US star Lyndsy Fonseca, known for her roles in films and TV shows including Kick-Ass, Desperate Housewives and How I Met Your Mother, is making her stage debut at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She tells Fergus Morgan why she is so keen on throwing herself in the deep end and how her own marriage – to co-star Noah Bean – is at the heart of the play
Lyndsy Fonseca knows what it’s like to be thrown in at the deep end. She started young. Born in California in 1987, she was cast in her first soap opera – CBS’ The Young and the Restless – at the age of 13.
“I grew up dancing a lot,” she says. “So I started performing when I was in diapers, but the whole acting thing just seemed very unattainable. Then an agent discovered me and one thing led to another. By the age of 14 I was in Los Angeles in a soap. So my whole family moved to LA and I’ve been professionally acting ever since.”
More TV shows and films followed. She landed parts in the movies Kick-Ass and Hot Tub Time Machine, had recurring roles in sitcom How I Met Your Mother and drama Desperate Housewives, then in 2010 was cast as a lead in Nikita, a big-budget, spy-thriller box-set that ran until 2013. In Hollywood, she felt like “the world was my oyster”.
Fonseca doesn’t regret being swept up into the world of film and TV so young, but there were some downsides. “It took me throughout my 20s to catch up academically,” she says.
“I felt like I was very streetwise and had a good work ethic at a very young age, but there were a lot of novels I never wrote essays about. There were a lot of history lessons that I never sat through. When I was in my 20s I felt ahead of the game in many ways, because I’d been working for so long, but I also felt like I needed to go back and do a bit more real homework.”
Now aged 32, Fonseca is taking on a new challenge – theatre. She’s swapping Hollywood for Holyrood, and appearing in a month-long run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, starring in US playwright Jonathan Caren’s play Four Woke Baes. She’s making her theatrical debut in the dank and dripping environs of Underbelly Cowgate at 5.05pm every day.
“I am a little nervous,” she says when we speak, shortly before the festival starts. “I’ve got 96 pages. I have to just go up there. There’s no director shouting: ‘Action’. There’s no editing. But I feel really hungry for the new experience and the new medium. I definitely feel, after so many years of working in film and television, that I want to have an experience that throws me off.”
Caren’s play, which follows the fallout when four male friends on a camping stag do are confronted by a mysterious woman, is designed to explode our presumptions and preconceptions about monogamy, marriage and masculinity. Fonseca says that it will make audiences “face whatever secret questions” they’re hiding from.
“Jonathan has a way of writing that’s very easily accessible,” she says. “It’s sort of misleading. It’s almost as if you’re watching TV, and it’s something you can just jump right into, but then all of a sudden, you’re in the middle of the play and you realise how many layers there are. And as an actor, that’s just a giant well of opportunity.”
She continues: “I think people who see this play, whether they’re single, looking for the perfect love or have been married for 50 years, it’s definitely going to spark some conversation between them.”
Fonseca can say that with confidence, because her own marriage is actually at the heart of the play. Her husband, Noah Bean, who also appeared in Nikita, is starring alongside her. Their year-old baby is tagging along for the ride, too. “We kind of feel like that old-timey, gypsy-wagon family getting on the road, you know,” she says.
Their biggest hurdle, she continues, is making sure their characters, who meet for the first time in the play, don’t seem too familiar on stage.
“How do you perform that you are just meeting someone for the first time when you spend all your time with them and you know them so well?” she asks. “We’ve been together six years, and we’ve got to portray these people who are newly drawn to each other. That can be a really challenging thing to find.
“But then there are things we don’t need to find, like a connection and a love for each other, because they’re already there. We’re ahead of the game there.”
Four Woke Baes will be Fonseca’s first time performing professionally in a play, but she’s already planning on doing more – unless the Edinburgh Fringe puts her off for good.
“A actor friend said something to me the other day: ‘Every play I do feels like the first play I’ve done.’ And she’s been on Broadway. This is my first play, and I thought it was very interesting for someone who’s more experienced in the theatre world to say that. Absolutely, I’ll want to do more theatre.”
Four Woke Baes is at Underbelly Cowgate until August 25