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'Men in Trees' Star Anne Heche Grows Into Her Role

Nov. 27 -- Anne Heche began her acting career playing the good and evil twins, Vicky and Marley Love Hudson, on the soap opera 'Another World' for four years. She followed her soap gig with roles in several TV movies and films including, 'Against the Wall,' 'Kingfish: A Story of Huey Long,' 'The Juror,' 'Donnie Brasco,' 'Volcano' and 'Wag the Dog.'

Anne Heche has come full circle back to TV.

She plays relationship counselor Marin Frist on the romantic drama 'Men in Trees.' While traveling to a speaking engagement in Elmo, Alaska, Marin discovers her fiancé has been cheating on her. She ditches the cheater and decides to stay in Elmo to start a new book about men. It's the perfect place for research because the ratio of men to women is ten to one.

In an exclusive interview, Heche chatted with AOL Television editor Sean Doorly about pairing up with 'Grey's Anatomy,' relationship advice and her first audition.



Congrats on the new slot after 'Grey's Anatomy.' How does that feel?
It feels fantastic. Obviously, we enjoy even getting on the air and Friday night is a tricky slot for anybody and I was warned about that. I was also told it was a good way to nurture a show and that if we kept some numbers they would be able to move us. So this was the dream spot certainly, and it shows so much faith and support from our network and studio. It's just a fantastic feeling and everyone here feels the same way.

For people who haven't seen 'Men in Trees' before, tell us what sets it apart?
On a broad scope, it's a good feeling show. It's not a violent show. It's not a negative show. This is a show about hope and love in a time of war and chaos. It's a show about real people. It's a comedy, for starters, so it's a very positive feeling. You don't have to go in and search through a whole bunch of darkness. This is a show about relationships and people finding their way and standing out as individuals in a town.

What do you admire about your character?
Marin is an eternal optimist who really believes in love, and she believes that to find it you must find it in yourself first. I'm an optimist, and I feel the same way. She really does love people and her journey as a relationship coach is to help people with not only their love relationships, but also their connection with themselves. She moves into this small town to find herself again after a devastating reality hits her -- that her fiancé has cheated on her. She has to re-examine her life and what she's about and look at the things she's been talking to people about and write what she believes is a deeper, more meaningful understanding of what life and love is all about.

Is there anything you would change about your character?
She changes all the time. I think that's what's so wonderful. We started out with a woman who thought she knew everything and gave advice on relationships and love and then had to re-examine all that. So she basically started at zero, and I think that's a beautiful place to start because there is so much opportunity for change and growth. They do that with Marin, she's drawn into this small world in Alaska and finding this relationship with herself and nature and the people of Elmo. And she's also a New York City girl and loves fashion and loves writing and is a thinker and a doer. She is in a struggle to understand who she is. And in trying to make those decisions, she's constantly going from one world to another in her discovery. That offers us a lot of opportunity for change with Marin, both in relationships and within herself.

You play a relationship coach. What's your key to a successful relationship?
It gets really tricky giving advice. It's so funny Marin is an advice giver because the older I get, the less advice I give. Relationships are complicated and, of course, that's what our show deals with -- the complications of it. But a relationship is about two individuals, and for me to stay healthy in a relationship the individuals have to nurture themselves.

Your husband, Coley Laffoon, is a stay-at-home dad. How did that come about? Did you chat about it?
Oh heck yeah, we chatted a lot about it. We wanted to have a baby, and we knew that I traveled all over and we wanted to able to be together as a family. I also didn't want to be a mom who was on the set with nannies all the time. He was a nanny for a while and a camp counselor. His passion was so alive and real in him, and he wanted to be the dad that stayed at home. It was a decision to try to figure out what was best for us in our relationships. Sometimes that means looking at what you are best at and having to make decisions that aren't necessarily the typical decisions, but to really examine what we were both best at and make our choices about our relationship and our family by looking at those.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, how far would you go back and what would the advice be?
I would probably go back to a very young age and tell myself to keep my mouth shut.

Were you a bit of a big mouth as a kid?
I think I was a bit of a big mouth my whole life. Obviously, I'm a person who expresses themselves with a lot of openness and I'm very grateful for the platform that I've had in my life to speak out about the things I care about in my life, so that's kind of a joke. I think I would have also told myself to take my time understanding and looking around and absorbing what was going on before I just spewed whatever it was I thought about everything. I tend to be more contemplative now.

Can you remember your first audition or Hollywood experience?
Oh heck yeah, my first one was for 'Murphy Brown' when I arrived the first week in Los Angeles. I drove onto the Warner Brothers lot and auditioned to play the young Murphy Brown. I got that role and was shooting the second week, and I looked at Candice Bergen and this incredible set and these beautiful comedians that were surrounding her and thought, "Hey, this is where I want to be someday." I knew that I had to work very hard to create a path for myself that might lead me to a place where I would be in the situation that Candice Bergen was. And it's amazing to me that I'm now here working on a Warner Brothers show with those people who first hired me and gave me the kind of dream or understanding of a goal that might work for my life.

Years from now when the show ends, what would you like to see happen to your character?
I don't even know. Marin is writing a book in the first season. I would like to see her write the book that she wants to write with the depth and understanding that she experiences in Elmo and New York or wherever they take her in the world. But I would like to see her grow as an artist and as a person who really believes that she has a voice in this world that can help people with hope, love, understanding and compassion for themselves.

If you could play one character, current or all-time, what character would that be?
I did not grow up on TV so I don't have a lot of things to reference really, so I guess I would just go back to the inspiration that Candice Bergen gave me. Murphy Brown was a woman who was powerful and complex and who had a clear voice and helped so many women understand who they are and their place in the world, so I think I would have liked that. I think that's why I searched so hard for a part that was so complex.