It’s been nearly 20 years since Mena Suvari’s breakout roles in American Pie and American Beauty, and the actress is getting Americanized again in Paramount Network’s ’70s dramedy American Woman (Thursdays at 10pm ET/PT beginning June 7). Suvari plays Kathleen Callahan, a Texas gal who’s living large in Los Angeles on Daddy’s dime but still has time to be a supportive pal to Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels). We caught up with Suvari to talk about big hair, flashback fashions, her all-American image and more.
On Kathleen’s Farrah Fawcett hair: “I wish I had hair like that naturally, but I don’t. It’s just sort of adding these pieces, and then you do a lot of teasing and a lot of hairspray, then backcomb it and brush it together, and then you’ve got this amazing Farrah hair.”
On the groovy outfits: “One of them that was my favorite — which Bonnie, Alicia’s character, wears — was this one sort of like a shift dress. Attached to the dress was a photo of Twiggy wearing it. It was the exact same dress that Twiggy wore from that period. I thought that was the coolest thing ever, and what an honor to be carrying this over.”
On Kathleen’s quest: “She truly is looking for love. In the beginning, appearances matter to her. All of her sisters are married, and she feels the pressure to get that done and make Daddy happy. That’s part of her journey. That sort of unravels for her and she questions all of it, and then she decides who she wants to be. She finds herself along the way.”
On all that smoking: “It’s 1975, and I think to act like that wasn’t the case back then would be a disservice. It’s an accurate portrayal. I feel really lucky that we had a mama bear like Alicia onset who basically researched every single company that would be the healthiest for us to smoke. They’re all herbal cigarettes. Our prop department was fantastic and really supportive, and worked with us in presenting all these different brands that were herbal.”
On yet another “American” project: “I honestly give up at this point. There’s some weird energy around it, and I’m just riding it. I think I should get some kind of plaque for ‘Most Patriotic Actor.’ Even with this experience — and I’ve had this on other projects, too — where they were originally named something else and then they changed it to ‘American,’ and I’m like, ‘WHAT? Oh, my God.’”
— ᴍᴇɴᴀsᴜᴠᴀʀɪ (@MenaSuvari) May 22, 2018
This article appears in the June 2018 issue of OnDISH Magazine.