In the new Netflix series Gypsy—premiering June 30—New York therapist Jean Holloway (Naomi Watts) can’t seem to leave her work at the office. In fact, over the course of the show she uses what her patients tell her in confidence to insert herself into their lives in some unnerving—not to mention unethical—ways.
And the bad behavior doesn’t stop at the office; there’s something off about her home life and her lawyer husband, Michael (Billy Crudup), as well. Here, Melanie Liburd—whose Alexis works closely alongside Michael, much to the dismay of Jean—shares what made the show so appealing to actors, and how her work follows her home as well.
This is a series about a therapist who crosses some major lines with her patients. How did you get involved?
From the moment I got the script, I was just intrigued—I was wondering, who is this character. But at first, I actually auditioned for a different character, and sent about five takes in a British accent and five in an American accent. I was a little bit of a lengthy process but then when I got the part of Alexis, I was over the moon.
What about Alexis made her intriguing?
She’s an aspiring writer, she moved to New York where she’s working but also looking for love—and she’s working for Jean’s husband. So, she has her professional, glamorous, legal-office side where everything is in place, and she’s listening in on Mike and Jean’s calls—she knows everything that’s going on—but she also has a totally different personal side.
NAOMI WATTS IN GYPSY.
ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX
Being caught between Michael and Jean is a tricky place to be. She’s sort of in a position to hear the lies everyone’s telling.
Her relationship with Michael is very interesting to explore, especially how she gets sucked into his life with Jean. As you know, assistants listen in and hear everything, so she’s hearing way too much information and getting pulled into their world. The interesting is with Alexis moving forward in this season is that she has so many secrets—how does she keep them?
A lot of the way that Naomi’s character works is by telling people little lies based on what she knows about them to slowly gain their trust. When do you lie?
If I told you that, I’d be giving away everything! Life is complicated, and sometimes we find ourselves in situations when things just sort of pop out of our mouths. That’s what happens with Jean; she finds herself starting something off and she just keeps on going with it. I think it’s completely normal and we’ve all been in situations like that and made a split decision. I don’t think a little white lie hurts anyone.
This is a very serious show. Did things get a little more lighthearted for you all once the cameras were off?
After one tough scene, I had this conversation with Billy—we would felt so awful—and he said, “If we feel like this, it probably means we’re on the right track.”
Having finished the first season of something with such an edgy nature to do, are you looking for something with a different tone for your next project?
I love where drama hits comedy because I think there’s always some kind of comedy in any terrible situation. That’s how we survive.
One of the things that’s so interesting about Gypsy is realizing how much we all reveal about ourselves without even trying. Did being on the show make you think twice about your own behavior?
I would love to be an actor who didn’t take anything home with me, especially when it’s this kind of sensitive, psychological stuff. But thing stay with you, especially when you’re filming. Anyway, what’s wonderful about being an actor in the first place is that every time I get a script, I’m studying people’s behavior. People do all of the things that I might portray. And they’re not crazy, they’re just people. To me, it’s just fascinating.