TV: Playing two characters, how are you keeping them straight in your mind? How would you describe what separates Karen from Kelly?
MB: Well, I like to think that there’s a physical aspect, which is the easier one, and wardrobe and makeup has been so helpful with this. It’s subtle, but Kelly always is in flats, which affects my posture, and Karen’s always in heels. So Karen always feels a little taller. Karen’s voice is just a little lower, a little more gravelly. I tend to talk with a lot of vocal fry, Kelly doesn’t do that. She’s just a little softer.
I even worked something out with Shannon Patterson who is kind of our acting coach here, Karen keeps her mouth open when someone’s talking to her. Kelly closes it. Obviously they’re very different characters and I had written their back stories and why they are the way they are. But the simplified version of that for me is I think Karen is motivated by a need to just be the best at everything. Kelly is the peacekeeper of the family. And if Karen is happy, her dad’s happy. And so Kelly is going to do anything it takes to keep Karen happy. That’s the easy way of doing it.
TV: In one of the scenes with Greg in the pilot, Karen is like, “I don’t act like your sports are stupid. And how dare you not take my plotting seriously.” She just struck me as really funny. I’m wondering how you brought out the comedic side to Karen.
MB: Well, what’s so funny about that scene in particular, and this has happened a couple times… That was my audition scene, and so I take it so seriously. We were doing that scene and Elias is such a great actor. His Euphoria episode just came out which is very exciting. But that’s besides the point. We were both very serious and he’s a great friend, but there was very little talking in between and I was so into it. I felt angry and we kept coming off set and people are watching in video village and kept saying, “Oh, but like y’all are so funny.” So I think the answer is I try to ignore. I’m very unaware of any comedic element. Karen takes it very seriously and I think that’s what makes it funny.
TV: Thinking about the relationship with their dad. I’d love to hear just like a little bit about the backstory of like what you think that relationship comes from, how much do they know about what he’s doing? What is the vibe between them?
MB: It’s tough because now I kind of know the extent of their knowledge. But I think at some point in their really early childhood, I like to think that Kelly, at one point, excelled slightly more than Karen and witnessed her wrath. And that just kind of ties into their relationship with their dad a little bit. But I think somewhere, maybe something that they can’t even remember where it is… that is the way of the house and that is how their dad likes it. That’s definitely being explored in the episodes is that Karen is the number one girl and Kelly is just her shadow.