In the end, Martha Masters just couldn’t play House. Yes, on Monday, Amber Tamblyn’s season-long run on Fox’s medical drama came to an end when her by-the-books character spent a painful day playing by Dr. Crankypants’ rules — in other words, none. While the PYMD’s fate was left up in the air, Tamblyn’s next step is pretty much set in stone: The Joan of Arcadia alum is developing a new Fox series with House exec Katie Jacobs and The Wire co-creator Ed Burns that will find her playing a public school teacher. Just hours before her swan song aired, the actress explained why she opted to not permanently call House home and revealed what Hugh Laurie did that brought her to tears. (No, the nice kind of tears… You’ll see.)
TVLINE | Do you think House drove Masters out of the medical profession or just Princeton-Plainsboro?
That’s a good question. It’s left open… I think she is going to still practice [medicine]. At the end of the day, she just couldn’t do what House does.
TVLINE | House creator David Shore has made no secret of the fact that he would’ve loved to have kept you around full-time. At what point did you decide you were going to leave to pursue this new series with Ed Burns and Katie Jacobs?
I’ll be perfectly honest. The three of us – me, Katie Jacobs and David Shore – were talking about doing something together. That was the original situation. And it just seemed kind of impossible for David to be working on more than one incredible show [at the same time]… I didn’t really want to separate myself from either one of them. I think they’re both so fantastic. But realistically, we knew it was not going to be able to work out that way, so Katie and I got his blessing and went and did our own thing… Thirteen episodes was always what I signed up to do. That was the plan all along. I never had any intention of staying longer than 13 episodes. That got really emotionally difficult toward the end because I didn’t want to go. But Katie and I fell in love with this other project and I knew the time was right.
TVLINE | Was there ever a moment when you considered sticking around?
I don’t think I could’ve. I like to jump around a lot. I feel this way a lot about projects. I felt this way about Joan of Arcadia, because people were really upset about that ending and they always ask and I always say, “I think it’s better to have two really fantastic seasons of television than… Who knows what would’ve happened after that?” I don’t like to get comfortable where I am. I think it’s dangerous to be too comfortable in what you’re doing.
TVLINE | Which of your House castmates will you still be friends with five years from now?
All of them. I text all of them almost every day. Peter Jacobson does not save my number, so I’ll text him something and he’ll be like, “Who is this?!” And I’m like, “Your worst nightmare, jerk.” Even Olivia [Wilde]. I only worked with her for a week but she’s so awesome. We’ve been texting back and forth. We’re going to try to do dinner next time she’s in town. I really had a Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz moment. I felt like I was coming out of some amazing dream that I’m sad is ending. But I’m also excited because I get to take one of those people from the dream and make a new dream.
TVLINE | Did you get a nice send-off?
Hugh Laurie asked me if I wanted to go get drinks after work one day, and I said, “I’d love to.” So I put on my best red lipstick and went to meet him for drinks and he had rented out a restaurant and thrown me a big surprise going-away party. Everybody was there. It was like this whole sit-down dinner. And Hugh gave this really sweet speech about us working together. I was in tears. It blew my mind. And this was on a work night too. I think that’s a pretty rad send-off… No one’s ever done that for me. I called my boyfriend afterwards crying because I was really touched by it, especially since I’m not a main cast member.