Amy Brenneman Is No Shrinking Violet

Amy Brenneman plays neurotic psychiatrist Violet on ABC’s Private Practice. Violet’s spent the season coping with a problem that would give Freud himself a few sleepless nights: she’s pregnant and isn’t sure who the father is. Thursday’s season finale finds her grappling with a marriage proposal from Potential Daddy A: Sheldon, and her feelings for Potential Daddy B: Pete. On top of all that she’s dealing with a grief-stricken patient and *SPOILER ALERT*, she goes into labor. Brenneman spoke with Fancast about the two men in Violet’s life and why she thinks the doctor should self-medicate.

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Last week’s Private Practice ended with Sheldon proposing to Violet. What does she see in Sheldon? What does she see in Pete?

In Sheldon she sees someone who respects her and she really respects him. She sees a lot of camaraderie, a lot of stability, a lot of love. With Pete, it’s more risky. I think what [showrunner] Shonda [Rhimes] really wanted to explore is that Violet was his friend for a long, long time and his colleague for a long, long time. During that time he was extremely bad to women. This was before we met up with Pete but there’s this idea that he’s more exciting to her partly because he’s not as stable. You know, that whole trap. I think there is more chemistry, more physical excitement, but she just doesn’t know if she can depend on him.

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A lot of fans want to see Violet with Coop. Is the show ever going to explore pairing them?

Yes, for sure. I think in some ways we explore it all the time because it’s what rankles Charlotte. This is where I think Shonda is just a wonderful writer in that she explores intimacy on all these different levels. I think that Violet is a person, and Cooper is too, who divided intimacy and sexuality. There’s nobody like Cooper in Violet’s life. But I think in the first season when the idea of sexuality came up between them he didn’t want it just to be a one-off. He’s the one that saw her through the pregnancy, lamaze, took care of her, and she takes care of him too.

How do you think motherhood will change Violet?

That certain narcissistic loop that you can afford to be in before you’re a Mom will be broken. She’s going to learn to love and take care of this little being all the time. One thing Shonda and I talk about a lot, because she’s a Mom too, is that it’s great to explore the ambiguous feelings about being a Mom. Especially becoming a Mom later in life as Violet did. I actually think that older Moms, post 35, are better Moms because we’ve sowed our wild oats and we have a bit more serenity within ourselves. On the other hand, we’re a little bit more set in our ways so the idea of upending your habits and your lifestyle as much as you have to to be a parent will be really fun and educational.

How do you feel about Violet’s evolution from season one? She seems less neurotic this season.

It’s hard in a series because the way we first meet a character is indelible. When we met Violet she’d just been jilted in a pretty traumatic way. I think when the information came out this year about her past and the fact that she was raped, that made a lot of sense. Her clinging to this relationship with Alan was extreme. It was funny when she stalked him and did all this hilarious stuff but I knew at the time that we couldn’t sustain this level of hysteria nor should we. I definitely feel like this year we got her act together. At the beginning of this year there was a lot of isolation in terms of relationships. There was a point at the beginning of the season where everyone was hooked up except for Violet.

What would you like to see happen to Violet in season three?

I’ve always had this idea, which I’ve pitched a number of times to Shonda, but she’s never gone for it so maybe I should let it go. I think one of the main things going on in psychiatry right now is medication, trying to figure out the balance between medicating somebody and talking to them. I’ve always wanted to see Violet go into a depression and then medicate herself. I would love to see her in therapy. The season finale there are some big things that are potentially upsetting. I literally thought, “Oh my God we have to see her work through this in a therapeutic setting, with all her humor and neuroticism. It doesn’t have to be dreary.

Before you were on Private Practice, you starred in, and Executive Produced, Judging Amy. How is being part of an ensemble different?

It’s been great. It’s really what I wanted. I came into Judging Amy with no children and I came out with two. That was an extraordinary experience. Hopefully I will be able to Executive Produce again. It took everything I had to give. I really loved that but I didn’t want to work eighteen hours a day and miss my children’s childhoods. I was happy doing plays and shorter term roles for a couple years but when this came along I thought, “This is a really unique opportunity,” because the standard of the writing is so high. Because it’s an ensemble we hare the burden and that felt like absolutely the right thing to do right now.

Besides Private Practice, what other shows do you like to watch?

I’m a big Office person. I’m a relatively recent convert to 30 Rock. I just got into it this year. There’s this new show called The Unusuals that I’m a big fan of. I read that in script form and I think that writer [Noah Hawley] is just fabulous. A buddy of mine was convincing me that I should start watching The Real Housewives but I haven’t quite brought myself to do it.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.


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