Katharine McPhee is the first to admit she never dreamed her post-“Idol” career would lead to a starring role in one of the most buzzworthy new shows on television. “I don’t think I could have ever predicted something so amazing,” McPhee says of her role as Broadway ingénue Karen Cartwright on NBC’s musical drama “Smash” (Monday, Feb. 6 at 10/9c). But with the support of executive producer Steven Spielberg, the stars aligned. Now McPhee is acting opposite an impressive cast of industry heavyweights including Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Christian Borle, Jack Davenport, and Megan Hilty. We recently grabbed a couple minutes with McPhee to discuss how her background prepared her for “Smash”, why she thinks the series will appeal to non-theatergoers and theater-buffs alike, and what Karen’s (pseudo spoiler-free) journey will be this season as she attempts to land the part of Marilyn Monroe in the show’s central production.
On how her background prepared her for the role: “What’s interesting is that I went to school in Austin and I did study musical theater there. I didn’t end up pursuing it after I left. It was a wonderful education, but I really learned a lot about the musical theater world and the craziness that goes on.”
Watch The Early Premiere Of “Smash” Below:
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On the show’s accessibility to non-theatergoers: “There are so many fun things – there are a lot of jokes that will go over people’s heads who aren’t attached to the theater world. But there will be a lot of fun things for those people who are into it to tap into. I think the people from the outside will enjoy it as well.”
On how realistic she thinks the show is: “I’m blown away every week by the scripts that are coming in and the dialog that she’s [executive producer Theresa Rebeck] writing. It’s so real. It’s like ‘The West Wing’ with music. The characters are so compelling and the storyline is so interesting. Uma Thurman is coming in to guest star and the things that I hear are gonna happen…It’s so out there and crazy but totally real.”
On Karen’s journey this season: “That’s so hard. I don’t really know where she’s gonna end up – but this is a very stressful time in her life. I think it’ll also be a rewarding time in her life.”
On whether Karen’s stress will take its toll on her relationship with boyfriend Dev [Raza Jaffrey]: “There’s a hint of that. But I think you won’t see any real kind of trouble in paradise until I’d say middle to end of the season.”
“Smash” premieres on Monday, Feb. 6 at 10/9c.