“They wouldn’t get a shower for days, and you can’t be fussy about food,” Imogen Poots says with a shrug. The doe-eyed Brit is discussing her approach — a form of method acting if you subscribe to generally accepted hygiene practices — to Kelly Ann, the latest character consuming Poots.
She’s starring in Cameron Crowe’s new Showtime series “Roadies,” premiering on June 26. Poots plays one of the titular characters in the ensemble comedy, which stars Luke Wilson and Carla Gugino as the tour manager and production manager, respectively, for a fictional arena band called Staten-House Band.
To prep for her role as Kelly Ann, one of the well-traveled gear heads who stage massive concert tours, Poots met with Crowe’s network of tour pros for Fleetwood Mac and Pearl Jam. (Crowe, as the world knows from his semiautobiographical film “Almost Famous,” is a former music journalist.)
Kelly Ann’s storyline is one of the series’ major subplots, as she struggles with her decision to leave the tour — and her makeshift “Roadies” family — behind to attend film school in New York. Poots describes her character as a twentysomething with an old soul, a throwback idealist. “What immediately stood out was the state of confusion that we find her in, because she’s got this grand philosophy about holding on to the old way and not letting the new corporate system threaten that,” she says, her pool-blue eyes widening. “I think she’s a victim of [the] myth of how we all say, ‘Well, the Seventies was better for cine- ma,’ or ‘The Twenties and Thirties had it down for screwball comedy,’ or whatever. I think she feels that way about the music industry. But she’s not really listening to this era that she’s in and she has to be a part of.”
But Poots says she enjoys playing flawed characters. “I do think her values are misplaced, but that’s OK because she really means it in that moment. I think it’s interesting to watch people make mistakes.”
Understanding Kelly Ann’s mind-set was only a part of Poots’ preparation; she also learned to skateboard, mastered an American accent (she hails from London) and conquered her fear of heights. “I sat down on this rig and I was thinking about other things in my head, and suddenly, way, way up there in the rafters, I was like, ‘I guess I’m not afraid of heights,’” she laughs. “I was surprised at that.”
An abiding passion for music and the gypsy lifestyle drives every character on “Roadies,” not unlike the life of an actor. Or a sometimes model: Poots, lithe with startlingly angular features and full lips, has landed campaigns for major luxury brands such as Miu Miu, Chloé and Marni. As for her own musical preferences, Poots is more alternative than mainstream, specifically leaning toward English New Wave. “The Smiths were the first band that really floored me,” she says. That led to discovering a slew of other similar-sounding, similarly named bands via iTunes: The The, The Replacements, The English Beat, The Rave-Ups and so on.
Ironically, her first concert “was with a friend of mine and we were about 11,’” she recalls, shaking her head with endearing self-deprecation. “It was her birthday party and it was a Destiny’s Child concert. I thought Beyoncé was amazing, but I didn’t really understand what this was about. It really was a car crash of a situation, because I was wearing a Linkin Park T-shirt.”