Actress Kari Matchett discusses career and marriage with YourTango.
What's more exciting: starring in a hit show or having a "Welcome to the birthplace of Kari Matchett" sign at the entrance of your hometown?
Having the combination is pretty exciting, because the show gives my sign legitimacy. I didn't come to LA until February, and before that I'd done six television series in Canada and a number of TV movies, and I think my town decided that they wanted to honor me for all my work in Canada. So I got this hilarious and humbling letter saying they wanted to erect this sign. They had a Kari Matchett day. My day still lives in the town.
It's easy to underestimate the differences between Canada and America. As a newcomer to L.A. have you noticed any cultural differences between dating/marriage in the two countries?
I think people are more traditional in the U.S. There's a higher amount of people my age who are married and have children, and they're more entrenched in the nuclear family than they are in Canada.
On Invasion, you play a doctor who may be an alien. In your professional medical opinion, are men really from Mars?
Yes, and from other planets as well. I don't think—no matter how much we try to hone it and define it—we'll ever really know where men come from.
Your show, which deals with the aftermath of a hurricane that may have been a distraction for clandestine alien activity, premiered just a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck. Do you think this has hurt or helped the show?
I think people were so clearly mortified by the horrific events with Katrina. We thought: Why does it happen in the world, and why does our show have to revolve around a hurricane? We didn't want there to be any feeling that we were trying to capitalize on the hurricane. But the show had been shot in March and the airdate had been announced before Katrina. When it finally aired, there was no talk of that. It think the fear was that people would misconstrue our intentions, but I don't think that happened.
On the show, you have a romantic connection with both of the male leads (one is your husband and one is your ex-husband). Have you ever been involved in a real-life love triangle?
When I was three, I was in love with Bradley O. and Bradley W. and it was a mess. These are kids from Spalding. One of them turned out to be gay.
The entertainment industry is famously hard on relationships. You're separated from your husband, director T.W. Peacocke. Why is it so hard for couples to survive in the biz?
I think, number one, it's hard for couples to survive inside or outside the industry. The challenge that all couples face is: Can you weather personal evolution and can you, as a couple, handle all of the changes that you are going to go through? Can you accept that? Can you live with it?
When you decide to get married and spend your life with somebody, these are all things that you can't foresee. Unfortunately, the majority of marriages are unhappy because people don't have the courage to say: "We can't do this anymore."
I think what we see in the entertainment industry is a reflection of what we see happening in society at large, it just has a light shown on it. In the entertainment business, you're put in these hyper-intimate situations really fast and you get to know people really quickly and you get in these situations where you feel you need to do something.
That being said, do you ever think you'll get married again, or do you just have it in your head that you'll walk away?
I won't always walk away. I wouldn't walk away unless I felt it was necessary. I don't know about the institution of marriage, to be honest with you. I don't know if I'll get married again. We'd have to have a real simpatico understanding of what it was before we did. As much as I loved my husband and still do, I had a lot of preconceptions about being married. But once I was doing it, I realized it wasn't the marriage, it was the relationship that makes the bond strong. Why do we all rush into this thing we call marriage? I think having a strong relationship is a success. It's not whether you get married or stay married.
Did you ever hesitate to join an industry where your physical appearance can make or break your career?
Honestly, my opinion is you buy into it or you don't buy into it. I know a lot of actors who are not typically beautiful and they are huge successes and huge creative forces, and I think originality and being who you are is more important than the outside. I don't think there's any longevity in a career when you approach your work from the outside in. My favorite actors are the ones who have not had plastic surgery, who are not overly obsessed with being thin. I love Meryl Streep. She's so transcendental because of who she is. I think you buy into it or you don't buy into it, and you're therefore surrounded by people who buy into it or don't. I've never had a discussion with any producer about weight or looks. Not once ever.
Billy Baker is a freelance journalist in Boston.