CSI was the first gig Kebbel booked after moving to Los Angeles at 17. In the Season 3 episode “Forever,” her character is listed merely as “Right Teen.” “I remember the day that I was filming, my friends were back in Florida, going to prom,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘This is the path I chose. I’m doing what I want to get to do my way, and they’re getting to do what they want to do their way.” She adds with a laugh: “My high school prom was on set at CSI!” Two years later, she had a more substantial role in an episode of the CBS drama’s spinoff, CSI: Miami.
The anxiety Kebbel felt about auditioning to play Dean’s wife, Lindsay, was nothing compared to when the very green actress actually had to show up on set and do her thing opposite Jared Padalecki. “My first day of filming was in the ice skating rink. It was where Jared and I kissed, and I was so nervous.” Though the newbie tried to play it off, her mom — on set with her at the time — blew everything. “She, of course, told him. She’s like, ‘Take care of my girl. It’s her first kiss,'” Kebbel recalls, laughing. “I was like, ‘MOTHER!'” (For the record, it was only Kebbels first on-screen smooch — “Thank God,” she adds. “That would be a double-whammy.”)
LAW & ORDER: SVU
If you’ve read previous Memories From the Set posts, you’ve noticed a common theme when it comes to the remaining L&O spinoff: Its cast is a welcoming group of people. Kebbel’s experience — playing a mean girl/possible murderer in a Season 5 episode was no different. “Mariska [Hargitay], for example, was so warm and kind and wanted to know about me,” she says. “To this day, I have a fondness for her. She exuded this warmth on set I think is really rare.”
The bro-tastic HBO series’ pilot afforded executive producer Mark Wahlberg (who was on set when Kebbel was shooting) and star Kevin Dillon the perfect opportunity to pull a fast one on the young actress. The way the scene was supposed to go: Kebbel would jump into a pool, swim underwater and then surface next to Dillon’s float. “Apparently, they had worked it out before we were rolling that this take, Wahlberg thought it would be really funny for Kevin to surprise me and kiss me. So I pop my head up from the water, getting ready to say hi to him on his raft, and the next thing I know, his mouth is on my mouth. [Laughs] I remember thinking, ‘What is going on? Why is his mouth on mine?’ The cameras are still rolling, so I guess, ‘Go with it girl!'” Though the guys apologized after and it was all in good fun, Kebbel says she’s always looking for some good-natured revenge now that she’s working on Ballers, a show the Ted star executive-produces. “Come Season 2, I have to find some way to get him back. I never forget, Wahlberg! Get ready!”
Kebbel’s time on the HBO vampire drama sure didn’t suck, starting right from the table read. “The entire cast was there, [creator] Alan Ball was there, the producers were there, and everyone gave it their all,” she says. “Almost every actor came up to me when we were done and introduced themselves and welcomed me to the show. I have to say, that has <I>not</I> been my experience all the time.” Too bad for Kebbel, her character — Sam’s shady lady Charlene — didn’t make it out of the episode alive.
Vanessa’s defining accident —a fall from a balcony — was even more dangerous than you thought, Kebbel says. When her stunt double went over the railing, “we were all looking on the monitor. She actually hit the wall and kept flipping,” the actress remembers. When she landed, the set was terrified and everything was silent… until “we saw her standing up and cheering and showing us she was OK,” Kebbel says, adding that the moment gave her a new respect for those on the stunt crew. “The truth is, they’re risking their lives every day to help us tell a story.”
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
Here’s Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec pitching Lexi to Kebbel, as she remembers it: “They were like, ‘She’s super fun, she’s super smart, she’s super funny. She makes Stefan smile. She’s the only one that get to him. We’re going to see how much life they’ve lived together… and then at the very end, Damon’s gonna kill you. It’s gonna be awesome!'” She chuckles. “I remember being on the phone like, ‘Awesome, huh? Me dying?’ But Julie and Kevin are so awesome, I was like, ‘Guys I have to do this. Yes. You sold me. I’ll have to get over the death part, but I’m in.'”
At the moment, Kebbel doesn’t know if her dating-show villain Britney will return for the buzzy series’ second season, but take heart: She didn’t know she’d be back after the pilot, either. “I was thrilled. I was like, ‘I can’t wait to see what people think when Britney storms in again!'” she says. To that end, she says she’d love to “stir up some trouble” in Everlasting‘s next iteration. “It’s really going to be in the scheduling and where they decide to take Season 2.”
Kebbel’s Ballers alter ego Tracy “had a lot to prove” right from the start of the HBO series, she says. “I got that, and I connected with that. I’m excited to show more of that in Season 2.” Expect to see even more of the hard-driving reporter when Ballers returns: Kebbel has been promoted to series regular for the show’s second season.