Fresh off her six-year stint on "Parenthood," Erika Christensen is exploring a lot of different characters on both the small and big screen -- and she's loving it.
"I'm having a blast," the 32-year-old actress told CBS News from Buffalo, New York, while filming the movie, "Two For One."
"Two For One" is just one of many projects in the works for Christensen, known for her early roles in "Traffic" (2000) and "Swimfan" (2002). The movie, which stars Jon Abrahams, revolves around a plot stemming from the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"The story is about a young man in Manhattan in 2001 who is an up-and-coming painter. He loses his two best friends -- who are a couple -- in the tragic events of 9/11 and inherits the guardianship of their two young daughters. The film really picks up 10 years later when he's raising these girls on his own. Obviously his life has taken a completely different course. He decides to go home to Buffalo and raise the girls there," said Christensen, who plays a good friend in Buffalo who is often seen bickering (in a loving way) with her on-screen husband in the movie.
Christensen will also appear in the upcoming HBO film "Confirmation," which chronicles the story of Anita Hill, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in the '90s. It stars Kerry Washington (as Hill) along with Eric Stonestreet, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson, Wendell Pierce and Dylan Baker.
Like she's doing in "Two For One," Christensen is also playing a friend: She will portray Hill's best friend, Shirley Weigand.
"That cast is incredible. These names are amazing. I got to work with Jeffrey Wright, which is fantastic. I started out starstruck but he's so cool so it was all OK. It was fantastic," she said.
Christensen says she was attracted to the role because of Hill's place in history: "The story, of course, is true. We were recreating 1991 and obviously we had a blast ... but I'm really proud because I think it's a really important turning point in the history of women in America," she said. "It bridges from where we were socially in 'Mad Men' to where we are now. And it's very different. A lot of young women don't know what was the catalyst to that [change] and when sexual harassment in the workplace actually became recognized for what it was and became something you could talk about, something you could fight against."
Soon, fans will see Christensen back as a series regular on television, appearing in the upcoming ABC crime procedural drama "Wicked City," which co-stars Ed Westwick of "Gossip Girl" fame, as well as Jeremy Sisto, Anne Winters and Gabriel Luna. The first season will focus on LAPD detectives as they search for a pair of romantically-linked serial killers terrorizing the Sunset Strip. Christensen plays Betty Beaumont, a nurse and single mother who meets Kent Galloway (Westwick) and becomes his accomplice.
With only the pilot episode shot so far, Christensen is eager to see how the plot will unfold.
"I don't know exactly how the story goes. Steven Baigelman, who wrote it, is enjoying keeping secrets from us. But we definitely know that [my character] Miss Betty is about to go down a rabbit hole with Kent (Westwick's character) because you can tell by the end of the pilot that she is just falling head over heels for this guy. He's so charming and handsome and exciting. She has a lot to learn about herself and we do, too ... She's not very comfortable in her own skin. She hasn't had a good family life. She's a single mom. All those things make her the perfect victim of fate in order to bring her to Kent."
The series, meanwhile, is set in the early '80s: "We're looking at it through the lens of today ... We're remembering fondly. There's definitely big hair and bright lipstick and leather jackets and Billy Idol and all of that."
While running from shoot to shoot, Christensen tries to exercise and eat right: She's an avid cyclist (Buffalo's Mayor Byron Brown recently asked her to go cycling while she was in town filming "Two For One") and she makes sure to eat organic and consume as much protein as possible. She also recently teamed with Lean Cuisine as a spokesperson, helping the brand launch its new packaging and meals.
"I do eat organic and strive for a high protein diet -- and they're doing all those things with the brand now. So I really admired that ... Having convenience when it comes to fueling your body is definitely an important thing," said Christensen, who cooks when she's at home and often finds herself grabbing a Lean Cuisine dinner while on the go.
Although she's about to jump into a new cast with "Wicked City," Christensen says she remains close with her pals from "Parenthood."
"We're like family -- also in the way that we don't have to talk every day to feel the love. Funnily enough, social media really does help us keep us connected," she said, adding that a few of the cast members had a date scheduled this month to get together.
Meanwhile, she's enjoying tackling new characters: "I think that's just a natural instinct as an actor is that you want to just keep exploring humanity and finding different facets of it. There are nearly 7 billion people on this planet, so there are a lot of characters to play."