“One Tree Hill”: Talking With Daphne Zuniga

If you’ve been watching this space, you might recall my I mentioning, last week, that I might have a few words with Daphne Zuniga, who plays Victoria Davis — Brooke’s mom — on OTH. Zuniga is set to play another role, that of a con artist in the American frontier West, for Hallmark Channel‘s Mail Order Bride (premiering Nov. 8). But as part of our general discussion, we did get a few questions in about Brooke’s mother-and-nemesis, Victoria.

It’s often said that it’s more fun to play the villain than the good guy or gal. Would you say that that’s true of how you experience Victoria Davis?

Daphne Zuniga: For me, part of Victoria Davis was … it was fun. I was like, “I’m grateful that this is my job, to play different kinds of parts.” But you have to live in that skin for a while, and I think it takes its toll, for sure. Depending, [you’re on set] 12 hours a day? Ten hours, at least, a day? Even when you’re not filming, you’re trying to make this [character] human. It’s that humanness on film, real and true, and authentic, believable. So the rest of the time — and I’m not saying completely running around in character — you do have to spend time in that mentality. And I don’t enjoy it all that much. However, having said that, it sure is a great outlet for when you have things that you’re angry about in real life — people or situations. It’s a great sort of mask to be able to get inside characters and say that ‘It’s Victoria getting angry.’

Are we ever going to see a more human side to Victoria? She’s so brutal, emotionally, that it makes you wonder if she even has a more human side.

Well, I was told from day one, even before I landed in North Carolina where I was to be filmed, “I don’t want to see any of your good-heartedness, Daphne — really. I want to see villain. You’re the villain.” So that’s what I went for. And there are moments [of sensitivity], I think — few and far between. But the writer, Mark Schwahn, wanted to see a few here and there. But he did use that word, “villain,” so I had to keep thinking dramatic in that way.

So she’s never going to stop being evil?

I explained to someone recently — Victoria Davis, Brooke’s mother — I don’t see her as evil. She never saw herself as evil. She saw herself as trying to protect her daughter from really screwing up and blowing this whole company that “we’ve” got going. And in fact, “we” can be sued by investors if we are reckless with their money and their investments. You know, this is not kidding around. “You’re not in high school anymore. You can’t hang out down here — it’s just reckless, and we’ll be in legal trouble if we don’t snap to it. So get to it — enough kidding around!” And that on top of, you know, she’s not warm and fuzzy because she never learned it as a kid or whatever. That’s why I love to act — to really find the reason beneath the judgments, beneath the stereotype.

As we spoke, Zuniga was finishing work on a TV pilot, and she was looking forward to working on an independent film based on a four-person play by New York playwright Theresa Rebeck. Will her Victoria Davis character turn up to cause more trouble in Brooke’s life and in the world of OTH in general? (I’m starting to think that she and Dan Scott might make the perfect pair, but that’s another entry for another day.)

We’ll wait and see …