Though Shiri Appleby has appeared on half a dozen series — including starring on The CW’s now-defunct Life Unexpected — since cult supernatural hit Roswell went off the air in 2002, it wasn’t until her three-episode arc on Girls that people really started buzzing about her.
At the end of last week’s episode, Shiri’s character, Natalia, was objectified in a violent, hard-to-watch sex scene that ended in a graphic climax, and since it aired, fans and critics alike have been talking. The scene was left open-ended as the credits rolled, so we were left unsure of the repercussions, but considering Shiri appears on the Season 2 finale (airing Sunday, March 17 at 9 p.m. ET), we will see some form of awkward aftermath.
Though the actress remained tight-lipped about what happens in the upcoming episode, she told Wetpaint Entertainment about her reaction to the scene, how Natalia has evolved during her short arc, if she could have played any of the Girls during her young start in Hollywood, and, of course, where star-crossed lovers Max and Liz would be now.
Wetpaint Entertainment: I’m coming from watching you on Roswell, so how things transpired on Girls was totally unexpected. What was your reaction when you read that final scene? It must have been pretty early on since you only had three episodes in total.
Shiri Appleby: Right. I think that the buildup from hearing about it and then reading, it didn’t feel as shocking. And I know everyone keeps talking about Roswell, and it’s just so funny because I really came from that onto the scene as a young girl and so now, as more of a woman, I’m more comfortable with myself. It’s so sweet that everyone is always referencing back so many years ago! [Laughs] It didn’t really surprise me or anything. Given the context of the show and what they’ve done before, it just felt on par with the series. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the show since last season because I feel like it’s such an honest depiction of real life.
What were people’s reaction to that final scene? Were they concerned for Natalia?
Everyone’s just been really proud and really, really supportive. A lot of people that I’ve worked with have been very complimentary of the work. It felt really nice.
We’ve seen Adam’s strange behavior before, both in Season 1 with Hannah and during his first date with Natalia. Did she see it coming, or was she skeptical about his personality at all?
I think it was more — like even at the top of the scene, when she’s commenting on his place being more depressing than he is — I think it was the version of him that he was showing her. They say the first few months you’re dating someone, you’re really dating their representative, and you’re trying to show someone your best self. So I think he was really trying to show her this version of himself that was a little bit brighter and more upbeat and a little bit more by the book. So I think when she comes to his apartment and sees that he’s a different guy and obviously when he tells her to get down on her hands and knees, I just think the whole thing caught her off guard.
So that’s kind of why she went along with it? Because she didn’t know what he was going to do?
Yeah, and she’s also had faith in him up until that point. He had shown himself up until that point to be a nice guy and treat her well.
It seems like they’d break up, but going into the finale, does it pick up after that moment? Is there any sort of jump, or is it still open-ended?
I just don’t want to give anything away because I love the show and I’d love to be asked back. [Laughs]
Can you tease how big your role is in the finale? One scene versus being in most of the episode?
It’s not a big … I’m not heavy in the episode.
Natalia is a bit mysterious. We know she’s a private eye decoy, but not much else. Did you develop any extra backstory for her?
You know, I just thought — you know, Lena [Dunham] and I talked about this — she’s very much a person who says what’s on her mind; says it without a filter. She’s able to be very present and very in the moment. And I think that she’s a person with good intentions. She’s obviously had a checkered history, at least with growing up with her mom and someone who had a drinking problem, but she seems like more of a caretaker kind of a person. The person who wants everything to work out and to be a good person. I didn’t do too much backstory because I felt like I wanted to be a lot like her, which was just living in the moment.
Alcoholics Anonymous is obviously anonymous, but how much did she know about how his mom met Adam and his struggles?
She knew to some extent. I think that even in the scene in the bar, she asks, “Do you mind if I have a drink? My mom always had a problem...” She obviously knew who she was getting involved with.
Do you think you could have tackled a role in Girls when you were that young?
No. Well, I just don’t think I would have been comfortable enough back then. I was still finding myself a lot more, and I wasn’t quite as confident in my own skin. I never felt safe enough or in control enough to put myself in that kind of situation.
Did you relate to any of the characters when you were that age? Just as a person?
I think all of them at different times. You know, you go through so many different phases and you really find yourself or feel comfortable in your own skin. So there’s that part of you that goes in and out of feeling — like, you don’t want to tell a guy that you’re kind of over him, but you don’t want to break up, like Shoshanna. And there’s part of you that breaks up with someone and has so much regret about it for so long, especially when you hear they’re doing well, like Marnie. You know what I mean? You just go through those phases. So I think at all different times, you relate to different girls.
You said some of your previous co-stars had reached out to you with their reactions. Are you still in touch with people from Roswell? I know you just worked with Colin.
You’re so cute! [Laughs] Yeah, I talked to Colin. I just directed a short that he was in for me. And you know, when you see them, it’s such a blast from the past, but it’s like, how often do you talk to people you grew up with? But I wish them all well.
Majandra Delfino and Katherine Heigl both have children, so obviously there’s opportunity for a play group...
That would be so cute, wouldn’t it? I would be happy to. Colin has a baby also, and I think Brendan Fehr does, too.
Maybe you should just do a “10 years later.” Well, more than 10 years now...
It would be longer than that! I just saw Jason Katims, actually, a few months back, who ran and wrote Roswell, and that was just so fun. When I was talking to him, I felt like I was a 20-year-old girl all over again.
Would you ever go on Jason's new series, Parenthood, or are there any shows you’d also love to guest on?
I would obviously love to guest-star on Parenthood. I would love to work on Aaron Sorkin’s show, The Newsroom. I would love to do Masters of Sex, the new show on Showtime. There’s just so much really good television going on right now, especially on cable, and I’d love to work with people that are obviously really talented and good writers. It’s just been such an honor and a privilege to work with Lena, Jenni [Konner], and Judd [Apatow] and be a part of their creative process. Obviously, you don’t get this opportunity all the time as an actor, so if other people of the same caliber are interested in working with me, I obviously would be more than thrilled to be a part of it.
I read in your Vulture interview that you actually started on Girls because you wanted to direct. Is that something you’re pushing for now that you’ve been on the show, or are you more interested in just being on the show?
I am really interested in directing, and before a network or studio will approve you to direct, they want to know that you’ve shadowed on a lot of shows, kind of like having an internship. So I figured that shadowing on Girls, obviously being one of the hottest shows on television, would be impressive. [Laughs] I learned so much. I definitely would love to direct — I mean with that show, Lena directs more than half, and Jesse Peretz directs a handful, and so does Richard Shepard. I think they’ve kind of got their directing cards full, so if they would have me back as an actor, I would be absolutely thrilled just to be in their company.
And lastly, because I can’t help myself, where do you think Liz and Max would be now?
Oh, that’s such a cute question! [Laughs] I don’t know — they drove off into the sunset and got married! Maybe they have little alien babies? I just hope she’s happy and they’re safe somewhere.
Maybe they own their own little cafe now?
Yeah, it will be their own Crashdown.
Alyse Whitney is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @AlyseWhitney.