Please explain what just happened.

I celebrated a great review by eating an awesome burrito and watching Lost with my friend Josh… it was a fantastic night.


What is your earliest memory?

Lying to my mom about picking one of her snap dragon flowers, one of those little flowers that kinda look like a finger puppet, and you can make them talk if you squeeze their sides.  She told me not to pick them, and then I did, and lied about it, and then cried because I had lied, and I confessed.


If you weren’t an actor what other profession would you choose?

Something to do with animals?  Maybe a professional puppy handler, or a kitten lover, professionally or something.  Does that exist?


Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

Lots of soy products: soy milk, soy hot dogs, soy bacon, tofu, those little round saucer squash, asparagus, kale, many kinds of delicious cheese that really stink, and a bunch of left-overs that should be thrown out.


What verb best describes you?

Depict…or eat.  The verb “to eat.”  Yeah.


What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

I would try to explain to myself that everything was actually okay, even though it didn’t feel like it, and that everything I was feeling was normal.  Maybe I would also give myself a letter that predicts everything that was going to happen in my 29th year or so, and tell myself to keep it sealed, and open it on my 30th birthday and bet all of my friends that it couldn’t be real, and try to make some money from that somehow.


What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

I do yogic breathing techniques.  And I just try not to judge myself for feeling freaked out.  I say to myself, “Oh hey — look at that, I’m freaking out a little bit… isn’t that interesting.”  Somehow that works.



Define “success.”

I have no idea what success is or looks like.  I have worked toward some big goals recently, and they are coming to fruition, which feels successful.  But of course, in reality nothing ever feels like what you would expect it to feel like.  And the next and bigger goals just keep showing up.  That’s the game, I guess.  Right?


From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

I find inspiration in every member of my family, each of whom is completely their own person, and works on being thoughtful and creative everyday.  And I find inspiration in all of my friends, and my husband, all of whom are working toward living life as an artist everyday.


What change do you want to be in the world?

I can’t begin to answer this.  I fear for our world, and our humanity, and the planet.  And I hope that we can begin to come together more as one people and work toward healing.  That just got really “We are the World.”   Sorry.

Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.

I suppose I have given in and am now pro… But for a long time I resisted.  I still can’t do LOLs or anything like that.  That’s just too far.


How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

My husband was in a movie called Hot Rod that did a silly homage to Kevin Bacon’s Footloose dance moves.  We saw him in a restaurant once and mentioned it to him, and he had heard about it, and was a really good sport.


What makes you feel most guilty?

Wasting time…yet I do it all the time.


Please list three things you never leave home without.

My Metro-card, hopefully my keys, and probably shoes, but sometimes not.



What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

To have a back-up plan.


What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

To not have a back-up plan?


What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

I am very sensitive to betrayal… it’s my Libra-ness.  Someone wronging my loved ones really really makes me mad.  To a probably unhealthy level.


Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

Probably The Price is Right, because if you don’t know the price of fabric softener, you don’t come off as dumb or uninformed or anything, you just seem like you don’t soften your clothing.  If I went on Jeopardy, everyone would find out that I don’t know anything about geography, and couldn’t pick most countries out on a map.  I don’t want anyone to know that about me!  Anyone!


What do you want to know?

Everything… I would love to be one of those really informed people who knows a fair amount about every subject and could go on Jeopardy with total confidence.  Did we talk about game shows yet?   Because that would be a good question.



What would you like your last words to be?

“I knew it!”  Or maybe:  “Bring me my crown!”  Or how about:  “The secret to life is–”


Please explain what will happen.

Most likely, I will end up wide awake at 3:30 am even though I promised myself I would go to bed by 1:30 or 2.  I will be a little mad at myself, but I will also feel like, Whatever, I deserve it… I can do whatever I want — I’m a grown-up.  The back-and-forth might go on til 3:45 and then I’ll take a melatonin and go to bed.

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MARIELLE HELLER is a classically trained actress whose passion is new work. She studied Theatre at UCLA and at RADA in London and has been in numerous world class productions. She was in the world premiere of David Edgar’s Continental Divide directed by Tony Taccone (TIME magazine’s theater event of the year; Berkeley Rep, Birmingham Rep in England, the Barbican Theater on the West End, and the La Jolla Playhouse). She played Ophelia in Hamlet (2100 Sq Feet in LA), Cordelia in King Lear (San Diego Rep), Hero in Much Ado (Theatricum Botanicum) and worked at ACT (San Francisco). She has worked with American Zoetrope and Francis Ford Coppola on the development of new films.

Since arriving in New York, she has starred in Madelyn Kent’s Peninsula (at the Obie Award winning SoHo Rep), in Sa Ka La by Jon Fosse with Oslo Elsewhere and directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde, in Kristen Palmer’s Local Story (Overlap Productions), and performed in Suzan-Lori Park’s 365Plays/Days (at the Public Theater with New Georges Theater), as well as for the Public’s own final week.

She has worked toward the development of numerous new plays, working hand in hand with playwrights at Cherry Lane, Naked Angels, Clubbed Thumb, Ensemble Studio Theater, the Chocolate Factory, the Committee Theater, Six Figures, The Fringe and others. She is proud to be an affiliated artist of New Georges.

One response to “21 Questions with Marielle Heller”

  1. Gil Alan says:

    I loved this piece. I just recently became aware of Mairelle from The Queens Gambit – she’s an exceptional actress. But when I found out she was also a fine director I became a true fan!

    I’m developing an anthology TV series and I would love for her to direct some of the episodes as well as star in one of them.

    Time to find her agent!

    Thanks for this post

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