Kelly Brook is not that different from the character she’s playing on the new NBC comedy “One Big Happy.”
She portrays Prudence, a free-spirited whirlwind who disrupts what seems to be a perfect plan by best friends Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert) and Luke (Nick Zano) to have a baby together. Luke’s promise to help raise the child seems in jeopardy when he marries Prudence in a moment of passion.
“She comes into this dynamic in a little bit of a naive way. She’s positive. She’s so in love with Luke. She thinks there’s not going to be any problems. It’s all going to work out after the initial shock of finding out that Lizzy’s character is pregnant, and yeah, I don’t think she even realizes half the time that Lizzy doesn’t like her,” Brook says.
And that’s the way the British model, actress and presenter is approaching her first starring role in an American network comedy. She fell so madly in love with the role when she first read the script, Brook knew she had to jump on a plane and fly to America to audition.
That’s the same kind of impulsive move she would expect Prudence to make.
It didn’t help that she’s never done a comedy in front of a studio audience. She’s got some experience with crowds having been on British reality and awards shows, but the majority of her acting has been in TV shows like “Smallville” or feature films such as “Survival Island” and “Piranha 3D.”
What Brook lacks in knowledge — again not unlike Prudence — she makes up with a zeal and passion for the job that makes her a force the moment she comes on screen.
“I’m not frightened to be a bit over the top and a bit crazy as an actor,” Brook says. “I’m quite happy to be told to tone it down. Maybe a lot of actresses who read for the part were afraid of doing that. I believe that in a sitcom you do have to bring the energy up. We don’t have a lot of sitcoms in England.”
The writers are taking advantage of Brook’s willingness to do anything. In one of the early episodes, her character appears to be naked.
When the scene was shot, Brook was supposed to be covered and the nude look created later with special effects. But the actress went au naturel in front of the cameras to get a real reaction from her co-stars.
“It was the the first time I had worked with Elisha and it seemed like a good way to have some fun and bond with her,” Brook says.
The sans clothing move created some laughs on the set. That was perfect for Brook, who likes to use humor to win people over. She’s accustomed to acting ditzy as a way to win roles. It’s not an approach she plans to use all her life, but she will take advantage of it while she can.
It was obvious to Cuthbert and Zano that Brook was the right person to play Prudence. Zano recalls how she was an immediate hit the first time she auditioned to be part of this TV odd couple.
Just like Prudence, Brook believes she would go along with a similar situation in real life.
“I think the message is you can’t really plan anything in life. Life gives you what it gives you,” Brook says.
One big plus for Brook in taking on Prudence is that the character was always written as a Brit. The custom on almost every American TV show is to make anyone with an English, Australian or other accent speak like they were born in the United States. Because she doesn’t have to worry about that, it gives Brook more energy to focus on being funny.
The early part of Brook’s career was more reality shows and hosting duties, but she always wanted to act.
“I have kind of jumped between acting and modeling and TV hosting and all sorts of different things. Acting comes in waves. In my 20s, I enjoyed doing different things. I have a fashion line,” Brook says. “I was just waiting for the right acting project to come along and with this one it was just ‘wow,’ this is the one thing I’ve done that has the most potential.
“It’s most like me as a person as well. I was happy to put everything aside to go on this journey.”