The Mother/Son Bond Comes Naturally For GH’s Tamara Braun And Garren Stitt
Soap Opera Digest: Garren, you were on the show playing Oscar before we met Kim. What did you think when they were going to bring your mom on?
Garren Stitt: I thought it was great that my storyline was evolving to bring in my parents and all that because I knew my storyline would grow into something bigger and better. Working with Tamara is so awesome. She’s such a great actress.
Digest: Do you remember your first
Tamara Braun: Oh, he was just adorable. I think I just immediately went up and hugged him.
Braun: I just thought from day one that he was adorable and kind and open and warm. I still feel all of those same things about him today.
Stitt: We instantly clicked the first time we met.
Digest: Did you feel that connection translated into the work right away, playing mother and son?
Braun: I feel like it did.
Stitt: Definitely. It grew over time, too. The more we worked with each other, the more we understood each other’s habits, we understood what works best and what doesn’t. Now it’s just easy.
Braun: Yeah, I think there’s definitely a trust there. There’s been a trust and a respect from day one on both of our parts. There’s an openness and a willingness to communicate any need from each other as fellow actors. I think that always lends itself to translating on-screen. And I think physically we look alike — I mean, he’s like seven feet taller than I am, but it was good casting in terms of our looks. I just had this immediate kind of maternal instinct over him, so I think that translated as well.
Stitt: She’s such a good role model for me. And Tamara is always very supportive. When I have scenes that I have to cry in or be mad or be super-dramatic in, she’s always there helping me. She’s taught me that before the cameras roll, just to kind of prepare myself and take as much time as I need.
Braun: All actors have different styles. Some people like to run lines, some people don’t; some people give you nothing before they call “Action” and you have to kind of learn to go with whatever they’re giving. I understand not wanting to over-rehearse anything, and I don’t need anyone to put their heart out on the table during rehearsal, but I think it’s really a good thing to at least be connected and say those words with each other. And I think Garren’s style has changed a lot since we started working together. Do you have a photographic memory, Garren?
Braun: He can pick [the material] up like nobody’s business, which is an absolute gift in this field — but I’ve known some people where it’s also a curse, because you’re like, “Oh, I can get it in two seconds. I don’t need to prepare.” But if you have that gift on top of making choices and preparing, it’s golden, and that’s what I see Garren doing a lot now, which is beautiful to watch.
Stitt: Oh, man. You’re gonna make me cry, Tamara.
Braun: It’s true!
Digest: Garren, you’re in the throes of your first really intense storyline. How have you tried to support him through the really emotional scenes you’ve had, Tamara?
Braun: Well, I just try to be as open and present as an actor and a friend as possible. I know what it’s like to be on the other side of that, having to do serious, heavy, emotional stuff. And with everything going on — with lights and cameras and people yelling and just all this stuff happening between “Action” and “Cut” — it can be very difficult to focus. Garren is gifted. He’s been doing this since he was a little kid. With Garren, I think what works best is when we connect and try and block everything out because it can become very distracting. A lot of times people wanna joke and play before they call “Action”, and a lot of actors can do that and jump into an emotional space. That’s great, but I need to be in a space where I’m not laughing and goofing around because I come from … It’s a true place of deep emotion for me, and when I watch Garren, I think some of his best, most beautiful work has come from that as well, from taking his moment and breathing and being settled in it while all the noise and all of the commotion of creating a TV show goes on. I see it in him. Do you feel that, too?
Stitt: Yeah, I do. Like she said, a lot of people laugh and make jokes and it’s very distracting for an actor, for me and Tamara at least, when you have to, like, jump into having a seizure or crying and screaming or punching the wall or something like that.
Braun: As characters, we have these very private moments in public, which is for the audience. But as actors, we also have private moments in public; we have them in front of all our crew. You’re sharing intimate moments that you normally would just share with your mother or your closest friend or your girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever. I think that with the material Garren has been given and under the circumstances in which we work, he’s been doing a lovely job and growing every single day.
Stitt: I do feel like I’m growing and growing and that it’s getting easier by the day.
Digest: Tamara, you posted a photo of Garren wheeling you around in a wheelchair. What’s the backstory of that picture?
Braun: I was in a pretty bad way! I could barely walk. I had thrown my back out five days before and was in more pain than I’ve ever been in my life. I could stand and I could sit, but I could not walk at all, so I needed a wheelchair to get around and my sweet TV son helped me! He was a real doll.
Stitt: That day was fun for me! It was my first time pushing someone in a wheelchair.
Braun: And we went over some cables.
Stitt: Yeah, we were onstage and we had to like, move cables and stuff to get around.
Braun: It was fun trying not to bang into walls!
Stitt: Seeing someone that I cared about in pain — like, she couldn’t breathe — just naturally made me want to help her and give her the attention that she needed.
Braun: Because you’re a good, kind, caring human being!
Digest: Are there Oscar/Kim scenes that stand out to you as favorites?
Braun: The scenes when Oscar finds out that he has a tumor and wants to know if he’s dying. It was a heavy day, and I’ve got a very personal memory of how hard he was working that day. The scene when Kim apologizes to Oscar for not telling him [about his illness], to me that was a really beautiful scene. Something just clicked with us; we just breathed each other in, and we were just 100 percent present for one another as two human beings, as mother and son, in that moment. I also remember early on doing the scenes talking about if he’d had sex or not. Those were funny scenes. We were just laughing through them. It was fun during the takes and in between the takes.
Stitt: I agree with Tamara on the first one, where I found out [Oscar] had cancer. That was our first scene where it was really dramatic, like, “Okay, now we’re getting into the juicy, juicy, juicy stuff!” And then another scene that I really enjoyed was when I was talking to Dr. Randolph; I was sitting in a chair and you were next to me, Tamara, and I was asking about the side effects and what was going to happen to me.
Braun: You did beautiful work that day.
Stitt: Thank you.
Digest: Let’s talk about the other parent in your family equation, Billy Miller (Drew). What is he like to work with?
Stitt: Oh, man. That guy is hilarious. He is one of the funniest guys I’ve worked with. He’s such a strong actor, too. I’ve never worked with somebody that has his style. Working with him is very intense, cause his style of acting is, like, very minimal. He’ll crack a joke and then in five seconds be like Drew and it’s just crazy to see that.
Digest: I know Drew looked like Jason when Oscar was conceived, but Garren, I think you look like Billy.
Braun: You do?!
Digest: Well, I think he looks more like Billy than Steve Burton (Jason)!
Braun: I think he looks like Tamara! Dark hair, dark eyes, kind of the same shape eyes. Billy’s always like, “Where did he get that height?” and I always say, “My side of the family!”
Stitt: Kim is feeding me good!
Braun: That’s right!
Stitt: She’s feeding me vegan milk.
Braun: Garren and Tamara don’t eat dairy anymore.
Stitt: I’m off the dairy. A couple scenes ago, I had to eat pizza, so I had to request a vegan pizza. Let me say, it was one of my worst experiences with food ever. No offense, Tamara! Have you tried vegan pizza?
Braun: Of course! And I’m gonna make you one or I’ll find you one that’s good and you’re gonna love it!
Stitt: I was like, “Where’s the spit bucket?!” The people that made that pizza were about to kill me, Tamara.
Braun: Well, you’re still alive and with us!
Digest: If you had to sum it up, what would each of you say is the best thing about working with the other?
Stitt: Tamara is such a down-to-earth person and I couldn’t have asked for a better mother to work with on set. She’s so professional, she’s always prepared, she’s so helpful, and it’s such a privilege to be working with her.
Braun: Garren is wise beyond his years. He is such a love. He’s generous and caring and compassionate and hardworking and is always interested in growing. I feel very blessed. I adore him. I love him. I feel very, very fortunate that he plays my son and I get to play his mom because I feel these maternal instincts toward him anyway! We have a connection. It’s a real gift.