Working in the film and TV industry since 1990, actress Alanna Ubach has never met a role she would pass up just to say she’s being more selective.
“Do I usually say yes to things I get offered? Absolutely,” Ubach, 35, told me during an exclusive interview. “I love to work. It keeps you honest. I just don’t know what some of these actors that say they turn things down do during the day. What the hell do they do?! I’d drive myself nuts!”
In “Bad Teacher,” the 39th feature film of her career, Ubach, who has starred in such movies as “Legally Blonde” and “Meet the Fockers,” plays Angela, a woman working in a plastic surgeon’s front office where Cameron Diaz’s character Elizabeth Halsey visits to inquire about getting a certain part of her anatomy increased in size.
During our interview, Ubach, who is half Mexican and half Puerto Rican, explained why she could never be a teacher and why she rarely watches her own performances.
Tell me about “Bad Teacher” and how you got involved.
I have a couple of funny little scenes in it. It’s a gig that was actually given to me by the great casting directors of the pilot I just did this year called “Little in Common.” They also cast me in [the HBO series] “Hung.” They needed someone to do a couple of scene in “Bad Teacher.” I had never worked with Cameron Diaz before. I thought it would be fun.
Does Cameron Diaz still have the chops to pull off this kind of comedy?
Oh, she’s hilarious in this. It’s the Cameron Diaz we love from the old days when she came out in “There’s Something About Mary.” In this movie, she’s just a modern girl that just happens to fall into teaching.
How do you think a movie like “Bad Teacher” can help answer some of the problems with the educational system we are currently having in this country? Of course, I’m not really serious when I ask that.
Well, it’s no “Stand and Deliver.” I’m sure it is making a comment on the times. Would they have been able to get away with making a movie like this back in the 40s or 50s? I don’t think so.
Is there such a thing as a bad teacher or are there only bad students?
Oh, I have a story to tell you about that. I was cheating on a test in high school. I was a big cheater back then. It was a world history test and the teacher, who was really good, grabbed the cheat sheet from under my desk, stapled it to my test, and threatened to expel me. He would’ve expelled me but the man actually had a heart attack and died that night. Everyone was in shock when the principal announced it the next morning. But the first thing that went through my head was, “Well, I guess I’m not going to be expelled after all!” Isn’t that horrible? So, yes, in that case I would consider myself a bad student.
Have you ever taught anyone anything before?
Yes, I was actually an acting teacher for a while. My best friend owns an acting studio now. I helped her for a while, but it wasn’t for me. I had to get up early and I’m not a morning person. You really have to be a morning person if you want to be a teacher. I’m a night owl. Maybe I could teach night classes.
What do you think about that saying, “Those who can’t do, teach?”
I say those who can’t do probably teach physical education to problem kids. I think that’s what the saying should be changed to.
Along with you’re movie roles, we’ve had the chance to see you on the TNT show “Men of a Certain Age.” What has your experience been like working with an actor like Ray Romano?
He’s great and is so down to earth. He’s a lovely family man. Success and notoriety couldn’t have happened to a better dude. It’s funny because I haven’t even seen this season of the show.
Do you not like to watch yourself on screen?
If I watch myself I would drive myself and my boyfriend crazy. He’d be like, “Alanna, shut up already!” I’d be like, “I’m so short! I can’t believe how short I am!” I try to stay away from seeing half the stuff I do. It would bring out the worst in me.