Rock Bottom Interview: Andrea Gabriel

Monday, January 24, 2011
By Tim Nydell

Andrea Gabriel

Andrea Gabriel is an actress who is best known for her role on the American Broadcasting Company show Lost as Sayid Jarrah's love interest Nadia Jaseem. Aside from her recurring role in Lost, Gabriel has had guest starring roles in House, M.D. and Criminal MindsIn October 2010, Entertainment Weekly announced Andrea Gabriel was cast in the upcoming film Breaking Dawn as Kebi, a vampire from the Egyptian Coven.


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I wanted to start with a little bit about your upbringing and the fact that both of your parents were actors as well, weren't they?

Yeah, they were both on Soaps in New York - and that was fun - it was fun because there wasn't a lot of location stuff... there was no location stuff... so they'd be home every night.  It was almost like nine to five - except they played make believe all day, so that was fun.  My favorite things are when we would go to... my class would have school trips sometimes once in a blue moon to my parents' studios, and on those days I'd be the most popular one.  Because I wasn't a very popular kid, but on those days everyone wanted to be my partner. [laughs] So they were very fun days. 

Now when you told your parents that you wanted to do what they were doing, what was their reaction?

Well, they... my mom was pretty much 'whatever', and my father, my father was not happy... [laughs] But then as soon as he saw that I was willing to really do this nowhere theater, just show up eight shows a week for no money... [laughs] then he was behind me.  I think it also helped that he thought that I was pretty good. [laughs] It must be really hard when your parents are like "Oh, God they're terrible actors" - and they can't say it, you know?  It's like, "Sweetie, you might want to think of something else."  But he was pleased about that, and he also started to realize that I was taking it seriously and I wasn't just in it for the fifteen minutes.

And your first role was a Soap Opera, was it one of their Soap Operas? 

There were actually a few Soap Operas around town that I would just do little things on when I was still in school - those were all pretty low maintenance.  Things really didn't get started until I started in theater, and really committing to that - and then I had to travel a little bit for that.

And then we fast-forward twenty-something years later - and we reach LOST.... one of the biggest TV shows in the past few years.  What was that like?

Woohoo!  Yeah, that was awesome. 

Now do you have any memorable scenes from filming? 

Well, my favorite stuff is probably the stuff from season one - just because it was so surreal, you know, it was so mind-blowing.  And also, nobody really knew what the show was at that point yet because only maybe the pilot had aired.  And especially over there, nobody really had an idea of the phenomenon so everybody was just 'Oh, hi we're putting on a show', you know?  That was sort of the vibe.  It was very summer stock only with a bigger budget.  Because I even knew more than they did because I was coming from the mainland.  And I think this was the eighth episode - the ninth episode if you include the pilot, but the eighth episode of season one.  So, they hadn't really gotten word about how well the show was doing, you know?  They had the numbers, but they didn't know... and I did.  [laughs] I was like, "You guys have no idea." 

Now, did you watch it yourself til the end?

I did, I did... I'll be honest, I hadn't watched it when I booked it.  I hadn't watched it yet, but then that weekend they were showing the entire pilot again - and so I got a chance to watch it and I was very excited after that.  Because I knew it was a popular show and it was going to be successful, but I didn't know that it was really... really good. 

[LOST spoiler:]

Now what are your thoughts about the end and Sayid did not end up with Nadia?

[laughs] Well, there are conflicting theories about it - some people think if it's his world ... I think that from a writers standpoint, it makes sense.  It makes sense like if you want to really put the focus back on the island at the end, and make the island sort of the main character... then I think that it makes sense that he ends up with Shannon - in every other way it does not. [laughs] But that's obviously what they wanted to focus on
for the finale, they wanted to wrap it back up like that.   It sort of makes sense that the whole, you know... for Sayid to be looking for me for eight years and while he's on the island find redemption, and then as soon as he gets off the island and I die he starts killing again - you know, it kind of makes sense that maybe I'm not the best thing him.  [laughs] You know, he was only a nice guy when he was hooking up with "Paris Hilton". [laughs] To each their own, man.  Whatever works.

Now how was that car scene shot of you getting hit?

Oh, that was rough... [laughs] that was with a harness.  And then they did some other superpositions where they have the car hitting a dummy, and then they had a stunt woman rolling off the hood of a car, and I'm thinking "well, if they have a stunt woman why wouldn't... let her do it all!" [laughs] But they made a point because they wanted that to be an uncut sequence where I turn around and speak and just get taken out.  And it looks pretty cool - I almost wish it went a little slower because that was scary.  [laughs] I wish they had gotten a little more bang for their buck.

It was almost like a Meet Joe Black moment, have you seen that movie where Brad Pitt gets hit in the beginning?


Yeah, it was out of the blue - he was the main character so you wouldn't imagine that would happen - and he got hit within the first ten minutes.  He dies and he comes back as death. 

Cool, well hopefully I'll follow in his footsteps. [laughs]  I don't need to marry Angie [Angelina Jolie], but career wise...

But that might get you farther ahead if you marry...

True, true - it'll make some headlines. 
[End LOST spoiler]
You did a great job with the accent playing Nadia, do you speak any Arabic? 

No, I don't speak Arabic.  I mean, I didn't really have to - there were a few words that I spoke in Arabic.  You know, a lot of the time I'm playing roles where I speak two languages - and when you audition for those roles a lot of the time they'll just tell you 'Ok, this is it in English go learn how to say it.'  [laughs] It's a language that you don't speak, so there have actually been times where I have to run out and find somebody who speaks whatever I am looking for.  [laughs] You usually have a day to do this, and then you have learn how to say it in the language - you have to get it phonetically - so I have a little tape recorder and I have my go to spots... "OK, so there's a jewelry store for Arabic..."  But then for Arabic there are all these different dialects, there's Gulf and then there's also Egyptians.  There's all these different dialects to it, I remember once I went for an audition where I was speaking Arabic and I went to an Egyptian jewelery store [laughs] - I think I was supposed to be Iraqi in it, but I was speaking it with an Egyptian dialect.  [laughs] I was like, "I don't know, how am I supposed to know that?" [laughs]  And I'm really good at phonetics, I'm very good at following sounds... as long as I learn the right sounds. [laughs]

Your accent as Nadia was perfect, I thought for sure that was your real voice.

Aww, thank you.  Well then it worked.  [laughs]  It's very hard to get accents wrong for me, it's kind of just having an ear for it.  Languages is a whole other thing.  Because if you are grammatically incorrect... you are grammatically incorrect. 

Yeah, because even one slight change can change the word completely. 

Yeah, exactly.  That's why I think we should all speak in accents... no other languages.  Have all of the countries speak in different accents. [laughs]

Let's talk about your next "big break", Breaking Dawn - how'd you get involved in that?

Well, I auditioned... again.  It was just a good audition - and I think I found out about that in August, and they didn't make the announcements for the Covens because they have A LOT of Covens in this one.  I don't think I'm releasing any spoilers because the books have been published - I'm not sure what's in the book and what's in the script, but it's - for people who love the books... this is seriously... they are going all out, this is prom.  You know what I mean?  [laughs] This is formal.

You guys are filming part one and part two at the same time?

Yeah, they're doing them at the same time. 

Does that make for long days?

Yeah, you're only doing one unit at a time.  I think that it can get confusing [laughs], but they have it organized - I couldn't do it, what they're doing with all of the scheduling and all of the green screening, there's a lot of detail in this stuff.  Way more than LOST, I was never aware in LOST that there was any CGI going on - if they did CGI later, it was surprising... and I was like "Oh, I didn't know they were going to do that."  Like when were in solitary doing the stuff in Iraq - all of that was real, but then in one sequence when he's [Sayid] walking on army base and actually one one side of the army base it looks exactly like it does, but on the other side has all of this lush foliage because it's Hawaii - and they were real army barracks from World War II.  So the other side they CGI'd out to make it desert - that had nothing to do with my acting, it had nothing to do with what I was doing.  So it was really funny having to act with stuff that is not there - I've never done that before.

Let's get to the first Twitter question...

Oh, cool.

@Twilightfreak72 wanted to know what it was like on the set of Breaking Dawn - and what was your favorite part of playing a vampire?

[laughs] It's a lot of fun - the vampires are a blast... all of the people who are in this cast... it's a wonderful group, and it's very diverse.  Just like there's not two of any one kind - it's a real bonding experience because we're all in the same boat, we're all on location and our families, our homes and our pets are all [laughs] very far away.  So it does feel like camp.  And then, my favorite part of playing a vampire is... I guess just being a badass. [laughs]

Are you wearing a lot of makeup in this role?

Not a lot, no.  There's certain vampire traits that I have, but no... I mean these are hot vampires. [laughs] These are runway vampires, they're very stylish, they're very cool... there's not a bad looking one in it that I can see. [laughs] I think this vampire thing is a good racket if you can get it because they're going to surrounded by hot co-workers.

Is this a physical role?

Mine's not, no.  There are some very physical roles - mine is not as physical as some of them.  Yeah, there's going to be a ton of action in this - that's part of what they're working on right now.  It's going to be like crazy... crazy action.

Another Twitter question, TwiLifeLover wanted to know: Did you really enjoy working with the cast?  Was it easy?  And were they funny?

[laughs] Yes... yes... and yes.  [laughs] Yeah, I'm having a great time - and everybody is hilarious.  There's some very clever... we laugh a lot... we laugh a lot.  We have little inside vampire jokes, it's a lot of fun. 

And most of the cast is a lot younger than you.

Um, it depends.  The main characters are younger, yeah, but as for the vampires they kind of run the gambit.  There are a few in my age range, there are few in their early twenties, and then there are a few that are older.  But the main characters - it's geared towards the kids. 

One last Twitter question, _Cammie_ wanted to know what you thought about Mackenzie Foy?

Oh, she's awesome.  She's really... really... really cool.  She's VERY smart, and she's really precocious - and not precocious in a showy kind of way that sometimes kid actors can be - you can tell that she is very wise.  And wise beyond her years.  And she [laughs] complains less than anybody [laughs] on the set... the adults tend to whine more than she does.  She's quite a trooper with a great attitude all of the time.  She's really wonder and really pretty - she's going to be a stunner.

Since the cast has been together for a while now, were you worried about being the newcomer?

Well, yeah... they're all pretty well bonded so it's just like showing up at a new job or a new school - and since I've guest starred on a lot of shows I kind of know what it feels like to step into that situation.  And usually people are very welcoming to newcomers.  It's a long process, so it's almost like you've become accustomed to each other - you become part of the gang. 

Obviously Breaking Dawn is taking up a lot of your time, do you have any plans for when you're done filming?  Anything else you want to work on?

We'll see. [laughs] You kind of have to see where your schedule is at, you know? 

I guarantee this [Breaking Dawn] will open a lot of doors.

Aww, well thank you.

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