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Interview: Olivia Wilde on Secrets, Romance, and Hugh Laurie

When Olivia Wilde was cast on House, she had no idea how long she'd be around. Her character, nicknamed Thirteen, was competing for a spot on Dr. House's fellowship team — and Wilde herself was fighting for a job in the regular cast.

Thirteen was temporarily fired in the last House episode we saw, but that was all just part of negotiations between House and Cuddy; when the show returns tonight, Wilde will be there too. Wilde is currently in Louisiana shooting the Biblical comedy The Year One with Jack Black and Michael Cera, but before she left, she chatted with a group of reporters about Thirteen's secrets and Hugh Laurie's charm. Some highlights:

  • On competing with other actors for her spot on the team: "We decided very early on that the only way to deal with the competitiveness that was obviously in the air was to joke about it constantly. The great thing is that everyone had a very kind of relaxed and secure personality, and so there wasn’t any cattiness. We were shocked ourselves. We were sure that there would be some sort of disappointment and jealousy, but there wasn’t because everyone just had a great sense of humor about it."
  • On romantic tension between Thirteen and House: "I never, ever picked up on that myself. I think they have a mutual respect and they enjoy sparring with each other. They both are very, very stubborn and have very strong personalities. . . . At this point what I see between them is not a romantic connection; it is sort of a mutual respect between two very unorthodox and stubborn doctors."

Lots more — including her thoughts on almost getting fired — so


  • On Thirteen's real name: "I thought they were going to reveal it awhile ago, and I think it’s great that the producers made this dramatic choice not to reveal it when they had planned to. And they actually tried to hide it — it disappeared from the call sheets. I think they’re not putting too much value on the secrecy of a name, but they like the fact that it is established this sort of inside joke between House and Thirteen. He could easily look at her file and see her name, but he chooses to keep it up."
  • On the criticism that Thirteen is just the new Cameron: "I find Cameron’s character to be so compassionate and emotional. I’ve been watching this show for awhile, and so that’s how I see her, and I find Thirteen to be almost the opposite. She’s not cutthroat, as Amber was, but she’s definitely not as soft and open as Cameron is. . . . She’s holding back something personal that stops her from having the same type of compassion."
  • On working with Hugh Laurie: "I was so terrified my first day, because he’s so fabulous and he’s immediately disarming. . . . Even though he is brilliant at doing drama, he has this amazing sense of humor and a lightness of heart that permeates the room. I think that immediately softened me and made me more comfortable and able to do scenes one-on-one with him, which previously I had been so terrified to do, because I thought I would mess up and destroy it for him. But he couldn’t be more encouraging. He has, multiple times, allowed me to continue working on a scene that I felt like I hadn’t done my best. And he would say, 'Well, hold on, let’s do it again. I know they’re pressuring us to move faster. Everybody wants to get out of here. It’s expensive to keep a show running late, but if you need the time, you take the time.' And having someone like that on the show is invaluable, and I think that’s why it turns out well."
  • On her character nearly getting fired: "We were reading the scripts backwards every week, so I knew I was OK. But there was a moment when my entire family thought I was fired, because I don’t tell them anything in advance. So I got this call from my father, who hadn’t even finished watching the episode, and he was like, 'What? What happened?' So I had to assure everyone that they had to watch it through. And I had a few friends whose TiVos cut out before the end, and so people were saying, 'I’m so sorry to hear you got fired.' And I was like, "No, no, you’ve got to finish it." So I think that was a great little twist. Actually, the end of that episode is one of my favorites of all the House episodes I’ve seen. . . . I love the scene between Cuddy and House, and that little smirk they give each other is just fabulous, I loved it."

Photos courtesy of Fox

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