Practice Makes Perfect

A surgeon in stilettos on her hit show, "Private Practice," Kate Walsh takes off her shoes and opens up about her unusual childhood (her divorced mom, the “original cougar,” married a guy 17 years younger!), her tabloid divorce and what it’s like to be the hardest-working perfume mogul in show business.

by Margy Rochlin
Kate Walsh, Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy
Photograph: Peggy Sirota

Walsh’s professional plate was already full when she had a brainstorm: Why not invent a floral fragrance that also evokes a man’s scent—faintly woody—and call it Boyfriend? After developing the product, she launched it last year with a series of witty online “webisode” commercials she wrote, directed and starred in. Walsh also hawked the Boyfriend kit (which includes eau de parfum spray, dry body-oil spray, pulse-point oil, body cream and a votive candle) on the Home Shopping Network. It sold out. “It’s all my investment,” she says. “I made the prototype. We went out and sold it to HSN, to Sephora. Then I got a loan from the bank. It was a big thing to go, OK, I’m doing this! I’m making this whole thing come together. This weird orchestra. Some part of me really clicked in. My feeling was, If this is successful, it would afford me a little freedom to do what I want.” Emboldened by the Boyfriend experience, Walsh is toying with the idea of expanding her product line and maybe trying her hand at directing or following in Dick Cavett’s ’70s footsteps with a smart late-night (online) talk show.

On Private Practice, if there is a question that is consistently posed to Addison, it’s about having it all. “I think Shonda [is] interested in writing something more adult, more what [is] going on with people in their thirties and forties,” Walsh says. “What happens after your dream comes true? Then what?”

These are concerns that also churn in Walsh’s mind: “You know, it’s real issues, what it’s like to be a woman in your forties, childless, in a relationship, been married, divorced.” Walsh pauses, then intones jokingly, “Not that there are any parallels to my life!”

Sometimes, she confesses, “I feel like a loser. I would definitely love to be a parent. But I definitely don’t think I want to do it on my own. Things are just going to go the way they go.”

Back in January, ABC announced it had picked up Private Practice for a fifth season. That means Walsh knows where she’ll be reporting for duty at least until 2012. Occasionally, though, she feels a flutter of her old childhood wanderlust, and she starts thinking about returning to the East Coast. “It’s easy to romanticize the past,” she says. “When I lived in New York, I lived in a rent-controlled apartment. I had three bills to pay: rent, gas and electric, phone. A very simple life.”

Then she reminds herself that 15 years ago she was also waitressing unhappily in jazz clubs at night, going to auditions during the day and wondering if a big break was ever going to come her way. What am I trying to get back to? is what she asks herself. “I live here,” says Walsh, snuggling into the thought. “I have a great life. It’s pretty glorious.”

Originally published in the April 2011 issue of More.

 

Want MORE? Check our interview with Julie Bowen.

 

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First Published March 23, 2011

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