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Nicki Gostin
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'Luck' Star Jill Hennessy On Working With Horses, Gambling

Posted: 02/22/12 02:39 PM ET  |  Updated: 02/22/12 02:39 PM ET

Jill Hennessy Luck

Jill Hennessy has played a lawyer on "Law & Order," a doctor on "Crossing Jordan" and now a racetrack veterinarian in the new HBO series "Luck."

The controversial show, created by David Milch and co-starring Dustin Hoffman, is centered on the world of horse racing, and looks at all the different people involved in the sport: the horse owners, the jockeys, the vets, and of course, the horses.

The Canadian actress talked to The Huffington Post about working with her four-legged co-stars, her love for Hoffman and whether or not she ever plays the ponies when she's at the track.

This show is so prestigious, it's ridiculous.
I thought it was a joke when my agent told me about it. He called me and said, "There's a last-minute audition happening. I think you're going to be interested. Michael Mann's producing, David Milch is writing it and Dustin Hoffman is in it." I said, "How soon can I get to the audition?" He said, "There's just one scene where you're giving a horse a rectal exam."'

Did you have a horse in the audition?
(Laughs) Wouldn't that be great? No, I went to my agency in New York, where their taping room is basically like a broom closet. I mimed the horse. Thank God in the real scene the horse was a classy guy, very accommodating. Buzz was his name. I'll never forget him and he'll never forget me. He keeps calling. I noticed with Buzz that if my foot got close to his, he'd move his hoof so he wouldn't step on me. There are a lot of human actors who wouldn't do that.

Do you like betting or gambling?
I've never known anything about gambling and I'd be a lousy gambler anyway, because I'm too cheap. It's set up so you lose! So why would I want to throw my money out the window? When it comes to Vegas, I love people-watching and the buffets.

Besides Buzz, how is it working with all those horses?
They seem to be having a really good time. I can tell by the end of the day, when they start to get a little antsy, they're essentially saying, "Okay guys, time's up, we're losing light." What I've found is that they are some of the most stable actors I've ever worked with, the most grounded. Anybody who, in the middle of a scene with Dustin Hoffman, can take a dump, I'm like, "Now that is the ultimate in acting relaxed and comfortable." As an actor it makes you go, "Wow, you go for it; I really admire your sense of presence."

The other thing you notice is how big they are. You think, wow, I'm acting with a fellow cast mate [who is] more than 7 feet tall, and if they decide to shift their weight they could crush all my toes. In every scene I do, I'm very close. I'm always touching and getting into areas you're typically not supposed to go to.

I've noticed that they're so considerate. Every horse I've worked with seems to be so aware of where I am, aware of the sequence of movements in the scene. Some of them, you can tell, get excited when they hear the word "action."

So are you basically BFFs with Dustin Hoffman now?
I am deeply in love with that man. If "BFF" is what he'd like to be, then I'd like him to know that I'm open to that.

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