I am enjoying the new comedy “Go On,” and the woman who plays Lauren looks so familiar to me. What else has she done?
—Joyce Ikari, Eugene, Ore.
If you were one of the few people who watched NBC’s “Playboy Club,” Laura Benanti, 33, starred as Carol-Lynne, the bunny mother. But it is more likely that you recognize her from her recurring role in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” on which she played Maria Grazie, Nick Amaro’s (Danny Pino) wife.
“They instantly put me on ‘Law & Order’ as like a consolation prize,” Benanti says of the cancellation of “Playboy Club” after only three episodes aired. “They were like, ‘Put down the Ben & Jerry’s and take off your sweatpants. Get over here.’ Then it was pilot season and I was hocking my wares. They were always pretty clear that they wanted me to stay on their network, and then I read the ‘Go On’ script and I basically begged my way in there. Begged, borrowed and stole.”
Benanti’s other TV credits include “The Big C,” “Life on Mars,” “Starved” and a recurring role on “Eli Stone,” but the New York City-born actress is actually better known for her theater work. She was awarded the 2008 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her portrayal of Gypsy Rose Lee in “Gypsy.”
She also received a Tony nomination, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for her starring role in the Broadway production of “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Among her other theater credits are “In the Next Room,” “Why Torture Is Wrong, And the People Who Love Them,” “Into the Woods,” “Swing!,” “Nine” and “The Sound of Music.”
Of all the characters she’s played, Benanti says that Lauren is the closest to her. “I tend to play either really dramatic characters, or people where it’s a little bit more of a stretch for me. I don’t have to act in this at all. But, I actually think some of the hardest acting is the acting where it’s closer to you, you know. Because then, you have to become more aware of yourself, which is everyone’s journey I suppose.”