‘Go On’ star Laura Benanti has a natural instinct for empathy

The actress talks about playing TV’s newest group therapy leader

"Go On" star Laura Benanti has not only been around the TV block once or twice, this is actually her second show about support groups. In 2005, she landed the role of Billie Frasier on the FX series "Starved," which took a humorous look at people with eating disorders who share their feelings at Belt Tighteners.

But audiences didn't connect with a funny view of characters like Benanti's, who suffered from anorexia, bulimia, and alcohol abuse. The show was canceled after seven episodes.

Benanti's second turn at TV group therapy is a hit

After stints on "The Playboy Club" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," it appears that Benanti has found a new gang of cohorts that are going to be around for much longer this time. In a recent conference call interview, she talked about playing Lauren Schneider on the Matthew Perry show about a grief support group.

Benanti plays the seemingly grounded, although not all that well trained, group leader on "Go On." She admits that although she'd like to say she's much more laid back than the role she portrays on TV, she is far more similar to her character. She conceded, "I try to give the appearance that I have it all together and that I know what I'm talking about, but at the end of the day, I think I might be full of crap."

Benanti is a problem solver for her friends

Still, she did reveal that she is a go-to person for friends who have a problem. "I have a natural instinct for empathy and always have since I was a little kid, which is something that I use with her. Where I feel like she maybe fell into this whole healing arts situation but is oddly good at it," Benanti said.

As much as she's the rock for her patients, it's becoming clear that Lauren has issues of her own. Benanti says that's what keeps her onscreen persona from getting boring. Besides, she remarked, "I think that every therapist that I know, including my dad and my sister, have their own issues. But that empathy is what makes them good at their job."

Benanti praises Matthew Perry

One person who Benanti also credited with being good at his job is series lead Perry. Even though he became a superstar on "Friends," Benanti noted that he's much more grounded that one might expect. "Someone of his stature and his fame could make you feel like a little, tiny person," she said. "He never makes you feel that way. Within five minutes of meeting him, I forgot how famous he was."

Tune in to "Go On" on Tuesday nights at 9 PM EST on NBC.

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