Annie Murphy of 'Schitt's Creek'

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

BY Sarah MurphyPublished Dec 5, 2019

Canadian actor Annie Murphy got her big break as Alexis Rose on sleeper TV sensation Schitt's Creek. After six seasons and countless "Ew, David"s, she'll retire the part when the show wraps up with its final season in the new year. "It's very bittersweet," Murphy tells Exclaim! "It feels strange that the show's ending when it keeps picking up momentum, but it is really nice that we knew we would have six seasons and we weren't just cancelled halfway through. The stories were all tied up with a nice little bow and we know it was coming — not a lot of shows get that luxury." While she knows she's made long-time friends with her fellow castmates, she's really going to miss "going into work every day to be absolutely schooled by Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy."
What are you up to next?
Oh boy, that's a bleak question. Right now, my dance card is wide open, so if you know anyone looking for an actor or a barista or someone who can work in their bookstore, I'm here. It's wide open spaces right now, and I'm trying to look at that as an exciting adventure as opposed to the spooky unknown. I'm going to be going to L.A. in the new year and peddling my wares there.
What are your current fixations?
I've watched Fleabag three times now. I've also watched Pen15 three times. I had watched Succession, only once, but oh my god. And I just started watching the new season of The Crown. I've been balancing the drama with the comedy, which is what you have to do these days in life in general.
Why do you live where you do?
It's Toronto right now. Mostly the food, I would say. I think Toronto is just one of the most delicious cities I've been to and continues blowing my mind. And, you know, things like albino squirrels.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
One of my very favourite books is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, and I think that's a pretty mind-bending work of art. It's one of those really epic sagas that puts you through the ringer emotionally. And the words are so powerful, and they're written in such a beautiful way. And it crushes your soul at the end, which I think everyone is looking for, right? A nice soul-crushing is what we're in the market for these days.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
I got to go see Paul McCartney a bunch of years ago when he was playing on the Plains of Abraham. That was pretty fucking nuts. It was like 250,000 people in Quebec City and he played for three hours, alternating between Beatles songs and Wings. He played "Hey Jude" and "Blackbird" back to back. Even if I wasn't high, it would have been the craziest experience, but I did happen to be high, so it was even crazier.
What have been your career highs and lows?
Well, Schitt's Creek is the highest high I've ever had, from a career standpoint. The career low literally came just before that. My apartment had just burned down, I hadn't booked a job in two years, I had $250 in my bank account. I was quite sure that the universe was saying, "Stop! This is a terrible idea! You need to reassess everything." I did. I was having a big snotty existential crisis when I got the email for the audition for Schitt's.
What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
We were doing the [Schitt's Creek] live shows, and there was usually a crowd of people when we came out of the stage door. Emily [Hampshire] went out first, and everyone was like, "Emily! Emily! Yeah!" And then I came out and everyone was just kind of quiet. I was like, "Hi, guys!" and they just went back to losing their shit over Emily. I think it was in Denver. It wasn't my city and I'm trying not to take it personally. They really didn't give a shit about Annie Murphy.
What should everyone shut up about?
Being so fucking offended about everything all the time.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
It's the same one, which is that I'm very nice. I really like that I'm nice, and I think being nice goes a very, very long way. But also, I can be like, "Ugh, don't be that nice. Just chill and grow a spine. You don't need everyone to like you all of the time."
What's your idea of a perfect Sunday?
A good, good, good sleep-in, and then good, good, good hang at a bar with buds, and then a bath, and then TV and then bed.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
"You'll grow into your eyebrows." It was from my mom in grade seven or so, when all I saw when I looked in the mirror was the angry baby from The Simpsons. My eyebrows were just this permanent "V" pointing down in the middle of my forehead. I remember so desperately lamenting all the time how much I hated them, and my mom was like, "Don't worry, one day you'll be happy with your face." And I think I have my eyebrows to thank for getting this job in the first place, so she was right. I wish I hadn't spent so long hating my angry Simpsons baby eyebrows.
What would make you kick someone out of your band and/or bed, and have you?
If anyone is a rude piece of shit who is mean to people, they don't deserve to be in my band or bed or cast.
What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of home and lakes and Shania Twain and privilege.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/eight track you ever bought with your own money?
The Sign by Ace of Bass. Oh, no! It was Dookie by Green Day, because I was in grade two and my friend's older brother, who I had a really big crush on (he was probably grade four or five), was big into Green Day, so I, of course, had to be big into Green Day. How old are you in grade two, like seven? I remember going to HMV to impress a boy, but it turned out I really fucking loved Dookie. Haven't looked back since.
What was your most memorable day job?
I worked at a physiotherapist's office for a bunch of summers as a receptionist, and for some reason I was also given the task of removing acupuncture needles from clients. Sometimes there were bleeders, so I'd have to deal with bleeding people while answering phones and making appointments. It was a real up and down experience.
How do you spoil yourself?
I go to Summer Sun spa in Chinatown and get a $50 massage. It's this tiny little hole-in-the-wall in the best way possible, it's a basement massage parlour. It's so good and they do an awesome job and it's wonderfully inexpensive, so I do that every now and again.
If you were not acting, what would you be doing?
I feel like I don't have many marketable skills. I would probably have taken a stab at writing. Maybe I would have tried to be one of those Vice journalists they send all over the world being cool and knowledgeable. Being an archaeologist would have been cool. Now I'm just saying different jobs. I'd probably be running a bookstore. Let's hope that I get to keep acting, because clearly I don't have a plan B. Anything but removing needles.
What do you fear most?
Global warming. Donald Trump. Spooky ghosts.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
If you can quote The Office like breathing. That's an immediate on and off for me.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
One of the first "what the fuck is my life?" moments with Schitt's Creek, I was in New York doing press and we were staying at the Waldorf Hotel, which is so fancy. There was a snowstorm outside, we'd just gone out for an incredible dinner and I was just getting into bed, and Dan Levy called me in my hotel room. I think he and Eugene had just taped for Seth Meyers or something like that, and he was like, "We're upstairs, we're gonna watch the taping. Come on up!" I put my clothes back on and go upstairs to the room number they gave me. It was on the top floor of the hotel, and I knock on the door and Martin Short answered the door, dressed in a full tuxedo and carrying a tray of champagne. He was like, "Annie! Welcome!" He was doing a Broadway show, and apparently he rents out the presidential suite when he's in town. So I sat in the presidential suite of the Waldorf Hotel with Eugene Levy and Martin Short, and watched Dan and Eugene on TV talking about the show that I was still spinning about being in, and drank champagne and listened to them talk about the good old days with John Candy and Gilda Radnor. That was a really surreal doozy of a celebrity encounter for me.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Why can I only think of Jason Momoa and sausages? I'm just gonna lean into that and relinquish myself to the fact that something in me needs to tell you that it's Jason Momoa and sausages.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead?
Now, no. My parents are very relieved that it all worked out after so many years. I have to give them credit, they were very supportive when I proudly announced to them fresh out of high school that I was going to be an actor. They were nothing but supportive, but I'm sure they would have found more comfort in me proudly announcing that I was going to go into law or the sciences. But they didn't let on, so I'm very grateful to them for that.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral?
"I Will Survive." Plot twist, I will never die. I'll come back to life and everyone will be like, "Whaaat?" It's going to be a smashing success. You're more than invited.

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