Larisa Oleynik ('The Secret World of Alex Mack')
'The Mack Is Back In Town!'
'The Secret World of Alex Mack' was an American television series that ran on Nickelodeon from October 8, 1994 to January 15, 1998, replacing 'Clarissa Explains It All' on the SNICK line-up.
Alexandra "Alex" Mack (Larisa Oleynik) was the titular star of the show. Having developed superpowers in a freak chemical spill accident, Alex is hardly what one would call an "average" girl. Generally caring and friendly, although somewhat naïve at times, Alex struggles to get through life in the only way she can.
Now being released for the very first time on DVD, 'The Secret World of Alex Mack - Season One' will be on your shelves October 2nd from RHI Entertainment.
Chatting recently with star Larisa Oleynik (Alex Mack), and knowing that this first season of 'The Secret World of Alex Mack' is soon to be out in the stores, I first wondered what her memories were of those 70 episodes spread from 1994 to 1998?
Larisa Oleynik "Was that when the show first premiered in 1994?", she laughs. "Wow, that was a long time ago. The whole thing was really a blur for me. I had no idea what I was in store for. I auditioned for it like I did everything else. I was in L.A. with my mom for pilot season and so I was just going to one after the other. And things just kept getting closer for 'Alex Mack' and then I ended up booking it. It was just all very surreal. And then I went back to school for a while and then we filmed the first episode," she laughs again.
"I honestly don't think I knew what I was getting myself into. I had no idea it was going to be so popular. Not because I didn't think that it was quality but just because you don't think about those things when you're 13. I wasn't a very calculated career woman back at that age," she laughs.
A lot is being made of the fact that this was Jessica Alba’s first TV exposure, but she only appeared in 3 episodes back in this first season. Although she was indeed in the first debut episode, all these years on do you honestly remember working alongside her? "I think she was in the pilot which we shot twice. We shot the pilot once and then we re-did it for the actual first episode. It was the same episode but we shot it twice after it was picked up. So, because she was in the first couple she's very much a part of that season. But she left to go do another show. And we all hung out because we were all the same age, but I was really close with the girl who played my sister, Meredith."
"We all hung out and as we were right there by Magic Mountain I even think we all went a couple of times. You throw a bunch of kids together and you just hang out," she giggles.
When the 'Secret World of Alex Mack' is released on DVD will you sit down to watch it all these years later?! "Oh yeah, I'll watch it," she replies adamantly. "But I doubt that I'll be paying attention to things like, 'Well, I could have read that line differently'," she again laughs, "because I was just pretty much being myself. But, we did have a couple of tapes of the show that are still in a box in the basement at my mom's house. And so I did, a couple of years ago after it had been a while since the show had been off the air; since it had really stopped being a part of me, go back and watch a couple of episodes. And it was so much fun to watch it having the chapter in my life closed a little bit. And not have the attachment to it and just be able to watch it as a TV show and be entertained by it. And I just said, 'This was a great kids show'," she laughs. "This was great."
I know there was some mild controversy surrounded the depiction of you naked in the pilot episode as in when you’re turned into a liquid, leaving your clothes behind, therein leaving you nude! Now, I know you were very well concealed behind some boxes, but were you aware at the time of what was being said … and did that influence the fact that in all episodes on from there your clothes would morph and reform with you?! "Although I don't remember there being any controversy about it, I remember being mortified! I was just really embarrassed, being that I was 12 or 13 or whatever. I had this towel wrapped around me or something and was behind some boxes. I was so, so embarrassed. They did then end up changing that ... which was a good thing," she laughs loudly. "I knew that they did it, but at the time I wasn't thinking it was because of me!"
In the final scene, indeed the last shot of the final episode, it shows you holding the full vial and smiling to herself, leaving it ambiguous as to whether or not you intended to take it. Thoughts? "You know, I never ... and I don't know what acting teachers would say about this, 'cause you're always supposed to have a choice ... but I never made that choice for myself when we were doing it. Just because I wasn't sure how I wanted the show to end in my mind."
Sooooo, once and for all, do you think you took it?! "Oh come on now, that's no fun," she says playfully. "What's wrong with a little mystery, come on," she giggles.
Since those ‘Alex Mack’ days you’ve done quite a few other TV show character appearances (‘Boy Meets World,’ ‘Malcolm In The Middle,’ ‘3rd Rock,’ ‘Pepper Dennis,’ etc.), and have only just now seemingly knuckled down to adding films to your resume. Did you find yourself 'trapped' in TV land there for a while, perhaps? "No, I have no designs about where I want to be or where I want to go in relation to the kind of work that I want to be doing. I just kind of go where the work takes me. Every job that I've ever had I've just really enjoyed and I always end up learning something from it. And after each job I grow so much during it I come out afterwards a person who wants to work on other things. And that just kinda seems to attract the kind of work I need at the time."
"So no, I never felt trapped or anything. I am glad that I took the time off to go to school because I just think that it's so difficult to make the transition from child actor to adult actor. I think Christina Ricci's doing it very well and Natalie Portman also. I just think it's so difficult to do that. So yes, I think I felt trapped in that realm a little bit. I was like, 'Oh, I'm just getting the same thing over and over again. It's all cute kid stuff.' And that's all well and good, but I'm glad I took the time off. And now I'm back in the business really as an adult actress. Someone who doesn't now have to muddle their way through all those awkward growing pains," she laughs.
Please tell us more about your new upcoming movie ‘Broken Windows’ alongside Devon Gummersall and Sarah Thompson? "I just finished 'Broken Windows' a couple of months ago. There's nothing cutesy about ... and there's nothing offensive about it either," she laughs "but it's an adult appropriate role for me. I'm playing a 25 year-old and I was 25 at the time. And it was just very relatable to me the place that she was in her life and the place I was in my life. And I didn't think like I was acting at all. It was so cool. And I also didn't feel any pressure to pull out the charm, you know. It was a very, very, very good experience for me."
And what can you tell us about your role as 'Brenda' in the upcoming ‘Together Again For The First Time' starring alongside David Ogden Stiers, Julia Duffy and Joey Lawrence/ "Well, I couldn't believe that they wanted to cast me," she laughs. "Because all the things that I think casting directors think of me - as the cute girl next door - which is all fine and good and I'm perfectly happy to play that too, well, they didn't want me to play any of that stuff. They didn't want me to just be adorable. They wanted me to be a real person."
Thank you for chatting with us today and we wish you continued success with your upcoming film career ... as we'd like to see more of you on the big screen "I'd like to see more of me too," she excitedly giggles, one last time.
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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