A Minute With: Katharine McPhee star of "Smash"

Wed Feb 1, 2012 5:10am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Life has been full of ups and downs for Katharine McPhee since she ended "American Idol" as runner-up in 2006.

Dropped by her record label in 2008 after her debut album, McPhee has struggled to establish a mainstream career as a singer, and after co-starring in the comedy "The House Bunny" several other movie projects proved disappointing or failed to get off the ground.

But McPhee, now 27, is back in a role that seems tailor made for the former musical theater student. She stars as a young actress competing to be cast as Marilyn Monroe in a Broadway musical in the new TV "show within a show" series "Smash".

McPhee spoke to Reuters about her career and her new show ahead of its February 6 debut on NBC.

Q: You are playing a character whose story is a bit like your own -- auditioning and hustling for parts.

A: "I thought, finally it was a part that was really, really right for me. I approach acting as always trying to find a piece of yourself in each role ... If I read something that is absolutely mind-blowing and fantastic and edgy and dark I tend to stay away from it. You are not really going to get the part. So when I find similarities within myself I get really excited."

Q: With your background in musical theatre this seems like the perfect part for you. Do you feel most at home in that genre?

A: "I feel most at home on the set. One of my first big studio movies was 'House Bunny' and I remember coming home every day and saying to my friends, I love being there ... I have intentionally not pursued musical theater. I toyed with the idea of doing some stage but over the years, there wasn't the right projects for me ... In this part I get to live the best of both worlds. I get to play a character who wants to live on stage. It is pretty rare. If someone had told me five years ago you will get to be on a show where you get to do it all, I'd have said, 'You are crazy! It's not going to happen.'"   Continued...

<p>Katharine McPhee at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 15, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>