Natalie Zea (born March 17, 1975) is an American actress known for her performances on television. Zea began her acting career in theatre. Her first major role was on the NBC daytime soap opera Passions (2000–2002), where she played the role of Gwen Hotchkiss. Her breakout role was on the ABC primetime soap opera Dirty Sexy Money as socialite Karen Darling, where she starred from 2007 to 2009. Zea also has made many guest appearances on television, starred in a number of independent and made-for-television movies, and had recurring roles in The Shield, Hung, Californication, and The Unicorn.
In 2010, Zea began starring as Winona Hawkins in the FX critically acclaimed crime drama series Justified as a regular cast member during the first three seasons and recurring guest star later. In 2013, she also began starring as Claire Matthews in the Fox drama series The Following. Zea played lead character Mickey Holmes-Harris on the canceled-before-airing ABC dramedy series, Members Only, and starred in the 2016–2019 TBS sitcom The Detour. In 2020, Zea had a recurring role as Shannon in the CBS sitcom The Unicorn.
Acting workNew YorkWhat's great about New York is that there are a lot of theater actors and actresses, who are trained actors, that they bring onto the show. They're so talented, in such a weird, quirky and ominous way. And it's great to be able to work with new faces, too.
I've actually done a lot of comedy.
There is something about my aura or essence, or whatever, that draws the ex-wife characters to me. I don't seek them out, but people tend to think of me for that particular archetype, or whatever you want to call it, and I don't mind it. I think there is a strength to it.
I have some really, really good friends, to whom I'm very close, that I'm not revealing anything to, and that's really hard.
I think when you're on TV, once you become associated with one genre or the other, it's near impossible to break into the other one, even if you have experience with both.
I'm at my best when I'm working. Breaks are not great for me. I get frustrated sometimes, if I have a long break and somebody says, "Oh, that must be nice!"
There are four people in my life, not counting my reps who know everything, two of whom are my parents, that know everything, so that when I feel like I need to let it out, I can talk to any of those four people.
I really am not a weakling. We like to do a lot of takes, so it ends up being pretty physically grueling.
Before I read the script [The Following], I saw the schedule, and imagine how confusing that was. I thought it was intriguing. I'm an actress. Even if it's, by proxy, all about me, I'm all for it. It was all about me, but I didn't have to show up, so it was great.
I don't dig ditches for a living, so I don't really hate going to work. I chose this for a reason. I would much prefer to be over-worked than under-worked.
I think, especially when you're on TV, once you become associated with one genre or the other, it's near impossible to break into the other one, even if you have experience with both.
I think television scripts have become really intriguing and well-done. And writers have stopped drawing any actual line between film and television they used to never cross.