Amy Brenneman, <EM>Private Practice</EM> Amy Brenneman, Private Practice
Amy Brenneman is a mother of two who thinks her body isn't picture perfect but still finds the courage to bare it all in front of millions of viewers. That's why Dove has chosen her as a spokeswoman, following Sara Ramirez, who represented the company after dancing in her underwear on Grey's Anatomy. TV Guide was on-set as Brenneman kicked off the Dove ad contest that asks real women to showcase their talent. She spoke about beauty, body image and why the cast of

Private Practice will never have viewing parties.

TV Guide: So how did you get involved with Dove's ad campaign?
Amy Brenneman: I'd had different things come my way and nothing had appealed to me. I take representing a company or a product seriously and I was aware of this campaign; I'd seen these beautiful, realistic-looking women, and I remember thinking, "Wow! You just don't see that." So I knew that this campaign was real and they were putting their money where their mouth is.

TV Guide: Your body is seemingly perfect; how do you feel watching so-called real women on TV?
Brenneman: Thank you for that, but it's really not. Things happened after my second child. [Laughs] That's all I'm going to say about that. I have my own vulnerabilities — I mean, I know I'm healthy and I look nice in clothes and all that, so I'm not going to put myself down, but I think we all know that moment of authenticity, whether it's seeing an actress who shows a wrinkle or two... it's sort of this jolt of, "Wow, she is brave."

TV Guide: Do you think Hollywood has lost sight of real beauty? Does it put unnecessary pressure on actors and actresses?
Brenneman: I think because everybody's so interested in the 18-to-34 demographic, suddenly these 50-year-olds think they have to look like 18-year-olds. So yeah, it can be a little wacky, but I also think that Hollywood really loves honest energy that springs out. Like Jonah Hill; he was in a movie that my husband [director Brad Silberling] did and he's just totally unique. And that great Knocked Up crew — they're not perfect-looking guys, but you just love them. So I think that when there's this authentic connection with the audience, you can still get that through.

TV Guide: I watched an episode of Private Practice last night that you were nude in. How does it feel to know that so many people are watching you?
Brenneman: Umm... I feel OK. I mean, I sort of make it a practice not to think about the millions of people who might be seeing it. I've gotten nude onstage and that was weirder, because you're actually in a space with a thousand people watching, so in a strange way, even though obviously a TV show reaches more people, you can still go into denial about it, which I tend to do.

TV Guide: I looked at you and thought, you did not have two kids.
Brenneman: I gained 45 pounds each time. I had to make a person.

TV Guide: And how are your kids?
Brenneman: They're great. I have a 6-year-old daughter who is beautiful, so I think about this stuff all the time. Dove did this worldwide massive survey and they learned that only two percent of women could use the word "beautiful" to describe themselves. That just broke my heart.

TV Guide: How do you teach your daughter to know she's beautiful?
Brenneman: You know, I'm lucky. I feel like my daughter is a bit like me and a bit like my mom — we just didn't think about it that much. I was saying this to my mom the other day: "You did a really good job with me in terms of all this vanity stuff, because I knew that I was beautiful enough, I wasn't embarrassed when I walked into a room or anything, but it's not the most interesting thing about me." And I think my daughter kind of has that, because she's this devastating combination of tomboyish and beautiful, but she doesn't think about it. One of the keys is to think about it just enough and then let it go.

TV Guide: Are you spending more time together as a family now that the strike isn't allowing you to work?
Brenneman: Yeah, I get to see the kids a lot more. I gave birth to my daughter after my second year of Judging Amy so she's used to [my work]. My son I've been around a lot more and he's handled it OK, but in a way I think it's nice to have this time to get grounded before I go off to work again.

TV Guide: I think the last time TV Guide spoke to you, everyone was hoping Private Practice would be a success, but now it is a bona fide hit. How does it feel?
Brenneman: Great. A relief. When a movie's a hit it's like, "What does that mean?" With TV it's like, "Now we can actually do the show."

TV Guide: So Tim Daly has calmed down? He seemed most freaked out about the pre-hype.
Brenneman: He's our little freaky Tim. He gets all upset, that Tim. [Laughs] So you mean he was upset before?

TV Guide: Yeah, when everyone was telling him it would be a hit, he was like, "Shut up, it's not even on TV!"
Brenneman: Isn't that funny? I kind of assumed it would be [a success]. When I was offered it in March, I thought long and hard — not that I wasn't attracted to the project — but I thought, I did a show for six years and this could likely be that kind of thing.

TV Guide: Speaking of Private Practice, Violet and Cooper are having a typical, messy Grey's Anatomy-like romance. Do you think they're going to find each other?
Brenneman: Oh, I think they always find each other. I think they are each other's family; how that is expressed in the sexual realm will be a long and winding road. I think they're both very unique sexually. We certainly know that Cooper is and we're starting to talk about what Violet's deal is. And I think that's truly what I love about Shonda [Rhimes]' writing. Just because you might be soul mates in one area, does that mean soul mates in another? What is a full life? I mean, I think Violet still feels Alan is the one. I do. And here's this amazing man standing right in front of her. But Cooper's funny, too. He has split off his sexuality in a pretty decisive way. I don't know what's going to happen, but I think that they are never not intimate, so even when they are pretending to be in a huff, they're each other's best friends. That's what's so poignant about it.

TV Guide: And do we have any idea what Pete and Addison are going to be up to?
Brenneman: They're messed up. What I like is that, in the "naked" episode, Pete comes to me at the end. It's becoming clear that Pete has tons of issues, and Violet and he have never been involved, nor do I think they will be, but his real intimacy is with her. It's like even without knowing it, you unconsciously give a part of yourself to somebody, and that was such a moving moment to me, when he explains to me... I mean, he can't explain to Addison, so he explains to his friend.

TV Guide: Are you as curious about the backstory of these people as the viewers?
Brenneman: Yeah.

TV Guide: Do you ask questions?
Brenneman: Yeah.

TV Guide: Does Shonda answer?
Brenneman: No. [Laughs] She does and she doesn't. I kind of know this from producing a TV show, that it's evolving — and it should be evolving, because you never know when a guest star comes in who plays somebody's cousin and it's like, "Oh, my god, that person's great" and suddenly that's a major [character]. I think all of us have working models of our past that we can play with. It doesn't bother me. Tim it drives crazy. He's like, "Did I love my ex-wife? I don't get it!" I'm like, "Whatever. Flirt with Addison." [Laughs]

TV Guide: Do you guys have viewing parties?
Brenneman: Everybody has such a different relationship to watching the show, and Paul Adelstein literally rolls — writhes — on the floor in agony. We watched the pilot together and I'm like, "Do you hate it?" and he's like [Brenneman pretends to be in pain], "Nooo.... " It's like, "OK, you have your own process." Everybody's got their own way of dealing with looking at themselves. Which brings us back to beauty and self-esteem issues.

TV Guide: Before I forget, there was talk of a Judging Amy movie. What happened to that?
Brenneman: Judging Amy all along was this funky and not entirely good coproduction between 20th Century Fox and CBS Productions, and there were a lot of turf wars. So I was in labor with [son] Bodhi and they canceled my show and then before I actually had the child, I got on the phone to [CBS'] Nina Tassler and I said, "You know what, we didn't know it was going to end, is there any way we could do a movie of it?" And she said, "That sounds really great" and I went off to new-motherhood land and they couldn't decide who was going to fund it and the deal kind of fell apart.

TV Guide: So fans should let go?
Brenneman: The one thing you don't have to let go of is that the official DVD set still hasn't come out. We've never had a DVD launch, which is insane, because there are 138 hours of television, so if people wanted to write in and yell at CBS about that, that could actually agitate.

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