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Anne Ramsay at Backlot Bash


Pictured Anne Ramsay.

Anne Ramsay has played a number of unconventional women. From free-spirited sister Lisa on Mad About You to her nurturing role as Robin on The L Word, Anne continues to portray women who are open, free, warm and funny. A lot like the Anne Ramsay I met for this interview.

Windy City Times: You were in Chicago in 1990 to film A League of Their Own. What a cast! What was that experience like for you?

AR: It was amazing! I could never articulate it enough. It was a life-changing event for me and for all of us—for all the girls ... we all felt the same way about it. I mean I got to play baseball. We got to play it in Wrigley Field! It just prepared me for everything that happened afterward. And I love Chicago! We were staying ( downtown ) and I'm a runner so I went for a jog. I do that ... so I can learn the city. And I was jogging by the lake, and I turned around and the lake was gorgeous and there were people playing beach volleyball, which I also love to do, and behind me are these gorgeous buildings and I started crying. I wanted to be cast in the film so badly ... it was my first big job ... so I was just insanely happy. A League of Their Own is the one that launched ( my career ) ... yeah ... it was a huge, huge deal in my life.

WCT: And you were already a ballplayer?

AR: Yeah, I've always been an athlete. Strangely enough I never really played softball in my high school / college career but I was athletic enough to learn baseball, which is what they taught us.

WCT: And your character Helen played first base and that's a lot of action.

AR: It was phenomenal because Penny Marshall found out that I was left handed really early on when we were just practicing, before we were filming, and she was like 'Oh, you'll be first base.' I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

WCT: Did you all go through rigorous training?

AR: Even the auditions for the piece were playing baseball. Can you catch and throw, you know, that was just part of the audition. This is funny: we have one batting cage that's popular in the L.A. area and all these women around the same age were signing up. You couldn't get a space because we were all practicing because we were all auditioning for Penny Marshall and EVERYONE was at the batting cages. Just tons of women there.

WCT: So instead of everyone getting hair and facials for an audition, everyone's in a batting cage. Which I think is quite liberating for the women of L.A.! They should try that again.

AR: [ laughing ] It was so funny.

WCT: Penny needs to do another League but maybe this time it's bowling! OK, I have to ask ... I mean the woman was a huge star when you were filming this. The Madonna question. Truth Or Dare came out the year you were filming this. Do you have any unique stories about Madonna, because you know the gay community wants to know.

AR: Oh there are tons of wonderful stories about Madonna!

WCT: 'Cause you know that gays love her and want to know about anyone that's been close to her, let alone spend four months with her.

AR: She's awesome, what can I say? She's sweet and vulnerable and she could be caustic and self-protecting. She was so kind to me and I'm really grateful for it. My birthday happened to fall in the middle of shooting and she found out about it and she made sure that I had a cake, she gave me a Dolce and Gabbana outfit.

WCT: She gave you a Dolce & Gabbana outfit?!?

AR: Yeah. She was just really sweet to me ... and at the wrap ( of the film ) Madonna wrote notes to everyone and her note to me was just ... big pause ... I still have it. She just pegged me so succinctly and perfectly that I couldn't believe it. I'm not going to tell you what she said. [ laughs ]

WCT: No, you don't have to tell us on air [ this interview was also taped for Windy City Radio ] . But you can tell me later.

AR: Oh this is funny! One day she was starving and she hadn't had her breakfast and she had asked for some oatmeal and we were on a bus in the middle of the field or on some old road somewhere and all of a sudden she yelled 'Where is my oatmeal?' It was hysterical! [ Laughing ] And the oatmeal came like minutes later.

WCT: I bet that damn oatmeal came and it was hot and it had sugar and butter. Soon after League, you landed the role of Jamie Buchman's sister or Helen Hunt's sister on Mad About You, which I have to tell you that it's my favorite sitcom of all time. How is it performing in a sitcom over so many weeks for so many years? Is that a hard level to maintain?

AR: Oh my gosh. I just feel so fortunate. I have such gratitude. I've been so lucky in my career. I mean that role I still miss performing.

WCT: She was such a wonderful character.

AR: She was just a juicy character to play. It was such an off-the-wall character that every time I would come on, you'd have to give me the punch line. You had to give that character the punch line. People expected it. I feel spoiled because of the writing on that show ... I never wanted that show—first of all, I never wanted League of Their Own to end and I didn't want Mad About You to ever end, but of course it did.

WCT: But it ran for a really long time.

AR: It did. It was so sad when we had to wrap Mad About You.

WCT: And sitcom casts are so tight-knit ... such a family. Are you still in touch with the cast?

AR: I'm actually more in touch with A League of Their Own people than Mad About You. I see Penny Marshall, lots of people. Geena and I are friends. I just ran into Tom Hanks at an audition. He was coming out of a meeting at this place ( where ) I was auditioning and he gave me the hugest, warmest hug and told the people I was auditioning for that they should hire me. He's just always giving, giving to other people ... thinking how can he better a situation.

WCT: With Mad About You, you come into so many people's homes when you're on TV, especially when it's in syndication ... were you worried you would be typecast as that wacky, offbeat ...

AR: You know it's funny because when I first started acting everyone thought that I was going to play the doctor and the lawyer, the serious parts ... and I just fell into this comedy and it kind of stuck for awhile. So people had forgotten that I'd also done the other dramatic stuff. So I was a little concerned. Also I was concerned that I'm the mom age but people wouldn't hire me as the mom cause they're thinking that I'm this quirky, irresponsible Lisa Mad About You character. So I had to go out and buy mom clothes and little sweater sets and stuff.

WCT: Working on the nurturing 'mom' type seems like it helped you with the character of Robin on The L Word. Tell us about playing her.

AR: Well first of all, working on that show was just a joy because it's a groundbreaking show. You already have that magic on the set.

WCT: And you're surrounded by fabulous women ( just like ) on A League of Their Own.

AR: Yeah. And it's a different sort of ambiance on the set when there are more women than men. On The L Word it's such a collaborative environment and in general, ( it is ) freer to experiment and I love that, you know. There's more freedom and collaboration.

WCT: Do you feel that the show has been positive in general for women and gay women specifically?

AR: Well we feel responsible. All of us on The L Word really want to try and represent, what can I say? We want to be accurate. The character Robin that I played, she's very ... she's a good girl.

WCT: Yeah. You were set up with the bad girl Marina and good girl Robin going after the confused Jenny.

AR: I am never cast as good girls. It's very strange. ( Robin ) wants to do the right thing. She's nurturing. The Mother type.

WCT: See! Shopping for mother clothes and sweater sets really worked!

AR: Yeah! [ laughs ] Or who knows? Maybe I got a little older and a little more motherly. But it is interesting because I have never really played such a calm, even-keeled character. I'm usually cast as the cuckoo bird. Or dramatically eccentric.

WCT: You got your start years ago writing for an acting troupe. Have you continued to write?

AR: Yes I am. I finished a sitcom pilot with a writing partner friend of mine in New York which people laugh out loud when they hear it read ... . So that is the first good sign we have! It's exciting. It would sort of be a vehicle for myself. I can't really tell you much more about it. I went to UCLA and was fortunate enough to be in an acting continuum class and we just had a magical group there and the professor called us aside when we graduated and said, 'you guys have to stay together and do something.' So we started writing right after UCLA and we wrote our first play and that is what got me my agent and my start.

WCT: This season people can watch you on Six Feet Under, an amazing show. Who are you playing?

AR: I play Rachel Griffiths' boss and then her mentor and then we become really good friends. It's really exciting! Rachel Griffiths just happens to be one of those people whose work I love ... and we hit it off right from the get go. So we're actually friends now too which is ... I'm just lucky ... what can I say? It is just wonderful to work with her. What a quality show!

WCT: Well we cannot wait to watch you each week.

Anne Ramsay will be in Chicago the day before the big parade on Saturday, June 25, to host the Backlot Bash outdoor party featuring DJ Teri Bristol and bands TK04 and The Locals. Come out for the party located behind Cheetah Gym in Andersonville, 3-10 p.m., 21+, $10. href=" "> Article Link Here .

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