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I'm Not A Shrink, But I Play One on TV: Alexandra Wentworth

I'm Not A Shrink, But I Play One on TV: Alexandra Wentworth


Actress and comedienne Alexandra Wentworth credits Marilyn Manson and an obsession with therapy for inspiring her to create Head Case, the half-hour improv show on which she played Dr. Elizabeth Goode, a Beverly Hills celebrity therapist. The outrageous comedy, which originally ran on Starz from 2007 to 2009, featured guest stars Rosanna Arquette, Jerry Seinfield, Andy Dick, Liz Phair, Tori Spelling, Jeff Goldblum, and Joel Madden, among others. Each played him- or herself as patients to the judgmental and inattentive Dr. Goode, who insulted them, plied them with dreadful advice, and interrupted their sessions to take phone calls or swoon over her smarmy fiance. We thought it would be fun to put Wentworth on the analyst's couch.

The Advocate: Why are you obsessed with therapy?
Alexandra Wentworth: I just think it's fascinating that as human beings we put ourselves in a position where we completely give over the power to somebody else. If a therapist said, "I think you should go to a cemetery and sleep there overnight," 90% of the people would do it. Also, I'm obsessed with it because I have had so much bad therapy.

Can you give me an example?
I could give you many. Once in Los Angeles I went to see someone fairly new, a homunculus of a woman, very unattractive. And the first thing she said to me was, "I don't want you to be afraid, but just so you know, you will probably be having sexual dreams and fantasies about me." And I went, "I'm sorry... what?" She said, "You will probably be having sexual dreams and fantasies about me." And I said, "I just don't think so," and walked out. Another time, I was seeing a therapist, and right in the middle of the session -- during a poignant moment -- she interrupted me and said, "Where did you get your boots?"


I had a boyfriend years ago whose father was a shrink, and I based [Dr. Goode's bumbling and always un-booked office mate] Dr. Myron Finkelstein on him. He would come home bummed out because his patients kept jumping off buildings and killing themselves. And he once fell asleep in therapy. Both he and a patient fell asleep during the session.

Did you base Dr. Goode on anyone in particular?
She was a big combo platter of people, a kind of bouillabaisse of various crazy shrinks I've known.

Do you believe everyone could benefit from therapy?
If it's good therapy, yes. Absolutely.

Therapy involves listening, which is also a necessary skill when doing improv. Do you see any other similarities between your performing background and your work as Dr. Goode?
Yes. I think when you do improv you have to be hyper alert and aware, and I admire shrinks who can spend a whole day talking to people about their problems without checking out. You have to be so present. You can't miss anything, so I think there is a similarity there.

Do you think celebrities need therapy more than normal folks?
Well, yeah. Don't you? [Laughs] I remember seeing Marilyn Manson on a magazine cover and thinking, How does one go from being this cute suburban kid to that? What happened there? That was sort of the inspiration for the show. But I think it depends on the celebrity. A lot of times people who aspire to stardom are not driven by the best reasons.

Were there any celebrity guests you weren't able to get?
There were a few. Marilyn Manson was one. For him it was a scheduling thing. He was on the road. But the idea that it was unscripted and that it was about therapy did freak some people out.

You're working on a book. Is writing about oneself like therapy?
It is, but with a humorous book, I don't analyze myself. It's not like an autobiography where I talk about being molested as a kid or having an eating disorder. Although I would say that I use comedy a lot as a defense mechanism. If I make a joke, I don't have to be vulnerable.

What would Dr. Goode say to Lindsay Lohan?
"You need to go to a little island in the Caribbean and do arts and crafts for a year." [Laughs] I just don't understand why this girl doesn't get out of there. This is not good for her. Do you know what I mean? No more Hollywood. It's not a good fit.

Watch Head Case on Starz.
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