By Jill Jacobs
NEW YORK (Reuters) - To many, Jane Curtin is best known for her role as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, creating a slew of iconic characters, including the mother of "The Coneheads," and the news anchor with a deadpan delivery on SNL's "Weekend Update."
During her post-SNL years, Curtin has remained a consistent presence on television, starring in a number of popular sitcoms, including "Kate & Allie" (1984-1989) and "3rd Rock From The Sun" (1996-2001).
She recently joined the cast of CBS's, "Unforgettable," in her first role as a regular on a dramatic series. The two-time Emmy Award-winner plays Medical Examiner, Dr. Joanne Webster, a brilliant forensic pathologist with a sardonic wit who teaches romantic poetry on the side.
The hour-long procedural crime drama, starring Poppy Montgomery and Dylan Walsh, follows a female detective with an uncanny detailed memory and airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.
Reuters spoke to Curtin about her new dramatic TV role, her career and her days on "Saturday Night Live."
Q: How did you prepare to play a forensic pathologist?
A: "I watched a lot of procedural dramas that had medical examiners so I know what they did. I also met with a former Medical Examiner, Shiya Ribowsky, who was just so interesting. He basically told me about the day-to-day existence of medical examiners, what their education is like, and how they generally relate to other people within the department. It was an interesting, fun conversation. We had a great time."
Q: Don't you ever get squeamish while dealing with the sometimes graphic subject matter in "Unforgettable?"
A: "You reach a certain age, and I come from a culture of open caskets so you sort of get over that squeamishness. You also know you're working on something that's not real. I had to take a beef heart out of a dummy cadaver in one scene, and I thought 'I could just sort of juggle these, I suppose.'"
Q: How does it feel to be back filming in The Big Apple?
A: "New York is a wonderful place to shoot. The bystanders are great. They are enthusiastic. They respect the process, and you get the energy of the city. Even when you're in the studio, you still have that New York aura, as you're dealing with New York teamsters and New York actors. The city keeps feeding you this delicious energy."
Q: Poppy Montgomery plays a cop with "Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory," an extremely rare condition that results in the ability to remember everything. Do you think it would be a curse or a blessing to remember everything in detail?
A: "I don't know if I would want to be haunted with memories all the time. I think that it would be very cluttered. I actually think it would be really annoying."
Q: Was SNL really as much fun as it appeared to be?
A: "The 90 minutes was. The actual show was exhilarating. It was such an adrenal rush. You were shot out of a cannon and you landed 90 minutes later, and you were just so glad that nobody died and that nobody made a complete fool out of themselves. It was stunning how exciting it was to do that 90 minute show."
Q: Lately, we're seeing other SNL original cast members on TV: Chevy Chase, starring in "Community," Garrett Morris in his role on "Two Broke Girls." Do you think this a trend?
A: "We've all just reached the age where they need codgers. If you stay in the game long enough, they'll call your name.
Q: What's the secret to your long success?
A: "I never really marketed myself, so each job I was given was a new marketing tool, and that would be the way I marketed myself. I think if you go from show to show without doing that big PR blitz it's helpful because people can get pretty sick of your face if you're just out there all the time. And keep a low profile, hold in your stomach and be a good sport."
Q: Do you keep in touch with SNL cast members?
A: "Bill Murray had a wonderful party about two months ago, and Laraine (Newman) came from Los Angeles, and Paul Shaffer and Tom Davis were there, and Dan (Aykroyd) was on the phone. And there were other people there that were not SNL people, but it just had a feeling of a bunch of friends getting together who hadn't seen each other in a while. And it was wonderful. Just wonderful. We all had a great time. It's nice to reconnect with them. We've all been through a lot. We've all had interesting lives and there's still that connection that we have. I liken it to a sibling relationship. You just can't get beyond the fact that you are tied together."
(Editing By Bob Tourtellotte)