Chief's Daughter Isn't Such a Brat
Caitlin Wachs, Commander in Chief
You may wonder, as I do, just what Rebecca Calloway's problem is
on ABC's Commander in Chief
(returning tonight at 9 pm/ET). I mean, wouldn't it be the bee's knees to be the president's daughter? Even though she left us hanging for a full day, TVGuide.com was more than happy to talk — pre
hiatus, mind you — with the first daughter, aka Caitlin Wachs
(pronounced "wax"), about life in the White House, a pregnancy shocker to come and that older costar she's been calling "sexy."
TVGuide.com: So, you blew off the hotshot TV Guide reporter....
Caitlin Wachs: Oh, no! [Laughs] Maybe I'll win you back.
TVGuide.com: Out late partying, I imagine?
Wachs: Ah, yes, me and my history book were having a great party.
TVGuide.com: Did I hear that you tripped in front of a couple of hundred reporters at Commander in Chief's winter press-tour session?
Wachs: Yes, I did. [Laughs] It was only slightly mortifying, but it was one of those things where I was like, "Well, at least I made an entrance!"
TVGuide.com: And you then went on to call Donald Sutherland "sexy"?
Wachs: Yes. I am not a subtle person, I guess! When I first met Donald, he had his long beard, his hair was really, really long and totally white, and he has those piercing blue eyes.... I was like, "Is it wrong to think that that's really hot?" Then I saw M*A*S*H, and I was like, "OK, I'm not weird. He's just really hot." [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What have you learned from watching Katie Holmes and Mandy Moore do the first-daughter thing on the big screen?
Wachs: What I've learned is that you have to try to keep in mind that, even though most people in the world aren't the president's daughter, there has to be something that you can relate to there — whether it's getting into a fight with your parents or feeling completely mortified because your mom said something about you. You're still somebody's kid, and most people can relate to that. Whether or not they believe in your politics or whatever you're doing, they can still say, "If I were a 16-year-old living in the White House, I'd probably feel the same."
TVGuide.com: But why is Rebecca so angry? I think it'd be cool to be a first kid. I mean, the Bush girls still seem to go out clubbing every weekend.
Wachs: [Laughs] The main reason Rebecca is uncomfortable about the whole thing is she doesn't really like having to be perfect for the rest of the world. She is very opinionated, so I think she's more rebelling for the sake of rebelling. Her mom will say, "Listen, Rebecca, I need you to come to this [event], and I need you to be wearing a nice black dress," and then Rebecca shows up in white. It's a statement [that], like, "Even though I think you're an amazing person, I'm not going to let you know I do."
TVGuide.com: Let's talk story lines. I understand that the whole "Rebecca caught on film" thing was one of the first stories cut short when Steven Bochco took over as show runner? [Exec producer Dee Johnson has since replaced Bochco in that capacity.]
Wachs: Yeah. I guess to some people, that was a little far-fetched. I don't know if it's completely gone, but as of now it seems not to be there anymore.
TVGuide.com: Bochco revealed at press tour that First Son Horace will get a girl pregnant. What is Rebecca's reaction to that?
Wachs: Well, it's her best friend, Stacy (played by Hayden Panettiere), whom we've seen before, and it's one of those things where I hooked them up, so there's a lot of grief there for me, knowing that it's my fault, in some ways. But Rebecca also understands that "things do happen," so she's there for her brother in his hour of grief. Never a dull moment!
TVGuide.com: And in the next new episode (airing tonight), a tipsy first gentleman gets caught "in a compromising position with an intern" (played by Veronica Mars' Alona Tal)?
Wachs: That one's actually really interesting and full of interesting little twists and turns, because the whole time, Rod is saying, "I didn't do it! I didn't do it! I had one glass of champagne!" That's part of why I was really drawn to this show, because it was about a woman in the White House but also every episode is full of some new drama that we're trying to hide from the press — or from Mom and Dad!
TVGuide.com: How are Geena Davis and Kyle Secor as "Mom" and "Dad"?
Wachs: They are fantastic. Both of them are parents in real life, with very young children, but I could see them actually being the coolest parents in the world. It's one of those things where you go into hair and makeup and the two of them are belting out "Jesus Christ, Superstar" while getting their hair and makeup done. And any time there's a question, they're there for you to talk to, even though Geena has to give a five-page speech about saving the world in a couple of minutes. A month ago I said to Geena, "I know you're an executive producer and I'm playing your daughter, so if you ever have any notes or if you don't like the way I'm doing something, just let me know, because I do want this character to be the way you see her, as well." I think I kind of caught her off guard a little bit. She said, "Oh, well, OK, I'll keep that in mind."
TVGuide.com: This is one of those made-up stories, isn't it? Like the one Geena told at the Golden Globes?
Wachs: No, I swear, this really did happen! Two weeks later we had a big scene together, and Geena sat down with me and broke down the scene with me the way she breaks down her scenes — "I'm telling you this because you asked, but I think you're doing great. You don't have to do any of this if you don't want to." Of course, I was writing down every word she said! I ended up really taking to heart what she said. Afterwards, it was really exciting to have Donald Sutherland say to me, "That was a really great scene." That's the kind of environment it is — it's a lot of people who really wrap their heads around every possible emotion or thought that their character has.
TVGuide.com: Meanwhile, you weren't even born yet when Beetlejuice came out.
Wachs: Yes, but I watched that movie religiously when I was, like, 4. It was one of my favorite films!
TVGuide.com: Are you bummed about Chief's hiatus [which began March 7]?
Wachs: I am.... But it's kind of the life of the actor, I guess. You show up, hit your mark and do well with the scene, and they do whatever they want with the rest of it. I don't want to read too much into it, like, "Oh, what does that mean?" I am really proud of this show. Anytime somebody starts talking to me, I won't shut up about it — "You have to watch the show! It's really amazing!" — and that's not because I'm on it, but because I love the idea of a woman in the White House.
TVGuide.com: I think Hillary Clinton probably likes the idea, too.
Wachs: I think she does! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What were you surprised to learn about Nicole Richie, your costar in the movie Kids in America?
Wachs: I was expecting her to be a diva or somebody who's a little weird, but she was so nice. She was just really sweet and not fake at all.
TVGuide.com: I didn't see that film but saw some stills. It looks like you played the snotty cheerleader captain?
Wachs: I was the snotty cheerleader captain, but I went through a character transformation with the rest of the students.
TVGuide.com: Aww, you wound up the snotty cheerleader captain with a heart of gold, didn't you?
Wachs: Yes, exactly.
TVGuide.com: I must tell you, your "official" website, CaitlinWachs.com, is desperately in need of an update. They apparently haven't heard that you're on Commander in Chief.
Wachs: Yeah, I know.... But there is another website, Caitlin-Wachs.com, that this woman Amanda set up, and it's very up-to-date with all these pictures on it and stuff.... One of my girlfriends called me up to say, "Oh my god, look this up, it's so cool!"
TVGuide.com: You should give Amanda the "official" blessing, then.
Wachs: Yeah, I'm going to e-mail her and say, "Hey, you're really cool!" That's one of the exciting parts of being on the show — I feel that in a lot of ways I can "change the world," in so many words, just by trying to show people that you don't necessarily have to go party and drink and go crazy; you can stay pretty normal. I'm a junior this year, so it's been full of PSATs and tests and finishing my school and all of that stuff. I am homeschooled, and I want to go to Vassar and major in literature, maybe minor in art history.
TVGuide.com: Do homeschooled kids still go to a prom? Maybe a little something in their garage?
Wachs: [Laughs] I'm still really good friends with all the kids who went to my high school, Malibu High — this is my first year of homeschooling, so....
TVGuide.com: You'll get a date.
Wachs: Maybe! Or maybe I'll pay somebody to take me.
TVGuide.com: Is it true that the new CW network was named after you?
Wachs: That actually is the truth. I was on WB for a while [appearing on such series as Family Affair and Popular], and they just loved my initials. When they announced that on the news, I was cracking up. "I have a network now! I'm so excited!"
TVGuide.com: I'd be like, "Nice sentiment. Crappy logo." So what TV are you watching?
Wachs: I know Julie Bowen from when I did Kids in America, so I'm actually a really big Boston Legal fan. I'm very addicted to Lost, as well.
TVGuide.com: I'll wrap up this Q&A here, before you tell me that William Shatner is "sexy."
Wachs: [Laughs] I think he is, in his own way!