Anna Camp lights up the screen — and any soundtrack she comes near — so it's no wonder her name brings up memories of the Pitch Perfect franchise (nor why she was cast to sing her heart out in NBC’s new hit series, Perfect Harmony). But considering her simply part of the chorus oversimplifying a major acting career: Camp has starred in SO. MANY. of our favorite series over the past decade. She's one of the hardest working actresses in Hollywood, which is something she set her mind to as a child.
“I knew when I was in second grade, I definitely wanted to be an actress,” Camp told InStyle. “But I have very fond memories of being really, really little and hanging out at my grandmother’s house. I would always wander around, like kind of jokingly singing along to ‘Madame Butterfly’ or something, to make everyone laugh.”
Camp is just as happy portraying deliciously evil characters as she is playing the good girl.
“I love both, you know?!” she enthused. “I especially love playing Ginny right now on Perfect Harmony, because she’s balanced. I think there’s a lot of good in her, but man, she gets scrappy sometimes and jealous. And she gets angry, messy, and dirty and makes mistakes. And so, playing a character that’s got both of those sides is something that I’m always so attracted to, because I can explore that within myself; it makes for a fully rounded character.”
Playing the villain can be intriguing, Camp acknowledged. “They can be some of the most complex people. I also get to do some of the funniest things that are written. Moments that you would never do in your real life, that evil people get to do — that's really awesome.”
Camp already has a busy 2020: Next up, she will play a bad girl in The Lovebirds with Issa Rae, out in February. But with the decade coming to a close, we asked Camp to take a walk down memory lane, sharing with InStyle some of her favorite memories from the shows she's worked on in the last 10 years. Keep reading, for her peak 2010s moments.
On playing Bethany Van Nuys on Mad Men (2010)
That was a pretty neat, magical moment for me. I was a big fan of the show before I even got an audition. One of my most surreal memories was being in the back of one of the cabs, wearing this stunning 1960’s vintage silver satin matching coat and dress, which actually had real monkey fur on it. I remember feeling terrible about that. But the costume designer was like, "No it happened, it’s vintage."
We’re shooting in downtown Los Angeles, for the premiere episode of Season 4, This is the very first date for Jon Hamm’s character (Don Draper) after his divorce. The cameras are attached to the cab’s side and Jon is sitting with me; the light is kind of shining on him and back on me. And in the scene, we have to kiss.
And I just remember thinking, "What is happening?! How did I go from watching this show and being so in awe of it, and of course, having a huge crush on Jon at the time, to being in the back of the cab, actually kissing him, being an actress on the show?!" It was definitely a career highlight I will say.
I lasted three episodes — wish I was there a little longer! But I definitely got to have a little bit of an arc on the show, which was a dream of mine. I never even thought I would get an audition, so the fact that I got to do three episodes was absolutely delightful.
On playing Caitlin D’Arcy on The Good Wife (2012, and returning in 2016)
My gosh, my favorite moment that I got to do with the talented Julianna Margulies. was my final episode, when Caitlin decides she wants to go off and have a baby and leave her law career for the moment. There’s a very sweet simple scene between me and Julianna’s character, Alicia Florrick, where I think she’s finally understanding me for the first time.
There was a bit of a competition between the two of us throughout the seasons that I was on, but there’s a moment where the two come together. They see each other for what the other one is, and understand there is no competition.
Alicia is kind of awakened by Caitlin, and starts to question her own choices and what it’s like for her to have been a mother and balancing a career. It was just a beautiful scene; I remember shooting it late at night, and there were not that many people on set. It just felt so wonderful to connect with such an incredible actress.
So that’s a moment that I will never forget, and I’m so thankful I got to be in such an iconic show with such talented people.
On playing Gwen Grandy in The Mindy Project (2012-2013)
I only did like five episodes of that one! But it was fun, we all had such a great time. There was a Thanksgiving episode where I broke my arm — and then I ran in on Mindy kissing Ed Helms. I have a vague memory of that.
I remember I couldn’t keep a straight face, because it was so funny! Every time I would walk in on them, they were doing something funny, like making out or whatever. And I remember that being hysterical! My god, that’s a long time ago!
On playing Sarah Newlin on True Blood (2014)
This was such an amazing job — the craziest, wildest storylines of any show I’ve ever seen. I think that’s why it was so addictive for audiences. One of my favorite memories was in Season 2, when I first came on the series. There was a really funny, crazy sequence, dancing around while they blasted music on set, during this barbeque scene.
There we were, this very Christian, vampire-hating couple; I’m the preacher’s wife and we’re having Jason Stackhouse (played by Ryan Kwanten) over, and he starts to fantasize about me. It was such a fun, funny, freeing moment for me in my career, because all of it was improv.
I was a shy kid growing up, to be honest. I didn’t really have that many friends, and so it’s really liberating when you get to break out of your shell. People still come up to me and tell me that they loved that scene in the show, which is pretty funny.
Also memorable was a scene at the end of the series, when I had to kill this lady with the high heel. The writer came up to me and was like, "We have this amazing fight and chase sequence all story boarded out for you." And I got to see how I’m running around at the camp, where I have the vampires all chained up, wearing this long white pantsuit, which gets covered in blood.
I can’t think of anything to kill her with, except her own high heel, and then I thank Jesus after I have killed her! I mean it’s something I never, you can’t even, just reading the script I was like, "How are we going to do this?" They built an entire ramp and all of these things that I had to run on. That whole chase and fight sequence was really epic. I think we shot it over three days, so that was something that was really memorable for me.
On playing Jane Hollander in Good Girls Revolt (2015-2016)
It was such a frustrating thing when we got canceled or not renewed even though the show was loved by so many people and the critics seemed to love it as well. Just the coming together of the women on that show in such a pivotal time. That was before Trump was elected, and Hillary was a candidate and we were all fighting for her, and it was pre-MeToo.
I felt like we were just making a show at a most important time in our history, about such an important time period. There were so many scenes of us coming together and finding our voices, and it was mirroring life, you know? And we were just so hopeful.
There’s this scene where one of the male characters takes Jane to an art museum and he actually ends up (indiscreetly) showing himself there. This is all before any of this stuff had come out, like literally months before. It was just such a hard scene to shoot.
Also, it was something that was important for people to see what was going on in the ‘60s, versus what’s going on today. So to me, I’m still frustrated that it got canceled so early because I feel like it was so important.
On playing Deirdre Robespierre in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2016-2017)
Playing Dierdre Robespierre was one of my favorite characters because there’s something so tragic about her! She’s just so pinned up and crazy and desperately wanting more out of life. But also trapped in this loveless marriage; she’s this Upper East Side mom who’s just about to pop.
One of my favorite scenes I got to do was obviously with Jane Krakowski, when we were at the gala and almost kissed! We’re doing this sort of one upping each other at there and getting so close, almost turned on by fighting each other, that we have a moment where we almost make out!
And that was not planned, it just happened spontaneously and organically on set that day, because Jane is obviously so willing to play and go there. The characters are just so incredibly well matched that it was like fireworks when we were there. That was one of my favorite times.
I remember hearing the writers and producers and everyone just laughing behind the monitors. And you know, when you’re shooting a TV show, it’s not like a play, you don’t get an immediate response from an audience. So when you do hear people laughing from behind the monitors, you’re like, "Oh boy, this must be something good. We must have done something good." I loved, loved, loved being on that show.
On playing Ginny on Perfect Harmony (2019)
There’s so much for everybody, lots of musical moments and comedy. We filmed a scene between Arthur (Bradley Whitford) and my character, Ginny, where she has been making some poor decisions in life. Whenever we get to have these really great grounded chats between the two of us, those are kind of my favorite.
And so there’s a scene when we’re in this school gymnasium, and he really is pushing me to find my confidence, not to back down and be authentic to myself. I always like finding challenging work to help me grow, and that’s definitely a moment that sticks out in my mind.
Another moment that was so fun to shoot was [the song] "9 to 5," when I got to dance in the diner which was so, so delightful. Obviously, I love singing, and love Dolly Parton, and getting to do that was a very fun and memorable. And then Dolly tweeted at me that she saw it, and said that it was beautiful! So that was icing on the cake!