Memories From the Set
Detour Preview Natalie Zea

Natalie Zea Talks Playing The Detour's Hot 'Mess,' Revisits Dirty Sexy Money, Eyes, Justified, POI and Other Roles

With TBS’ The Detour (airing Mondays at 9/8c and already renewed for Season 2), Natalie Zea is enjoying a detour into comedy, after a string of roles on dramas that ranged from sudsy to serious to, well, serial killery.

Describing it as a mix of National Lampoon’s Vacation (obviously) and Little Miss Sunshine, The Detour “has a real indie feel to it,” Zea offers. Jason Jones — who co-created the series with Samantha Bee (and plays hapless husband Nate) — “has created this tone that you don’t see much on television,” Zea says, “and I think that’s what people are responding to as being really fresh.”

As Robin and Nate, The Detour Jason JonesZea and Jones (barely) mind a pair of kids as they make an impetuous drive from Syracuse, N.Y. to Ft. Lauderdale. Already, in last week’s sneak preview, there was a “life event” for daughter Delillah (and in the most unexpected of places), as well as accusations of no less than child abduction. But whereas the Vacation movies spring almost entirely off of Clark Griswold’s buffoonery, Zea’s Robin is far from being the straight arrow who “blows her bangs up” at her husband’s antics. (In this week’s episode, for example, she gets way too stoned at too wrong a time, setting the stage for, among other things, an improvised hotel jig set to Muzak.)

“I was so attracted to her,” Zea says, “because when I read the pilot, not only had I not read anything like this, but I certainly hadn’t read anything like this that was being offered to me. I’m always sort of the ‘go-to support,’ and she gets to be the mess while Jason is more of the straight man. zea-detour-ordainedIt felt like such a home run.”

Also on the itinerary for Robin is her getting ordained by an online ministry, only to have her best of intentions “end up s—ting all over her,” Zea previews with a laugh. “This show is pretty boundary-pushing, but that episode in particular was like, ‘Oh my God, are we really doing this??'”

On the occasion of Zea’s head-first dive into raucous comedy, TVLine invited the actress to revisit some of her past roles, from her Harmony-ous soap debut to the Southern-fried drama that holds a “soft spot” in her heart.

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  1. A. D. says:

    Just love her!

  2. Andrea says:

    Dirty Sexy Money…a casualty of the writers’ strike. Sigh. I really liked that show.

  3. Wordsmith says:

    To this day, I still remember how much I enjoyed Eyes. I really don’t understand why it didn’t catch on.

  4. Jack says:

    There is some severe Ombré going on with her current hairstyle. I loved the Dirty Sexy Money look.

  5. JosiahBartlet4President says:

    Whenever I see that red banner, I always think it’s breaking news that something bad happened.

  6. bigdede says:

    She’s come a long way since Passions! I LOVED Dirty Sexy Money. The first season was pure brilliance. Then they had to switch up the second season and have her fall in love with Blair Underwood character and turn her into a weepy heiress instead of the bish she was first season. Then the Lucy Lu character was unnecessary. They basically turned the family into a bunch of cry babies and victims.

  7. Nero tTVFiddler says:

    Great article Matt!! I wish there were more articles like this where the actor/actress gets a chance to walk back down memory lane and give us fans insights into what was going down on the set and series. Nice work!

    For me, ‘Eyes’ was ‘the one that got away’ – I loved that show, even the very little of it that we got before it was canceled by ABC. I remember (fall 2005?) ‘Eyes’ debuted along with Lost and Desperate Housewives, with Grey’s coming soon after in winter. I thought ABC had hit the jackpot, and they did, but letting ‘Eyes’ go so soon was (IMHO) a mistake. However, ABC may have felt they had so many really good rookie dramas that season, that they could afford to be particular.. and perhaps careless, in their cancellations.

    Natalie Zea’s role in Dirty Sexy Money was the best part of that show; and her stint on Californication was very memorable… great work on a wonderfully subversive show.

    Fine actress and lovely woman. I am watching Detour each week, and Ms. Zea is the reason.