown show; it’s not about gay or straight; it’s not about city/country; it’s not about male/female,” he said. “People are accepted for who they are, and that’s the good-feeling vibe about Schitt’s Creek.”
For more from the cast of the series—as they discuss Moira (O’Hara)’s wigs and a sibling relationship crafted seamlessly for the screen—click above.
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Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury has acquired U.S. broadcast syndication rights to Schitt’s Creek, the single-camera comedy that is the top-rated original show on Pop, the cable network co-owned by Lionsgate and CBS.
The series, created by Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy, stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Chris Elliott, Daniel Levy, Annie Murphy and Emily Hampshire. It centers on a wealthy family who goes broke and moves to Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once bought as a joke. Season five of the series, renewed by CBC and Pop, is currently in production.
The show has grown steadily, albeit from a modest base. Its fourth season, which wrapped April 11, drew 116% more adults 18-49 than the average viewership in the first season. Total viewership has nearly doubled.
“It is not every day you can walk into a TV station with a comedy this good, with a cast this talented and be able to point to the kind of ratings growth, social buzz and critical acclaim that Schitt’s Creek has generated,” said Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, co-presidents of Debmar-Mercury. “We enter the off-network market as this renewed series is coming off of its highest-rated season in the U.S. and four consecutive seasons of audience growth.”
Commissioned by CBC, Schitt’s Creek is produced by Not A Real Company Productions and created by Eugene Levy and Daniel Levy. The executive producers are Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy, Andrew Barnsley, Fred Levy, David West Read and Ben Feigin. Schitt’s Creek is produced in association with CBC and Pop TV, and distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
Remember that music video that Carly Rae Jepsen put out in 2015 for her single I Really Like You, starring Tom Hanks in a leading lip-synching role?
Toronto band Little Junior certainly does, so much so that they painstakingly remade the video, frame-for-frame.
Sure, the budget was nowhere near that of Jepsen’s, and Schitt’s Creek’s Annie Murphy acts as a stand-in for Tom Hanks (in a rather disturbing mask, mind you), but somehow this video seems far more joyful than the original.
Filmed in one hectic twenty-hour day at The Brandscape studio on Dupont, director Max Parr helped the band piece the video together with more than a little help from their friends (keep your eyes peeled for cameos from fellow musicians such as members of July Talk and Hollerado).
Bonus: all the money made from the song and video will be donated to Youth Line, a youth-led organization providing peer support to the city’s LGBTQ2 community.
“We had to figure out how “shot-for-shot” we could really get it,” said Parr.
“We wouldn’t be able to find city streets in Toronto identical to the ones used in the original video, and we weren’t going to be able to get as many extras.”
“I knew we were going to have to lean in the opposite direction of reality and fully swede the video. This meant shooting everything inside and making all of the city streets and buildings out of foam and cardboard. I’ve worked on a number of ambitious art-heavy videos, but this one was next level.”
Sweding, a term coined by director Michel Gondry, means “to remake something from scratch using whatever you can get your hands on”.
This video does just that, as charming hand-painted set pieces and props take the place of the original New York City locations.
“The band spent many late nights with Marty (MacPherson) in a little garage, building and painting set pieces. Basically while one scene was shot, stuff was being built and painted for the next shot,” said Little Junior fronter Rane Elliott-Armstrong, who dressed in Carly drag for the video.
High fives are in order for Murphy, who sported the prosthetics, courtesy of The Butcher Shop FX, for 18 hours and truly embodied Hanks’ rather awkward performance.
“In the original video Tom Hanks doesn’t fully nail the lip-syncing of the song, so Annie broke down all of his lip movements PHONETICALLY, so she could sync up perfectly with Tom’s performance and not the track,” said Parr.
“After being caked up with Tom’s face, we realized that the articulation of her mouth was very limited and not entirely capable of the complex mouth choreography she had been practicing.”
“That said, I think it still worked out amazing and her limp mouth just adds to the eeriness of her Tom,” said Parr. “We were all convinced her face would no longer be there when the make-up came off.”
“She absolutely slayed her performance, there’s a side-by-side version floating around YouTube and it’s uncanny how similar they are!” said Elliot-Armstrong.
The video has many easter eggs moments, including Parr in the video as one of the Tinder matches, and the book on the bedside table in the opening shot being changed from “The Manly Art of Knitting” to “The Art of Sweding”. And yes, Jepsen’s seen the video.
“(She) saw the video and said she liked it. We screamed when we heard that,” said Elliott-Armstrong. “We are huge fans of Carly Rae, we play her music in our van constantly.”
There’s no knowing how many times Parr and the production team watched the Jepsen version to truly nail the remake, but all that work certainly paid off.
“I’m afraid that every video I make from now on will just unintentionally end up being a remake of CRJ’s “I Really Like You” because it’s the only thing I see now when I close my eyes,” said Parr.
What a finale!! This week’s episode (which was season 4’s finale) was phenomenal. I can’t wait for season 5. I can’t wait, I can’t wait! I’ve added HD screencaps and missing stills. I will work on adding all the missing extras from season 4 soon as well as any missing Schitt’s Creek images to the gallery. Enjoy!
Q: I’m 22 years old and—yikes!—still a super virgin. I’ve tried dating through apps and have had no success because everyone seems to be looking for an “instant gratification” that I can’t give them. I feel so behind the curve. How do I date when everyone I meet expects to have sex right away? Should I feel badly for being a virgin when my peers are sexually active?
Well, hello and welcome.
Here is my short answer: No, no, NO. You should absolutely, positively not feel badly for being a virgin at ANY age.
Here is my long answer:
If this big, beautiful, overpopulated world can offer us one scrap of comfort, it’s this: the likelihood of you being the only person to experience, well, anything, is very, very unlikely. Therefore, I would put a large amount of money on the fact that when it comes to being a virgin later in the game, you are not alone!
Losing the oooool’ V-card (ugh, I’m sorry) means different things to different people. There are people who make mixtapes comprising mostly of Goo Goo Dolls and Enya, and wait and wait and wait for a rainy day when their parents aren’t home, then slap on some fairy lights and invite their longtime boyfriend over for “the big event.” (Why are you looking at me like that; that’s not MY story. OK it was me.) Then there are people, like one of my best friends, who just wanted to get it over with, so they had sex with one of their friends in a bathroom at IHOP. (Don’t worry, I’ve been assured that bathroom was one of the “bigger, cleaner ones.”)
If you’re one of those people who want to wait for a really special person to lose your virginity to in a really special way (which is great), do that. I know that in today’s world of Tinder/Grindr/Whatevr-style instant gratification, it can feel like all people are looking for is someone to have sex with RIGHT NOW BEFORE THEY JIZZ A HOLE IN THEIR PANTS. While this may be the case with some, there are also lots of people out there who are looking for something slower-paced and meaningful. Something that will ruin fewer pants. If you don’t mind waiting a little longer, I have a lot of faith that the right person will come along, and they’ll understand and appreciate where you’re at.
But if you’re one of those people that juuuuuust would rather. get. that. virginity out of the way (which is also great), do that. Maybe—like my friend—you have a person in your life that you’d feel comfortable having your first time with. Call ’em up! Tell them the sitch! If you’re both cool and comfy with said sitch, have a drink! Do the sex! Have a laugh! Or maybe you meet someone online that you vibe with. Go on a date! Tell them the sitch! If you’re both cool and comfy with said sitch, go on another date! Do the sex!
If none of this applies to you, and you’re totally happy being a virgin (which is also also great), stick with that. There are lots of fun, sexy things to do that don’t have to involve losing your virginity. Laser tag and handjobs, for example. Sally Jesse Raphael reruns and going down on each other. Sitting next to an untouched Scrabble board and touching each other’s boobs while listening to Shania Twain. The possibilities are endless!
Maybe NONE of this applies to you and you’re totally happy being a virgin who doesn’t engage in any sexual activity (which is ALSO GREAT), so do that. What’s important is that you’re being true to yourself and not being pressured to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Anyone making you feel otherwise can go for a long trot off a tiny diving board, as the saying goes.
Goo Goo Dolls and IHOP aside, the main point I’m trying to make is, don’t worry about being “normal.” Go at your own pace. Be honest about your virginity. Let things happen on your own terms. Losing your virginity doesn’t have to be “special” in the sense that you should spend 10 years crocheting a blanket upon which you shall be deflowered, but it certainly should be special in the sense that you are in control of, and comfortable with the situation when it happens. Go forth!!
Ew, David! The journey of Alexis Rose has unfolded in fascinating ways over the past four seasons of Schitt’s Creek, with the sassy materialistic heiress not only leaving her billionaire past behind, but downright thriving in her new boondock town. She’s finally a high-school graduate at the ripe age of 30, running her own one-woman public relations business, and all while serving such chic bohemian lewks! Ahead of the Schitt’s Creek season finale, which airs Wednesday night on Pop, Vulture hopped on the phone with actress Annie Murphy to discuss how she landed the role of Alexis, what it’s like to play around with Catherine O’Hara’s fabulous wigs, and the inspiration behind that great vocal fry accent.
I feel like Schitt’s Creek mania has swept across the U.S. over the past few months!
It’s so cool to watch it start snowballing. People are still coming out of the woodwork who haven’t heard about it. All of a sudden they binge it over a weekend, and they’re in. Keep bingeing, everyone!
I heard that you auditioned for Stevie because Abby Elliott, Chris Elliott’s real-life daughter, played Alexis in the original pilot. In those early stages, were you like, Jeez, this show is just a cesspool for nepotism?
[Laughs.] Abby did play Alexis in the pilot, and she was in the video of the pilot they sent around initially. But then she ended up booking something else and wasn’t available to play Alexis anymore. Thank God, let me just say. I auditioned for Alexis and I got a call from Dan [Levy] after my first audition, asking me to also audition for Stevie. So I ended up testing for both of those ladies, and it was super fun to be able to play different characters. But as soon as I met Emily [Hampshire, who plays Stevie], I was like, Why on earth would these people entertain the idea of anyone else playing this part? She blows it out of the water. I think a part of it was, I was a brunette when I auditioned. And Eugene was having a really, really hard time wrapping his head around the fact that Alexis is blonde and Annie Murphy is brunette. He couldn’t quite get there, so Dan had to tape pictures of blonde hair on my picture. It finally got through to him, thank goodness.
In an alternate universe, how do you think your Stevie would’ve compared to Emily Hampshire’s Stevie?
I couldn’t pull off that deadpan like Emily does, so who knows? Let’s not even think about this, girl! I don’t want to live in a world where Emily doesn’t play Stevie!
Your accent work is the highlight of the show for me. Was there an evolution of how you perfected it, and did you study anyone’s voice in particular?
Ah, that nasty old vocal fry. I couldn’t bring myself to watch full episodes of things, so I watched a lot of YouTube clips of certain reality shows about certain rich famous people. I popped my eyelids open with toothpicks and watched and watched and watched. It’s a level of comedy where it’s so beautifully unnatural and I had to bring that fry to the character. Alexis certainly has a voice and a tone to her. For the first couple of weeks every season, I end up bringing it home with me. I’ll talk to my husband, Can you turn the heat down? I’m cold! Luckily, it fades after two weeks and my husband is thrilled when it finally stops. This is the first role I’ve done where it’s a significant departure of me in real life, so it’s fun to strap on fancy shoes and a made-up face and be Alexis.
Did Catherine model her accent after someone as well?
There are a couple of people, friends of friends, who she’s met over the years at parties that had their particular way of speaking. But I’m not naming names! It’s so magical to watch her draw a one syllable out into five- or six-syllable word. It’s an art form.
Most importantly: Have you gotten to play around with all of her wigs?
I’m desperate to. Dan and I are drooling most of the time over those wigs. On occasion, we’ve maybe gone into the hair and makeup trailer and did a bit of a wig fashion show. Only a couple of times! Maybe Catherine doesn’t need to know about this. The wigs are just so much fun, and it’s hard to keep our grubby little paws off them.
Is there a quota on the amount of times you have to say “David” per episode?
It’s become a bit of an epidemic in the script. [Laughs.] In season two and three, it really started hitting its stride. It’s written in the script like, You’re gonna do this anyway, but we might as well just write in on paper. Sprinkling it in is similar to saying like all the time. It’s a crutch at this point.
Speaking of David, how would you define the sibling dynamic between the two?
David and Alexis, although they would never, ever admit it, are best friends. They’ve formed such an incredible bond. Before they lived in the motel, they were on other ends of the earth most of the time with their fake friends, and this situation in the motel really formed a bond between them. They’re more similar than it seems and they care a lot more for each other than they let on. Even though they fight and bicker like an old married couple, they’re a proper brother and sister and always there for each other. It’s been such fun to play with Dan. I met him at the audition for the show, but it always felt like we’ve known each other for too long. Years and years and decades and centuries. Being able to bring the dynamic that we have in real life to the set has been so much fun.
Alexis’s slow transformation from a spoiled, bitter brat to a ambitious professional has also been lovely to see unfold. Was there a particular moment when this switch occurred?
I think it was when she had her heart broken for the very first time. With Mutt and Ted — what a lucky, lucky girl with those two — she’s come into this situation having broken a lot of hearts and not really caring about it. She never truly cared for another person before, or being in the position of not having what she wants. Having your first heartbreak is so significant and she’s having it at the age of 30, just after graduating high school. [Laughs.] I’m so proud of the way she deals with it, because we all know how nasty it can be.
Do you see this new Alexis as her true personality now, or do you think she’ll revert back to her old ways?
Irresponsible Alexis is never going anywhere! Let’s not kid ourselves. But I do think having this newfound independence and confidence is really appealing to her and she’s having a lot of fun being a bossy-boots and running her own business. I don’t think that drive isn’t going anywhere, but the old Alexis is still very much alive and well.
Have the writers explained why the show is always set during the summer? I feel there would be so many hijinks to mine during a Schitt’s Creek winter.
Have you painted yourself a vivid picture of what shooting in Canada is like in the middle of winter?
It could be … fun?
Not at all. It’s pretty damn bleak. [Laughs.] Also, the town in Ontario that we shoot is blossoming this time of year. The trees are turning green and the skies are blue and the air is fresh. There’s this bakery on the corners of an intersection where we shoot, and they have the best butter tarts. You don’t know what butter tarts are, you’re American! Think of the most delicious dessert from heaven. So we go to the bakery and we stand around outside in the sun, as opposed to crying tears of ice in the cold. That’s why we shoot in the summer. And also because we’re big babies.
At this point, if the Roses were to suddenly be reunited with their money, do you think they would leave the town?
This is only speculation, because if I give anything away, Dan will drop a bunch of locusts into my bedroom while I sleep. But I think Moira, no matter how comfortable she becomes in the town and no matter who she befriends, will get the fuck out of there tomorrow. In a heartbeat. Right now, she’d leave no matter what. Johnny will go with her because he’s such an adorable and loving husband. The kids have found their first true friends and true love, but still, both of them have this inherent worldly and travel-y wild side to them. I’m in the dark as much as you are. All I know for sure is that Moira would get the fuck out of there.
What would she do without her wigs?
She can fly them out when she misses them, wherever she is, whatever island she’s on, whatever part of Paris she’s in. She’ll find a way, don’t worry.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
I’ve added a bunch of missing photos of Annie from Schitt’s Creek from seasons 1 – 4, including HD screencaps from the most recent episode. I’ve also added higher quality replacements of a recent photo session of Annie. Thanks to my friend Claudia for the North Vancouver magazine scan. Enjoy!
Schitt’s Creek: 04×10 – Stills
Schitt’s Creek: 03×12 – Stills
Schitt’s Creek: 02×13 – Stills
Schitt’s Creek: 02×01 – Stills
Schitt’s Creek: 01×01 – Stills
Schitt’s Creek: Promotional Images
Schitt’s Creek: Posters
Schitt’s Creek: Promotional Graphics
2017: North Vancouver Magazine