'30 Rock': Meet DeBorah!
Who's that ''MILF Island'' scene-stealer? Actress Deidre Goodwin talks about filming last week's outrageous show-within-a-show
Has 30 Rock created a monster with MILF Island? Last week the Emmy-winning sitcom’s spoofy nod to trashy reality-TV contests — see the comments section of Jeff Labrecque’s TV Watch if you need the acronym MILF explained! — had EW staffers abuzz, so we scoured the tropics to track down Deidre Goodwin, the guest star who played M.I. champ DeBorah with such absurdity and ferocity. Actually, the Oklahoma City native works mere blocks from EW’s NYC offices, performing the role of Sheila eight times a week in what Liz Lemon could hardly call ”lowest common denominator” entertainment: A Chorus Line. Here, the thirtysomething stage veteran (on Broadway, she’s danced with Chita Rivera and played Velma to Melanie Griffith’s Roxie in Chicago), who also has some pretty highbrow films on her résumé (Across the Universe, Half Nelson, and the Chicago film), recalls her down-and-dirty MILF Island experience.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before the MILF Island shoot, were you able to read the whole 30 Rock episode? Did you know Jack Donaghy would be praising your character throughout?
DEIDRE GOODWIN: Yes. So that was pretty cool!
How was the shoot?
There was so much they didn’t really show. After I finished, I was exhausted, but I was so happy because I never had that much fun working. I literally came home and washed sand and bananas out of my hair. We did ridiculous things. There was a girl who ate a cockroach.
A real cockroach?
Well, they used chocolate cockroaches. But during a close-up, they made her hold a real one up to her lips. And then they didn’t even show that part! Poor thing. For me — you probably saw glimpses of this — there was a ”stick dance.” On set they’d told us my adversary was a very sweet girl, and I was [directed to be] raunchy, slapping my ass and everything. Then they had me shoot it again by myself. And you know that video by Whitesnake? I did that.
You did your best Tawny Kitaen?
Crawling, cooter slam, flipping the hair, the whole thing. It was awesome.
Should I ask the definition of ”cooter slam”?
Oh, a cooter slam is when you jump in the air, and you land into a split. You don’t just find the split. You jump in the air, open your legs, and…Slam!
Okay! Now DeBorah fans can look for that in the DVD deleted scenes.
We also did a tug-of-war with the little boys. And we had a relay race between the DeBorah character and another girl and me. We had boys on our back and we literally had to run while they were acting like we were horses…. My favorite scene was on the air so briefly: Another woman and I had to climb a rope, and we had to pick a banana, so we’re holding on to the rope with one arm and picking the banana with the other. We had to pick the banana, unpeel the banana, eat it all, toss the peel, and keep climbing up the rope. That was the funniest thing ever. It was really difficult, but it was so much fun I didn’t care. Oh, and that woman who burned her bra? She was topless for real — but she did it with her back to the little boys so they didn’t see.
NEXT: Goodwin’s idea for a DeBorah spin-off
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was Tina Fey there at all?
DEIDRE GOODWIN: She came by the studio [in Queens, New York] for a few seconds. That was cool….We didn’t get to meet a lot of regulars because we were shooting all of our stuff by ourselves.
How did your friends and family react to the episode?
The word used most often was hot: ”You looked hot!” Even my mom said it! Which I thought was hilarious. And by the way, when I first called my mom and told her I booked this, I explained and said, ”The fake show’s called MILF Island — you know what a MILF is, right, Mom?” and she answered, ”Yeah, yeah, I know what that is.” So she sent an e-mail to all her friends, coworkers, and family right before it aired. And a guy ran down to her office and said, ”Do you know what MILF means?!” and she said, ”Noooo?” and he told her and she started laughing so hard. I was like, ”Mom, you told me you knew what it meant when you really didn’t!”
Of course. Because it would be so uncool to let on otherwise.
Actually, I think she just wasn’t listening to me!
Were you pleased with the episode when you saw it?
Very. I know that when a half-hour sitcom airs, it’s really only 22 minutes, so I wasn’t sure how much I’d be seen. But I knew they referred to MILF Island in the script a lot. I was very pleased with the amount of time our footage ended up airing. I have to say, I hadn’t really had the chance to catch the show in the past. And I love it.
On 30 Rock you were so funny, but I also remember your small-but-serious role in Half Nelson. Are you drawn to serious projects, or more comic roles?
I love comedy. It’s funny because I often get called in for roles like ”the tough cop” or ”the mean girl.”
Yeah, because, you know, it’s the package. It must be how I look, and on my résumé I’ve played murderers and hookers. But I’m happy I got to do 30 Rock and be silly. Because that’s more my personality. I would also like to see more characters who are African-American, who are my complexion, who look the way I look but also are goofy as hell.
So if Liz Lemon really ends up writing a spinoff for DeBorah, what do you think it will be like?
God. I was thinking of crazy things — like, if she did have a talk show called The DeBorah Show, it would be funny if she did all these serious interviews, but always half-naked. Or she’s in a tub, and guests have to get in the tub with her. It could be ridiculous. And you know how the episode mentioned that DeBorah wants to sing? I would hope they’d have me singing badly. Like, just bad. She’d be making them money, so they wouldn’t care. She has ”the bearing of a queen,” and that’s all that really matters!
More 30 Rock:
Kenneth ”the Page” Parcell: My Top 10 Playlist!
Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and Tracy Morgan star in the Emmy-winning comedy. You want to go to there.