Starring as newscaster Kaitlin Fox in the new Netflix TV show “Florida Man”, currently available to stream, Lauren Buglioli has once again put herself to the test with a character that’s so distant from her personal experience, and yet so universally intelligible. A dramedy with thriller/noir vibes is luckily one of her favorite genres to watch and to work on, so this set was very special for multiple reasons. Among these, the understanding and caring atmosphere created by the directors, cast, and crew, but also the “Florida man” and “Florida woman” stories learned that served as inspirational references, alongside the wilderness of the TV series that was finally brought to life.
So, “buckle up” for our chat with Lauren about the show, funny personal anecdotes, and some words of wisdom on life and career.
What’s your first cinema memory?
I was absolutely obsessed with “The Wizard of Oz” as a child. I’d watch it on loop from the time I was 2 years old and when my mom got me the costume, it was over. I asked my parents to refer to me as Dorothy (sounds reasonable to me). We were in the LA airport at one point during this phase and when they wouldn’t call me Dorothy I screamed, “I’m not Lauren! I’m Dorothy from Kansas and I want you to take me back to my Aunt!”, so that was probably really fun for them. My first cinema memory is loving “The Wizard of Oz” so much that it was worth fictionally accusing my own parents of kidnapping me. I was committed to my role, okay?!
You’re starring in the Netflix TV show “Florida Man”, a dramedy with noir vibes revolving around former police officer Mike Valentine (Edgar Ramirez), and his chase to find his girlfriend who’s escaping from a Philadelphia criminal. What was your first reaction when you read the scripts of the episodes? What was the first question you asked the director about it?
My first reaction was laughter because Donald Todd and his team of brilliant writers have created a very funny show that allows the audience to enjoy imagining the hilarity and ridiculous antics behind so many of the “Florida Man” stories we hear about. Donald Todd created a ridiculously entertaining cast of misfit characters to bring this world to life. The genius behind this character-driven thriller is that it has both brilliant moments of drama and comedy so you stay on the edge of your seat. We had a different director every few episodes so I made an effort to get to know them before we started and then we dove in. Every one of them was incredible and they all reached out to me before I ever even got to set to see if I had anything I wanted to discuss prior to filming. It was so generous. That was the energy of this project. I feel so lucky to have been a part of it.
You play Kaitlin Fox, a relentless and extremely ambitious newscaster who tries to exploit the criminal activity going on behind the scenes of the protagonist’s journey in Florida to fulfill her desperate need for a new story. How did you approach this character? Was it challenging to connect with her and understand her motives?
I started by reaching out to family friends or friends of friends who worked in the news and reached out to some anchors online to hear stories about what it’s like to work in broadcast journalism. It gave me a lot of empathy for Kaitlin because it is clearly a demanding, competitive and challenging business. I even heard some horror stories (every industry’s got em!). Those horror stories gave me some juicy ideas to help build a backstory that would fuel her ambition and explain her unrelenting spirit. She’s extremely ambitious and quite a character and after hearing some behind-the-scenes stories and realities of working in media, I began to understand how she could become so relentless. Any industry where you say, “if it bleeds, it leads”, you’ve got to be a tough cookie, right?
“After hearing some behind-the-scenes stories and realities of working in media, I began to understand how she could become so relentless.”
Did you discover anything new about yourself while trying to connect with this character?
That her passion, drive and love of her craft is not that different from my own, it just manifests in a very different way. Where we differ is Kaitlin’s desire to win trumps everything. Winning is what matters most to her. She has a cutting edge to her that I don’t have, but it was fun to play. Kaitlin loves Jesus and coming out on top no matter whom she needs to trample on to get there.
It makes her complex and I love playing a complex woman!
Florida is the setting of so many stories we keep hearing: did any in particular help you prepare your role and get into the mood of the show? If so, do you remember how and why?
I did a lot of research listening to typical Florida newscasts that Kaitlin might cover. So many of them were the ridiculous “Florida Man” (or woman) stories we hear that became memes, so it helped me understand her frustration covering these stories when her desire is to be an investigative journalist. One that really stuck with me was, “Florida man learns the hard way he stole laxatives, not opioids”. Let me tell you, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I went down a weird rabbit hole doing research for this one.
The eternal dilemma that involves doing the right thing in a situation where nothing is right: this is a hot topic in the show. Do you ever find yourself having to deal with it firsthand? If so, how do you cope with it?
That’s definitely a hot topic in the show! I haven’t found myself dealing with that firsthand, thankfully! Considering the vast amount of criminal activity in this show that is being referred to, I think you’ll be comforted by my answer! I personally am way too much of a goody-two-shoes to survive a minute of the world in this show. They’d eat me alive! But I can play a fictionally cutthroat Floridian who will do what it takes to survive any day!
This crime thriller has a darkly comedic side: was this mixture of genres a challenge or an advantage for you, all in all?
I love this particular combination of genres because the comedic relief provides levity from those intense moments that characterize a thriller. It’s my favorite kind of show to watch, so to be a part of the creation of a show like this was such a gift.
How would you describe this show in one word?
WILD. Buckle up!
What’s your favorite genre to play and your favorite one to watch?
My favorite to play would be comedy. I love drama as well, particularly when I can find comedy in it. My favorite to watch would truly be a toss-up between comedy and drama, depending on my mood.
What makes you say yes to a project, in general?
I get excited to play a new character that feels like a challenge. If I’m a little nervous and intimidated by a role, it means I’m right where I’m supposed to be. That’s where the fun and growth is. I love to remind myself that nerves are just excitement without breath.
When you approach a character, do you tend to be more rational or emotional?
It’s honestly equal! I like to look at the script from a technical place and map out my character’s arc while doing an equal amount of character development and emotional prep to bring them to life.
“Nerves are just excitement without breath.”
An epic fail on set?
I was sashaying away from Edgar’s character in the second scene we shot together and shot him a sassy look over my shoulder and accidentally walked directly into a bush. So smooth! We laughed about it thankfully because he’s the absolute kindest and a dream to work with.
Your must-have on set?
I bring a huge water bottle with me to keep in my trailer. Honestly, it’s so easy to forget to stay hydrated and I never want to wind up with a headache on a long day. I also bring a quote that inspires me so that when I revisit my trailer, I can center myself and get grounded, stay present, and remind myself to enjoy every moment.
What’s the thing that makes you laugh the most?
My two best friends from childhood have the most adorable children and they crack me up. I Facetime them a lot. They call me Aunt Lauren or Mommy Lauren (listen, my bestie actually started it!) and ask to see my dogs. I recently Facetimed one of them and she said hi to my dogs while they were in their crates. She exclaimed, “Mommy Lauren, oh NO! Whyyyy you put dem in JAIL?!” I’m obsessed with them because they are my best friends’ kids, but objectively, they’ve all got great comedic timing.
Your most remarkable act of rebellion?
Being happily single and confident in a society that can make women feel like there’s something wrong with them if they’re happily single and confident.
What’s your biggest fear?
It’s deep, but a healthy fear, I think. I fear I’ll look back on my life and regret worrying too much/not enjoying it more. I’m grateful I have enough self-awareness to realize I have a tendency to worry, but I think this allows me to prioritize mindfulness because joy is only found in the present moment, right? And committing to moving through moments of fear and anxiety to prioritize joy is really important to me.
What does it mean to you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
That is a practice for me. Some days it’s easier than others but I like to talk about it being a practice because I don’t feel amazing and confident and comfortable in my skin every minute of every day. It’s a practice, and I work to realign to a place of love and appreciation for my body and to do my best to remember I’m much more than my body or appearance, as is everyone.
What’s your happy place?
I love the mountains. I grew up going with my grandparents as a child and it’s my favorite place to reset, reflect and recharge. I need time to disconnect and regain perspective, read, write, rest, and reboot in nature with my pups.