Megan Hilty Teases Smash's Mother of a Twist, More Ivy/Karen Drama and Marilyn's First Ouster

This Monday on Smash (NBC, 10/9c), it’s time for Marilyn: The Musical to stage its workshop presentation for potential backers, and it’s literally a hot ticket. Not to mention, Tony winner Bernadette Peters is on hand as Ivy’s mighty talented momma, Leigh Conroy, adding to the ingenue’s existing anxiety. TVLine invited Megan Hilty to preview Marilyn‘s first bow, the Ivy/Karen drama to come and a twist that threatens to cut the show’s cast by one.

TVLINE | When I spoke to you in January, we discussed how that phone call home in the pilot gave the sense that Ivy’s mother is not her biggest cheerleader. But if Leigh is a performer herself, why is she dismissive of her daughter’s talent?
There could be a lot of reasons – competition, mainly. I’ve never experienced it myself, but it’s a very interesting relationship. I’m sure it’s very difficult when a mother and daughter are in the same field, especially one that requires a lot of attention. [Laughs] I think that’s what puts a lot of strain on them.

TVLINE | And as we see, Mom isn’t shy about letting loose with a tune or making a grand entrance.
Yeah. [Laughs] I mean, it’s kind of hard when you’ve got your big chance [to headline a musical], and then your mother comes in and steals the spotlight from you. That explains a lot about their dynamic.

TVLINE | Was it a bit bittersweet for you, as an actress/singer, having to spend the episode mostly glaring at Bernadette Peters, when internally you probably adore her?
I am such a huge fan of hers! It was the greatest performance of my life because I had to pretend I wasn’t thoroughly enjoying myself.

Matt’s Inside Line: Smash Scoop on Ivy’s Unexpected Relationship With [Spoiler]

TVLINE | What sort of curves will be thrown as the workshop arrives this week?
There are a lot of elements in play. One in particular is the [studio's malfunctioning] heat – which actually happens a lot, surprisingly. It seems like a random thing, but that happened to a friend of mine who was doing a workshop last week, and the heat was blasting. Everybody was miserable and nobody could enjoy the show. So they have that working against them, Eileen can’t seem to get anybody interested in showing up….

TVLINE | Do Ivy and Derek at least make nice? She gave him quite an earful last week.
They come back together certainly, but he is a majorly distracting factor for her, and she’s already got a lot on her plate. She’s got the person who is, like, going after her part constantly in her face, she’s dating the director who isn’t always so nice to her, and her mother’s there trying to steal the spotlight…. And it’s hot.

TVLINE | That said, Derek does seem to have his genuine-ish moments with Ivy. Do you think there are real, deep feelings on his part?
Oh, absolutely. What they have is very real. It’s a very unconventional relationship, because they’re very strong personalities, but they both seem to get something out of this – and it’s not necessarily work-related. At first I thought maybe they were using each other, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. It’s turned into something much bigger than that.

Matt’s Inside Line: Scoop on Trouble in Smash Paradise

TVLINE | Turning to Ivy and Karen – are things between them going to get worse before they get better? You’ve been playing relatively nice so far….
They’re going to get really bad, and then they’re going to get really nice… and then they’re going to get really bad again. [Laughs] The only thing you can count on is that it’s going to go up and down. But they do have some really nice moments together; it’s just a very complicated relationship.

TVLINE | Without naming names, it would seem that Marilyn: The Musical, following the workshop, is down a cast member by the end of the episode. Will that stick?
Wellll… [Laughs] I can tell you, firsthand from doing these workshops in real life, that people come and go all the time. And just because you have a part today doesn’t mean that you’ll have it tomorrow. And people do get rehired if they can’t find the right person to replace them.

TVLINE | Do you have a favorite Smash performance number to date?
I love doing all the music numbers, because they represent everything I love to do in one job, so it’s hard to pick one. But it has to be “Lets Be Bad,” which was so much fun to shoot.

TVLINE | Obviously Smash, with so many Broadway vets on its creative team, gets a lot of things right. But is there anything, in your qualified opinion, that’s ever just a bit off?
Like you said, there are so many people involved with the show that are from this world, you can’t help but keep it very authentic. That being said, we are not doing a reality show. Much like ER probably didn’t show exactly what goes on surgical procedures, we do take dramatic liberties with things – and some things are based off of wild stereotypes. But that’s what makes for good drama!

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21 Comments
  1. barbara says:

    I love Bernadette Peters!!! so awesome that she will be on the show – more reasons to love it.
    I’m glad that Derek cares for Ivy. I wasn’t expecting that!

  2. Danielle H says:

    Good interview! She is so likeable, it makes me want to root for Ivy for another week, lol.

  3. Kirandeep says:

    I think the she hopes that IVy and derek connect but looks at the chemistry on the show it’s going to be all about DEREK AND KAREN!

  4. Carla says:

    Aaaah, that sounds amazing!!! I’m glad to hear her opinion on the Derek-Ivy relationship, because I think it’s way more interesting if he actually cares about her and is just being a prick in spite of it. More interesting, less cliche. And the heat blasting, that sucks, hahaha. Can’t wait for Smash tomorrow! Go team Ivy :)

  5. yeah says:

    Megan and Jack have no chemistry.It’s been a big problem for me. The writers need to cut that relationship loose pronto and let those characters do more interesting things.

  6. lisa says:

    I hate Ivy. Not because she is bitchy. I usually like bitchy characters. I hate her because she is annoying as hell and whines about everything.

  7. Callie says:

    Great interview. Thank you! I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s show with Bernadette.

    I also find her comments on Derek interesting. I was initially really into the couple but was somewhat turned off with how the dynamic was played in the past few episodes even though I think they still have terrific chemistry. It’ll be interesting to see how the aftermath of last week plays out.

    I kind of hate the dueling divas theme so I would rather see Karen and Ivy play nice sooner rather than later.

  8. SallyinChicago says:

    I have tried to like this show, but it’s not catching fire with me. But Megan Hilty is spectacular.

    The persons who are ingratiating my nerves are the Kat McPhee character and Debra Messing character. They are so annoying — or boring — and add nothing to the show. But the show’s story line is getting a bit repetitious and boring to me anyway.

  9. jc says:

    Looking forward to more Karen/Ivy scenes – I feel the 2 of them together should be more integral to the show, and I enjoyed their one diva-ish showdown so far. So far they have felt too far removed from each other. I also want Karen to have more to do – I like her character but she hasn’t been involved with the musical aspect of the show enough. Plus I wish the writers would make her less passive. I get that’s her character in contrast to Ivy, and that she’s a lot more chilled out about stuff I guess, but it can come across on tv as a little boring.

  10. Titina says:

    Thanks for this.. BUT I gotta say.

    I am bit bummed that that Derek/Ivy relationship is gonna continue for so long. I just don´t like to watch them together. Something is off, their chemistry is just OK, but nothing special.

    I must confess that I was expecting Derek and Karen to hook up in the future instead.
    Jack Davenport and Kat Mcphee have sizzling chemistry on their scenes together. Hope the writers and producers don´t waste that! Maybe Karen and Derek will get together on Season 2? I sure hope so.

  11. Magically Suspicious says:

    I change my mind at least three times every episode as to whether I’m Team Ivy or Team Karen.

  12. SMASH! says:

    Love Smash. Will you interview Katharine McPhee too? Will Karen be part of an exciting storyline soon? She has been in the background lately and I barely saw her in the promos for the next episode.

  13. smasher says:

    I don’t get why people want Karen and Derek to get together? She thinks he’s a jerk, so I can’t see it happening! Plus the Derek/Ivy relationship is bad enough. The writers have given us no indication of why they even like each other! Anyway, I’m definitely excited we get to see some more Karen and Ivy stuff. I like the contrast of the 2 characters so it’ll be good to see them having some more scenes together. Not that I trust the writers to do a good job of it! Enemies to bffs to enemies again sounds ominous, lol! Plus agree about Karen needing more to do. Actually not even necessarily more to do. Just smtg other than the sing a song sideplot she gets lumped with every week. Getting tedious. I feel they chose the Marilyn too soon.

  14. Lisa says:

    Derek and Ivy’s relationship does not seem real to me and that’s probably partly due to the fact that these two actors have zero chemistry. I think Derek and Karen have more chemistry and Karen would have made a better Marilyn. Ivy’s character just annoys me but I am looking forward to seeing Bernadette Peters – she’s amazing!

  15. sam2shoes says:

    I like the show and am glad to see network TV doing something different but Megan Hilty annoys the hell out of me. I don’t know what it is. They should have cast someone else to play Ivy. Hilty might be decent on the broadway stage but it just doesn’t translate well on TV.

  16. Rjrtist says:

    Writing for the characters is still causing a problem. Why is Angelica Huston reminding me of Morticia? Smash needs more sex appeal.

  17. CheriRae says:

    I love this show and Bernadette Peters is going to make it even better! There’s certainly enough of a resemblance to make the relationship believable!

  18. Turnitup says:

    Sounds like the typical over-bearing, competitive performer mom character we have seen a thousand times before. Despite a unique setting for a television show, SMASH sure likes to stock itself with tired tv cliches, starting with the temperamental horn dog British director, and from there… well take your pick.

  19. I really like Smash and looking forward to the rest of the season , I really hope that NBC does what is needed to let the audience / show develop.

  20. G-Mom says:

    I am on Team Karen! Megan seems like a nice person, but I don’t like Ivy. She is a “B” who got the part because she slept with the director! He put the moves on Karen and she shot him down. (Way to go, Karen!) Plus Karen has a voice more like Marilyn (she DOES have power, tho). Ivy has more of an Ethel Mermanish voice that blows windows out (almost). Marilyn’s voice was not like that. Actually she didn’t have that good a voice anyway. I know in the real world actresses get the job by way of the “casting couch”, but it would be nice to see the “understudy” get the job this time. I sure hope it doesn’t go to season 2! Unless they do another play. This is just dragging along……..

  21. davey says:

    Oh My God….thank you for saying this! I’ve been reading for weeks how amazing Ivy is and how AWFUL Karen is and I’m like….what? Everything Ivy does is so over the top FAKE that her character drives me nuts. Maybe it’s the “actor” thing – some of my best friends are actors and everything is always about them!

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