Awesome article on Michaela in the Morning Call newspaper from Michaela’s hometown!
Parkland High School graduate Michaela Conlin was already a veteran of two failed TV shows when she trudged down to the 20th Century Fox lot in Century City to shoot a pilot for a police procedural called “Brennan.”
Even though the role of forensic artist Angela Montenegro seemed pretty juicy, Conlin knew it was a long shot that the series would get air time, let alone flourish.
"Pilot season in L.A. is just this blood bath," says Conlin. "They make so many pilots and such a small percentage are picked up. And then if you are picked up, there are so many variables. You have to get a good time slot, and you have to get promoted. And then you have to thrive in that time slot.
"It’s just incredibly competitive…I had passed on two other pilots to do [‘Brennan’] and I remember thinking, ‘This thing better last a season or two.’"As it turns out, “Brennan” — after a name change to “Bones” — was not only picked up for a season or two but it has become one of the longest running shows on prime time TV.
"Bones" returns for its 10th season on Sept. 25. It’s a milestone few series reach, especially today.
"It’s really kind of crazy," says Conlin. "It blows my mind."
At the moment, the actress is filming the 200th episode, which, like the flashback-heavy 100th episode, promises to be a memorable one. It’s also an installment that is shrouded in secrecy. The cast members aren’t allowed to say a word. A sweepstakes is underway to win a trip for two to the set to celebrate the 200th episode with the cast. (Go to http://www.fox.com/bones.)Even though the show, inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs, has run a decade, Conlin is not tired of her crime-solving alter ego. She plays an artist who specializes in reconstructing facial features and crime scenes, alongside forensic anthropologists in the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
"Angela is just such a hoot," she says. "She is so much fun to play. She says exactly what she wants to say. She has no filter. Sometimes I’ll get a script and I’ll go, ‘Oh my God, Angela, you don’t have to say that.’ But she says what she thinks. She’s very ballsy.
"I’m much more conservative. But I also think, in many ways, she’s [a stand-in] for the audience because she’s not a scientist and there is so much scientific banter thrown around on the show. She always comes in and says, ‘What are you talking about? What do you mean?’I love that about her."
When the show wrapped up its ninth season, FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) was arrested for the murders of three Delta Force henchmen who were involved in a government conspiracy.
Conlin says viewers can also expect to see a lot more of Angela this season.
"I’ve heard rumblings that we might learn what Angela’s real name is," notes Conlin, 36. "There might be a storyline about that. Last season, she went undercover with Booth and Brennan. And I heard she might do that again this year."
The ninth season of “Bones” was an eventful one that included the long-teased wedding of Booth and Brennan. The free-spirited Angela has settled down with co-worker Dr. Jack Hodgins (TJ Thyne) and had a child with him. Angela and Jack have stuck together through some tough times, including Hodgins’ financial woes.
In real life, the cast members share a similar one-for-all, all-for-one spirit.
"We’ve been a part of each other’s lives for so long," says Conlin. "There haven’t been any divorces but there have been engagements, break-ups, new girlfriends and boyfriends, the birth of children.
"The other day Emily and I were looking at old pictures of us from the show and we couldn’t believe our hairstyles and what we were wearing. It’s crazy to think we’ve been around this long.
"We joke but sometimes we do get emotional about it too. It’s crazy to know so much about each other’s families. We spend so much time together. We see each other at 5 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, 6 in the evening and at midnight. And then all over again the next day."
Conlin thinks audiences keep coming back for more “Bones” because the show manages a tricky balance between crime-solving action and character-deepening storylines.
"I think audiences like the combination of a heavy crime drama and characters who are so approachable," says Conlin. "The characters [exhibit] a real sense of play with each other."
A decade ago, “Bones” was at the vanguard of crime thrillers with terrific roles for women. The fact that Angela is an integral part of a team that includes a number of strong women was one of the reasons Conlin signed up for the pilot.
"Now, there are a lot of great roles for women on TV but back then, it wasn’t quite the case."
"Bones" is such a female-centric show that Conlin says, "we joke that Angela, Brennan and Cam [played by Tamara Taylor] have offices that are bigger than the guys’ offices … It’s just so nice to play a character who has strong opinions."
Conlin credits her boss — series creator Hart Hanson — with allowing her to bring a lot of different shades to Angela.
"Usually as an actor you’re asked to do one thing. You come in and you’re the girlfriend or the ex-wife or the bitchy co-worker. But I’ve been able to explore a lot of sides of Angela. She’s a [crime-solver], a mom, a wife, a best friend. There’s a million things I get to do."
Over the last few years, Conlin has supplemented her “Bones” work with appearances in a handful of movies. She played a pal of Idini Menzel’s character in “Enchanted” and a police detective opposite Matthew McConaughey and Bryan Cranston in “The Lincoln Lawyer.”
"Matthew and Bryan were just the loveliest guys, ever," says Conlin. "I purposely didn’t watch ‘Breaking Bad’ before I worked with Bryan because I didn’t want to be starstruck.
"And I’m so glad I waited because ‘Breaking Bad’ [was so good]. Bryan blew me away." (Conlin says she also is a fan of ‘Top of the Lake,’ ‘The Returned’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’)
During this year’s hiatus from “Bones,” Conlin managed to squeeze in another film. Written and directed by “The Words” helmer Brian Klugman (who reoccurs on “Bones”), “Baby Baby Baby” is about a couple (Klugman, Adrianne Palicki) trying to begin a romance. Conlin plays Klugman’s ex-girlfriend in the film, which will premiere in 2015.
"It was a small little movie but we had such a great cast, including Cloris Leachman, Kelsey Grammer and James Roday," says Conlin. "It was fun to play someone different. I hope it gets some traction next year."
After shooting the movie, Conlin came back to the Lehigh Valley for a two week vacation. She and her mom Denise took in a screening of “Maleficent” at the AMC Tilghman and Conlin says she got to hang out with her oldest friend, who still lives in the Valley."I was in Allentown for my birthday so my friend went to Ice Cream World and got me an ice cream cake," says Conlin. "When we were younger, we had season passes to Dorney Park and every day we’d walk across the street to Ice Cream World where my older sister used to work.
"I loved being back home. It’s funny because I’ve been getting more and more homesick lately. I never used to get homesick when I first moved to L.A. The good thing is we’re such a close family that [my parents] are always coming out to L.A., or I’m coming back to Allentown."
It was in the Lehigh Valley that Conlin first discovered her affinity for acting. She is a self-described show-off who was always trying to attract the attention of her family members, including her mom, who works at Lehigh Valley Style magazine; dad Fran, who is a manufacturer’s rep for a plumbing and heating supply company; and older sister Heather, who lives in Florida.
"My older sister says I was always going, ‘watch me, watch me, watch me’" says Conlin with a laugh. "And she’d be, like, ‘Oh my God!’ I’m sure I drove her crazy."
An elementary school appearance in “The Gingerbread Man” made the five-year-old Conlin crave more stage time so she auditioned for a part in a Muhlenberg College production of “The King and I.”"After I got that role, that was it," says Conlin, who earned $100 for her stint in the show. "There was nothing else I wanted to do."
Conlin credits two instructors — Chuck Tannery at Springhouse Junior High and Nancy Carthew at Parkland High School — with giving her much-needed encouragement.
"As I get older, I think, ‘wow, they were so helpful.’ They cast me and they believed in me."
Through the years, Conlin performed on nearly every single Lehigh Valley stage, from Munopco to Civic Theatre of Allentown to Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem. Once she graduated from Parkland in 1996, Conlin set her sights on NYU.
"I was so lucky because my parents said yes," recalls the actress. "They said yes to me all the time. They said, ‘let’s do it.’ We couldn’t afford NYU so we all worked together to make it happen. I had scholarships and I worked while I was going to school."
Conlin was still waiting tables in New York when she noticed that all of her actor friends who’d migrated to L.A. were nabbing work in movies and on TV. With $400 and two lawn chairs to her name, Conlin headed West.
"I thought, ‘I’ve made it.’ I paid off my car and I paid off my debt. I had no money left and then the show went off the air after eight episodes. And I was back to square one."
Three years later, “Bones” gave Conlin the role of her career. And the long-running series shows no signs of stopping.
"The two new heads of the network at Fox were the [executives] who initially shepherded ‘Bones’ and they’re very big fans of the show," says Conlin.
"So I’ve heard that they’d like it to continue…We still have to come back on the air, and they have to see how we do. But it would unbelievable if we came back for [an 11th season].
"That would be so exciting.
Bi The Way…
If there’s one thing the showrunners agreed upon it’s that bisexual characters aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Why are bisexual characters a tougher idea for network/studio execs and audiences for that matter?
Hanson, who created a bisexual regular character in Angela (Michaela Conlin) on “Bones,” says, “I think bisexual characters are … confusing? There is always a desired economy in the etching of TV characters so the more clarity there is in a character’s desires and motivations the more efficiently the story can be told. A bisexual character blurs those lines. It’s a tougher sell.”
But Hanson recalls there was concern on the network side after they’d established Angela as having dated women but then embarked on a relationship with (gasp!) a man, who she would eventually marry and have a child with. “Were we bailing on a gay character by making her bisexual?” he asks. “We agonized about it. But in the end the relationship between Angela and Hodgins (TJ Thyne) was too good to pass up so we took the straight and well-paved road.”
The Bones Ladies - Season 9 gag reel
Bones - Season 6 Bloopers
I’d love to always be a small part of
what makes you smile.
Listen, I was hoping to help with the dress though….
Walking down the aisle Bones style (x)
The Secrets in the Proposal - Deleted Scene
"I don’t have very much spare time. I love seeing movies and I love reading. When I am off, I am usually trying to get a movie. I write short stories, as well, which is very challenging. I also like spending time with my friends and family." Michaela Conlin.-