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Crazy, Stupid Love's Tipton has skating roots

From the big screen back to the rink

Analeigh Tipton recently performed at a benefit show in California.
Analeigh Tipton recently performed at a benefit show in California. (courtesy of Analeigh Tipton)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(08/11/2011) - Actress Analeigh Tipton has been lighting up movie screens this summer with her role as Jessica, a teenage babysitter with a crush on Steve Carrell's character, in the comedy Crazy, Stupid Love. This fall she'll have a recurring role in the hit HBO series Hung. But at the moment, she wants to talk skating.

Tipton, 22, who started skating at the age of two and a half and competing by age seven, recently returned to the ice after a five-year absence to skate in a benefit show in Stockton, Calif., to raise money to rebuild a rink in her hometown of Sacramento that was damaged by a fire.

"Because I can't jump anymore, I did a theatrical program," says Tipton, who skated singles and pairs (before she got too tall) and also competed at the novice and junior levels at the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships.

"I was a ballerina doll that came to life and got to have a moment of freedom dancing and frolicking about before returning to her statue position," Tipton says. "I was terribly nervous. I was literally in the back in the curtained area trying to figure out how to do a sit spin again."

Tipton had planned to spend a few weeks preparing for the performance, but press duties for Crazy, Stupid Love, which also features Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei, kept her off the ice. She arrived in Sacramento right after the film's New York premiere and had only a couple of hours practice before performing.

She says the doll come to life character worked to her advantage.

"Instead of using my skating for acting, I got to use my acting in my skating," Tipton says.

On Tipton's Wikipedia page, she's described as "an American figure skater, actress and fashion model." This makes her laugh because although she trained with some "golden kids" in Northern California, she had way more heart than skating talent.

"For me, we could guarantee pretty skating, but we could never guarantee jumping. It was not my forte," she says.

Her coaches, Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko (two-time world professional champions), strongly suggested ice dancing, but Tipton loved free skating. As she started high school, she steered more towards local shows and showcase style competitions.

Around age 16, she left skating after yielding to her desire for a more normal teenage existence. By then, she was 5-foot-9, and she started dabbling in modeling. Scouts for America's Next Top Model found her on Myspace and encouraged her to try out. She placed third on season 11.

She moved to Los Angeles to write and then found her way into acting. Her first big film was The Green Hornet opposite Seth Rogen.

"I played a very specific role -- the hot chick that woke up in bed with Seth Rogen," says Tipton. "Because of that, I learned some very important improv skills. Seth Rogen starts a scene without really needing to follow the script, so you have to keep up with him. That in turn gave me the confidence to sit next to Steve Carrell and go back and forth with him without being too nervous."

Tipton says Carrell and Moore were wonderful to work with and always treated her like an equal.

"I never felt intimidated by them because they never make anybody feel intimidated. They're so grounded," she says.

She was inspired by Stone and her complete commitment to acting and delivering the goods in a comedy. Gosling made her a bit nervous.

"Ryan is such a cool guy," Tipton says. "He's actually the only one that intimidated me. Not because he's intimidating, but because he's Ryan Gosling, and he's got that really cool guy vibe. I don't know how to handle cool guy vibe because I'm so not a cool girl."

Her character on Hung, Sandee, initially appears as a bubbly, fumbling girl who works in a bakery. Things change after her fiancé cheats on her, but as the season progresses she decides to use it to her advantage by pimping him out. He competes with the lead character, a high school teacher moonlighting as a gigolo, for clients.

"It's going to make a really fun, interesting twist in the show. Definitely adds a different dynamic between the female characters that hasn't been there," Tipton says. The new season of Hung begins on HBO on Oct. 2.

Tipton is also excited that a film in which she appears, Damsels in Distress, will be closing the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 10 and then will screen at the Toronto Film Festival. Sony Classics has picked it up for worldwide distribution.

Life is exciting, but the rejections that come with acting are constant. Tipton says skating prepared her for whatever comes her way.

"Skating prepared me for failure, which I say with the best heart and the biggest smile," Tipton notes. "I loved skating so much that I was willing to get on the ice over and over and over again because I loved being in that moment and being able to bring something to life and create something beautiful.

"I never won," she adds. "I knew that was probably never going to be as much as I desired it to be. What I learned was that the important thing is to do something and make something that you love.

"In acting, every day I go out to audition and I go into a scene and I can fail. What I think a lot of young actors don't have is the ability to do that over and over, but I love it. Skating taught me that it's not about winning. It's about getting in there and doing something you love. Nothing on Earth could have prepared me as well."