‘Smash’ Star Katharine McPhee Talks Auditioning For Steven Spielberg

'Mr. Spielberg, when you meet him, he is not intimidating at all,' McPhee tells MTV News.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Katharine McPhee in the spotlight. Now all eyes are on her as the “American Idol” alum takes on the leading role as Karen Cartwright in the highly anticipated NBC musical drama “Smash.”

But the road to “Smash” hasn’t been an easy one for McPhee. After coming in as runner-up in the 2006 season of “American Idol” and starring in “The House Bunny,” McPhee has had a rough road on her career path. She was dropped from her record label in 2008 and struggled with getting other movie projects off the ground. But her determination paid off, which is something she could relate to when playing her character on “Smash.”

“My character, Karen, is the biggest dreamer of them all, she dreams big. Our show is about dreaming big,” McPhee told MTV News at the New York premiere of “Smash.” “She has a big heart, she has a lot of drive and she’s very determined about what she wants in her career and what she wants out of it and how she’s gonna go about doing it, and keeping a real strong moral code. I think she is a little green when you first meet her. She’s not quite sure how things go and how things are worked in the business, [and] she learns a lot throughout the course of the first season.”

The show centers on the making of a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. In the first episode, viewers will see McPhee’s struggle with several auditions before getting a callback to compete against newcomer Megan Hilty’s character for the part of Marilyn. But according to McPhee, her audition for the role of Karen was nothing like the one you will see during the premiere on Monday.

“I did have to audition for this,” McPhee said. “It was actually one of the more simple auditions I’ve been through. I auditioned, put myself on tape, flew to New York the next week, was testing for it. I waited two days for Mr. Spielberg to watch the tape and I got the part.”

Yes, that’s right. McPhee had to audition for Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, who is a producer on the series. So we had to ask: Who is more intimidating to audition for, Spielberg or former “Idol” judge Simon Cowell?

“I would say neither,” McPhee declared. “Mr. Spielberg, when you meet him, he is not intimidating at all. He’s the most lovely, wonderful, gentle man.”

Are you excited for Monday’s premiere of “Smash”? Let us know in the comments.

Christina Garibaldi has been an on-camera reporter for MTV News since 2011. When not interviewing or writing about her favorite stars, she keeps herself busy with baby animal videos and boy bands.
@ChristinaMTV