Season 4 of "Parenthood" hit viewers over the head with a shocking plot twist right out of the gate. Kristina Braverman (played by Monica Potter) found out that she had breast cancer. For any other show, this could be a jump-the-shark moment or at least an excuse for some overly dramatic scenes and lots of crying, but for the gang at "Parenthood," it's a challenge they will gracefully rise to with nuance and subtlety only this seasoned cast could handle.
In the few episodes that have aired, Potter brilliantly portrays a woman whose whole life is turned upside down in an instant, but who must balance the demands of a special needs son with her own health care. With a simple look, Potter captures the essence of a woman scared to her core but smiling on the outside so she doesn't alarm her child. In a recent conference call interview, the actress described her approach to playing a character with cancer.
Potter had the idea at the same time as the creators 'Parenthood'
Potter recounted a day this spring when she went for her first mammogram. After the appointment, she told her husband that she thought it would make a good storyline for Kristina. She also was aware that the wife of show's creator, Jason Katims, had just recently fought and beaten breast cancer. She reached out to Katims, and he emailed back instantly. Potter said, "I got the chills, because they had been working on that storyline already, which was kind of cool."
Potter did minimal research about cancer for the role
Potter's initial instinct was to go online and read everything there was to read about cancer and what women go through when diagnosed with the disease, but as an actress she knew better. She stated, "I wanted to experience it as a person doing it for the first time."
She said rather than looking at websites at home, she wanted to feel the fear of reading the information for the first time while she was onset with her TV husband looking on.
Potter also was able to draw from her own life a bit for the part. That first mammogram she got back in April she said had a "blip" on it, and she was scheduled for another test just this week. So she noted, "Those real feelings came out in performance, as well. She continued that she didn't want to interview hundreds of survivors and be too aware of the facts and statistics: "I just want it to feel real for me and hopefully that will come through in the performance."
Potter talks about working with Peter Krause
Equaling Potter's brilliant performance is the acting of Peter Krause, who plays her on-camera husband, Adam. He wants so desperately to hold her and tell her it's all going to be okay, but he can't make that promise. And viewers can see the anguish in his eyes each time he looks at his wife from across the room. Potter said it's the little moments, the glances between the two of them that she looks forward to the most from this storyline.
She remarked, "Working with Peter, it's just ridiculous how much I feel like he's my husband. And he said the same thing. I don't know if that's a good thing, but it's a cool thing to work with someone that you just finish each other's sentences, and I really look forward to all of those moments with him."
Watch Potters performance on "Parenthood" Tuesday nights at 10 PM EST on NBC.
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