EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Judith Light Answers our questions about Ugly Betty, Fellow Actors and Fashion
“I would say that I didn’t have one favorite. Everything Pat Field and her team put me in was original, innovative and completely fashion forward. It was the way she put things together that was so interesting. Pat would take a dress that was vintage and add feathers or a belt or change the hem line to make it look simply marvelous. They did that every time, so it’s really hard to have a favorite.”
How do you feel about Ugly Betty wardrobe being made available to fans?
“I thought it was great. I know there are people out there who loved what we wore and now they have a chance to wear something and feel as great in it as we did!”
Many beloved series (24, Arrested Development, etc.) are being positioned for the big screen (and, in the case of Sex and the City, have found a huge box office). Do you think Ugly Betty would translate to the big screen? If so, do you have any plots you’d like to see played out for a film audience? Anything particular for Claire Meade?
“I do think Ugly Betty could definitely translate to the big screen. I have no idea about plots right now for the movie or story lines for Claire in the movie. However, if it ever does get done, there will be a terrific team in place and I’m sure they will come up with a great story for the movie and for every one of our characters.”
What was your impression of Ugly Betty when you were first offered the role of Claire Meade?
“I thought that Ugly Betty was extraordinary when I first watched it; such a heart opening show. It was so powerful in that it showed a girl, who didn’t look like she was the “right stuff”, but she turned out to be the one with the most integrity, the most generosity, and the one with the best advice to all of the people who only looked like they had it all together but really didn’t. Ugly Betty is and was a show that changed the face of television.”
Were you surprised to see your recurring role turned into a series regular after your Emmy-nominated work in Season 1?
“I was honored and thrilled. I had worked with Silvio Horta the executive producer and creator on another pilot that was never picked up. He said to me, some day we will work together again. He wrote me a great character. He was a man of his word and we were a good team working on the character together. It was also the audience that let them know that they loved this character and wanted to see more of her so that helped.”
What were your favorite episodes – or story arcs – over the course of the series?
“I don’t have particular episodes that are favorites. However, I always loved when Betty gave Claire advice. It was such an interesting relationship and had so many colors and layers. They were always supporting each other, reversing roles and I loved that. This is also a great place to say that we were a very close family on Betty; all of us loved working with each, other so for me, it wasn’t so much the story arc, as it was the excitement of when we got to mix it up and work with different people.”
Your character went through some extreme experiences – murder, rehab – what’s your view of Claire as a person?
“I think Claire is a very complex, complicated and fascinating character. The writers did such a great job writing her. She was very flawed but also very kind and tough and loving. Can’t ask for better than that. The writers showed all sides of her and I felt so blessed to be able to play her.”
Who as your favorite character to interact with onscreen?
“Like I said before, it was such a great company of actors that it was fabulous to get to work with everyone. Each character was so different, that whoever you played opposite, you could find something new in your character, which is rare and very exciting.”
What will you remember about working with America Ferrara?
“Her supreme intelligence and her brilliance as an actress and her generosity of spirit as a human being. Her willingness to be our Ugly Betty leader. She was the show in more ways than one.”
“His quiet humor and his ability to say so much with so little on camera. Also what a wonderful father he is.”
“Such a generous person. So funny and so talented and a complete team player.”
“A fabulous actor and a very deep person.”
“She is a beautiful person inside and out. She has an extraordinary sense of style. I was proud she was my “daughter” She was the perfect actress to play a transgender person.”
Other case members?
“Michael Urie, Becki Newton,Ana Ortiz, Tony Plana and Mark Indelicato are extraordinarily talented, amazing people and so dear to me. This was a family of great people and we are all still friends and call and email and text each other all the time.”
Do you recall any guest stars who stood out for their performances?
“Oh there were many. Bernadatte Peters, Kathy Najimy, Jamie Lynn Seigler, Lucy Lui, Dylan Baker and Lynn Redgrave just to name a few.”
Do you read fashion magazine? How has your view of them changed (if, at all)?
“I do. I found them infinitely valuable while doing the show and I continue to find them helpful and interesting for myself personally. I have always been connected to fashion and subsequently to these magazines, as they keep me apprised of what is happening in a business I have always loved. My mother was a woman’s wear buyer, so fashion is in my blood and I like to keep up with the latest things that are happening. Magazines are the perfect way to do that. I have had a subscription to Women’s Wear Daily for several years.”
Claire has a great line about what she takes in her coffee (vodka and ice, hold the coffee). How do you take your coffee?
“I like iced coffee either black or with some milk, or vanilla coffeemate and splenda.”
Just a little inside story.That line actually happened when we were rehearsing the scene. Tony Plana’s character asks Clarie what she takes in her coffee and joking around I said the line you quoted above, and the writers said, ” we love it, keep it”