The NBC’s hit show This Is Us is a huge phenomenon. Everyone seems to be glued to every episode. So, of course, to be able to talk to Laura Niemi who plays Marilyn Pearson was a huge honor.
A native Angelino, Laura has been in the performing arts for over 30 years. She was selected at 9 years of age to study piano at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y and then her teenage years at The National Academy of Performing Arts in Los Angeles. As a musician, she played bass alongside such bands as Marilyn Manson, Laundry and members of Tool. She is active in the theatre community having performed at The Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Rep and The Odyssey Theatre among others. She is the Artistic Director of Lost Angels Theatre Company which has garnered her many awards as both an actor as well as a producer. Her first screen credit was in Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and since then has been continuously working in both TV and film. She is also a founding member of the sketch comedy group Showfriends.
Laura Niemi Talks About This Is Us and More
What attracted you to acting or have you always wanted to be an actress?
Laura: I grew up in the entertainment industry, but acting was something I had no intention of pursuing. My mom was a producer, and I was a defiant teenager so landing in my her world was something I rebelled against (although secretly I was always in awe of actors when I would help out on sets and gravitate towards them). It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started studying acting and immersed myself in theater.
What was it about the character of “Marilyn Pearson” that drew you to play her?
Laura: When I first read the part there was not a lot on the page as the character had not really been fleshed out. Lots of gaps so to speak. So I had to piece together a lot of who I thought this character should be. I knew she was in an dysfunctional marriage and pretty broken. These are themes that I had experienced and though painful, I knew it would be important to tell that story.
What has been your biggest challenge in playing “Marilyn”?
Laura: I am a playful person by nature and normally like to keep it loose on set. I had a hard time breaking from this character between takes as I know how loaded this subject matter is for so many women and families. The theme of alcoholism and how it affects the family, the theme of volatility in a relationship, and the hostages that kids become in all of it. It’s heavy stuff and I am so glad the writers did not shy away from it.
Where would you like to see the character of “Marilyn” go this season?
Laura: I am so grateful that Dan Fogelman decided to bring my character back as I think it is such an important part of learning who Jack is. To date, the last we see of Marilyn is in the early 70s. What an incredible time in history for women. I’d love to see her spread her wings. The writers are doing an amazing job giving this character a pulse, so I trust more will be revealed….
What are some upcoming projects you are working on that you are excited to tell us about?
Laura: I just wrapped a film with Anne Hathaway based on the Joan Dideon novel The Last Thing He Wanted. It is directed by Dee Rees (Mudbound) and I remember watching one of her first films, Pariah, and thinking “I want to work with this director” and…BOOM! I think she is one of the most important filmmakers we have out there today. It was incredible. This summer, I worked on a film in New Mexico called The Divorce, and I recently guest starred in the comedy Liza On Demand. I am hoping they bring my character back as it is some of the best comedy writing out there and a crazy talented team of players.
Tune into This Is Us on NBC Tuesday nights at 9PM