.: Holly Marie Combs :.
The now-eldest sister on Charmed is ready and waiting in her trailer when I go to meet her late afternoon, early evening. Her trailer is decorated very simply with no fuss and the most notable piece is a huge trunk which contains all of her fan mail. Dressed in leather pants and a t-shirt, she is the funniest of the three. Although she loves playing Piper and is happy to be an actress, Holly is very down to earth and would rather spend a day with her animals then go to a glamorous premiere, as we discovered.
GF: I'm not sure if you're aware of this Holly but you have a huge following in Australia.
I know! I'm so popular in Australia and I have no idea why. It's like each girl has their country. Like Alyssa in France, forget about it! God forbid if there's a French tourist anywhere near her. I remember this time we were in London and there were some French tourists who spotted her and they just started screaming.
GF: Do you read all of your fan mail?
I do and this trunk here is full of it and I get so many letters from Australia, it's really touching.
GF: Any reason why you think Piper is so popuar?
For me, my character is the most neutral character and the most relatable, more of the girl next door and I think that's what people relate to. You know, I'm not like Alyssa Milano the sex symbol or Shannen or Rose so my character tends to be the one people relate to the most because I think people see her as the most normal.
GF: Are there any similarities between you and Piper?
Four years later, it's hard to distinguish the two anymore! She's definitely a little bit more worrisome and neurotic than I am. I'm a little bit more laid back than Piper. I think the fact she gets so worked up about things is part of her charm but it can get a little exhausting trying to play her. She's got WAY more energy than I do, that's for sure.
GF: You and Shannen were very close. Do you miss her?
I'm still really good friends with here and we're going to the Ocean's 11 premiere together so we still see each other quite a bit. It's funny because she called me the other day and asked me what I was going to wear. I told her I was going to wear something comfortable and casual, something that I could watch a movie for two hours in and she was like 'No, no no. You HAVE to get dressed up.' And I thought, damn that's too bad.
GF: I take it you're not into clothes then?
Not at all. I don't get it. To give you an idea of how clueless I am, our wardrobe person is going shopping for me because she doesn't want to leave me to my own devices (laughs).
GF: Do Alyssa and Rose give you a hard time about it?
All the time! Rose doesn't understand me at all on the shopping issue. She has all of these fashion magazines and she'll show me a picture of some outfit and say 'Come on, doesn't this do anything for you?' and I just don't get it. I'm like 'Honey I don't care either way.' Alyssa went shopping the other day and was showing Rose what she bought and was saying 'Isn't it cute?' and Rose was like 'Where did you get this stuff? I'm going to have get that' and they were talking about total girly stuff. I didn't even turn around and Rose was like 'Holly, don't you wanna see?' And I just said "No, I don't care!"
GF: Do you think your life is glamorous?
Not so glamorous (laughs). I pick up dog doo on my weekends. The premieres are glamorous I guess, like the one I'll be going to for Ocean's 11. I'm going to definitely be starry eyed when I go to that. It is Brad Pitt and George Clooney afterall so nobody is immuned to them. George is charisma in a bottle and I'll be starstruck like anyone else.
GF: You girls have to spend so much time together. Are you like sisters?
Definitely - we're very close.
GF: What do you talk about while you're waiting to go and do a scene?
All kinds of stuff. If you could only hear the random conversation we have together. Rose came in the other day and she said to Alyssa 'Do you ever get popcorn down your boobs when you're at the movies? And Alyssa just screamed'Yes!' And I was like 'No.' They both looked at me and were like 'right' because I obviously don't have that problem (laughs).
GF: You work from 6pm until about 8pm five nights a week. When do you get a chance to learn your lines?
The first year I was doing this, I would read the script about five times and then I'd rehearse it two nights beforehand. The second season I would look at it the night before and do rehearsals and the third season I would just look at it the night before. And now, I read it the morning I come in (laughs). Sometimes I'll get here and see that I've got a lot to say and I'm kind of like 'Uh-oh there's a LOT today.' But I've trained my mind to become better at memorising things and I work better under pressure. I used to be amazed at Shannen on set.
Because she was so incredible. She could look at it in rehearsal, right before the scene and she was able to learn it. She has a photographic memory. I'm trying to get like that. I think I'm definitely getting better at it as the years go on.
GF: It's a pretty vigorous show. Do you do your own stunts?
I'm asking for my stunt double a lot more this year because I'm always saying 'I'm too old for this, someone get me that stunt double!' There were a few episodes last year where I kept on getting hit in the face and you have to do a whiplash movement every time someone goes to hit you. So I begged to be hit somewhere else besides my face because I kept getting whiplash. In that way, it can be exhausting but it's a fun show to do.
GF: Have you had any interesting fan encounters when you're out or do you try and stay pretty low key on the weekends?
Well, the first year of the show people didn't recognise me unless I got all gussied up like this (referring to having her "television face" of full make-up and wearing designer clothes) but now they recognise me no matter how hideous I look which can be very unfortunate! The other day I went to a Home Depot store and the sales guy told me I looked a lot like one of the girls from Charmed. But then he said 'No, no, you couldn't be her because she's much taller than you.' I thought that was very funny.
GF: Who did you learn your coping skills from?
In the first couple of years, Shannen, Alyssa and I would go out a lot together and I just watched how they handled it when someone came up to them or approached them and they handled it so well that I learnt from them. They're pros.
GF: Rose said she likes to have a lot of input into her character. Are you the same?
I try to be responsible and keep that in mind with my character whenever we cover sensitive issues like stuff about weight or dieting. I'm also careful about the way I dress, the way my make-up is done and how I'm perceived. When we do stuff about suicide or something we want to make sure it's done in a way that won't give anyone the wrong impression because it's important to me. A lot of people don't ask to be role models but if you become one then I think you have to take that responsibility and go with it.
GF: Do you think you're a good witch?
laughs) I remember Shannen and I made a point of reading as much as we could on the subject so that we could imitate and not offend anyone. But it's almost impossible not to offend anyone 'cause some Wicans think we're not accurate enough and then there are others who think we're too accurate and that we're spreading random magical spells.
GF: What were you like as a teenager?
I was a pretty normal teenager because I only worked about once or twice a year and then I would go back to school. I had the best of both worlds because I had the tutors and then I had the normal high school. I was a little bit of a rebel at school. I had a little trouble adjusting, you could say. But it goes to show you that teenagers who grow up being rebellious can grow up and be normal like me (laughs).
GF : So apart from picking up dog doo-doo and going to premieres, what else do you like to do in your spare time?
My mum is only 15 years older than me. She's very young and we're incredibly close so I like to spend time with my mum.
GF: What is that you like most about being part of Charmed?
There is nothing we don't do in a single episode. We make people laugh, we make them cry, we make them scared - everything. And I only have to look inside this trunk (of fan mail) here to know how much people love the show. What could be better than that?