Natalie Zea finally gets to work with old friend on ‘Unicorn’

Rick's Reviews

Natalie Zea has joined the cast of the CBS comedy “The Unicorn.” (Photo courtesy of CBS)

(KGET) — Natalie Zea and Walton Goggins were both in the series “The Shield” and “Justified” but they never had a scene together. The casting of Zea in Goggins’ CBS comedy series, “The Unicorn,” has again put them in the same show. The difference is this time they get to act together.

“The first two series, we did not get to say a single word to each other,” Zea says. “We were good friends. Thought the world of each other. But we never had the chance to interact in front of the camera.

“It’s weird because I have known him for like 20 years. I feel really lucky.”

The title of “The Unicorn” refers to a man who is employed, attractive and with a proven track record of commitment. Apparently, that’s a rare breed in the dating world. Goggins’ character, Wade Felton, has passed the grieving stage after his wife’s death and has returned to the dating world. A skunk and a cemetery bring Wade and Shannon (Zea) together.

Zea thinks that she agreed to be part of the show before reading that “meet cute” scene. The meeting was written in such a smart way that Zea felt like she got to play more in that one scene than she got to do in a whole year with other jobs. The scene was smart but it didn’t completely matter as she had made up her mind to take on the role of Shannon long before Goggins called her to make a long pitch as to why she should join the cast.

In many ways, Zea joining the cast is a lot like dating. It wasn’t enough that she wanted to work with the star of the show but needed to be accepted by the rest of the cast (similar to wanting the approval of your date’s family and friends) that had already been working together for a full season.

Her addition to the show was made easier because she and Goggins got to do several scenes together before she worked with the rest of the cast that includes Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller, Maya Lynne Robinson and Michaela Watkins.

“It’s a daunting thing especially when the people that you are working with are THESE people. They are all REAL good,” Zea says. “I still get intimidated but it lasts a good 30 seconds.”

Zea – a Texas native – is not really sure when she knew she wanted acting as a career. Whatever the spark, she headed to New York where she appeared in off-Broadways productions and in commercials. She moved to California to work on the daytime drama “Passions” after a strike ended commercial work for her on the East Coast.

Since then she’s done a broad amount of work with her breakout role coming in 2007 with the ABC primetime soap opera “Dirty Sexy Money” where she played socialite Karen Darling. Other work has included the films “Grey Lady” and “The Other Guys” plus the TV series “Hung,” “The Following,” “Californication” and “Under the Dome.”

Zea has bounced between comedy and drama but given a choice, she will go for the laughs.

“I do favor comedy but I really try not to put limitations on myself because the next thing that comes along that will be completely counter to what I had planned on doing,” Zea says. “I did do drama for so long I needed to step away from it and I have not grown tired (of comedy).”

There is some uncertainty surrounding Zea’s role on “The Unicorn.” By definition, this is a series that deals with a single man trying to find his way through the dating world. How long his journey will include Shannon will unfold as the series moves along. No matter what happens, Zea is happy to be part of a strong series that finally gave her a chance to work in front of the camera with a longtime friend.

“The Unicorn” airs at 9:30p.m. Thursdays on CBS. The Dec. 3 episode reflects current social issues when a child is given a water gun as a gift. As for Zea’s character, Wade tries to figure out how to celebrate Shannon’s birthday since their relationship is so new.

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