The timing, as it would turn out, could not be better. Elizabeth Berkley's showstopper guest-starring appearance on Threshold, originally slated for earlier in November, instead will air tonight, as the CBS series debuts in its new Tuesdays-at-10 time slot. TVGuide.com was thrilled to talk up the beauty about her role in an alien invasion, the latest news about Screech plus the wildest thing she has ever done!
TVGuide.com: I figure you must either be super-jazzed about your Threshold gig and/or a very good gal pal of Carla Gugino's to do press for this, seeing as how you're opening yourself up to Showgirls ribbing.
Elizabeth Berkley: Well, put it this way: I wouldn't assume that someone would hit me with Showgirls jokes if they know what's been up with me lately. How's that for a response? [Laughs] There's so much more to talk about, so that if they resort to old jokes, then they're really not with it, you know what I'm saying?
TVGuide.com: So how does Threshold's Red Team ascertain that you're an alien infectee?
Berkley: The first thing I want to say is that I think that Threshold is one of the best new shows out there, which is one of the reasons I wanted to join this amazing cast. Barbara Nance, the writer of this episode, created an incredible, strong female character who I knew I would have a lot of fun playing. There are fight scenes, there is glamour, and there's this fun cat-and-mouse game between me and Brian Van Holt, who plays Cavennaugh. All the dynamics were in place. But what was fun was when Carla called me not knowing that they had offered it, and even though we only have a couple of scenes together, we were both so excited. Across the board, the cast is amazing. The only other guest spots I've done in the last couple of years were on shows that were already established, like Without a Trace and CSI and NYPD Blue, so it was fun to be a part of something from the beginning.
TVGuide.com: Your character is [spoiler deleted], right?
Berkley: You can't know that. Is that in your notes? That's weird. Well, I didn't tell you that. But I am infected by the alien signal, that I can tell you. My character has a wild, mysterious connection to three other women who are also infected. OK? [Laughs] But Brian Van Holt is great; I literally flew in from New York, and he and I had to learn choreography for a fight sequence as well as for this beautiful dance sequence. It was crazy.
TVGuide.com: Sounds like an episode of Alias!
Berkley: Yeah, it's a little bit of everything! That's what I love about the character, to be able to do all of these different things for one role.
TVGuide.com: Which other TV shows do you like?
Berkley: I am obsessed with Nip/Tuck. Obsessed. I would love to be on that show; it's just so, so good.
TVGuide.com: Who do you think the Carver is?
Berkley: I really don't know. It's tricky because one minute I think it's one person, and then I'm like, "Wait a minute…." I also watch Letterman, I love The Sopranos and I can't wait for it to come back, and I love Without a Trace, because that was one of my favorite working experiences.
TVGuide.com: I somehow missed your spot on CSI as "Renee, Foam Dancer."
Berkley: Uh, it's actually just Renee, but on IMDb they put "foam dancer" — I have no clue why, except that my character happened to be in a club in one scene.
TVGuide.com: You know, I've actually never even seen Showgirls; the last time I saw you in something was First Wives Club. Am I your best friend, or what?
Berkley: Yeah, but you're behind the times. I've done [The Curse of the Jade Scorpion from] Woody Allen, Any Given Sunday with [Al] Pacino….
TVGuide.com: Fine, fine, I'll create a TiVo wish list for "Berkley."
Berkley: Yeah! [Laughs] And I just did Hurly Burly on Broadway with Ethan Hawke, Parker Posey and Bobby Cannavale, which went really, really well.
TVGuide.com: I saw that you got good notices. Are you loving the Broadway thing?
Berkley: I'm loving the fact that now, in our business, between television, film and stage, you can really cross over. We're in a time when everyone's kind of doing everything — it's all about where the good work is and what you feel like doing. When you're onstage, it's terrifying and liberating at the same time, creatively.
TVGuide.com: I've always been stupefied by stage acting, doing eight shows a week, the same material each time.
Berkley: And some days you do it twice a day! I did this thing recently, though, that was one of the wildest things I've done. Ever.
TVGuide.com: Um, is this for print? Should I shut off the tape recorder?
Berkley: One of the wildest things creatively. [Laughs] I did "The 24-Hour Plays," this benefit for Working Playground, which brings arts to the public schools in Manhattan. On a Sunday night from 9:30 to 11, 25 actors — a whole mix, from Hayden Christensen to veteran stage actors — meet with six playwrights and six directors from the stage. They take a Polaroid of each actor and then, from 11 until 6 am, the playwrights choose their casts, go to a hotel room with their laptop and create a one-act, 15-minute piece. After the directors pick which script they want, the actors come in at 8 am to start rehearsing, to put it up at 8 pm that night. It was the craziest thing.
TVGuide.com: It sounds like Fight Club, but with less blood and fewer broken fingers.
Berkley: Exactly! There are moments where you're like, "Oh my god, why did I ever say yes?" But at the end of the night, it's the most fulfilling thing you have ever done. It reminds you of why you love acting.
TVGuide.com: For how long have you been doing this insane thing?
Berkley: This was my first time — I was a "24-Hour" virgin. But they've been doing it since right after 9/11, and each year it just gets bigger and bigger. This time it sold out the American Airlines Theater, which houses like 1,200. It attracts fun people who are crazy enough to have that kind of spirit and are willing to put themselves out there like that.
TVGuide.com: Are you officially deeming yourself "crazy"?
Berkley: I am officially calling myself "open for the adventure."
TVGuide.com: How is the "adventure" of married life going?
Berkley: Great! Great. I have an amazing husband [actor-painter Greg Lauren].
TVGuide.com: I was checking out his art site. It's pretty cool; I like the Batman stuff.
Berkley: Yeah, the superhero stuff is a new thing. It's very cool, very moody, putting them in human moments. He's actually doing a whole new show in New York in the spring.
TVGuide.com: One of the pieces in the, ahem, "other sections" appears to be, well, you.
Berkley: Oh, I'm sure. I definitely sit for him when he asks me to. I'm happy to be his muse.
TVGuide.com: What do we hear from Screech [aka Dustin Diamond]?
Berkley: We don't hear from him, no. I'm sorry to disappoint you! We all grew up together [on Saved by the Bell] and forever have that bond, and if I were to bump into anyone I would be so excited. I see Tiffani [Thiessen] once in a while, or bump into Mark-Paul [Gosselaar] or Mario [López] once in a while. It's fun to see where everyone has kind of gone. Around that time is when I met Carla [Gugino]; she did one episode.
TVGuide.com: Which brings us full circle back to Threshold.
Berkley: Yeah, I'm trying to think, is there anything else to say about that?... I play Christine, a former model and the trophy wife of this billionaire. That's who this woman was before getting infected by the aliens. She had this boring but comfortable life….
TVGuide.com: Which only draws more contrast to the super-strong hellion she becomes!
Berkley: And then the craziness ensues.
TVGuide.com: We like craziness.
Berkley: We do, we do....