Personality Complex is a regular feature of Complex's Pop Culture channel, where you'll be introduced to rising stars of film and television.
Anger Management’s cable network debut on FX racked up 5.74 million viewers. After just 10 episode, it inked a deal for an unprecedented 90-episode order. It's a daunting amount of episodes for actors with dreams beyond the small screen, dreams that don't include joining the Ross Gellers and the Arthur Fonzarellis of the world.
One Anger Management star who doesn't have to worry about that, though? Noureen Dewulf. The 30-year-old actress plays Lacey, a scorned lover who shot her ex-boyfriend in the genitals because he was caught cheating. Spoiled and starved for attention, she's sentenced to attend group therapy sessions moderated by Charlie Goodson (Charlie Sheen), an former minor league player dealing with issues of his own.
Taking full advantage of the 90-episode opportunity, DeWulf's incredible range is setting her apart from her character and establishing her as a must-watch comedic actress in Hollywood. Contrary to her Anger Management persona, DeWulf is a down-to-earth, humble, and extremely motivated talent who knows where she wants to be and is taking huge leaps to get there.
Interview by Vincent Angiolillo
You were out in Sochi for the Winter Games, and had the opportunity to do some blogging for People Magazine. Were the conditions really as bad as people said it was in Sochi?
I know that they tried their best, but there were three days that I didn’t have hot water . I'd go down to my friends' rooms in the same hotel to shower sometimes. Other times, my air conditioner was blowing cold air instead of heat. It seemed as if the city was a little ill-prepared for the amount of people that were coming, but I am sure they tried their best.
I try not to focus too much on my ethnicity because I don't want that to be the focus of my characters anymore. I just want it to be part of who I am as a person and maybe a part of my character, but I think it's stronger when you don't play to that too much. It's better for everybody for the sake of diversity.
Were you a hockey fan or a sports fan in general before you met Ryan Miller? How did you two meet?
I actually didn’t know anything about hockey and I wasn't really a sports fan, but I am now. Ryan and I were set up when I was on another TV show called Maneater by the director of that show Tim Buckfield.
How do you manage to keep a relationship alive with careers that demand most of your time?
Well Ryan and I both work so intensely, so we like to couch it a lot and watch movies. We try to really relax and go to the beach. Usually when we are together for a long period of time, we chill in Los Angeles because it 's usually in his off-season. Other than that, I visit him during the season during my hiatuses and I go to a lot of hockey games.
I read that your family had a lot to do with your background in comedy. What was it like for you growing up, and where do you draw your inspiration?
There was a long period of time where I lived in Toledo, Ohio. I moved from New York when I was very young and then I lived in Toledo until I was 10. When I lived in Georgia, it was very different. I'm ethnic and I was a child of immigrants whose parents came over from India in the '70s. It was very hard to live in the South. I would not go back there. It's changing slowly but there is such a stark difference between living in California and living in Georgia. There's so much more diversity in other parts of the country.
Were your parents supporters of your move to Hollywood?
They knew that it was an inevitable because I would always entertain my sister and try to make her laugh. I was always goofy and silly, so it didn’t surprise them. Not that they necessarily wanted it for me, but they always knew.
You're both naturally attractive and naturally funny. Do you ever feel like you have to compromise who you are for your roles?
It's hard because some of the roles, comically, directors really want you to be very character-y. I've been trying to play both sides of it and be true to myself, but at the same time try to really play these characters. Like the role that I played in the Ghosts of Girlfriends Past—producers really did not want me to appear sexy. In the movie, I wear a turtleneck and jeans. Sometimes people try to force the issue and when the film hired me, they tried to cover me up a lot.
People have a very short attention span, so sometimes I feel like it's hard to be more than one thing. I try my best to walk the line and play roles that show both my personality and my comedic strengths. That also involves they way I look. I think Lacey, my character on Anger Management, is a great character for me because there is that fashion and sex appeal element of the character, so I don’t have to fight against that, and I'm able open myself up and be funny. Or try to be funny. [Laughs.]
Is that what you seek out when you're looking for characters to play?
I mean, there's a part of me that really loves to embrace characters like Lacey because they're so fun. I get scared to say that I want to do something totally different, but I've been playing this character for two years, and it would be nice to do something totally different. I love Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez types of comedy where it's darker. But I'm open to a lot of things and could see myself doing a dramedy like Desperate Housewives. It's really about opportunity.
Being a fairly new face in comedy, you've already worked with the likes of Charlie Sheen, Ben Stiller, and Ken Marino. Have you picked up any useful tips from them?
Yeah, and I've worked with Ken Jeong, as well. Twice now, actually. I worked with him in a movie called The Goods produced by Will Ferrell and then on Burning Love, where I also worked with Ken Marino.
I always cross paths with these guys and I've learned a tremendous amount from them. I remember when we were doing The Goods, that was the first time I met Ken, he was so strong comedically and his improvisation was so out of control, so wild and big. I had been doing improv up until then, but I remember one time he picked up a chair and threw it and all the actors had to duck out of the way. We didn’t even see it coming.
After that I got involved with Burning Love and I remember thinking, “Wow I am so happy that I worked with Ken Jeong before this” because he just showed me how far people can go for comedy. I was able to pick up on that. The comedy world is definitely more accepting of men, for sure, but I try to pick up what I can from those I work with and use it in my own way.
How was the industry different few years ago and did you ever find it hard to land roles because of your race and gender?
What I really want to do, but I am scared of saying because I am really superstitious, is to have my own half hour show. I know that it is super hard to get your own show, and I’ve had my own pilot before, actually a couple of them, that didn't end up going to series.
I think it is harder opportunity-wise for women, but there have been some amazing funny women like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Lena Dunham who have their own shows which are really amazing. I'd like that, too. But I try not to focus too much on my ethnicity because I don’t want that to be the focus of my characters anymore. I just want it to be part of who I am as a person and maybe a part of my character, but I think it's stronger when you don’t play to that too much. It's better for everybody for the sake of diversity.
If you did land your own half hour show, would you lean more towards improvisational sketch comedy or stay with the sitcom format?
I would love to do a single-camera half-hour show or a multi-camera show. That's where I'd be really strong. Like an Anger Management,but just a little different.
Speaking of Anger Management, do you and Lacey share any similarities?
Not really. I love her style and her confidence, but I don't think she's similar to me really. She will say has zero filter, and I don't see myself as that kind of person. She is kind of cruel in a way and very superficial.
In the show Lacey has an obvious anger issue. Is there anything specific that bothers you personally?
There is a lot—without sounding too stereotypical—like all of the injustices in the world and politics and all the stuff I am not supposed to say.
What's it like working with Charlie Sheen?
Charlie as a person is so many things and I think the media tries to focus on one part of his personality, which is the most flashy and interesting parts. For me, he is one of the nicest co-stars that I've ever worked with and he certainly is one of the more generous people that I have worked with. I know it sounds like I 'm saying a lot of nice things about him, but it's just how I feel about him. He treats me with respect.
Do you have new projects coming up?
The last project that I had that came out was at Sundance. It was a David Wain film called, They Came Together. I had a supporting role in that and it starred Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler. I haven’t even seen it yet, but I'm really excited about it.