Last July, six cast members of Schitt's Creek flew to Italy to spend time together in a Tuscan villa.
The trip was a wrap gift courtesy of cocreator-costar Dan Levy, who surprised everyone by screening their audition tapes. "You could see little glimmers of each character," Annie Murphy says, "but I didn't go in with any of the physicality."
The character choices she's referring to — like exaggerated facial expressions — are a large part of what made her Alexis Rose character a fan favorite over the show's six seasons.
The CBC–PopTV coproduction, streaming on Netflix, follows the members of a formerly wealthy family who suddenly find themselves broke and living in the town they once bought as a joke. Last year, the show earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series.
Murphy found inspiration for Alexis by watching YouTube clips of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and the Kardashians. But another celebrity was perhaps the greatest influence of all.
"Season one, on paper, Alexis is not someone you would want to be friends with — self-absorbed, rich, bratty," Murphy says. "But on the character breakdown, at the very end, it said, 'a young Goldie Hawn.' So yes, Alexis is all of these negative things, but like all human beings, she's so much more."
Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Murphy studied acting at Concordia University in Montreal and at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. She booked the occasional role, but for the most part, she says, "It was always down to me and one other girl, and I was the one waiting by the phone."
Her life before the Schitt's Creek audition makes for perfect magazine fodder now.
She was broke, she hadn't booked a job in nearly two years, her apartment had just burned down for reasons that are still unknown, and she had just completed her first screen test (for NBC's Constantine), which went terribly. "And it was either the next day or the day after that I got the audition for Schitt's Creek."
The series finale aired in April, and these days, Murphy is focused on her next role: she stars as Allison in the upcoming AMC series Kevin Can F***k Himself, a dark comedy that plays with the tropes of the traditional sitcom wife.
Reflecting on the events that preceded her booking Schitt's Creek — which led to her first professional job at the top of the call sheet on Kevin — she smiles and says, "I really wouldn't change a thing."
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, issue No. 7, 2020