Fans of Friday Night Lights – and if you’re a TVLine reader and not a fan, what’s wrong with you? – may recognize Bunheads‘ quirky clothing designer Truly as Mindy Riggins. But while Tyra’s sister had her funny moments on the football drama, no one could have been prepared for Stacey Oristano‘s hilarious performance on the ABC Family series. And to think, it almost didn’t happen!
“When they first auditioned me, I went in for the role of [Michelle’s showgirl friend] Talia,” reveals the actress. “I did an audition and then a callback, and then I had to do a dance call. I was a dancer on Broadway, but [Bunheads] was the hardest dance call I’ve ever done in my life. It was four hours, and I hurt for five days after.” Everything worked out for the best when the casting directors pulled Oristano out of the line and asked her to read for another part – the offbeat shop owner Truly. “I was like, ‘Oh God, yes, please! Does that mean I don’t have to dance anymore?!’”
Oristano, who calls herself “a huge fan” of Gilmore Girls, couldn’t have scripted it any better. “The casting director told me about Bunheads way before the audition,” she says. “It was Amy Sherman-Palladino. It was about ballet. I didn’t picture it at all to be like Gilmore Girls, and when it turned out to be more that way, it made me really happy.”
Now she can speak Sherman-Palladino’s unique, often lengthy banter with ease. But you may have noticed that Truly’s voice is a little different from Mindy’s: It’s inspired by a friend of Oristano’s from high school, who was “so crazy smart… But when she would talk sometimes, she didn’t say consonants. I sometimes channel her with Truly because, for some reason, it just makes me laugh.”
On Monday’s episode (ABC Family, 9/8c), the gal-pal-less Truly will “grab on to whatever she can and force her way into [Talia and Michelle’s] relationship” by vying for the role of Talia’s bridesmaid (check out a video sneak peek below). To top it off, Truly wants to make her own outfit for the big day.
“She designs the dress, and it’s something,” previews Oristano with a laugh. “The costumers made it from scratch. It’s pretty impressive.” (If you’re in Los Angeles and want to see some Truly-esque designs, “There’s a store right by Sunset Junction, and every time I walk by it, I think Truly owns it!” she shares. “There’s all these pattern dresses made out of a certain fabric, but there’s one that has cameras all over it. There’s one that has deer heads all over it.”)
Also coming up for Truly: a reunion with her sister Milly (played by Gilmore Girls‘ Liza Weil) in the season finale — but things are still kind of tense between the siblings. “I don’t know if they’ll ever be best friends,” says Oristano, whose real life relationship with Weil is anything but awkward. (The two have known each other for a while through Oristano’s friend/Weil’s husband, Private Practice‘s Paul Adelstein.)
While the Bunheads cast awaits word on Season 2, Oristano has a pitch for a Friday Night Light spin-off: “It’s a multi-cam, and it’s called The Riggins! It’s me and Billy and we live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, but we have 10 kids. I want to do that show on NBC,” she jokes. “It’s weird – nobody’s biting on my idea.”Follow @VladaGelman