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'Sisterhood''s Amber Tamblyn Checks In to 'House'

ETonline, Monday, November 8, 2010, 5:15am (PST)

With the loss of Thirteen (Olivia Wilde), House (Hugh Laurie) has been ordered by his lady love/boss Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) to hire a replacement and to make sure she is female. Toward that end, she pushes him to hire brilliant third-year medical student Martha Masters ('Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'' Amber Tamblyn, who also stars in the just released Danny Boyle film, '127 Hours'). House is wary of the young doctor's lack of experience and medical perspective, but is forced to give her a chance to prove herself.

What were you excited about when they approached you to do "House"?

Amber Tamblyn: The main thing was Hugh Laurie. I had never seen the show before, but when they came to me and said they wanted to write a part for me, I said, "I don't want to do a medical show. That doesn't sound fun to me." I started to ask friends and they all went, "Are you an idiot? It is not a medical show. Have you ever seen it?" "No." I felt very stupid for thinking that. So I rented a bunch of the seasons and watched it and I was really blown away. It is not just Hugh, although it is him. It is the idea that you learn so much about these doctors and about these characters, not through long monologues about their backstory, or through their life and what they have been through, but you learn about them based on how they are tested in their work environment. To me that is incredibly interesting and very smart writing. I felt that I was in good hands to have a character written for me by David Shore. It was a combination of all those things: Working with Hugh and having David write something for me.

What was your impression of Martha Masters when you first read the script?

Amber Tamblyn: The part of Martha Masters was originally just an idea. [Executive producers] David Shore and Katie Jacobs had come to me and said, "We would like to write a character for you. Are you interested?" I said, "Yes." It wasn't until I signed on to do several episodes that I got to see a script. It was a very personal thing to me because the character was based on my real-life best friend, who is a med student, and her name is Martha Meredith Masters. In fact, they made her sign a release that she wouldn't sue FOX. Pretty hilarious. She is a med student and she is very much like this character. I am not saying anything out of turn, or mean about her, but she is incredibly brilliant, but sometimes she can be socially awkward. The fact that David Shore has never met the real Martha Meredith Masters and has written this character so perfectly, so like her, is pretty amazing. I think when they do meet, a giant black hole will form in the sky where all human brains will get tucked up in to. That didn't make any sense. Let's put it in the article, though!

What will we see and learn about Martha as your episodes unfold?

Amber Tamblyn: I think you're going to see someone who had been so much in the world of academia and accumulating knowledge that she never progressed or matured in a social sense. So, you're going to see someone that has a hard time communicating on some of the most basic levels, which I think is very common for people who are highly, highly, intelligent functioning people. I think that Martha may even have Asperger's. It's something that we've talked about. I know that Hugh's character does. So, it's potentially like she's a young version of him, only she believes strongly in the ethics of truth telling to the point of a fault. Just in the same way that he believes so much in that lying can help you find the truth to a fault. So, the two of them have distinctive ideas about how to get to the same thing. You're going to see her try to come into the real world for the first time. It's going to be pretty intense for her.

What type of medical research did you do for the role?

Amber Tamblyn: I didn't do any medical research. I did episode-by-episode research. If something was involving small-pox, then I would look that up. If there was a word I didn't know, which is about 90 percent of the words, I would look that up and see what it meant. As far as the onset training, when you are trying to draw blood or do IVs, they have a woman there who is incredible -- she was a nurse for many, many years and then retired to come be on the show and help us do anything we are doing on that episode.

Are you squeamish around blood?

Amber Tamblyn: No, I am not squeamish at all. It is a lot of fun. It is very fast-paced and you get very good at doing it. You start to think: "If something happened to one of my friends, I might be able to help," which is actually very dumb and not smart thing to think, but I do think that way. In an emergency, I could probably do CPR now.

Amber starts her arc on the “Office Politics” episode of "House" on Monday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on FOX.

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