LOS ANGELES - Actress Julia Parker is known for her sitcom work as well as for her roles in independent films that range from family movies to sci-fi thrillers.
Today, the actress is making her mark in television with roles in Showtime's "Episodes," the CW's "90210" and most recently in tonight's episode of "The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," airing on FX at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, just a week after her appearance in CBS's "CSI: Cyber."
With a background in swimsuit modeling and serving as a flight attendant, Parker is making the industry take notice with her role as defense attorney Johnny Cochran's longtime mistress, Patricia Cochran in "The People V. O.J. Simpson." The role as the downtrodden mistress of the celebrated Cochran is in keeping with her ability to portray real life people such as the murdered flight attendant on the ill-fated Flight 93 in the 9-11 film "Flight 93: The Flight that Fought Back" in 2005.
An accomplished photographer, Parker is often seen photographing landscapes, friends and pets, when not out at auditions or film and TV shoots.
Parker spoke with us about her work in "The People V. O.J. Simpson" and more:
Question: How did you prepare to take on the role of Patricia Cochran? Did you meet her or find much information about her?
Answer: Finding out anything about Patricia Cochran was difficult. I tried searching online both before the audition and once I booked the part but found very little to go on. I ended up just working on her character with what the writers and the script provided and my own character work. Mainly, since it is such a small scene, I wanted to do her justice plus support the main characters in this episode. I did, thanks to the makeup artist, get to see some pictures of her while sitting in the makeup chair the day of the shoot.
Q: Is it very difficult for you to play an actual living person rather than a fictional character? What's the biggest difference in portraying one compared to the other?
A: Playing a fictional role seems easier for me because I can layer more choices into a character, whether the characteristics or circumstances are from the writer, director or myself, than when portraying an actual living person.
Some of Julia Parker's photographic work (Courtesy Julia Parker).
Q: Did you see the actual trial when it was on TV in 1995? What was your impression of the trial?
A: I did see some of the trial when it was on. I felt, at the time, with all the evidence being produced along with his white Bronco escapade, that it was obvious he was guilty but I also thought it was like a three-ring circus. It was sad with the death of two innocent people needing justice to see cameras in the courtroom, Judge Ito looking like he was posing and star-struck and the whole thing looking like an out of control soap opera. When they showed O.J. trying to put the stiff, dried-out, bloody glove on his hand I was waiting for someone to stop the charade. I don’t think we’ll ever really know what happened to Nicole Brown Simpson and and Ron Goldman but I trust in the legal system and hope that with "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" some light will be shed on this part of our legal history.
Q: Why do you think the show has become so popular, 20 years after the trial?
A: For me, the reason I believe this show is so popular is because people were riveted to their TV screens at the time it unraveled. I think it was one of the first reality shows most people watched for hours on end. Add that story line to an incredibly talented group of A-list actors, writers, directors and an award winning first season of American Crime Story and you’ve got a hit!
Q: What was it like to work on the set? Did you get close to any cast members?
A: Working on the set was one of the highlights of my year. The production crew, given the scope of this project, were extremely organized and had a “family feel” to them. The writer, D.V. DeVincentis, and the director, Anthony Hemingway, were so fun and easy to work with. For my scene, I got to play with the wonderful and accomplished actress, Angela E Gibbs, who played the role of Barbara Cochran. We had a blast working together on our scene and we've stayed in touch since, talking about trying to find another project to work on together.
Q: Will you watch your episode or do you not like to watch your performances like so many other actors?
A: I actually like watching my work because I learn a lot about my acting and myself. I love when I am watching one of my projects and I am affected or moved by it…that’s my way of knowing that I "got it" and was committed truthfully to the character. Hopefully the audience watching are feeling the same way.
Q: How does this role compare to your other role of an actual person as a flight attendant of a doomed airliner on the 9/11 movie "Flight 93: The Flight that Fought Back"?
A: When I portrayed the flight attendant, Debra Welsh, in the Discovery Docu–Drama “The Flight That Fought Back”, it was a very emotionally hard character to play because of the 9/11 story line and tragic circumstances. It was easier, in a lot of ways, to play this character because of the massive amount of information I had on her. I shot for 4 days and I was working with a large number of actors. I could empathize on a much deeper level with who she was and what she went through along with it being a much larger role.
Q: What are your other upcoming projects?
A: I just had a role air on a recent episode of CSI:CYBER. Some upcoming projects I’m scheduled to shoot this year are the feature films MARIA DE LUNA playing ICE agent, Sherry Ellis and BONDS (another agent). Next month I’m working on a film called A BROTHERLY DISCUSSION and collaborating on a short film idea of my own. Along with those projects, there are a couple of features being released that I shot last year, a time travel film called ANOTHER TIME and the romantic comedy MERRY EXES along with some other film projects that I’m reading scripts for. It’s always fun when I get to work at what I love to do.
Below are some of Julia's photographic work: