Actresses recall breakout moments from their TV series


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Sharon Gless, "Burn Notice"

"I play a chain-smoking, hypochondriac mother-from-hell, and there are always pills on a certain table that she reaches for, just to indicate that she's ill. All these pills are sugar pills. There were about 30 bottles, but I'd picked out the one easiest to use because I was going to pop the pill without removing the cigarette from my mouth. I got good at it. I kept looking at these pills. They looked really odd, but they'd put them out there so I just kept taking them. Toward the end of the scene, I started to feel a little odd. I picked them up again and I said, 'These look like real pills.' Almost everyone had gone, so I took them to a pharmacy and he said, 'These are from a veterinarian. They're for dogs, Sharon!' I'd been taking prescription dog medicine all afternoon. I had to keep checking to see if I was growing a tail."

Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"

"You need humor on set, especially when we're dealing with the really uncomfortable domestic discourse that Vince (Gilligan, the show's creator) writes. There was a little scene with my boss, Ted Beneke (Chris Cousins), where you hear sounds of sex and the camera's panning along family pictures in his house and then, eventually, you see in very soft focus, in reflection, the two of us making love. Having to do that is always kind of awkward and strange, and you want to make everybody as comfortable as possible. So, after we were done, just to break the tension, I had the A.D. bring in a coconut cream pie with a couple of forks and they kept the cameras rolling and I fed Chris. He was amused and mortified and turned to the camera and said to his wife, 'Honey, this is not my pie.' "

January Jones, "Mad Men"

"I'm a very maternal, loving, giving person and I would never treat my children that way, but (my character)Betty's sometimes a pretty terrible mother. I don't think she should have ever been a mother. One of the main notes I got from (showrunner) Matthew (Weiner), especially after (Betty's) father passed, is that she sees the children that she already has as an inconvenience, an annoyance. She really cherishes her new baby as a new beginning for her and maybe for her marriage. It's good to have a sense of humor about it. The kids don't take it personally when I've had to push them and yank them and yell at them; I just have to crouch down before each take to tell them I'm not mad at them."

Maggie Siff, "Sons of Anarchy"

"There was a day early on in the season where I was chasing Katey (Sagal) down the block, and I touch her and she turns around and clocks me by accident in the nose, and there's blood and everything. 'How are we going to make that happen so that when she clocks me the blood will just come pouring out?' I wondered. But then we did it in one take. It was just perfect: The blood splattered everywhere and the whole set erupted in cheering and laughter. It was strangely satisfying and really funny, but it was part of what being on 'Sons of Anarchy' is all about--these moments of unexpected violence and blood."

Kate Walsh, "Private Practice"

"These twin babies we were working with couldn't have been more affable and gorgeous -- and then we had to make them upset for the scene before every take. We'd show them their mother right before 'action' and then she'd walk away and we'd roll and the babies would start screaming and crying. I felt there could be a very special place in hell for me. We only did a couple of takes, because I couldn't handle it -- though Tim Daly is kind of the baby whisperer: He has a unique gift, replete with all sorts of mouth sounds and everything. He completely hypnotizes any baby and they fall immediately and magically in love with him."

Olivia Wilde, "House"

"In (the episode) 'Remorse,' (my character) Thirteen finally has a real conversation with Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps). They've had this relationship full of unexpressed emotion and anger, and it comes to a boil as she's threatened with being fired. Omar and I knew our characters so well that we felt, 'We're finally having it out!' We were pacing around the room like panthers, finally saying all the things we wanted our characters to say. I realized at that moment how close to Thirteen I'd become, how much I was interwoven into her personal life. When we get to express some of that human emotion, it's like cracking open an egg."
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