September 16, 2012

TV: It's a new season and a new love interest on 'Boardwalk'

By Frazier Moore, The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Meg Chambers Steedle portrays Billie Kent in a scene from the third season of the HBO drama “Boardwalk Empire.”

The Associated Press

Winter wasn't troubled by her absence of film chops.

"Sometimes you see actors fall apart during the audition process when they know they're getting closer to landing the role. But Meg got better and more comfortable as she went along," he says. "She was unflappable, you could just tell. And she turned out to be a joy to work with."

But the process of choosing her had taken awhile. By the time she arrived on the set, the cast had done the season's first read-through without her, she says. "I was so last-minute that I learned the 'King Tut' dance the day before we shot it."

That 1920s-vintage ditty (not to be confused with the Steve Martin hit a half-century later) makes sport of the Egyptian boy king in lyrics like, "His tomb, instead of tears, was full of souvenirs" with "gold and silverware ... from hotels of ev'ry land and clime."

Performing with Stephen DeRosa, seen before on "Boardwalk" as real-life entertainer Cantor, the number is a comic showstopper.

"Thank God I got to do that scene first!" says Steedle. "I had fun, and got to sing and dance and interact with so many members of the cast. It was a big part of my loosening up."

As for the bedroom scene, which she shot next, that, too, served as its own initiation.

Her waist-up nudity "was a big thing for me. This is only my second (film) gig and I was really hesitant to show in that way," she says, choosing her words carefully.

She was also recalling Lucy, Nucky's voluptuous ex-courtesan played by Paz de la Huerta, who "was naked all the time. I think that was an image I had in my head. But that's not who my character is.

"Besides, this is part of storytelling: Clothes come off," she reasons. "But Steve is such a pro. It was a professional setting, even in a room with guys (in the crew). I felt comfortable."

Before accepting the role, she did place a cautionary phone call to her parents.

"They knew it would happen," she says, meaning on-camera nudity, and smiles. "I just don't think they expected it so soon."

Of course, it was Steedle's parents who steered her into acting.

She describes herself in childhood as "an attention-seeker," even to a fault, "and they decided, 'We need to find her the right outlet.' So they made me audition for a high school production of 'The Sound of Music."'

Cast as one of the von Trapp children, there she was, in third grade, "hanging with the high school kids. I loved it!"

Now she hangs with the "Boardwalk" troupe, and she's poised to make a splash. Like Billie, she's not in the center, not just yet. But Steedle is the girl your eyes can't let go.


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