‘Sullivan & Son’ Star Valerie Azlynn Dishes on Vince Vaughn’s On-Set Hijinx, Her Most Embarrassing Audition
Though she currently plays a no-nonsense paramedic on Sullivan & Son, Valerie Azlynn is all about the laughs. Catching the acting bug at 13, the now 31-year-old has appeared on hit comedies such as Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother before landing the part of Valerie Sutton on the hit TBS series.
So what’s it like for her to be working with big name comedians like Vince Vaughn? Read on to find out.
What inspired you to take up acting?
Ever since I was little, my mother said I was sort of unstoppable. If I wanted to perform, I was going to put on a show whether it was just for my mom and grandma or I was going to force my friends into watching it. When I was 13, I had open heart surgery and that sort of changed my world and my focus.
Walk us through how you landed your part of Sullivan & Son.
Our casting director, Julie Ashton has this unique ability that a lot casting directors don’t. They don’t give you a lot to go off of — they sort of dryly read the line — as you’re trying to have a connection in a scene with the other character. It’s always nice when someone gives you something to go off of. She sends such a great force in my career. She called me and I went in and I met Steve Byrne at the audition. I walked in the room and the guy shook my hand and I was like, “Wow! That doesn’t happen usually!” I said to them, “This is such a great part and I really identify with this character. I made some strong choices, so let me know if this is what you guys are thinking.” I left the room thinking it went really great. When they called me and told me I got the part, I don’t think I stopped screaming for a good 10 minutes.
What is your most embarrassing audition moment?
It was a long time ago in New York and it was horrifying. The character was supposed to be really sexy and all this stuff, so I came done up and ready to go. I didn’t realize in the room I was in had this sliding bookshelf you could use to divide the room. In the mist of the audition, I tried to be very sexual and leaned up against it. It goes shooting across the room and I fall flat on my side. Horrified, I looked up and I went, “Oh, should we start over?” The casting director goes, “I think I’ve seen all that I need to see.” That was absolutely humiliating and it’s never left my mind.
How would you describe your character on the show?
I think Melanie is a ball busting tomboy, who when you get to her core, is actually super sweet and probably a little bit more the girl next door than most people would give her credit for. There’s something really kind and loving underneath it all. I think just from her experiences, she had to put out a tougher exterior in order to survive in this heavily male-dominated world that’s she’s involved in. In fact, I think that if it came down to an actual fight in the bar, Melanie would be the one to actually win it more so than the guys. She’s tough, but she’s also just like every other chick I know who’s looking for the right guy. She’s extremely stubborn like Steve’s character, so trying to make that work will cause a little drama.
What can fans expect this season? Any guest stars we can look forward to?
We have Chris D’Elia and Billy Gardell. We were so lucky with our guest stars. We got some amazing comedians. I think it really goes well for us just because they’re all so fantastic on their own show to. It’s kind of nice to get some heavy hitters in there.
Vince Vaughn is an executive producer on the show. What’s that like?
I think it’s amazing and Vince is so active as a producer, which is so nice. He’s really involved. He’ll be on set and just stops us, gives us new lines and say, “Okay, this is working” or “This is not working.” He’s just so positive. He’s exactly what I thought he would be before I met him. He’s really amazing. We’re really lucky.
What’s one memorable moment you guys shared on set?
The chemistry scenes that Steve and I have. Vince would run in and whisper something in Steve’s ear and then Steve would change the line, and it’s hard sometime to keep a straight face when you haven’t heard it before and you’re really living in that moment. It’s hysterical but we manage to make it work. He’s just really good. He’s really good with the romantic comedy aspect too. Vince is just not a comedian. He has a great range acting wise. He’s able to help us with stuff that’s not even on the crazy funny side either. The character development is really nice.
Who would you like to guest star?
The person who I would love to come in to play my mom — even though I think she’s too young — is Geena Davis. I would love it. It would be amazing. And then if I ever got to pick another one: Betty White. I mean come on, just put her on there. Just give her anything. She’s amazing. She can play anything. She can play my sister if she wanted to.
What would you tell your younger self?
I’d tell my younger self to not be so hard on myself — to go back and just enjoy it. Just enjoy the ride because that’s something I have learned as I got a little older. Just enjoy the ride, it’s so long. The journey is long. “The race is long but in the end it’s only with yourself,” and I think that is so true
And maybe not to lean against bookshelves during auditions?
[Laughs] Yes, that too!
Sullivan & Son airs Thursdays at 10 PM ET/PT on TBS.