“There’s just something that recognizes a kindred spirit,” declares Krysta Rodriguez about the enduring friendship between Liza Minnelli and fashion designer Halston. Rodriguez plays the Oscar-winning actress and singer in the new Netflix limited series “Halston,” which chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary designer, played by Ewan McGregor. In our exclusive video interview (watch above), Rodriguez discusses the excitement and the terror she felt in portraying one of the icons of American culture.
A veteran of Broadway herself, Rodriguez admits to feeling a range of emotions after she learned that she was cast as Minnelli. “I couldn’t believe it,” she exclaims. “It’s like 24 hours of joy, and then a year and a half of abject terror.” Rodriguez was forced to face that terror head on. The first scene she filmed was also the audience’s introduction to Minnelli in her element– performing the famous title number from Minnelli’s Emmy winning television special “Liza with a Z.” It was also the first time that most of the cast and crew saw Rodriguez perform. “It really was a great ‘how do you do’ the group and hope that they enjoyed it,” she recalls. “I got to entertain my new friends, which was great.”
Rodriguez argues that she worked to avoid doing a mere interpretation, choosing instead to focus on Minnelli’s tenacity as a performer. “The tenacity it takes to be Liza Minnelli, the tenacity it takes to be any Broadway performer or any performer at all,” she explains, “those are the things that I could relate to and that’s what I grasped on to.”
Because of the close relationship between the real Minnelli and Halston, Rodriguez spent a great deal of time working opposite McGregor, and the actress has nothing but praise for her co-star. “We had a great time working together,” she says. “By the end we really had an affinity for each other ad for our characters, the way out characters love each other. We really understood that relationship.”
Rodriguez describes the relationship between Minnelli and the often mercurial Halston as a meeting of two kindred spirits who found success in spite of their troubled backgrounds. “They happened to be somewhat untethered at the time and needed moring, and that’s what they found in each other,” she argues. “[Halston] could be vulnerable with her and she could be vulnerable with him because their fields were intersecting.”
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