Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
August 25, 2011

After years of interviewing hundreds upon hundreds of actors, something that becomes noticeable is the fact that most of them are not from Los Angeles. The overwhelming majority of performers who flock to our mecca of entertainment hail from all other parts of the country--and even the world over--to take their shot at the business of Hollywood. Going by the numbers, it's relatively uncommon to find someone in the profession who grew up in the famed City of Angels. A less frequent encounter is meeting an actor who spent their childhood in my specific corner of LA, the iconic San Fernando Valley, immortalized in pop culture by a slew of classic movies, television shows, and songs. Even rarer are actors who attended my high school alma mater Chatsworth High, and even rarer still are ones who walked its halls at the same time as I did.

One actress who meets all of these criteria is Lindsay Sloane. A fellow Chancellor who grew up in my hometown of Chatsworth, Lindsay moved coast-to-coast from Queens to the Valley at an early age. Separated by two class years, we didn't know each other as teenagers (probably because she was productively booking guest spots on projects like The Wonder Years, while I was playing video games and learning how to cut a deck of cards with one hand), but we would ultimately get to reminisce about those days when I covered Lindsay's ensemble comedy A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, which, coincidentally, focuses on 30-somethings who embrace fond memories of their younger selves and don't particularly act their age.

Before the interview, we took a moment to browse through a Chatsworth High yearbook and find our old pictures. Anyone who flips through that very annual will discover that Lindsay had the same adorable smile that she has now, but she is quick to begrudge her former hairstyle: "This is when girls used to take a curling iron and do half their bangs undercurled and half their bangs over, and tease it like crazy and spray it with crunchy hair spray." Personally, I think most people would love to have a school photo as good as hers, and in her defense, it was the early '90s--we were just beginning to recover from the traumatic fashion disasters of the '80s that our very own Valley helped to define.

In this exclusive interview, Lindsay offers up her unique perspective with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor and talks about growing up in Chatsworth (which she jokingly, but accurately, describes as the "capital of the porn industry"), maintaining a proper balance between work and life even as a young actress, and pushing junk food, juice boxes, and family values to the masses. She also scores bonus points for tripping nostalgic over the Apple IIc.

Lindsay's latest film, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, is now playing in theaters. [jokes] Did I make a bet with the captain of the football team that I could turn you into the prom queen?

LINDSAY: [laughs] Well, I didn't become the prom queen. So even if you made that bet, you would have lost!

Do you find that if you tell people where you're from and they don't immediately recognize it, you can get the point across by referencing Boogie Nights and the adult film industry?

Yeah. Or I say "Vivid Video," and they all seem to get it. And then they pretend they don't get it, because no one wants to admit that they know Vivid Video, which is the #1 porn distribution company in the world, I believe. So then they'll play dumb. [laughs]

So how does a girl from New York who is not trying to break into the adult industry make her way to Chatsworth?

[coyly] Who says I wasn't trying to break into the adult industry?

[laughs] That would have been a criminally early start...

[laughs] No, my dad got a job promotion from New York. And they were raising two kids, and my mom thought it'd be much easier to do it in California weather. And they had heard about Chatsworth having a great school system and being very suburban and having great neighborhoods. I mean, it was a great place to grow up...I grew up on a wonderful street that has a cul-de-sac right near by, and it was so safe to play outside, and up in the hills, everyone had horses. So it was a really wonderful place, and there happened to just be a lot of porn shot there.

Was it the Valley's proximity to Hollywood that prompted your path into show business?

You know, there was one other girl in Chatsworth, a neighbor around the corner, that was an actress, and I remember seeing her on commercials and thinking that was the coolest thing--that she was "in the television" in our house. And from the age of 6 on, I was asking my mom, "How do I get in the TV? I want to be in the TV!" [laughs] And for two years, I begged, and she somehow figured out how you get an agent and put me into an acting class, and I've been acting since I was 8 years old.

Did being close to Los Angeles without actually being in the heart of it help you to maintain a balance between an acting career and a normal childhood?

Definitely. I also think not working that much when I was a child [helped]. I mean, I did a lot of commercials, I did a lot of guest stars on TV, but I didn't start working regularly on TV shows until after I graduated from high school. So I still lived a normal life. I went to prom, no one knew who I was at all. People still don't know who I am! [laughs] But it was the nice balance of my hobby--you know, the other kids would play sports after school, [and] my hobby was going to auditions and trying to get jobs after school, and I loved it.

Do you still call Chatsworth home?

I do. My parents still live in Chatsworth in the house I grew up in. So it is still home to me, yeah.

Did you participate in the drama department at Chatsworth High?

I did...Mrs. Hill!

What plays were you in?

I did Cabaret. And then I did Rumors. [In] Cabaret, I was a cabaret girl. My name was Fritzy. You know, in school, I was never the lead, because it was a lot of musicals and stuff, and I don't sing. And Chatsworth had so many crazy talented people in that drama department. It was insane. So I was happily in the background, and it was totally fine.

You had a recurring role on The Wonder Years while you were at Chatsworth. How did you coordinate school with that show's work schedule?

I would have to do school on set, so I would have three hours of school with a tutor when I was there. I'd get all my homework from Chatsworth, go shoot, and go to school all at the same time. So basically, on set, where actors are kind of just hanging out and laughing and talking between takes, I'd have to rush off the set and go into school, because they'd have to clock time in whenever they possibly could.

What were some of your early commercials?

Well, my very first commercial, which is funny for a nice Jewish girl from the Valley, was a Church of Latter-day Saints commercial where Brian Austin Green played my older brother. And it was about a Mormon family where there's a storm and the power goes out, and the kids get upset, but then the parents are just talking. And it's about how bad things can bring families together. [laughs] I did a lot of food commercials, which was nuts because I had terrible teeth and I had braces on. But yet somehow I did McDonald's commercials and Domino's Pizza commercials, and lots of juice box commercials.

Was lots of free fast food a perk of the gig?

No. I got to eat it all day on set. But by the time you finish shooting that commercial, you actually never want [it] ever again! [laughs]

Growing up, was acting an outlet to be outgoing, or did you always have an extroverted personality?

It's interesting, I'm outgoing with people that I'm comfortable around and that I feel safe with, but I think I gravitate towards playing certain characters that are very different from me, that are more outgoing, maybe, than I necessarily am. Because it's a way to play out feelings and personalities that you don't normally or naturally have. And so if I'm comfortable with you, I will have an outgoing personality. But I tend to be shy walking into big groups of people. It's intimidating.

Your character Laura in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy dreads having to wear a bikini, while your character Marnie in She's Out of My League totally wants to strut it. So I guess you're more similar to the former than the latter?

I am way more Laura. The character I played in Orgy may be the truest to my natural self that I've ever played in anything. Because I also just think growing up in this profession, even though I was removed [from a lot of it], you just get so many body issues, and you can be incredibly self-conscious, and you're surrounded by beautiful women all the time...And everyone on the outside can't understand where [Laura's] insecurities come from. But we all have our own kind of weird body dysmorphia and body issues, and I was able to play that out publicly in this movie. [laughs]

I loved the discussion in Orgy in which Jason Sudeikis and Tyler Labine talk about how people in their 30s back in the day seemed older than they do now. Is that an observation you agree with or can relate to?

Definitely...I say that all the time. And now in my 30s, my friends are 40, and they seem so young! I'm like, "They're babies!"...And I wonder now if teenagers look at me and just think, "Oh my God, she's so old! She's in her 30s, she's so old!" [laughs]

Why do you think the adults of today seem relatively juvenile compared to those of the '80s and early '90s?

I think life is starting later. I think that people are committing to things later in life, and having the freedom to find themselves more in our generation, and to find a passion of what you really want to do, as opposed to maybe just going into the family business, or your parents want you to be one thing [and] you become one thing, or you decide really early in life and you just go down that path and that's it. I think that we went through a phase where a lot of us moved back home, which made us seem a lot younger than we actually were. [laughs] Where the economy wasn't great or internet companies crashed and you had to move back home. We regressed a little bit back into our childhood. People are getting married later, they're having babies later...

You're kind of on the cusp of Generation X and Generation Y. Do you associate with one more than the other?

I mean, I did wear Doc Martens, and I would shop at thrift stores and buy flannel shirts for $2. But as far as music, I was way behind the game...I feel like I am lost in the middle, because I'm also slowly trying to embrace this new era of technology, which is still so incredibly confusing to me. And intimidating. [laughs]

Kids today are hard-wired to use technology...Toddlers are rocking iPads!

Yeah, it's crazy. I'm actually pregnant right now, and one thing that keeps coming into my head is [that] this child will know so much more than me, I'm not going to know what to teach this child. Because I feel that kids now, they're like born with this inherent ability to use a computer, or use an iPad.

How are you going to deal with your child using the internet? Because it's such a necessary tool, and yet there's so much crazy filth out there...

It's so true! And I was just talking to a friend who has a kid, and I was saying, "Well, they're not going to have access...They're not going to have phones when they're younger." And my friend was saying you can't do that, because then your child is the child behind--this is part of their generation. And it was a very eye-opening thing. I think I'm just going to be one of those crazy parents with parental controls. It's ironic because I'm promoting a movie [called] A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, but I'm scared of my child being exposed to sexuality way too young. Because I feel like it's so prevalent nowadays, and you kind of can't escape it. And kids are growing up too fast. I just think we were able to make more mistakes and kind of slowly figure it out, where nowadays, they almost feel like they have to be sexual to fit in...There wasn't access to [porn] by just going online. I remember using my first Apple IIc computer, and it was to play games like Millionware! Like, there was nothing lascivious about the experience.

What are some of your upcoming film projects that we should be looking out for?

I have a movie called Darling Companion that I did a tiny thing in, just because I wanted to play Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline's daughter, because I love them more than life...It's a very lovely adult romantic comedy. I don't feel those movies are really made anymore. And their chemistry is incredible, and Dianne Wiest is in it...It was just a wonderful cast of people that I love and admire. And then I also did a small thing in a movie called Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with Steve Carell and Keira Knightley...It's basically about the world ending, and I play a nurse that interacts with Steve. I'm caring for his mother, so we have a few interactions with the idea of the world ending.

Lindsay, thank you so much for your time. It was such a pleasure speaking with you.

Thank you so much...It was so nice to meet you!

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