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Q&A: Lisa Edelstein of 'House'

Posted 12:36pm on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

If someone had told Lisa Edelstein in Season 1 of House that Drs. Gregory House and Lisa Cuddy would wind up as a romantic couple, it wouldn't have fazed her. "I thought I saw it coming in the pilot," she says. "I felt like they had a complicated relationship and, if the show lasted, it would be a relationship worth exploring. But then it didn't become a story." The actress, who plays the dean of medicine and hospital administrator at Princeton Plainsboro, certainly didn't expect it to take seven years for Cuddy and House (played by Hugh Laurie) to hook up. "Of course, I would have been even more surprised to learn we would have a Season 7," Edelstein admits. "That would have been the real shocker, because it's rare when shows go that long." But House, which airs at 7 p.m. CT Mondays on Fox, is going strong — thanks to a fascinating lead character, insanely unpredictable medical cases and now a compelling office romance.

Is it easy for you and Hugh Laurie to show the level of intimacy that House and Cuddy have?

"We know each other quite well now. We've been working together for seven years. In our line of work, that's like dog years. That's like 49 years. So this kind of intimacy between the characters was an easier thing to do than if it had started from day one, where you have to kind of just jump in and pretend to know each other. So it's been great. If there was anybody that I would have to be intimate with on camera, I really appreciate that it's with somebody that I know and trust as much as I do Hugh."

What do you think House and Cuddy get out of this relationship?

"There's a great history there and, as you get older, that is a really important thing to have with somebody. A sense of time having passed and problems having been conquered, truths having been faced. That really has enormous value. I think for him, she is someone he trusts. He knows that she wants the best for him. He knows that she'll tell him when things have gone too far and then he decides for himself whether he wants to listen. For her, I think it's his intelligence and his brilliance that excite her. Getting attention from a man like that is not an easy thing to achieve and, having achieved it, I think there's kind of a rush of excitement. Whether or not he is ultimately someone she can trust is I think something he still has to prove."

Where do you think the relationship is heading? Where would you like for it to go?

"They're two very complicated people who really want to be together. Whether they can is another thing. But they're going to try as hard as they can. As for what I want, I stay out of it. I would hate to see David Shore (the series' creator and executive producer) reading my opinion about what should happen. I just stay out of it and enjoy the ride."

How has it been working with Candice Bergen, who plays Cuddy's mother?

"Candice is amazing. She's an incredibly bright woman, which just shines right through all the dialogue, and she's really fun to work with. I was really happy to be on set with her, just because I've grown up watching her. It was fun getting to see what it would be like for House to have to deal with a very pushy mom. Having met the character of Cuddy's mom, it's clearer why she would be able to tolerate a guy like House."

What do you think Cuddy’s clothes say about her?

"She's very controlling and so she wears very structured type outfits. Her life is very restricted. She really is all work and very little play. She can't even run fast in those skirts. Everything about what she wears kind of holds her in. She just doesn't have great freedom. She's also a woman and lives most of her life out at the hospital, so she uses that time to go sexy and beautiful."

Last season, you did an episode in which Cuddy was the main focus. What did you get out of the experience?

"I had a great time. Not just because the show was about my character. It also was really fun for me to be the person that's on set the most, setting the pace and the atmosphere on stage, because you really are responsible for that when you're there the most. If you have an attitude or you're tired, it drags everything down. It was fun to have that responsibility and I loved doing it. But, boy, Hugh must be exhausted."

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