It was comforting to have work, so I was able to just let it go and feed it back into Megan. And I was already there. By my third day of filming, I was able to tell the showrunners, “I know you think Megan is this, but I think she’s that.”
What do you mean?
What I could bring to Megan is how I felt turning 50, how I felt having hormonal imbalances. You question everything. If you’re not happy, if you don’t have happiness around you, you’re going to go out and buy a new car, or in Megan’s case, you’re going to start working for North Korea. [Laughs] Something is going to manifest itself.
I wanted Megan to be too eager to participate. Everyone else is young, except her. My character is trying her hardest to be the person in charge, to be mature, but she wants to be Cassie, as messed up as Cassie is. I wanted Megan’s nervousness and anxiety to be conveyed through her smile, or asking, “What’s going on with Cassie?” Usually when you make suggestions like that, you get pushback, but the showrunners said OK to this idea. I was like: “Oh my god! Thank you!” Because what rational 50-year-old woman would idolize Cassie? She’s a train wreck! And that was the whole point.
Is that how the “invisible woman” speech came about? Did they incorporate the idea into the script?
I remember Steve Yockey going, [imitates a teasing singsong voice], “You’re going to love Episode 8.” When I got the script, I couldn’t stop crying. I remember calling Steve, sobbing, saying, “Thank you, thank you.” I didn’t ask them to write it in. They just actually listened to what I was saying and doing.
That scene happened to be my last day of shooting. I was so filled with emotion, and I looked at Kaley, and she said: “Don’t do it, Perez. Don’t you cry yet! You’re going to make me cry!” We both started laughing. Then we both sat down on the bed. We didn’t discuss how we were going to do that scene. They said, “Action!” and bam! We got it on the first take. It was magic.
When I get these kinds of chances as an actor, it just fills my heart with joy. I told my husband: “I’m going to work so hard on this show. I don’t even care if no one sees it.” He said, “That makes no sense.” I said: “It does, though. I did this one for myself.” If people enjoy it, that’s just icing on the cake with a cherry on top because there have been multiple times where I was never recognized for my work. To be recognized now, at my age, for something that I did just for the art of it all? That really moves me. It’s like when my husband goes, “Yeah, but you were nominated for an Emmy before,” and I go, “Yeah, but this is for acting.”