Down in the Valley: Judith Hoag

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karenyoung110BY KAREN YOUNG

If you watch HBO, you’ve surely seen Judith Hoag.  She’s guest-starred on “Six Feet Under” and “Carnivale,” and has had a recurring role on “Big Love” for the past three seasons as ‘Cindy Price,’ the sister of ‘Barb’ (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and the daughter of  ‘Nancy’ (Ellen Burstyn).  She just started production on season four which will premiere in January 2010.

Judith Hoag

Judith Hoag

Describing her role, Hoag says, “Cindy is a devout and righteous Mormon who fervently believes in the Book of Mormon and the promise of Eternal Life. Unfortunately, my sister is a polygamist and well, that’s a real problem for my mother and me. To say the least.”

Hoag always wanted to act, and with over 50 television and film roles to her credit, she seemingly doesn’t stop.

Growing up in Massachusetts, she started doing local theatre, and at age 13 found she spent more time at the theater than in school. Needless to say, she moved to New York as fast as she could when she was legally able. She acted in theater and started her screen career in the soap opera “Loving.”   Films roles came quickly and she co-starred in “A Matter of Degrees” with Tom Sizemore and Arye Gross, and “Cadillac Man” with Robin Williams and Tim Robbins.

However, her next film made her somewhat of a cult figure for the schoolyard set –  “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”  Moreover, the success of the film enabled her to move to Los Angeles.

With too many credits to name, and not limited to any one genre, some of Hoag’s careers highlights include roles on “The Mentalist,” “Swingtown,” “Grey’s Anatomy,”  “CSI,” “Chicago Hope,” “Mad bout You,” “Roseanne,”  “ER,”  “Boston Public” and three  “Halloweentown” television movies for Disney.

Hoag has never been typecast and doesn’t search for certain roles.

“I love any role that is well written. Writing is everything. And good writing is like manna from the Gods,” she says.

And if she wasn’t an actor?

“I would be a landscape designer who plays music and travels around the world, ” says Hoag, who lives in Studio City with her husband, fellow thespian, Vince Grant, and their son and daughter.

Here is Judith Hoag’s take on the Valley:

On HBO's "Big Love" (L-R) Judith Hoag (left) is daughter to Ellen Burstyn and sister to Jeanne Tripplehorn

On HBO's "Big Love" (L-R) Judith Hoag (left) is daughter to Ellen Burstyn and sister to Jeanne Tripplehorn.

Q: How long have you lived in the Valley?

A: 17 years, wow!

Q: What brought you to the Valley?

A: My husband and I were recent transplants from New York and after losing out on a house in Silverlake, we looked on this side of the hill, hoping to get more for our money. And we did!

Q: How do you describe the Valley?

A: I have to say that the part of the valley we occupy, Colfax Meadows/Woodbridge Park area, reminds me of “Beaver Cleaver Land”.  It’s really a small town in a very big city – LA. There’s a parade on the 4th of July, a huge Christmas Festival, lots of shops & restaurants to walk to and everyone knows everyone else. It’s a very inclusive close-knit community. And everyone is either in “the business” or connected to it.

Grey's Anatomy

Grey's Anatomy

Q: What’s the best thing about the Valley?

A: It’s close to everything. As an actor I can get to almost any studio or location very quickly. There’s comparatively less traffic than on the Westside and finally there’s lots of excellent restaurants to choose from.

Q: What’s the worst thing about the Valley?

A: It’s hotter here than over the hill.

Q: Who’s the funniest person in the Valley?

A: It’s a tie: my husband Vince Grant or Chris Ellis, who also happens to be a very accomplished actor and writer.

Q: What can you get in the Valley you can’t get anywhere else?

A: San Fernando Valley Mexican food. It’s specific to the region and is usually served in a very dark and heavily air conditioned restaurant. Hopefully one that has velvet paintings and excellent margaritas. Casa Vega is the flagship but there are others. Notably missed is El Chiquito, which is now a parking lot for Warner Brothers. And sushi. We’ve got our own “Sushi Strip” in Studio City!

Q: What’s a little unknown Valley secret?

A: If I told you than I’d have to kill you.

Q: What is the most misunderstood thing about the Valley?

A:I don’t know anyone who actually uses valley speak and it’s no longer 1975 here.

Q: What’s the Valley’s number one treasure (in your mind)?

A: Fryman Canyon. It’s filled with so many trails, many of which I have yet to traverse.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Q: What is the biggest misconception about the Valley?

A: That there is no nightlife or any good restaurants on this side of the hill.

Q: What valley stereotype doesn’t exist?

A: The “Valley Girl”.  She’s actually morphed into the “LA Girl” and is featured regularly on Entourage.

Q: What valley stereotype does exist?

A: That some people who live in the valley never explore life on the other side of the hill.

Q: What are some of your favorite finds?

A: The Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale – an old time roller rink complete with a disco ball… if only they had a bar! The Theodore Payne Nursery for California Native plants and Portrait of A Bookstore in Aroma Café for wonderful books and gifts.

Q: What do you usually do on a weekend morning?

A: If it’s Sunday, I start with a little something from the French bakery at the Farmer’s Market that my husband and daughter have picked up on their bikes followed by lots of strong coffee and the Sunday paper.   If  it’s a Saturday, I’ll either hit a spin class or go roller skating with my daughter. Then we head home for some of my husband’s delicious pancakes.

Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants?

Max, Firefly, Sushi Iroha, Carnivale, Senior Fred, Aroma, Laurel Tavern and of course, In-N-Out Burger.

Q: What are some of your favorite stores?

Lavender Skin Care, Armstrong Nursery, Big Sugar, Portrait of A Bookstore, Temple and  DSW – I’m a sucker for shoes on sale.

Judith Hoag and Ellen Burstyn play mother and daughter in HBO's "Big Love." They're seen here in their Mormon Temple garments.

Judith Hoag and Ellen Burstyn play mother and daughter in HBO's "Big Love." They're seen here in their Mormon Temple garments.

Q: If you could have something in the Valley that’s not here right now, what would it be?

A: I’d love to see Mozza open another restaurant where the now defunct Nick’s Grill is. Also the valley needs real New York style Chinese food!

Q: What is a quintessential Valley place?

A: Casa Vega.

Q: What is the most romantic spot in the Valley?

A: Firefly in one of the “cabanas”.  I just wish they’d ban all smoking there!

Q: What makes you the most nostalgic in the Valley?

A: Walking onto one of the movie lots (Universal, Disney, Warner Bros or CBS Radford) reminds me of the thrill I had when I first came to LA and walked onto a lot. I never tire of walking onto the lot because it means it’s time to play!

Judith Hoag on set for Disney's "Halloweentown.

Judith Hoag on set for Disney's "Halloweentown.

Q: How do you relax in the Valley?

A: In my garden with a glass of red wine. My house is my favorite place of all.

Q: Do you have a favorite place in the Valley? A secret place?  A hideaway?

A: Again, if I told you… well, okay. Las Fuentes in Reseda – really good Mexican food.

Q: Where do you go when you want to get out of the Valley?

A: The beach, usually Zuma.

Q: If you didn’t live in the Valley, where would you live?

A: On the beach near Santa Barbara or up north near an ancient red wood grove.

Karen Young is Publisher/Editor of MY DAILY FIND

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.