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Interview with Olivia Munn

Sloan

HBO

Understandably, Sloan takes the scandal in this episode pretty hard. Can you walk us through her reaction?

Olivia Munn

Sloan's interrogated by her bosses and she has to explain parts of her personal life that she thought she'd never share with her coworkers, let alone her superiors, let alone the world. It might seem like Reese is being insensitive, but I think he's treating her exactly the way she wants to be treated. She doesn't want to be coddled. She's a smart, strong woman who was betrayed by someone she trusted. She knows that Reese and Charlie care about her and she's trying her best to help the situation and herself, despite being shell-shocked.

Since she shares an office and Don is usually working, she feels his office is a good place to find solitude. In these scenes, I had a specific request of Tom Sadoski; I didn't want him to touch me. A lot of times when men see women cry, they think they should touch or hug them and "rescue them." I hate that. Sometimes when you're sad or angry, you just want someone to be there to hear you, give you space and respect that the last thing you want is for someone to placate you. Sloan ends up finding strength again when she helps Don with his own mini-crisis and gets out of her own head.

HBO

Is there a moment in the episode that stands out to you?

Olivia Munn

My favorite moment of probably the whole series for Sloan is when she makes the decision to step out of her hiding spot. She keeps her head up and forges forward. Charlie and Sloan pass each other, and without stopping or slowing down, Charlie grabs her arm and gives it a squeeze. Our director Alan Poul wanted us to have a moment. He let us play around, and that was Sam Waterston's instinct on the very first take. It felt so right. Sloan needed it, and truthfully after a hard day of tough scenes, I needed it too.

HBO

What was important for you to convey during those difficult scenes?

Olivia Munn

The humanness. In this day and age, we all have such a separation from what we see on the internet and the real people affected by it. We get so caught up in some salacious spin that we don't even think about if someone is getting hurt.

And strength. It was important to me that Sloan didn't crumble or become manic or hyper. Sloan was victimized, but it doesn't make her the victim. I wanted to show that Sloan may have taken a hit, but she didn't get knocked down. As a woman, it's important to me that Sloan knows how to take care of herself and doesn't let someone else's actions or opinions define who she is. 

HBO

As a public figure, do you empathize with Sloan's predicament?

Olivia Munn

As a human being I empathize with her. What happened to Sloan is so prevalent right now with so many people who aren't in the public eye at all. The copious number of suicides by young girls and gay teens due to bullying on the internet is one glaring example. If I got a group of people together to go after a gay person or a girl I hated and started screaming derogatory and discriminatory things, I could be arrested and charged with a hate crime. We need the same regulation, policing and punishment on the internet.

There also needs to be a law punishing those who repurpose hacked information. There are certain instances, like Wikileaks or [Edward] Snowden, where one could argue there's a public interest at stake. But in situations where personal information is released for entertainment purposes, it's at the expense of someone's personal privacy.

When someone is hacked or attacked, bloggers and news sites quickly repost, retweet and repurpose the photos or videos: "HACKED! See the personal photos you were never intended to see!" It's bananas to me that people are allowed to get away with that. If a burglar robbed your house and sold all of your stuff with a sign that said, "STOLEN! All of the personal items someone always wanted to keep!" that burglar would get arrested immediately. But when someone is preyed upon online, there seems to be this gang mentality where everyone jumps in and the victimization continues. We have to protect each other more.

HBO

What is Sloan thinking when she beats up her ex-boyfriend?

Olivia Munn

This probably isn't the politically correct answer, but it's that he deserved it. Most people wouldn't condone physical violence for retaliation, but since this is a fictional show and we're all actors, I can say kicking him in the balls is exactly what Sloan should have done. I only wish she had a pair of scissors to take them as a souvenir with her.

HBO

Is Sloan picking the wrong men or is she just unlucky in love?

Olivia Munn

I don't know. I've dated guys that I knew were the wrong guy, but it was the right thing for what I wanted in my life. Who's to say what's right or wrong for someone? What happened to her with this guy is unexpected. He isn't just "the wrong guy," he's a sick, demented, bitter guy. A lot of times, those are the guys that come off the most charming in the beginning. 

HBO

You have a degree in journalism. What attracted you to that world?

Olivia Munn

I love storytelling. That's also why I love acting. Journalism is the ultimate storytelling because you're telling stories that the public needs to know. 

HBO

Do any skills you learned as a reporter come in handy while playing Sloan?

Olivia Munn

I think the most helpful thing is that I feel comfortable at a news desk. I'm not "playing a journalist." When I got the 'The Daily Show,' I didn't audition for it. Jon [Stewart] called my reps, I had one meeting and he offered it to me. I asked, "Why me?" He said that most people who audition just emulate the other correspondents and don't have their own style. So my comfort playing a reporter is something that has helped me in my acting more than I ever anticipated when I started journalism school.

HBO

Were you interested in financial news before this role? Or has playing Sloan sparked an interest for you?

Olivia Munn

I was as interested in financial news as the average person is. Like the rest of the world, I've become more interested and knowledgeable in the last few years. Playing Sloan, I like to really know what I'm talking about so I can say it with honesty. Because I end up having to do a lot of homework about the economy, CNBC has made it into the preset XM channels in my car. 

Fast News

 

HBO

What would your newsroom beat be?

Olivia Munn

Finding, shaming and prosecuting internet bullies. 

HBO

Name a skill that good actors and good reporters share:

Olivia Munn

They want to be truthful and that they know they can't get anything done alone; they're part of a team. There are no individual stars.

HBO

Where do you get your news?

Olivia Munn

Everywhere; cable news shows, radio, XM/Sirius, internet.

HBO

If you could have Aaron Sorkin write your dialogue for one everyday interaction, what would it be?

Olivia Munn

How I talk to strangers. When I'm in non-work settings, I get bad social anxiety. I think it comes from moving around a lot as a military kid, always being the new kid in school.

15: News Night with Will McAvoy

Season 2