Born in Little Rock in 1977, Ashlie Atkinson is an Arkansas girl made good in theater, film and now on TV. (She’s also a former Arkansas Times intern.) Her new show “Us and Them,” an American remake of the British comedy “Gavin and Stacey,” is currently being shot as a midseason replacement for Fox.
A former roller derby queen, Atkinson won the 2005 Theater World Award for Breakthrough Performance as Helen in playwright Neil Labute’s “Fat Pig.” From there, her acting career was off to the races, with roles in two different incarnations of the “Law & Order” franchise along with spots on “30 Rock,” “Boardwalk Empire,” a recurring role on “Rescue Me,” plus supporting roles in the indie thriller “Compliance,” and the Spike Lee/Denzel Washington heist flick “Inside Man.” Coming soon to a theater near you, Atkinson can be seen in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and an indie called “Cold Comes the Night,” starring “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston. She answered the summons of the Inquizator via e-mail from her home in New York.
When and where did you eat the best meal of your life, and what was it?
Every time I eat biscuits and gravy at my parents’ kitchen table, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Second is a steak [actor friend] Tommy Sadoski bought me in Hong Kong. I would be gracious, but seriously, I earned that sucker.
If you couldn’t be an actress and money was no object, what would you rather be doing?
I’d be an activist, I think. I get real riled up.
Tell us your best Denzel Washington story. What did he smell like? Please say “butterscotch candy.”
Oh my God, how did you know? Honestly, though: He smelled expensive as all get out. My mom sent me all these clippings before I went to work, telling me I had to thank Denzel for her! He had toured these small homes attached to a military hospital in Atlanta, where military families can stay close to their injured soldier when she or he gets shipped stateside. They told him there was a big wait list. He asked how much one of the houses cost, they told him, and he wrote a check on the spot. AMAZING. As the sister of an infantryman, I couldn’t thank him enough.
If you’re ever on “Celebrity Jeopardy,” what’s the category in which you would totally kick the asses of Katy Perry and Stephen Hawking?
The Monkees. Trust me.
What’s your hidden talent?
Whistling the intro to Guns N’ Roses’ “Patience,” and matchmaking.
Beer, wine or hard liquor?
Yes, please, thank you honey.
GOOD NEWS: We’ve created a time machine that allows you to communicate with yourself at any point in your past! BAD NEWS: You can only send one sentence of five words or less. What sentence do you send, and when do you send it to?
May 2000: “Don’t let her leave town.”
Politics: patriotic spectacle, necessary evil or just evil?
In the classic sense of folks influencing each other civically, I think it’s necessary. However, I think our current state of affairs is a big ole pageant to make 99 percent of Americans feel like they’re being heard and considered, even though they’re not.
What’s the worst piece of advice you ever received?
A semi-well-known actress with very famous parents came to my alma mater to speak once and told a theater full of drama students: “If you’re female and you want to be an actress, you better be beautiful.” What a crock. I’m hoping the second part of that sound bite ends up being equally false, since she went on to say: “And even then, you won’t work after 40.”
Explain why people should watch your new show on Fox, “Us and Them.” Difficulty: in the form of a haiku poem.
Gavin and Stacey
But we’re American so
Way more dick jokes here.