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The adorable and hot blonde star currently plays "Samantha spade" on CBS's investigative drama series "Without A Trace". Poppy Montgomery was first seen in a starring role in the feature film "Dead Man on Campus." Her other film credits include "The Other Sister," "Life" and the upcoming "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and "Between." Among her television credits are the CBS mini-series "Blonde," in which she starred as Marilyn Monroe, and the movie "Raising Waylon," also on CBS. She was a series regular in "Relativity" and in "The Beat," opposite Mark Ruffalo. In her spare time Poppy enjoys board games, horseback riding, photography, sleeping, snowboarding, traveling and yoga.
Poppy Petal Ema Elizabeth Devereaux Donahue was born on June 19, 1972 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Poppy Petal Donahue is a native of Paddington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. She was raised in Australia by her mother, Nicola, a market researcher, and father, Phil, a restaurateur. She has eight siblings, "We have halves and steps, and they have babies. We're like rabbits. My parents divorced each other and remarried other people and then had more kids, so my mom actually had five children." Five out of Poppy's eight siblings are named after flowers like herself. Her sisters are Rosie Thorn, Lily Belle, Daisy Yellow, Marigold Sun and Tara. Her brothers are Jethro Tull, named after the rock musician, Sean and Patrick. Poppy's take on their names? "To me, they sound like porno star names. I'm like, 'Good God, Poppy Petal?'"
Being taunted with names such as Sloppy Poppy, Poopy Poppy and Floppy Poppy at school did not make for a pleasant experience, so she left at the legal age of 14 years and 9 months. She says that she "was tortured" and she "hated school." "[I had] red hair, freckles, and my name was Poppy Petal. It was like hell. I'm still not over it." She was kicked out of every school she went to in Sydney for such things as eating with her elbows on the table and wearing the wrong underwear. "You had to wear regulation bloomers. We would line up and have random checks. We had little dresses and we'd lift them up." After leaving school she took on a job waitressing at one of her father's restaurants, but claims to have been a horrible waitress and was fired by her father. At one point, Poppy was part of a youth acting class which toured Sydney schools performing Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". "'No, sir. No jot,' that was my line. You know how people say there are no small roles, only small actors? At one point, I got so bored, I looked at the girl playing the other guard and just lost it onstage. You know when you get the giggles and you try to stop and it gets worse? Afterwards, I was telling myself maybe I'm not cut out for this."
At the age of 16 Poppy left home to travel around Bali with her then boyfriend. Two years later she decided to head for the states, following an American exchange student she was in love with who had been a school friend of her brother's in Sydney. She flew to Florida to pursue him, but the relationship fizzled down within a week and she found herself nearly broke in Sarasota. She had connections in New York and Los Angeles, and when the New York friends weren't home to answer her call, she got on a Greyhound bus and headed for Los Angeles in hopes of an acting career, adopting her mother's maiden name of Montgomery. "The bus driver bought me McDonald's because I was so broke," she says. Staying at her friend's house in Los Angeles--where she would drive around to auditions in a car with no windows or headlights--she sent a head shot nearly every day to Julia Robert's former manager, Bob McGowan, whom she had read about in a book entitled "How to Make it in Hollywood". He said that he didn't "handle unknowns," but Poppy was persistent, and he eventually found some agents for Poppy to meet with who then signed her. Her first gig was in a Carl's Jr. commercial that never aired.
Between early guest appearances on television shows such as "Party of Five" and "NYPD Blue", and small roles in films such as "Devil in a Blue Dress" with Denzel Washington, Poppy worked at The Gap clothing store. Her break came in 1996 when she was cast as a member of the critically acclaimed, yet low-rated television show "Relativity". Also in 1996, Poppy had a starring role in the Sci-Fi TV movie "The Cold Equations" with Bill Campbell. In 1998 she landed her first prominent big screen role in "Dead Man on Campus" with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tom Everett Scott. She soon found herself acting alongside veterans such as Diane Keaton and Eddie Murphy in the films "The Other Sister" and "Life", respectively, both in 1999. By 2000 she had completed the critically acclaimed independent feature "This Space Between Us" and the short film "Men Named Milo, Women Named Greta". Also in 2000, she starred in another television show, the short-lived UPN cop series "The Beat". Her last show before finally landing a hit with CBS's "Without a Trace" was the WB's low-rated thriller "Glory Days".
At an early age, Poppy had become fascinated with screen legend Marilyn Monroe. She had posters of her on her bedroom walls, had seen her movies (her favorite is 1961's "The Misfits"), and read biographies on her by the age of 12. In 2001, Poppy landed her dream role and portrayed Marilyn Monroe in the 4 hour television mini-series "Blonde", based on Joyce Carol Oates' fictional novel of the same title. She received rave reviews for her performance. "When I told my mother I got the part of Marilyn Monroe, she didn't even bat an eyelash. She said, 'Well, you've been rehearsing for it your whole life.'" Poppy stopped working out and doing yoga in order to to gain about 12 pounds for the role to obtain the lush figure of Marilyn Monroe. "I was terrified, especially being Australian playing an American, and we were shooting in Australia. My main concern was that it had been done, you know, a lot before this. There's been a lot of Marilyn done in every which way, and I didn't want to do the standard thing, you know, which was sort of the caricature of Marilyn Monroe." For research, she chose not to speak to people who actually knew Marilyn because she says "there's such a myth surrounding Marilyn. Everyone that you talk to [and] the books written about her say things that are polar opposites." Poppy loved playing Marilyn so much that she says she "could have done Marilyn forever."
When questioned as to why she no longer has an Australian accent, Poppy replies "It is much to the mortification of my family that I sound this way. I was on a show called 'Relativity' when I first got here, and I kept thinking I was going to get fired if my Australian accent came through. So, I basically started talking in an American accent all the time. Initially, I could just talk very slowly--enunciate everything--and it sort of became second nature." After working in the states for so long, she says that she "can't do the Australian accent anymore. I went for an audition to play an Australian girl and I thought I was a shoo-in and it was going to be wonderful--I was going to get the job. And the feedback to my manager was it was the worst Australian accent they ever heard. So I think I've kind of beaten it out of my system."
Poppy was recently seen playing Julia Bellows in the CBS TV movie "Raising Waylon". She's currently starring as the female lead, agent Samantha Spade, on the hit CBS drama "Without a Trace", Thursdays at 10pm. You can also see Poppy in the upcoming indie flick "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover", which made it's premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on May 5, 2004.
Without a Trace’s Poppy Montgomery demonstrates her undercover techniques
From Heather Locklear on T.J. Hooker to the myriad actresses with rock-hard bottoms on NYPD Blue, female TV cops always seem to be packing serious heat. But when it comes to portraying FBI agents on the small screen, it’s been a parade of Gillian Anderson’s sensible haircuts and pants suits. Well, Poppy Montgomery from the CBS hit drama Without a Trace is on a one-woman crusade to shoot down the myth that female FBI agents look like J. Edgar Hoover in drag. “Female FBI agents aren’t like male women,” Poppy says. “They’re attractive women who take care of their appearance and keep up with the guys.”
Like any good federal agent, Poppy strong-armed Hollywood into giving her what she wanted. With only a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal to her name at age 18, she bombarded Julia Roberts’s manager with a phone call and head shot daily until he signed her.“ It was either a restraining order or representation, and I got representation,” quips the Sydney, Australia, native.
Now the only thing the 31-year-old starlet has to worry about is her ever-increasing frosting addiction. “If I’m not careful, I will get a big ass,” she admits. After our thorough interrogation, a large derriere should be the least of her concerns.
Do you ever try to get out of tickets by telling a cop, “I play an FBI agent on TV”?
I’ve tried flirting with cops to get out of speeding tickets, but it doesn’t work. There was one time when I did get out of a ticket, and then the next time I got one, it didn’t matter that I was batting my eyelashes and everything. I was mad. I was like, “How does that happen?” because the first time I’d gotten out of the ticket, so I expected every time that
I cutely said, “Please, officer, don’t give me a ticket,” it would work.
Is it true you were too scared to shoot a real gun while doing research for Without a Trace?
I wasn’t frightened with shooting the gun. I was fine with that. I was frightened by its power. You really have a dangerous weapon in your hand. Knowing you could kill someone is a scary thing.
But there has to be some sort of rush when you shoot that first bullet.
I wasn’t like, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” I was really humbled by it because guns aren’t just these cool things you see on TV. They’re weapons that kill people.
Is it the danger element that gets guys all horny for chicks who can handle artillery?
I imagine that’s sexy to a man, so I get it. There is that fantasy of chicks with guns. It is a hot thing for guys.
Speaking of hot, what do you wear to feel sexy?
I’m not into crotchless lingerie. I like light, effortless simple kinds of stuff. Boxer shorts, the wife-beater tank tops. I like those a lot, or even briefs and a tank top in the summer. Places make me feel sexy more than clothes. New York is a very sexy city.
Tell us about your wild side.
My wildness is more like jumping on a plane to go to Florida by myself when I was 18, or running off to Bali with my boyfriend when I was 16. I don’t have wild stories where I’m like, “I was dancing on the bar and my skirt flew up.” That’s not really me. I’m more impulsive and spontaneous about stuff, and I’m not afraid of a lot, so it can lead to people going, “Wow, that was a wild decision you made,” and I don’t think of it that way.
What’s something else that’s risque about you?
I have a pool at my house and I skinny-dip. I don’t have issues with nudity. I don’t mind walking around naked. I was brought up on the beach in Australia. There, everybody sunbathes nude. You can be topless. People aren’t really hung up over it, and yet when I had a scene where I had to be in bed with Tori Spelling in a film, I was terrified by it. I was like, “Oh my God, I really hope that my boob isn’t falling under my arm right now while I’m lying on my back.” That would really suck. That’s a vanity thing though. I’m comfortable with nudity.
In that film, 50 Ways to Lose Your Lover, were you upset that you couldn’t make love with Tori since, as you put it, Tori “has the rockingest body” you’ve ever seen?
I was so nervous. I was like a little schoolgirl, but Tori, oh she has an incredible body. I was like, “Damn, I would kill for her body.”
We’ve also heard that your mouth needs to be washed out with soap.
I can have a sailor’s mouth. I can keep up with the boys when they’re talking like truck drivers. I certainly don’t shy away from that stuff. I think it’s funny and interesting when someone at a dinner party tells a completely inappropriate joke. I’m the one who’s rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.
Poppy Montgomery Talks about Her On-Screen and Off-Screen Love Triangle
Poppy Montgomery, who plays FBI underling Samantha Spade on CBS' hit crime drama Without a Trace talks to Mary Murphy about her steamy on-screen love triangle with Jack Malone (played by Anthony LaPaglia) and Martin Fitzgerald (played by Eric Close). "We're playing with this whole love triangle thing where Sam is torn between two lovers," Montgomery says. "I hope she sleeps with both of them. She's a femme fatale. She goes through men like underwear."
While Sam's affair with the then-married Jack is on the outs, her romance with straight arrow Martin is just heating up. "Samantha and Martin always had an attraction, but they didn't go there because she'd been burned before by getting involved in the workplace," says Montgomery. "Then in the last episode of last season, she basically said, 'Let's do it.'"
The show's creator Hank Steinberg won't reveal how the triangle is going to be resolved but says, "It's definitely going to get complicated."
As for Montgomery's own love life? "I'm madly in love," says the actress, who fell for costar Adam Kaufman over the summer on the Mexico set of "Between" an independent movie that will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival this month. "I'm not like Samantha. I'm not a big relationship person because I've been so focused on my work. So this is all new for me. It's terrifying. And in the first blush, it's beautiful--and it's also like a drug."
Poppy Mongomery is a rising star
The CBS crime drama, now in its third season, has grown into a top-5 hit as viewers have gotten hooked on watching world-weary FBI investigator Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) and his crew hunt down vanished spouses, lovers and children, digging up dark secrets about each victim along the way. Although it hasn’t had the buzz of “Desperate Housewives,” “Without a Trace” is one of TV’s fastest-growing series, with ratings zooming 29 percent to 20.6 million viewers, compared with last season. Last month, “Trace” helped CBS win the November sweep among adults ages 18 to 49 for the first time since 1980.
It’s also taking a big bite out of its main competitor, NBC’s 11-year-old “ER,” which this fall has dipped 12 percent to 17.3 million viewers, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. Last week, for the first time, a repeat episode of “Trace” had more viewers than a first-run episode of “ER,” albeit by a tiny margin.
The “Trace” cast also has played a key role; the actors sometimes grow restless with scenes in which characters laboriously discuss evidence, because that generally limits whatever personal stamp an actor can put on the material. That’s especially true of LaPaglia, a veteran Australian-born actor with more than 40 films to his credit.
For a TV star who spends week after week seeking missing people, minding a youngster for a couple of hours is a welcome change of pace. Poppy Montgomery moonlights from the CBS series 'Without a Trace,' to play one of two godparents attempting to bring up an orphaned boy in "Raising Waylon," an enjoyable, seriocomic new CBS movie.
"It's cute," Montgomery says of the film, "and it's so different from 'Without a Trace,' as soon as I read the script, I wanted to do it. It's not the normal thing for a movie-of-the-week. It was written like a feature; it's very dry, and that's what I think makes it funny."
Montgomery and Thomas Gibson ("Dharma & Greg") are charismatic as dissimilar, self-involved singles drawn together when their godchild, Waylon (Jeremy Bergman), has to move out of his aunt's ("Everybody Loves Raymond" Emmy winner Doris Roberts) retirement home. Ambitious photographer Julia (Montgomery) and womanizing restaurateur Reg (Gibson) shared a horrible date years earlier, and their new mission poses many challenges -- not the least of which is overcoming their mutual dislike. If they can't, others are waiting in the wings to adopt Waylon, whose name does come from country-music star Jennings as explained in the script by Neena Beber ("Daria," "How to Deal").
Having co-star Gibson as her main partner in humor was "wonderful," Montgomery adds: "He's brilliant, a really great comedian. He has great timing, and I was excited to work with him."
Young actor Bergman also added to Montgomery's good times in making "Raising Waylon." She maintains he was "like a little 40-year-old. I'm not kidding; he was more mature than Thomas and I were. He's a great kid, and he totally has his head on his shoulders about this business. He was sort of underwhelmed by everything, which is good for someone that age who's doing this."
Single and childless herself, Montgomery nevertheless was prepared for "Raising Waylon." "One of my friends adopted a little boy who's 3 now, and I adore him. Most of my friends aren't at the age for that, though ... or perhaps I've just chosen friends who don't have kids, maybe because I don't. Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who's on 'Without a Trace,' has two daughters I would say I'm close to. I'm not experienced with children, though. I'm not like a kindergarten teacher who, when I come in the room, they all flock to."
Montgomery also displayed her funny side in the short-lived mid-'90s ABC series "Relativity," and she agrees that "Raising Waylon" is "reminiscent of stuff I did when I first started acting. It's closer to who I actually am than my character on 'Without a Trace.' Frankly, the opportunity to do comedy is always enticing to me, since 'Without a Trace' is so dramatic."
The success of that show -- which recently earned Anthony LaPaglia a Golden Globe Award, and has the entire cast up for a Screen Actors Guild Award this week -- has given Montgomery many work options when she's on hiatus. "I did two movies last summer," she says. "Right before 'Raising Waylon,' I made an independent film, a romantic comedy called '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.' There are lots of things, but you're limited in terms of what you're available for. When you're on a show, the window of opportunity for other things is very small. Not only do you have to pick something you like, but also something that works with your schedule."
If those criteria are met, Australia-born Montgomery (whose native accent resurfaces in normal conversation) is happy to keep on plugging. "I hate 'down' time," she declares. "I can't stand it. I go nuts after the first two days. I have so much fun at work, that's where I'm happiest. When I shot '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,' I saw places in L.A. that I'd never seen before, so that was sort of my vacation. I really enjoyed it. I just want to work all the time."
"Without a Trace" continues to fulfill that wish for Montgomery most of the year. Now in its second season, the Thursday-night crime drama has garnered consistently high ratings since its debut, and its grim themes belie the frequent zaniness off-camera. "Since it always deals with people who have gone missing, there's always going to be the tone of something heavy," Montgomery acknowledges, "which is why we goof around so much on the set and make one another laugh, just to keep the energy level up."
CBS currently has many crime shows and more are coming, notably a third "CSI" series set in New York. Montgomery claims she never feared "Without a Trace" would get lost in the mix: "It's so funny. When you're doing a show, you don't even think about it being similar to another show, because you know it so well. I think 'Without a Trace' stands alone, but then again, I think all of them do. To me, the similarities end with many of them being from Jerry Bruckheimer (also an executive
Poppy Montgomery Flower Power
Sloppy Poppy, Floppy Poppy, Poopy Poppy. Without A Trace star Poppy Montgomery has heard them all. "I had red hair, freckles and my nickname was Poppy Petal," Montgomery says, referring to the added insult of her middle name. Could have been worse. She could have been Rosie Thorn. Or Daisy Yellow, Lily Belle or Marigold Sun. Her sisters got stuck with those monikers when her parents thought it would be fun for their daughters to be named after flower fairies from a children's book. Instead, it was hell, says the blond-haired beauty about struggling through school in her hometown of Sydney, Australia, with a name that was catnip to teenaged teasers. So she dropped out at 14 and went to work in her father's restaurant. But she was a terrible waitress, and dropped that too. At 18, she followed a boyfriend to Florida. When that fizzled, she boarded a bus and struck out for Hollywood, where her flower-powered name finally attracted the right kind of attention.
Montgomery badgered Julia Roberts's agent until he buckled and signed her, first landing her commercials, and then bit parts on shows like NYPD Blue and Party of Five. Her big break came in 2001, when she snagged the lead role in the made-for-TV movie Blonde, playing her childhood idol Marilyn Monroe. That led to a co-starring role as a coroner in the Vancouver-shot series Glory Days. Good thing for her the show was short-lived: she was able to get out of the west-coast rain and into the role of agent Samantha Spade (yes, that would be Sam Spade) on the certified CBS hit Without A Trace, which, in only its second season, has narrowed the gap considerably with its powerful Thursday timeslot competitor, ER.
In last season's finale, Spade was kidnapped then shot. As this season opens, she is still dealing with the after-effects. "She's going through post-traumatic stress syndrome," says Montgomery, 32, who keeps in shape with yoga and horseback riding. "She's trying to pretend that she's OK, and everyone can see that she's not. It sort of leads her down an interesting path. I think she's got a lot of anger, which is great character stuff, and a lot of fear that she's not dealing with."
Spade is also not dealing with her lingering attraction to her boss, agent Jack Malone (played by fellow Aussie Anthony LaPaglia), with whom she had had an affair. In the new season, Malone has gone back to his wife and Spade's responding to overtures from agent Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close). "I think we knew that was going to be an interesting place to go," says creator/co-executive producer Hank Steinberg. "She commented on his smile in the very first episode, and he asked her out for a drink. So we'll be revisiting that to see how it affects Jack."
Lest you think the action will shift too much to the personal from the procedural drama that is the FBI's missing persons division, fear not. The producers are keenly aware how quickly that can sink a series and they intend to drop only crumbs of information about the characters' private lives. Recalling the first hint of a relationship with Spade, LaPaglia says, "There was a scene in the pilot where we were both going to go home, and she was fixing my tie. I thought that was a very familiar, intimate thing for someone to do. Only your wife or your mother would do that, and she was not my mother. We had a bit of chemistry, there was a bit of spark to it. And I think from that moment, we started to try and slide stuff in here and there."
LaPaglia, who's been married for five years to actor Gia Carides (My Big Fat Greek Wedding/Life) who just had their first child in January, has been trying to set up his single co-star for over a year. "I've been trying to marry her off to a make-up artist, a guy who also works on the show," he says of Montgomery, who appears on the big screen in next year's romantic comedy, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover. "It's true," confirms Montgomery, who usually refuses to talk about her personal life. "He keeps asking me out for sushi. I keep telling him it's never going to happen. And Anthony keeps encouraging him to keep trying."
"I said by the end of the year there will be wedding invitations," says LaPaglia. "It's not going to happen," insists Montgomery, nipping that prediction in the bud.
Rise of a Tall Poppy
Poppy Montgomery will finally make her Australian television debut more than a decade after she left Sydney to start her acting career in America. Montgomery stars in the hit US drama series, Without A Trace, with fellow Australian actor, Anthony LaPaglia, screening here later this month.
A rebellious teenager who was expelled from many of Sydney's elite private schools, Montgomery couldn't even get an agent or an audition when she abandoned studies before her 15th birthday to try acting. At 19, she left Sydney for Florida to pursue an American exchange student she had a crush on. But when that didn't work out, Montgomery found herself at a bus station with just enough money for a ticket to Los Angeles or New York.
After deciding on LA, Montgomery convinced Julia Roberts' manager Bob McGowan to help her find an agent after reading about his success with the Oscar winner in a book, How To Make It In Hollywood.
She quickly adopted an American accent and was cast in a succession of guest roles in films and television series including Party Of Five and NYPD Blue. Her profile was given a boost after she starred in the short-lived series, Relativity, but her career skyrocketed when she was cast as Marilyn Monroe in the blockbuster American mini-series, Blonde.
Montgomery was finishing filming another series in Vancouver when the call came from producer Jerry Bruckheimer to offer her the role of Samantha Spade in Without A Trace. The involvement of Bruckheimer - responsible for blockbusters from Beverly Hills Cop to Black Hawk Down and the CSI series _ and LaPaglia, brought an instant yes from Montgomery even though she was worried about doing another series.
A Trace of Poppy Montgomery
If you want to be an actor, pick up a copy of How to Make It in Hollywood and head for L.A. That's exactly what successful Aussie actress Poppy Montgomery did nearly a decade ago. The 27-year-old has spent the last 10 years fine-tuning her skills as an actress. Now, you can catch her in her breakout role as Samantha Spade on CBS's hit series Without a Trace.
On playing an FBI agent: [My character] is the conscience, on some level, of the show. She's more impressionable. She's a young woman in the FBI, and that's a complicated role to be in real life, I think. And it's good because they're really dealing with the issues of what it's like to be considered an attractive, young woman in a man's world.
On what she would write in her own "How To" book on Hollywood: I wouldn't be able to write it knowing what I know now. The only thing I really got from that book was Julia Roberts's manager's name. And then I called him up. The book didn't tell me to do that. I was just, like, 'I'm going to call him up and see if he'll represent me,' and it so happened that he did. So, I wouldn't be able to write that book because I think everybody's path is different.
On losing her Australian accent: I just did it. I just started talking with an American accent. I don't know; I think I have a good ear for it or something. And I stopped talking in an Australian accent altogether. It wasn't like I was doing it for work…And all my friends who knew me before were like, 'It's just too weird -- you talking like that. It's so odd. Stop it. It's irritating me,' and I would not stop.
On her aversion to cooking: I order in. I've never used my stove and I've lived in my apartment for almost two years. My luggage is stored in my kitchen -- my empty suitcases -- when I'm not travelling. I have found the best delivery places in Los Angeles and I order from there…I don't even make coffee at home. I walk to Starbucks.
On media treatment of four sisters' flower-inspired names: It's overkill, and no one cares anymore. It's been in every article. I understand it, because it's funny. But it's, like, years of it. My mom was like, 'I wish you had never told anyone, I mean, if I read this one more time…' It's just in everything. It's pretty funny though.
"Without a Trace" starring Poppy Montgomery finds success
"Without A Trace" follows the missing persons squad of the Federal Bureau Of Investigation. After a solid first-season performance, this fast-paced procedural drama was consistently in the top ten during the summer repeat season, with millions of viewers finding it for the first time.
Heading up the team of investigators is Anthony LaPaglia, who plays senior agent Jack Mallone.
“We've had the luxury of being able to evolve without too much pressure," he says. "We weren't expected, necessarily, to succeed. So we didn't have that much pressure put on us. Which kind of allowed us, I think, to grow during the year."
"In some ways, it's great to know that the show is being discovered and that people are very interested in it and starting to watch it more. On the other hand, you feel a greater obligation to keep the standard high,” LaPaglia adds.
And those high standards include trying to stay close to FBI procedure within the confines of a one-hour drama. LaPaglia explains, “In the scene that we just did, something felt off. And so the technical advisor was there. That constantly goes on. We constantly are trying to make it as accurate as possible.” At the same time, he notes, “Sometimes accurate is not interesting.”
While the focus of "Without A Trace" will always be finding those who are missing, viewers are about to learn more about the personal lives of the show's FBI agents, much to the delight of Poppy Montgomery, who plays Samantha Spade.
Montgomery says, “You know, it's always going to be a procedural show, which is what's interesting about it. But it's cool to have those little glimpses of their personal lives.”
Spade seems to be torn between her boss, Jack Malone, and the newest member of the team, Martin Fitgerald, played by Eric Close. So you can expect to see a love triangle this season, says Montgomery, “But I'm not sure how it's developing really. I know as much as the audience knows.”
So what does she really know?
Montgomery says, “I know that Samantha's still got feelings for Jack, and he's trying to work it out with his wife.” The question then is, does Jack still have feelings for Samantha?
“I hope so,” Montgomery says with laughter, “I think so. I think they're sort of torn, you know, and they really have this genuine affection, and attraction, and everything, for each other. But he is trying to give it a shot with his wife. And I know that there's chemistry developing between Samantha and Martin. But what's going to happen, I don't know.”
Perhaps Martin is going to be the rebound guy for Samantha. And Montgomery agrees, “I think so. That's how I would play it. He really likes her. She loves Jack. That's my theory,” she says.
But costar Close has his own theory: “We may really see that start to happen even more in the third season. Right now, I think what we're really trying to focus on, is them building a friendship. So, it's fun, because you see these two people working together. And you see that they like working together, and they're building a relationship, and a friendship so that hopefully, there may come that moment where they're in the middle of something, and then all of a sudden, they look at each other, and it's kind of like, ‘Oh, hey, maybe there's something more than just a friendship,’” Close says.
Asked if she looks at milk cartons and posters of missing people differently since she started working on the show, Montgomery says, “I do. I'm more aware of it. I also follow the cases a lot more. Laci Peterson, I've been really following that avidly. And theorizing. I've always been kind of fascinated. You know, Chandra Levy. I followed that case. But now, I find myself kind of trying to think from the perspective of the profiler: How did it happen? What would be the alternatives?”
You can see "Without A Trace" Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on CBS
Mirror Image of Poppy Montgomery
For Australian actress Poppy Montgomery, the chance to play Marilyn Monroe in a miniseries is a dream come true.
When Poppy Montgomery arrived in Los Angeles as an unknown, untrained 18-year-old actress with a thick Australian accent, she lived in a small apartment on a street that curls upward toward the famed Hollywood sign.
There is a small market on the street that would have been convenient, but it was way too pricey for the struggling actress. She barely made ends meet as it was and drove a 20-year-old car that had no windows.
But it is now seven years later, and she can afford to shop at the market. The actress stopped by the market this week after a morning interview and marveled at how far she has come in those seven years. She knows how far she's come because her face stares out from TV Guide covers that are prominently displayed at every checkout counter.
"It looks more like her than it does me," a stunned Montgomery said of the cover, which features the actress dressed as screen goddess Marilyn Monroe for her role in the four-hour CBS miniseries "Blonde," which starts Sunday at 9 p.m. and concludes Wednesday on KCBS/2.
"This is the first time I've seen the cover," she added. "I can't believe I'm on the cover of TV Guide as Marilyn Monroe. You have no idea how much she means to me. She's the reason I wanted to become an actress in the first place, and now she's given me the best role of my life. It's eerie."
What's even more eerie is that Montgomery has since moved from the Hollywood Hills, and now lives only one block from the Brentwood home in which Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose at age 36 on Aug. 5, 1962.
"I've been there awhile and didn't know how close I was to her home," Montgomery said. "I didn't find out until People magazine came to my house for a photo shoot. They asked if I would mind being photographed in front of her home. I told them absolutely not. I have no intention of exploiting Marilyn."
There are some who no doubt will say that the network miniseries, based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel of the same name, is just one more bit of exploitation in a nearly four-decades-long flood of exploitation pieces on Monroe.
But Montgomery, whose Australian accent has vanished to the point that she recently lost a role because she was told she didn't sound Australian enough, maintained that she never would have accepted the role if she felt it was exploitative in any way.
"If it was based on anything but Joyce's book, I would not have done it," the fair-skinned, blond actress said over a light breakfast at a coffee shop less than a mile from her first L.A. apartment. "Her book brings a dignity to Marilyn's memory that no other book has ever done.
"The book makes Marilyn real. It humanizes her, and I want people of my generation to learn about her in this way. She's become a cartoon character to people my age. She's no different than Betty Boop. But they'll see a different Marilyn this time.
"Sure, some people are outraged that Joyce put words in Marilyn's mouth, but she did it with great care. She took the documented events in Marilyn's life and then took creative license emotionally.
"She does it so well, it almost seems like she's diving into Marilyn's psyche. I swear that Joyce Carol Oates was channeling Marilyn when she wrote this book."
From Sydney with Love, Poppy
Young Poppy Montgomery was not a bad girl, but she was a rebellious girl, and she was expelled from five private schools before her 15th birthday.
"I wasn't doing horrible things, but I was outspoken and wild in the sense that I wouldn't conform," she said without apologies. "These were very strict private girls schools and I did what I wanted. I think I took after my parents, who were total rebels."
Of course, her parents were "total rebels" in London during the 1960s (her mother is British, her father Australian), and they now work at less rebellious jobs in Sydney, where her father owns a marriage reception business and her mother runs a market research firm.
At the age of 14 years, 9 months, Poppy dropped out of school. "You can drop out at that age in Australia and I dropped out on that exact day," the actress recalled. "My parents were OK with it, although they said I had to get a job."
Her early work record was poor - even her father fired her as a waitress - and she moved out of the house at 16. A year later, she decided she wanted to be an actress and moved to the United States to apply to the Juilliard School of Drama in New York.
She admits that she wasn't qualified to apply to Juilliard and never made it to New York, opting for Los Angeles instead.
"I think acting was my ambition since birth, but I guess I never did anything to further that ambition," Montgomery said.
But she had three things going for her - she was smart, outspoken and fearless. She said she read a book called "How to Make It in Hollywood," and made note of a talent manager who had a hand in turning Julia Roberts into a star. She began pestering him on the phone but he said he didn't represent unknowns. Finally, perhaps to get her off his back, he referred her to an agent, who accepted her as a client.
The next two years were tough. Montgomery worked at a series of odd jobs to support herself while she went on acting auditions. She got a small role on the short-lived TV series "Relativity," made guest appearances on other shows and even won parts in several feature films ("Life," "Dead Man on Campus," "Devil in a Blue Dress"). Last year, she was one of the stars of the Barry Levinson series "The Beat."
She was about to accept a starring role on a new series when she got the call for "Blonde." She showed up, performed two scenes on tape with a casting director and left, convinced that she didn't get the part.
"I didn't meet one network executive, one producer or a director," she said. "I've had tiny roles where I met those people. Here I was being asked to carry an entire miniseries, and nobody wanted to meet me. I figured it was over." It was far from over.
Marilyn Lives in Poppy's Heart
"Blonde" executive producer Robert Greenwald said he didn't need to meet Montgomery. He saw everything he needed on that tape.
"Either I was right in my assessment of her, or I was insane," the producer said. "I saw real courage on that tape. I saw a willingness to expose her heart and soul. It's easy for an actress to expose her body, but not many actresses are willing to expose what's inside them.
"From that first tape, I knew Poppy would go the distance. I knew she would not run away from the emotional truth of the character. She doesn't protect herself the way most actresses do, and that's exactly how Marilyn Monroe was. There was an openness about Marilyn, and I saw the same openness in Poppy."
Of course, it didn't hurt that Montgomery is almost a dead ringer for the young Norma Jean Baker.
"When they called to say I got the part, I had only a week to get ready before they started filming in Australia," Montgomery said. "That normally wouldn't be enough time to get familiar with a character but I guess I've been preparing for this role my whole life.
"I've read every biography ever written about Marilyn and I've seen every one of her movies dozens of times. I didn't have to research the character. I knew the character."
Since she completed the role, Montgomery said she has visited the late star's resting place in Westwood, which is now a major tourist attraction.
"I went with flowers and just sat there," she said with a hint of sadness. "I just wanted to pay my respects. And I wanted to thank her for this great role. It only seemed right.
"But, as much as I loved and admired her before, I think I'm in awe of her even more now that I've had a chance to play her in "Blonde."
"She was smart and she was a dreamer, and I think she was under-recognized as an actress. It was important to her that her talent be appreciated, and I don't think she ever got that in life. But her life was not all a tragedy. There was joy in her life as well, and that's what we tried to show in the miniseries.
"But there also were demons, and I think the demons just wore her down in the end."
Poppy speaks about her Poppyness
The best way describe Poppy is to refer you to a passage from David Malouf's novel An Imaginary Life (Vintage, 1996): "Scarlet. A little wild poppy, of a red so sudden it made my blood stop. I kept saying the word over and over to myself, Scarlet, as if the word, like the color, had escaped me 'til now, and just saying it would keep the little windblown flower in sight. Poppy . . . just a single poppy, a few blown petals of a tissue fineness and brightness, round the crown of seeds. Where had it come from?"
Poppy was Diane Keaton's daughter in February's The Other Sister and is a blonde bombshell in this month's Life, starring Eddie Murphy. She can also be seen in the forthcoming indie film The Space Between Us.
Q: Tell me about your brothers and sisters.
POPPY MONTGOMERY: All the girls are named after flowers: Rosie Thorn, Daisy Yellow, Marigold Sun, and Lily Belle. And then there's my brother, Jethro Tull. They're all in Sydney. Every time I go home they're mortified by my newly acquired American accent.
Q: What's your mother like?
PM: My mum is a cross between the two characters in Absolutely Fabulous. She says things like, "Sweetie, baby, not a good look. It's very non you." She also says, "Stop talking about the names I've given my bloody children, will you? It's getting boring."
Q: What's her name?
Q: Hello, Nicola. Sorry we discussed your children's names. Poppy, what made you decide to go to L.A. and be an actor?
PM: It just happened. I was working for my dad at one of his restaurants and he fired me because I was rode to a customer. My boyfriend and I broke up, and I was like, That's it, I'm going to the States. I went to Florida first and then I took a Greyhound to L.A. Originally I wanted to go to acting school in New York. Then I read about Bob McGowan, who had been Julia Roberts's manager, in this book called How to Make It in Hollywood. I called him up and in this thick Australian accent said, "Hi, I'm Poppy." He said he didn't represent unknowns. So I sent him a head shot every day. Eventually he signed me by fax from New York. Peg Donegan is now my manager. She's like family, which is really important to me.
Q: To me, you feel like a sister.
PM: I remember your audition for Relativity because you had to pretend you were on the toilet.
Q: Relativity was the first time either of us had ever done series television. It was a great learning experience, just to be in front of the camera every day no matter how you're feeling, no matter what's going on, and to learn it's not something to fret about. That show was unique. Most casts aren't friendly. We became each other's lives.
PM: The schooling I got on that show was incredible. It taught me to rely on my instincts. Because some of the best work I do is when I don't have time to prepare.
Q: I think we all played mother roles to each other.
PM: You and I still do.
Q: It's so great when you work with other women and they're supportive. All of my very close girlfriends are actresses I've worked with.
PM: See, I have found there's never been such a feeling of non-competition between women as there was with you, me, and [costar Kimberly Williams] on Relativity. It's so great when it happens. And it's so bittersweet when it ends.
Q: What are the pressures in Hollywood?
PM: The darker side is that it doesn't always come down to how well does this person portray this character. It often comes down to, Are her boobs big enough? Is her hair the right color?
Q: And yet, what I grew to respect and understand is that a lot of those considerations are very real. If I was producing or directing something, they are the same considerations I would have.
PM: But that's where the actor has to learn to disassociate to a certain degree. I have to learn that it's not a personal attack on me.
Q: You're required to be vulnerable and open, and yet tough enough to withstand rejection after reJection after rejection.
PM: What helps me is reading people like Eleanor Roosevelt - the things she said and wrote - finding strength in other people's strength.
Q: What do you think about sexual stereotyping in Hollywood movies?
PM: I think that talent will win in the end. Initially, yeah, you may lose roles because they want a girl with huge, perfect breasts and an amazing body. But sexual stereotypes are surpassed constantly.
Q: Always, because what I've seen in my own life and on the screen or on TV is that there's an idea of sexy - until there's a new idea of sexy.
PM: If you're unique and you are comfortable within yourself and self-assured - that is sexy.
Q: It's everything our grandmothers told us. See, I've never fallen into the conventional Idea of sexy. You do a lot.
PM: Physically I do?
Q: Well yes, you're a very sexy woman.
PM: But every man I know thinks you're the sexiest thing on two legs.
Q: Oh, now, you know what? I'm going to turn off the recorder.
PM: No, you are not turning off the recorder because it's true.
Q: Who influenced you when you were young?
PM: Molly Ringwald. I thought she was just fabulous because she was so different. She made girls like me with freckles and red hair think, Wow, I'm beautiful too. And Gillian Armstrong's films impacted me beyond belief.
Q: Thank God for women like Gillian Armstrong who put those strong women out there. Because you and I are not living the way our parents lived. I don't have any road that's been paved for me, where I know, Well, OK, if I turn here, this is the right thing to do.
PM: Right, so we find it in films and books.
Q: I want that woman's perspective because it gives me support. It gives me strength.
PM: My Brilliant Career  presented the epitome of a headstrong woman who knew what she wanted and went after it, who didn't marry and give up her writing. Hell yes. [both laugh]
Q: What are you reading lately?
PM: I just finished rereading The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien created this whole alternate universe.
Q: Well, you're sort of in an alternate world now.
PM: I am. In Australia, Hollywood was the fantasy world. Did I ever think I would be playing Diane Keaton's daughter? Did I ever think I'd be doing a film with Eddie Murphy? No, he was like a mythical creature. I do think L.A. has changed me. I used to run around in Australia barefoot - bugs, snakes, I didn't give a shit. And all my little brothers and sisters are like that. They're so tough. I went to visit my mum recently and she said, "Come down and see the rain forest. It's gorgeous." I looked in and there was this tangle of bush and dark and my Mum was just strolling through. I said, "There's spiders, Mum." And she was like, "What happened to you in America? You used to be so ballsy." "Mum, I've got flip-flops on. I just had a pedicure." My mum was strolling around looking like someone out of some fabulous film, walking over bush with open-toed shoes, not caring.
Q: Yeah, but there's a lot of your mother in you. A woman striding through the bush in open-toed sandals.