Interview with Kirsten Nelson

In the crime-comedy Series "Psych" Kirsten Nelsen plays Chief Karen Vick. To us she talked about her time on the set of "Psych", about the things she likes to to in her spare time and about the advantages TV-Series have compared to advertising.


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1. When and why did you decide to become an actor?

The short answer to "why" I started acting is my parents. Mom's a teacher and Dad's a pastor so speaking in front of others always came naturally. I grew up in front of it. Singing and classical piano were my focus early on - I attended performing arts elementary and secondary schools – but it wasn't until around age 16 when acting became my concentration. I majored in theatre at university and helped found a professional theatre company in Chicago. Moving to Los Angeles helped me retire the bartender's apron but I still try to sing and tickle the ivories on a regular basis.

2. What do you think is the reason "Psych" is such a huge success?

"Psych" is fun. It's easy. We're not a heavy procedural like CSI or "Law and Order" so it's really nice to visit us and just have a few laughs. Shawn and Gus are not only funny guys but good-hearted ones, too. Fans tune in for the camaraderie between the characters. You want to know these guys. Hang with them. Be their best friend. Did I mention that they're nice to look at, too?

3. What is the difference between "Psych" and other crime shows like "Monk" or "Bones"?

"Psych" is more akin to "Monk" than "Bones" in so far that both are more light-hearted crime shows. Yes, there is a mystery as the plot, but our one-hour is more about the mischief along the way than the actual case. And sure, we all have amazing buddy partners. But "Monk" has the extra layer of being predicated on tragedy and "Bones", while really funny at times, can explore some terribly dark places. Rarely will anything "dangerous" happen on "Psych". I think we got to shoot our guns in as many episodes as I have fingers. On one hand. And it's mostly from Lassiter.

4. Do you believe that Chief Vick already knows that Shawn is an imposter and
she still lets him do his thing?

Good God, I hope she does!

5. What do you expect from a perfect finale of "Psych"?

A perfect finale for "Psych" would be boy grows up and finally gets girl, Gus wins the lottery, Lassiter finds a love as much as he loves his gun, Henry opens up a Tackle, Bait & Booze establishment on the pier and Vick leaves the force to become Head Mistress at an all-girls' boarding school. All done as a musical.

6. Are there any funny experiences you made on set that you can tell us about?

Oh I've got good stories about struggling to find modest places to nurse my baby on set. But I don't want to cry right now. One of my favorite guest stars, though, was Jane Lynch ("Glee") and I have some great memories of struggling to keep a straight face opposite her. I am also so much shorter than she is, so every take where we had to stand next to each other she would stand in a really wide 2nd position, just so both our heads could fit in the same shot. She's a giver...

7. How can we image a typical day in the life of Kirsten Nelson?

Wow. A typical day. When I'm not working I'm all about my family. My kids' lives take center stage when I'm home and that includes the usual chauffeuring tasks: soccer, gymnastics, dance, piano, scouting, tennis. laydates and school volunteering. hen there are those visits from Grandma. So my typical day would be dropping everyone off at their schools, hitting the gym or yoga or, if I'm lucky, a hike in the mountains with a friend, lunch with my husband, study for auditions or the next day's work, pick up the kids for a full afternoon, dinner at home then ease into a quiet night with a movie or the latest show we've Tivo'ed.

8. You already did a lot of guest appearances in different shows. Which one has been your personal favorite?

"The West Wing" is far and away my favorite guest spot. I was already a HUGE fan of the show and that episode, the Season 2 finale, was such a pivotal point. I had worked with Kathy Joosten ("Mrs. Landingham") a few years prior on a short-lived series and she really is a great broad. In fact, she's the one that got me in on the audition. To play her younger self, mannerisms and speech patterns already in place, was nerve-wracking but really an honor.

9. What is your favorite genre – crime, drama or comedy?

I'm going to say I like drama the most, especially when it is grounded in great writing. It's electrifying and I have a real respect for great storytellers who let us speak their words. But I also love making people laugh. Sometimes that's a whole lot harder than drama but terribly rewarding in itself.

10. How do you spend your free time when you are not standing in front of the camera?

"Down-time" at work, when I'm not in front of the camera, usually involves the latest issue of National Geographic magazine and a Sudoku/KenKen book. Don't get me started but I rock the puzzles. In pen. I might have been a great accountant if this acting thing didn't work out because my mind loves logic & numbers. Off the set I love to walk. Vancouver, Canada (where we shoot) is gorgeous, even in the worst weather. Walking really affords me the best way to see everything, from the shops to the ski runs. Things and people you might miss in a car.

11. You also do a lot of advertising spots. What is the main difference between a day on set of such a spot and the set of a show like "Psych"? Is it stressful because of the time pressure in advertising?

Both commercials and TV shows can have really long days. Both involve more people behind the camera making the magic happen than in front. And both involve a lot of sitting around for the actors. But whereas the ad spots will try and get 30 seconds of product advertising into a 10-12 hour day, we'll get 8 minutes of show in that same amount of time. And then we get to come back and do it all again for 6 more days! Commercials wrap in a day. It's not stressful because of the time pressure in advertising but more because of the constraints of the medium. You don't usually get a lot of room to "play". On "Psych" there's a great creative atmosphere, full of mayhem and humor, with everyone pitching in to tell the best story possible. We get to "play". And I really prefer doing that to the ad spots I did for so long.

12. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about TV series, do you have a favorite one?

My favorite show right now is "Bones", followed by "30 ROCK". Tina Fey is a comedic goddess. "West Wing" and "Deadwood" are also favorites. "Dirty Jobs" is always great for a good laugh. But HBO'S "The Wire" has to be my favorite in the last decade. That was some tight writing the likes of which I don't think we'll see again for a long time. Wow. I guess I really do like the dramas!

Catherine Bühnsack - myFanbase