What does Hallie make of Jim’s arrival on the campaign trail?
She feels a little territorial and threatened by Jim. Why is it his place to come in and assume this position of power, when she’s been doing it a lot longer than he has? She’s done this before, as far back as the Kerry campaign and she’s learned not to ask difficult questions she won’t get any answers to anyway.
What’s she doing on the trail? What does she hope to accomplish?
She just wants to be in it. She’s hungry for the truth—like Jim, and all the other journalists on the show. She has a need to civilize and raise the bar and tell the truth. But she’s taken a backseat in pursuing it until Jim shows up. Then she has no choice but to team up with him.
What does Hallie make of the ongoing love quadrangle that Jim has going on back home?
I don’t think she really cares. She’s not someone who likes a lot of drama. She might be starting to fall for him against her will, but she just thinks the Maggie story is funny.
Her feelings towards him seem pretty complex.
She resents liking him. They’re a lot alike. They both want something more, probably both professionally and romantically. I never really thought about Hallie’s love life, but I assume she’s over the college dating scene, and sees that Jim’s doing exactly what she wants to do. She’s annoyed and threatened by it, but she’s intrigued.
Did she plan to go along with Jim’s mutiny or did she just get swept up?
She got swept up in the moment. It’s not something she wanted to do. Deep down her instincts just kicked in, a fire was lit, and she did it and probably regretted it right away.
Did you relate to the character? You both went to Vassar.
I thought Aaron [Sorkin] knew that I went there and was just fucking with me. It turns out he didn’t, which is pretty telling, that my character went to my alma mater.
How’d you approach the character? Is she modeled on anyone real?
At the premiere party I met a woman who was a political embed on the campaign trail for ABC News and though she wasn’t the model, she was very informative to Aaron in writing the part. Alan Poul gave me a lot of information and research to prepare for the role. I didn’t know anything about the campaign beyond what I’d read in the New York Times or Politico. I had to see what these young women look like, how they speak, why they’re there. There’s a brave ruthlessness to Hallie. It takes a lot to stop everything you’re doing, get paid nothing, and follow around the Romney bus for that long.
How is it acting out Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue?
It was pretty hard. You have to be word perfect, and there’s definitely a cadence and a rhythm to the way he writes. Everything you need to know about what you’re saying is in the words. Every comma and semicolon is there for a reason. You follow it like it’s music. Or Shakespeare.
It was nerve-racking, especially the part where I said I went to Vassar, because it felt like I wasn’t in a TV show, I was telling someone about my life. But once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s awesome. You feel on top of the world once you’ve mastered it.
What news story would you most like to have broken?
Either the striking down of DOMA or covering Texas state senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country.
What would your newsroom beat be?
Name a skill that good actors and good reporters share:
Where do you get your news?
Daily Beast, New York Times, New Yorker. Mostly NPR, though.
What’s your worst workplace moment?
My email was hacked while we were filming.
If you could have Aaron Sorkin write your dialogue for one everyday interaction, what would it be?
Giving an interview.