Judith Hoag can be seen on the hit TV show “Nashville.” She plays a poised and driven character named Tandy Wyatt, who is the daughter and protégé of Lamar Hampton. It seems that Tandy is always playing referee between her sister Rayna, played by Connie Britton, and Lamar played by Powers Boothe. Always trying to keep the peace, Tandy is always in the middle of something on the show.
Fans of Judith will remember her breakout role as April O’Neil in the film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” She embraces the fans from that film and is amazed that the fan base is growing even though the film is 23 years old.
I had the great pleasure to chat with this funny, witty, and great actress. She is full of life and loves her job. It is great to see someone who loves their trade and is always looking for the next challenge in her career.
Art Eddy: Let’s talk about your character Tandy Wyatt. You play the peacekeeper between Connie Britton’s character Rayna, who is your sister and your father. Do you think Tandy will get sick of that role on the show?
Judith Hoag: I think it is one of those super uncomfortable positions to be in. As an actor you crave that. The crazier it gets, the more uncomfortable it gets, and the higher the stakes get, the more fun it is. So I hope that they drive me crazy. I am good with that. It is really like please make my life more complicated, on the show that is. I love that.
AE: (Laughs) I like that. In life people tend to shy away from those awkward situations. Yet for you as an actress it seems you love to be in that role.
JH: That is a really good point. In real life I would prefer not to be in an awkward situation in real life. I would much more prefer to be in a normal situation. In my professional life as an actor I don’t want things to be smooth. You can have a few smooth minutes. You can have a smooth resolution, but it is so much more fun when life shows up and it is a train wreck.
AE: Do you think Tandy’s relationship with Rayna will continue to improve?
JH: Well I hope so. You never know what the writers have in store. I love that sisters are complicated little beings. I tried to get that into this story. I do believe the writers and the producers are putting a great show together. For me all I can do is keep slugging away for my character on the show.
I see a relationship between two sisters that have been together through thick and thin. We really love each other. We have had our moments where we have had our falling outs. Yet at the end of the day we are there for each other. Hopefully the writers will make it really complicated to do that. It is sort of the love that bonds the families together. When things hit the fan you are there for each other. You love them no matter what they do. That is the way it should be. I think it is nice to see that on the screen. Life is complicated and you want to show those types of relationships on the show.
AE: We are in the middle of Season 2. What can we expect from your character and the show as well?
JH: What I think that is really fun about this season is that we are going to go deeper. Our show is really fast paced. I love the moments on the show when it slows down a little bit and you get to see the path that a character is traveling on a little bit clearer.
You get to see why they are doing something on the show. We are getting more backstory on everybody. You get to see why Juliette does some of the things that she does on the show? What makes her tick? What is going on with Scarlett? You are going to see people morph on the show. For my character, she is going to try and follow her heart. Her heart has some bruises on it and she might make choices that don’t make sense.
AE: “Nashville” has a great fan following. For you what makes the show work?
JH: I think it is the writing. I think that we have really good writers. I think the songs are really beautiful and they help tell the story as the show goes on. Plus this show has actors that are dedicated to the show. We are not phoning in our performance. We are really trying to be truthful to the characters on the show.
We are spending a lot of time to figure out a scene if need be. We make sure that we get the message out to our audience. If we feel that a scene in not working we will go in another direction. We all are dedicated to get each scene right. We take the time to carefully craft what we are doing on the show. I think when you put it all together fans of the show can see that on the screen. It is like a stew. It is good when all the ingredients come together to make it work. I guess I would call it a Nashville stew.
AE: I know you get this a lot, so forgive me. I was a big fan of your performance in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as April O’Neil. One how many times do you get recognized from that film and two what are some memories you have from your experience on that set?
JH: I have decided that I am totally comfortable that it will be the first thing on my obituary. (Both laugh.) I am not even kidding. I am recognized for that part at least once a day. It is a phenomenon that I didn’t even anticipate. What is really amazing is that is not slowing down. It is weird. It is 23 years later and people love it and talk about as much as they did when the movie came out.
I just had a director write a part for me in a move because he saw me in that film. He was a kid when the film came out. He told me that he watched it over and over again. He reached out to me and said that he wanted to become a director ever since he saw that movie.
I also got interviewed by a film festival in Australia because they are showcasing that film at the festival. They said that the fans are so invested in that movie and it would be an honor to do an interview with me. It was crazy to hear that. I am pleased to see that after 23 years the film is still kicking. It is touching to see people’s reaction to the film and my character.
AE: Was it tough to act with giant turtles all day and did you know about the comics before shooting the film?
JH: It was challenging. At that time we were working with new technology. I got to work with the Henson creature shop. That was amazing. I got to meet Jim Henson. I also met Ryan Henson, who now runs the company. I got to work with Elias Koteas, who is a brilliant actor. It was really fun, but also really hard. The hours were crazy. We were working regularly 15 hours a day. It would sometimes stretch to 17 or 18 hours a day and it was six days a week. That part of it was grueling. We still had fun. We still managed to make a movie that people still like 23 years later. So that is cool.
I didn’t know much about the comics until Robin Williams, who I was working with on another film at that time, told me about the comic books. He was very excited to hear that they were doing a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film. It was cool to see his reaction when he came to the premiere of the film.
AE: You have worked with a great deal of outstanding actors such as Robin Williams, Jason Bateman, and Helen Mirren. What was it like to work with those fellow actors?
JH: Wonderful. I had heard many great things about Helen Mirren. We have mutual friends and they said she was the best. I knew going into the project with her that she was lovely. When I worked with her I realized that she was lovelier than I could have ever imagined. She is very easy to connect with even just as a human being let alone as an actor. We talked about gardening and our mutual friends. After that it pretty much took off from there. Acting with her is the best. She has game. She is a dame with game. (Both laugh.)
Working with Jason (Bateman) was great. He is a dream director for an actor. He knows what he is doing when he is working with actors. He knows what he is doing technically. He is extremely generous. He does not have a big ego. He was such a comrade in arms.
Robin, well he is the best. Like I said he came to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” premiere. That meant a lot to me. He is such a great guy. He is friendly and of course very funny. I am glad that I was able to work with him.
AE: Besides “Nashville” are you working on any other projects?
JH: I just finished up a short called “Destroyer.” We shot that in South Dakota. Shorts are really fun little pieces to do. You can pop them out in a few days. It was with Alan Ruck, who is a wonderful actor. This was the first time we worked together. We had a blast. This was the director who saw me in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and called me up to be in his film. It was a fun project to work on.