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A student of journalism,actor Olivia Munn couldn't be happier about finally putting her degree to use

Mohini Chaudhuri

In a way,Hollywood actor Olivia Munn has been prepping for her role as the brainy economist in HBO’s TV series The Newsroom for years. In an interview at Singapore’s Four Seasons hotel,the actor opens up about the challenges of playing Sloan Sabbith and the evolution

of her character as the show enters its second season. The Newsroom Season 2 premiered last week in India on HBO Defined. Excerpts:

How has Sloan Sabbith’s character evolved in Season 2?

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Sloan is an economist but this year,she gets more involved in news stories. She sits in for the 10 pm broadcast and pushes the network to do more stories on anti-terrorism policies and drones. Also,we see a great relationship develop between Sloan and Jeff Daniel’s character (Will McAvoy). They now have this great big brother-little sister relationship.

On the show,you play an economics wizard. Personally,how good are you with numbers?

I’m pretty good. As an Asian,I have to be good at math. But to memorise any dialogue as difficult as Aaron Sorkin’s

(the show’s creator and writer),I have to go back and learn about every economic term. In a way,it has been like going back to school.


Sorkin is famous for writing long and unwieldy lines. How challenging is it to memorise them?

My favourite thing to do when I get the script is to look for a theme. Once you find that,it becomes easy to memorise the lines. For example,there is an episode where I’m talking to Mackenzie (Emily Mortimer) about the economy,but she keeps coming back to me about her personal life and why she cheated on Will. So then I talk about a $20 bill and how it’s not worth anything unless we all believe that it is. It works in a shared trust and once that breaks,we get problems like the debt crisis. Looking back,I think what my character is trying to tell her is that she broke Will’s trust and that’s why he can’t be around her anymore.

What kind of news stories do you like to follow?


I majored in journalism so my mother is very happy I’m using my degree in some way. I love watching all news channels. I watch cable news in the morning and then I jump into all the blogs. It is a fascinating world that we live in and it’s important to know what’s going on. I admire journalists. It’s a very difficult job to give the public information they need. But I’m much better at pretending to be a journalist than being a real journalist.

Was there any journalist or news anchor you modeled yourself on while researching for your character?

I had a big say in how my character should look and dress. I wanted Sloan to wear a nice tailored suit like a man wears a well-fitted suit. I wanted to show that as a woman she could embrace her femininity and not apologise for it by wearing turtle necks or play it up by wearing low-cut shirts. She wasn’t based on any one person,but I personally look up to Diane Sawyer,the anchor. She’s simple with her make-up and jewellery. She looks like a beautiful woman but does not flaunt it.

Most of the episodes are intense. How do you keep the mood on the sets light?

I probably joke around the most. I grew up in a military family where things were always quite serious,so I’m used to making jokes to make people laugh. Thankfully,nobody on the set takes themselves too seriously. Everybody is susceptible to making others laugh and having fun themselves.

First published on: 09-08-2013 at 05:53:46 am
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