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November 7, 2013

‘Nip/Tuck’ Actress Visits Campus for Videotape Audition, Speaks to Film Class

feature2-lgKelly Carlson shoots a videotape audition at ODU’s Goode Soundstage (see more photos below). Photos by John Toomey
By Jim Raper

Kelly Carlson became a nationally known celebrity playing the seductress Kimber Henry on the FX network drama "Nip/Tuck," and with a little help from members of Old Dominion's Department of Communication and Theatre Arts she may be able to build on that celebrity soon.

Carlson was in Hampton Roads visiting friends last week when she found herself in need of a studio where she could videotape an audition for a currently untitled television project planned by the creators of "Nip/Tuck."

One of her friends knows John Toomey, who is chair of ODU's music department, and it was Toomey who put Carlson in touch with Stephen Pullen, chair of communication and theatre arts. Pullen and David Mallin, an ODU assistant professor who is an American Film Institute trained cinematographer, were quick to volunteer their help. Carlson also volunteered to be a guest lecturer for one of Mallin's film classes.

Pullen, who has worked as an independent screenwriter and producer in Los Angeles and who learned the business from teachers such as Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas and Robert Zemeckis during his M.F.A. program at the University of Southern California, served as Carlson's "reader" during the taping of four audition scenes. "I was feeding her lines. In one segment I was a cop and her husband, in another I was her daughter and sister," he said. "It went very well."

"Nip/Tuck" introduced Carlson in the guest role of aspiring model Kimber Henry during the first season in 2003. The character gained a following and the guest slot developed into a full-time cast role. Carlson stayed with the program through the final season in 2010.

Pullen said it is common for actors to tape auditions when they can't be in Los Angeles or New York in person. "In those cases, the actor usually finds a local casting agency that has video production facilities. But Kelly couldn't find one in this area and that is how she came to contact us."

ODU's Goode Soundstage opened a year ago with state-of-the-art filmmaking facilities and equipment, so Pullen and Mallin were able to offer Carlson "high-quality assistance," according to Pullen.

"She was impressed with the facilities."

Pullen was also impressed by Carlson. "If you've seen episodes of 'Nip/Tuck,' you know that the show has a salacious side and is sometimes a bit 'over the top,' and her character is certainly in line with that. So I didn't know what to expect of her, whether or not she would be difficult to work with. But she was a delight and a real professional in every way."

Carlson began her acting career on stage and Pullen said her training was evident in the scenes that Mallin shot. "So many of the people you see on television shows are there because of their looks, or some reason other than their acting ability. Not her. Her work is serious and nuanced."

For the ODU film students, Carlson provided "a glimpse into the world of Hollywood," Pullen said. "She was candid about what it's like on a film set. She told stories about working on the set of 'Nip/Tuck' and described it as fun and challenging."

Carlson has also appeared recently in multiple TV series including "Ghostfacers," "Supernatural," "Castle" and "Melrose Place," as well as the films "The Marine" and "Jimmy."

feature2-lg01Mallin, left, Carlson and Pullen discuss plans for the videotape session.
feature2-lg02Carlson delivers a guest lecturer for one of Mallin’s film classes.