Smash's Katharine McPhee Talks Auditions, Anjelica Huston and the Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey Beef

Alex Catarinella
We ran into Katharine McPhee (of Smash and American Idol fame) at last night's  Samsung Galaxy S III-sponsored M83 concert at Hammerstein Ballroom, who was kind of enough to chat with us about the Smash audition that sealed the deal and her thoughts on Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey's American Idol squabbling.

There are a lot of auditions in Smash's script. Do you remember your audition that got you the part?
Yes! I sang something from Thoroughly Modern Millie for my audition. They flew me to New York and I was starting to get sick. I could barely sing and my voice was cracking. They were like, "Its okay, we know you can sing." But I tried to get through it. I tried to sing "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, too. It didn't come out so well, but it was more about the scene work so I just had to wait for Steven Spielberg to watch the tape. And a few days later, I got the part!

What's it like working with the iconic Anjelica Huston?
She's so, so sweet. And chic! When she comes into our table reads, all she has on is mascara and her own hair -- it's longer than the wig that she wears on the show. She has the same bangs, but they're not as severe. She just always looks so fresh and young. I always say to her when I see her, "You look really pretty!" and she's like, "Really? Thanks!"

And we hear that theater legend Bernadette Peters is coming back for Season 2! That must be surreal for a former musical theater major...
Well, I went to school for like three semesters and then I dropped out. But yes, she's back! I grew up listening to all of the Sondheim soundtracks and my mom was a big Sondheim freak. So, Bernadette is the most amazing person to work with. The people who have as much success as actresses like Bernadette usually have the least amount of drama and diva-ness. The ones that have been around for ages --  there's a reason why they're as successful as they are.

Any off-camera bonding with any of your castmates?
Megan [Hilty] and I are going apple-picking upstate in a couple weeks. She's gonna pick me up in her car and we're gonna go with some of our cameramen from the show. I'm really excited.

Okay, we just have to go there. Thoughts on the American Idol Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey beef?
I barely heard about it today and I don't know the details. All I know is there was some yelling that was caught on tape and Nicki went off. It sounds like it could be not a good thing, but their altercation will be great press, for sure. Listen, it's gonna make great TV. If people know that now and it's just getting started, it's gonna be exciting.

Do you ever look back at your American Idol days?
Sometimes I'll see the pictures of when I've got caught at the airport when I had just left Idol. I was like, "Okay, a) What was I wearing? and b) Put some makeup on!" But I've kind of always been like that. I like the no-makeup look.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Samsung

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