Amber Tamblyn is no stranger to the realm of TV, but this time she’s in uncharted territory: sitcoms. Known for her roles in dramas such as Joan of Arcadia and House, Tamblyn is set to guest star in a five-episode arc — with the possibility of a recurring role — on the upcoming 11th season of Two and a Half Men. With her first-ever sitcom appearance airing tonight, Tamblyn spoke with Entertainment Weekly about portraying the previously unknown daughter of Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen), as well as more ventures on the horizon.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me about your character, Charlie Harper’s long-lost daughter.
AMBER TAMBLYN: Her name is Jenny, and she is a fun, playful, debaucherous character. She’s unapologetic and enjoys drinking Ashton Kutcher’s character [Walden] under the table. Literally, at some point, he’s gonna be under the table, and there’ll be a joke about that.
You describe Jenny as unapologetic, which also seems to describe what her father was like. Does she share any other character traits with him?
Yes, very much so — her love for women. She’s super into the ladies, and that’s something that is a recurring thing. I think I’ve seen more bras and panties at this point than I have in 20 years of my career. And I ain’t complainin’.
This is your first time doing a sitcom. How did the opportunity come about?
It sort of just fell into my lap, not to say I didn’t work for it. I got a call about it and heard about the character. I thought it sounded so interesting and so different and could be really fun. I instantly had a take on who the character should be, whether or not that’s what they wanted, I knew what I could do with it, and that translated. It was a great meeting and reading with [creator] Chuck Lorre, [star] Jon Cryer, and [producer] Jim Patterson. We all just got along great. It was a great reading. I think they were super into what I did, and that was basically it.
Then the hard work was just the first episode. My learning curve was pretty steep because I’d never done a sitcom before. I’ve always infused comedic stuff into any dramatic roles I’ve done, but this is a whole — to quote Disney’s Aladdin — a whole new world.
You’ve filmed the first episode; have you filmed any of the others?
Yeah, we’ve done three episodes. They’ve been — I pinch myself. It’s the funnest job in the world. It’s also something I’ve never really played before, so it feels new and fresh and exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
How has filming these subsequent episodes been? Are you getting used to the sitcom process, or are there still some things you’re getting a handle on?
No, definitely getting more used to it, at least the nerves part of it. The part that’s scary is when the writers come up, and they give you new jokes. You just have to redo the scene on the spot with changes in front of a live audience. And that’s tough — that’s a bit crazy. But that’s what’s exciting about it. You are coming into a situation where [the cast of Two and a Half of Men] are a bunch of veterans and I am a veteran — it feels great to come into something where everyone knows what they’re doing and everyone has done something equally as terrifying before in their career. So, it works out really great in that sense.
You mentioned Jenny being able to drink Ashton Kutcher’s character under the table. Can you tease anything more about how she interacts with the other characters?
All I can tease is that I’ve seen Ashton Kutcher’s nipples, and they are very nice.
[Laughs] That is good to know.
Take that how you will. That can mean anything.
You’re confirmed for five episodes, but do you see your run extended for more?
I think everyone wants that internally. It’s going to all depend on how the audience and the fans of the show react. If they love Jenny, then she’ll hang around. If they don’t love Jenny, then they’re going to be calling Courtney Love.
Not to completely abandon movies, you’re also attached to several film projects. You recently worked on a film called X/Y.
Yeah, it’s a film I did last year. That was great, and I got to work with [Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants co-star] America Ferrera again — a great film about relationships in New York.
How was working with America again?
It was great. She and I spend so much personal time together that you feel kinda like whatever.
It was just announced that you’re signed on to Girlfriend’s Day with Breaking Bad‘s Bob Odenkirk about the competitive world of greeting card writers. You play a greeting card fan, a.k.a. a “Cardie.” Are Cardies actually a thing?
I didn’t know about that either, but yeah, Cardies are a thing. They’re like the groupies of the greeting card world. And if they’re not, if Bob Odenkirk just wrote that and made it up, then it should be a thing, and I’ll officially start it. Watch out, Hallmark. Hallmark’s gonna need to get a restraining order soon.
How did that come together? I’m sure you know Bob Odenkirk well, as he is a frequent collaborator and Mr. Show co-creator with your husband, David Cross.
Yeah, I know Bob, and he wanted me to be a part of it when he was going to direct it. Then, Michael [Stephenson] came on and decided he’s going to direct it while Bob was just going to act in it. So I met with Michael, and we had a really fantastic time. I told him, “Go meet with every actress, and if you think I’m still your girl, then come back.” You know with love, you just gotta let it go and see if it comes back to you.
And in this case, it did.
I feel like the story between the two of them is really about a friendship that turns into this romance — an unexpected romance — in a strange, cool way. I had a very specific take on how that would unfold, and so I think Michael responded to that. I think Bob knew that all along, but he wanted to respect the process of his director. I know there’ll be all kinds of amazing people in the cast. I’ve never worked with Bob, but I know him well. It’s going to be exciting.
The 11th season of Two and a Half Man premieres tonight at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.