It’s the first actor or actress that walks in to your audition site, blows you away with the way they just nail the character in your mind, and then signs the contract at your table that makes your show real. No amount of scripts, directors, executive producers, or even purchased pilots in the world can make a new series seem physical until an actual person is breathing life to your words before the camera.
In the case of Amazon’s One Mississippi, creator and show-runner Tig Notaro’s first make-real moment had to be with the signing of the second actress; after all, Notaro is the first.
Heroes Reborn star Rya Kihlstedt signed on to become the second actor to join Notaro’s project One Mississippi, Deadline reports today. The 45 year-old actress is apparently going to play opposite–or rather, slightly above–Notaro as her mother Caroline, a well-to-do former Southern belle–enchanting, sharp-witted, and quintessentially Mason-Dixie WASP in every way. Kihlstedt’s character is the kind that is likely to clash with Notaro’s; the Los Angeles-based comedian is playing a role similar to her real-life self, which will, of course, include her sexuality and more masculine personality.
What viewers will actually get to see of Kihlstedt and Notaro’s relationship is yet to be determined. Amazon released Notaro’s pilot last year to positive, if not a little heart-wrenched response. In the episode, Notaro flies back home to the town of Bay Saint Lucille when she finds out her mother is going to be taken off life support. As if life hadn’t hit her hard enough already, Notaro had just received a double mastectomy (as the real-life Notaro had as well).
One Mississippi is generally based directly off Notaro’s own background. Though firmly working and living in Southern California now, Notaro originated in Mississippi, an epicenter of strict, old-fashioned conservatism that conflicts with Notaro, openly gay and nonconformist to traditional gender roles. It was that discord that provided the material for her one-woman comedy show Boyish Girl Interrupted.
What the pilot proved is that this show is going to be thick with emotion and deep, disturbingly-rocky familial and spacial relationships. And yet, Kihlstedt might be the aptly ready for the challenge. Having had a longtime role on Heroes Reborn as well as a regular role on Ray Donovan, which just concluded on Showtime. Her other spots in television include Masters of Sex, Nashville, Once Upon a Time, and Dexter.
Notaro has made no public comment on the casting yet, but then again, jumping to Twitter isn’t exactly her style.