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Rachel Griffiths Talks 'Other Desert Cities' And Her Hollywood Twin

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RACHEL GRIFFITHS
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The celebrated Australian actress Rachel Griffiths is making her Broadway debut in "Other Desert Cities," in which she plays a once-promising writer who returns home after a long absence to celebrate Christmas. But not everything is eggnog and mistletoe. Once home, she announces that she has penned an intimate memoir discussing an explosive chapter in the family's history.

Griffiths has already created indelible TV characters in "Six Feet Under" and "Brothers and Sisters" and made her film debut in the now classic "Muriel's Wedding." The 42-year-old talked to HuffPost Celeb about acting on Broadway opposite Stockard Channing and her own eerie resemblance to Juliette Lewis.

So were you nervous stepping into this role?
I had two weeks' rehearsal and all the others have already done the play, so it seemed like quite an impossible task. Great, I've got two weeks to rip Stockard Channing a new arsehole in my Broadway debut as a new cast member. I'm a TV actor, and it definitely took me a while. The director said all the little bits are fantastic. You have to string them together.

Because you're used to hearing someone say cut?
Yeah, a little bit. I'll be like, "That was good, I really nailed that, oh shit they're still going, there's another scene coming." And just strange things like negotiating a coffee table. Getting around and using the front of the stage.

This play is about a dysfunctional family.
In it I say to my mother, "I can't bear you!" and every mother in the audience is like, "Ohhh!" This play is all about what it's like to have extremely revered parents. My husband and I both say hopefully we're not brilliant enough in what we do that it won't leave room for our children to surpass us. I'd hate to be Meryl [Streep]'s daughter, as brilliant as she is, or Cy Twombly's son, who wants to be a painter.

So you're hoping you don't win an Oscar.
Yeah, that will be the upside. If I never win an Oscar or a Tony, it leaves some room. I think everyone wants to win an Oscar, but on my deathbed, if I haven't, I'll think, "Well, at least I left the children something."

When you were on "Brothers and Sisters," were you ever like, "I'm working with the Flying Nun!"?
I was more Norma Rae. Certainly I grew up with "The Flying Nun," but I grew up watching [Sally Field] evolve. She entered a journey that said she wouldn't be defined by her early work. Though a "Flying Nun" joke crept in occasionally. And now I'm working with Rizzo [Channing]. Even though I was a virgin when I saw "Grease," I always identified with Rizzo's rebellious pain, her slightly self-destructive but proud genes.

Have you and Juliette Lewis ever been in the same room together, or are you, in fact, one person? We have not. I'm a big fan of hers. I had a funny moment when I was still in drama school and she was in "Cape Fear," and I went to see it with three girlfriends, and when Juliette Lewis came on screen, we were like, "Oh my God." Her mannerisms, everything was like me. I felt for the first time maybe I could have a career in the movies, because I was a bit funny-looking and not conventional, and here was this very original presence in the movies. It was a wonderful change from the typical ingenue.

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