Annie Murphy Gets Into Character at the Plaza
The “Schitt’s Creek” star channels her onscreen socialite at the landmark luxury hotel.
She’s only just arrived, but Annie Murphy is about to get kicked out of the Plaza Hotel.
The situation would be a fitting one for the character she plays on “Schitt’s Creek”: Alexis Rose, a fallen socialite whose family loses everything in a Bernie Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme. For Alexis, being ushered out of a New York City landmark would be yet another entry in a long line of humiliating losses, including getting dumped by her Greek shipping magnate boyfriend, saying goodbye to her wild life on the international party scene and moving from an affluent neighborhood in an unspecified city to the small town of Schitt’s Creek.
And, O.K., the cause for the hotel banishing Ms. Murphy — a rogue photo shoot staged in the lobby — is admittedly very Alexis too. It probably doesn’t help that, out of character, Ms. Murphy could still pass for a rich hellion of Instagram, with her waterfall of caramel colored hair and precision-winged eyeliner. One of the Plaza’s chief occupations these days is likely trying prevent glossy-maned women just like her from creating influencer content inside its storied walls.
“It would be hilarious if we got kicked out,” Ms. Murphy remarked. She remained un-Alexis-ly pleasant and patient through the negotiations with management until they were finally assuaged. (The Plaza eventually consented to a photo shoot as long as it was limited to one dead-end hallway and there was no flash photography. Otherwise, she was welcome to use the exterior of the building, where any old pleb with a selfie stick can pose.)
Then it was on to the Champagne Bar, which is less intimidating and exclusive than it sounds, but just as expensive. Ms. Murphy’s eyes widened as she read the menu, which includes a champagne and caviar special that costs $895. She instead settled on a glass of more reasonable rosé.
Ms. Murphy’s unfussiness can be explained in two ways, the first and cheapest being that she’s Canadian, and imbued with the kind manners for which her nation is so often parodied. The second is that fame and success remain relatively new to her. “Schitt’s Creek” just entered its fifth season, but only in 2018, when it began streaming on Netflix, did the show see a surge in its popularity stateside. (The program airs on the CBC in Canada and Pop TV in the U.S.) Alexis Rose is the biggest role Ms. Murphy has ever played, and before she was cast, she was close to quitting acting entirely.
“About two years into living in Toronto, my apartment burned to the ground,” Ms. Murphy said. “My husband and I ended up living in his grandparents’ attic for a year and a half.”
Soon thereafter, she went to Los Angeles and gave what she described as the worst screen test of all time.
“It was literally the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “So I finally got through this train wreck of an audition. There was 15 seconds of silence, and all they said was, ‘Woooow, O.K.’”
After what she called an “ugly cry,” Ms. Murphy determined it was time to find another, less brutal profession. (Also: She wanted to leave L.A.) Two days later, she got the audition for “Schitt’s Creek,” which films in Toronto. Her co-star Dan Levy — who is also the show’s creator — knew right away that she would make the perfect foil and sister to his character, David Rose.
Their tough love is introduced in the pilot episode, when the siblings argue over who has to sleep closer to the door in the motel room they now have to share. “You know what, David? YOU get murdered first, for once,” Alexis snaps.
Ms. Murphy is the kind of physical comedian who disappears entirely into her character, holding her arms like someone accustomed to balancing an expensive purse in the crook of her elbow. Her hands, limp at the wrists, move constantly, forming a posture Ms. Murphy described as “a T-rex playing the piano at an old-timey saloon.” As Alexis, she creates a persona that is so fully embodied that you almost miss how good she is at it.
“To prepare, I watched one too many hours of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’” she said. “I studied the Olsen twins.” Ms. Murphy has always enjoyed celebrity gossip and pop culture, but not nearly as much as Mr. Levy, who writes all of the celebrity references into the show.
She was effusive with praise for him, as well as her other “Schitt’s Creek” castmates, including Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy (Dan’s father and “Schitt’s Creek” co-creator). Ms. Murphy admitted that the silk dress she was wearing was borrowed from her friend and castmate Emily Hampshire, who plays the owner of the rundown motel to which the Rose family decamps after losing their fortune, and that she was terrified of sweating through it.
“All of the women of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ are on a natural deodorant kick right now,” she said.
Ms. Murphy said that the show has made her more aware of fashion. “Catherine and I do hours and hours of fittings,” she said. “Sometimes we have to resort to the internet because we come out of the room with two arms out of the neck hole, completely trapped in whatever article of clothing it is. Some of the clothing is so complicated and expensive. I’m constantly walking on eggshells because I’m wearing a $10k outfit.”
As for whether or not she’s actually damaged anything, she said: “There have been a few close calls. I’ve ruined many pairs of shoes, especially during the first season because Alexis was doing outdoor community service” — a result of driving her car into a Prada store — “and I had to tromp around on gravel roads in Jimmy Choos. Dan would be like, ‘Ughhh,” but he’s the one who wrote it!”
Ms. Murphy finished her second glass of wine and decided it was time to quit the grand opulence of the Plaza for a more relaxed scene: her friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, where she planned to watch the season premiere and get tarot readings with some of her castmates.
More than anything, she said, she was excited to show Ms. Hampshire that she hadn’t ruined her dress.
I’ve added HD screencaps of Annie from episode 3 of season 5 of Schitt’s Creek to the gallery. Enjoy!
I’ve added a bunch of photos from Annie’s recent events and HD screencaptures from the most recent episode of Schitt’s Creek. I have many more photos of Annie to add to the site and will sort through them and add them when I can. Big thanks to my friends Kayla and Claudia for all of their contributions. Enjoy!
Annie, Dan, Emily, Catherine, Euegene, and Sarah were all in attendance tonight at the 2019 Critics Choice Awards where Schitt’s Creek is nominated for best comedy series. I’ve added photos to the gallery and will add more tomorrow so keep checking back. Enjoy!
“Schitt’s Creek” Star Annie Murphy stopped by ET Canada Live with Roz Weston and Graeme O’Neil to talk season 5 of her hit show, including cracking up at Catherine O’Hara and wanting Kristen Wiig and Steve Carell to guest star.
Annie Murphy has a hole in her sock. She shows it to me proudly halfway through our conversation about her role as Alexis Rose on Schitt’s Creek. The fifth season of the show, about the once-rich Rose family who loses their fortune and is forced to survive in — gasp — a small town, premieres tonight on CBC.
Last season, Schitt’s Creek went from a critical darling to the show the Internet wouldn’t let you ignore. It garnered the first-ever Canadian nomination for Best Comedy Series at the 2019 Critic’s Choice Awards and has picked up celebrity fans, including Jennifer Lawrence and Elton John. The show has been hailed for its optimistic portrayal of a community without homophobia (a clip of Noah Reid’s Patrick singing “Simply The Best” to his boyfriend, Dan Levy’s David, went viral), its knack for light, escapism comedy with a side of familial dysfunction, and the depth of its quirky characters like Murphy’s Alexis.
On the surface, Alexis is a spoiled rich kid whose high-maintenance tastes are as much a tenet of her personality as her vocal fry. Alexis talks like a teenager would in a 2019 reboot of Clueless. It’s pitch-perfect for the character. It’s so perfect, I almost expect Murphy to slip out a few of her signature “ew, Davids” — Alexis’s typical exasperated reaction to her brother — with a wave of a limp wrist. Instead, Murphy is sitting across from me in a greenroom at the CBC in Toronto with her legs crossed in faded high-waisted jeans, a black turtleneck, vocals free of fry, and her bare toe sticking out of her sock. She’s smiling wryly as she tells me that this is “actually a dressy day” because her socks match.
Murphy is hilarious. In a cast stacked with father/son powerhouse duo (and Schitt’s Creek co-creators), Eugene and Dan Levy, and comedic icon Catherine O’Hara, Murphy’s talent may be the most underrated. She took Alexis from a shallow socialite stereotype to a complicated, career-focused woman who is, dare I say it, likeable. Here, I talk to Murphy about Alexis’s transformation, perfecting a catchphrase, and what to expect from the heartfelt comedy in season 5.
I have a burning question I need to get out of the way: How long did it take to perfect “Ew, David?”
[Laughs.] I started saying “David” in a very peculiar way, without really realizing it. It didn’t quite feel right, but you slap an “ew” in front of that and something just clicks. Something just makes sense. Now, it’s everywhere. It’s on welcome mats, t-shirts, and Christmas tree ornaments. Someone just posted on Twitter the other day an “Ew, David” license plate. It’s out of control!
Schitt’s Creek went from a show that felt like a Canadian secret to a global sensation. The Twitter obsession surrounding this show only seems to be getting more intense, especially after last season. What’s your reaction to the popularity surge?
It has been so nuts. Eugene [Levy] and Catherine [O’Hara] were attached to it, so obviously [the show was] going to be something really special, but it was this little Canadian show. And now, like you said, it’s gotten crazy. I think this is a show that’s impacted people in a way that’s bigger than just having a quick and easy laugh. In this garbage-fire-y world that we’re living in right now, it provides an escape to a place that is very ready to accept and love and support.
How does shooting in Ontario with an all-Canadian cast and crew influence the dynamic on set.
I do think that working with Canadians, there is quite a sense of humility. I came into this being like Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, oh boy, are they only going to eat only red smarties and you’re not going to be able to make eye contact with them? But there’s not a drop of ego between the two of them. They’re kind and warm and down to earth, and that’s been the case all through the cast and all through the crew. There isn’t a hierarchy. Maybe that is a Canadian thing.
So, the only big ego you have to deal with is Dan Levy’s.
Dan’s, yep. And goddammit is that hard to wrestle to the ground. I don’t know how he fits through doorways, to be honest.
You two don’t seem like you’re having any fun at all.
[Laughs.] Not at all.
Let’s talk about Alexis. She’s become this layered complex character, and I don’t know if anyone expected that in season 1. She’s likeable, sometimes she’s unlikeable. She’s a real human being! How did you get her there?
Like you said, when we started out, we were just presented with this f-cking selfish, flighty, non-dependable, self-absorbed creature who jumped from place to place, boy to boy, jail to jail.
Castle to castle.
Yacht to yacht. [Laughs.] But I am so grateful to the writers for allowing this really awesome beautiful growth in this character because we get to see over the course of five seasons that she’s not a bad person, she’s a good person capable of so much love and so much generosity in her own special way. Even though she came from a place of great dependence on men and money in particular, there’s this incredible drive we get to see, this incredible independence. She’s still Alexis, though.
Alexis and Ted got back together at the end of last season. It looks like they are headed towards a mature and healthy relationship — finally. Is Ted endgame for Alexis?
I hope so. They’ve been through so much. They’ve changed for each other and not in an Olivia Newton John at the end of Greasekind of way like, “What have you done!? There’s not shred of your old self here!” They’ve both grown into their new selves after having been influenced by each other. And Texas, their celebrity couple name, is just too good! If that goes to waste, I’m going to be so pissed.
I don’t understand how you keep a straight face around Catherine O’Hara as Moira… with that accent. How do you do it?
That’s why editors exist. [Laughs.] I’m such shit at keeping a straight face. Dan and I have a really hard time. Because Catherine is so full of surprises. Something dawns on her and she throws it out there and you know it’s gold so you need to get in there. It is an absolute f-cking struggle to hold it together around that woman.
And Catherine never breaks?
No, she’s Moira. She’s taking herself so goddamn seriously.
Please tell me about Moira’s wigs. Do you get to play with them? How much interaction have you had with the wigs?
The only time we were time we were able to play around is actually in the first episode of season 5. Moira is away in Bosnia and the kids have at her wig wall basically. In the show that was the premise and it was also just Dan, Emily [Hampshire], and me being like “WIG WALL!” and just going to town. “No, I want to try that on!” “No that looks better on me!” It was a blast.
Watching Catherine try on wigs is incredible. She’s worn a bunch of wigs sideways. If you look closely, there are a lot of wigs that don’t quite make sense but make perfect sense. Catherine just wears her wigs askew sometimes. She truly does take on the energy of the wig she’s wearing. She’s such a chameleon. She looks f-cking exquisite in every wig too, I don’t know how that’s allowed.
You’re from Ottawa — do you consider yourself a city girl?
I am a city girl. My folks have a cottage north of Kingston, which is literally in the middle of nowhere, and I can be there very happily for like a week.
So, if you were put in a town like Schitt’s Creek, how long would you last?
Is there a bar and a book store?
Schitt’s Creek has a bar and a book store, right?
Yeah! Yeah, so I could do this! For about a month, or two.
What would it take for the Rose family to leave Schitt’s Creek?
That’s it, eh?
Yes. I don’t know how Moira hasn’t already booked it the hell out there on a Greyhound in the middle of the night.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Season 5 of Schitt’s Creek premieres on January 8, with new episodes airing Tuesdays at 9 PM ET on CBC and streaming on CBC online.
ET Canada is on the set of “Schitt’s Creek” to get the scoop on season 5 from the comedy’s stars Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, and Annie Murphy, who also share why they believe their show has found such a massive audience.
Schitt’s Creek has returned in Canada! The season 5 premieres on January 24th. I’ve added screencaps from the new episode as well as stills. I won’t be posting any spoilers on here as the show airs differently on both countries. Enjoy!
“Schitt’s Creek” star Annie Murphy‘s yearly Christmas tradition includes underwear.
“We usually have a beautiful, sparkling Christmas tree and my dad reads us ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales‘ in front of the fire and it’s all very cozy,” she told Page Six via email recently. “Then we pack up and head to meet my extended family, where we live out our yearly tradition of everyone gifting everyone underwear in their stockings.
Murphy and her family then take a family photo wearing the new underwear on their heads.
“I … I just don’t know,” she said.
The 31-year-old actress also shared her holiday wish list, which includes some pretty tall orders as far as gifts go.
“World peace. I know it’s a big ask, but I really really really want it,” she said, jokingly adding, “World peas. Actually, no. If I get the gift of food for all the world it would not be peas. Peas are terrible and a joke food.”
Murphy also said she’s asking for a house elf from “Harry Potter.”
“I have yet to hear if those things officially exist or not, but if they do, and if they’re happy in their line of work, I want one,” she said. Murphy would also settle for a little brother or sister too.
“I’ve been asking for one since I was a little kid, and my mean parents never coughed one up. Tick-tock, guys,” she told us. “I WILL take EITHER a house elf OR a sibling, as I feel like they can perform similar tasks.”
The “Schitt’s Creek” holiday special premieres Dec. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Pop TV.
— ET Canada (@ETCanada) December 17, 2018