Bitsie Tulloch plays Dylan, the star and the narrator of web drama quarterlife. We interviewed Tulloch, a Harvard-educated actress that also had a guest role on lonelygirl15 last season, in anticipation of the premiere of quarterlife on NBC next week. In the lightly edited interview below, we talk about how she got her big break on a web show — but how it’s really not much different from regular TV.
See also today’s interview with quarterlife creator Marshall Herskovitz.
Bitsie Tulloch: Things haven’t really changed for me — I’ve been sort of lucky in that even throughout the strike I’ve had an enormous amount of work to do with press interviews. We were in production until two weeks after the strike started, and I was working since I already had a job booked — I did one TV show. I’m leaving for New York [in a week] to do The Today Show, The View, MTV TRL [for more quarterlife PR related to the premiere].
NewTeeVee: What are you looking forward to about the show’s move to broadcast TV?
Tulloch: I’m just really looking forward to reaching an even greater audience than we have on the series. It makes sense that the Internet was the first platform for the show because it’s such a huge part of the show.
NewTeeVee: So you were on lonelygirl15 and now quarterlife — are you now the go-to actress for web shows?
Tulloch: I never thought of myself that way but then I did Carson Daly in December and they introduced me as “the Internet It Girl,” and I was sort of like, “Who?” I’ve done TV and movies before, but it’s just that the biggest thing I’ve done to date is quarterlife. It should be noted that I shot the pilot for quarterlife several months before I did lonelygirl.
NewTeeVee: How is it different to act for an online show?
Tulloch: Well I should say that when I first started shooting lonelygirl it was only going to be only five episodes, but because the fans are so involved you just had those three sort of hero characters — and the fans loved my character — and we ended up shooting 15, in large part due to the fans’ interaction with my character.
But they’re like night and day, they really can’t be compared. quarterlife essentially shot as a 1-hour television drama; lonelygirl was very quick, we did five episodes a day. Whereas there were 7-8 shooting days per episode [for quarterlife]. Which is not to undermine lonelygirl, it’s playful, but there’s a reason that quarterlife is ending up on the network. That was always sort of the plan, in a roundabout way. I don’t think Marshall and Ed would have spent as much money on the show as they did otherwise.
NewTeeVee: For quarterlife, what’s your involvement besides acting? Do you interact with the show’s viewers online?
Tulloch: I have a personal MySpace profile and a quarterlife.com profile. I really don’t have time to be involved with the Dylan fake page things (the profiles maintained for her character). While we were shooting, we shot little extra behind-the-scenes stuff for quarterlife.com when I had time to step aside.
I love quarterlife.com, I love playing around on the web site, but as far as my involvement with my character I don’t really have much involvement. Once I told them Dylan would not listen to X band in her profile — it was something along the lines of Foo Fighters. Dylan’s very edgy, would be into emo or indie rock, so they took it off.
NewTeeVee: So does acting for quarterlife feel just like acting for a TV show?
Tulloch: What’s going on with NBC is completely unprecedented — Ed and Marshall have complete control. I get tons of emails from fans saying, “Is the show going to change now that it’s going to NBC?” But the thing is, they’re delivering the episodes just as they are.
The only difference, really, is we were shooting on location. Usually I’m on a sound stage at Warner Brothers or something, whereas we were in Koreatown/Silverlake in an apartment building. But that’s the only difference. It was a huge crew, with people like Devon Gummersall writing and Eric Stoltz directing.
NewTeeVee: So where do you see this going? What’s next — a second season?
Tulloch: They haven’t told me these things, but everybody’s hoping we can go back to work on the show. Right now they haven’t been able to write any episodes for the last few months, so it’ll be a while before we actually go back to shoot more.
To date it’s pretty much the most important thing I’ve done. It’s enormous responsibility having to narrate this story and I have to say I’m really grateful they trusted me. It was a big task trying to give this awkward, bumbling character some integrity. Having to not only act but also do this whole new thing with a camera and blogging — I’d never done that before. It’s already opened a lot of doors for me just because Ed and Marshall have such a good track record.