Interview with Cloris Leachman of "Raising Hope" on FOX - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Krista

Cloris Leachman

Interview with Cloris Leachman of "Raising Hope" on FOX 1/23/13 

I just did the call with Cloris Leachman, who plays Mawmaw on Raising Hope, and it was great! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to talk with her. She asked me where "Suzanne" was, so I am guessing she thought our other interviewer was going to be on the call. I told her she couldn't be here today, and I was taking her place, then she asked me what happened and I told her I had no idea, just that I was asked to take her place. Then she started mocking my southern accent, but she told me that I sounded sweet and she thought people would like me. I thanked her, then asked her a couple of questions about the show. The people must not have liked her talking so much to me, because they cut us off and went to another question. She asked me where I was from and how cold it was here today...LOL!

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: Raising Hope Conference Call with Cloris Leachman
January 23, 2013/11:00 a.m. PST

Hailey Hindinger
Cloris Leachman – “Maw Maw” from Raising Hope

Moderator Welcome to the Raising Hope Conference Call with Cloris Leachman. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session; instructions will be given at that time. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I’d now like to turn the conference over to our host, Ms. Hailey Hindinger.

H. Hindinger Good morning and thank you for joining today’s Raising Hope Conference Call with Cloris Leachman, who plays “Maw Maw” in the series. Raising Hope airs Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. on Fox, and next Tuesday, January 29th, we have a special wedding episode where Jimmy and Sabrina get married. We have guest star Leslie Jordan, who plays the reverend. There will also be a second episode at 8:30, Part I of a special two part arc where Jimmy and Sabrina head to Los Angeles for their honeymoon and the whole family tags along, including Maw Maw, who wants to settle an old score with her ex-husband.

C. Leachman I’d like you to say “Maw Maw” instead of “Mama.”

H. Hindinger “Maw Maw.” With no further ado, we’ll open it up to questions for Cloris.

Moderator First we’ll go to the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFi Vision.

J. Ruby Can you talk about how you go the role in the show?

C. Leachman Are you talking to me?

J. Ruby Yes.

C. Leachman Are you talking to me? How did I get the role? I think Greg, the creator of it, he wanted me. I think he just wanted me, and there I was, so he got me.

J. Ruby That worked out then. Can you talk a little bit about working with Leslie in this upcoming episode?

C. Leachman First of all, he walks in and he’s there and he’s so short that you just start laughing. I don’t know he handled it all his life, but he’s certainly turned it to something good. He’s just rare. He’s not a Little Person, but he’s very short.

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Rob Owen with The Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

R. Owen I was going to ask about the filming style in the wedding episode. It’s sort of a spoof on Modern Family and I’m just wondering if it was noticeable, as an actor, when you were filming it that it was being done in this different sort of way.

C. Leachman I don’t know what Modern Family is, embarrassingly.

R. Owen It’s another sitcom and they kind of aped the style of that show with the direct address to the camera, confessional style.

C. Leachman Hmm. I’d better watch it.

R. Owen I had one other question for you, which was could you predict the winner of the upcoming Super Bowl? Why, and what will the final score be?

C. Leachman I don’t play football myself. Every once and a while I watch it with great avidity, it’s very exciting, but I’m never for any team just because it’s accidental if I watch it. I’m not very good with those answers, am I?

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Lisa Steinberg with Starry Constellation.

L. Steinberg I was wondering if there was anything about Maw Maw that wasn’t originally scripted for you, but you added to the role.

C. Leachman Goodness, let me think for a minute. They added everything. I added a white bra that the head of wardrobe, we decided what kind of bra I would wear. It’s a white, good, serviceable one that holds me up.

L. Steinberg Is there anything you’ve learned about comedy or being comedic from portraying this role?

C. Leachman Oh gosh, what questions these are. Dear, dear, dear…what did I learn? I laugh too much. I keep ruining scenes and they have to do it over, so that’s not too good. What did I learn about comedy? Not to laugh. I haven’t learned it yet, I still laugh too much.

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Jim Slotek with Sun Media.

J. Slotek First of all, out of all the media that you’ve worked – on stage, to obviously, you’ve won an Oscar in film and Emmys on TV – what’s your favorite to work in?

C. Leachman I don’t have a favorite. It’s the material and the people and the situation, that’s my favorite. It’s all exciting and fun and I love every bit of it. including radio.

J. Slotek Radio? They don’t do as much radio as they used to.

C. Leachman No, but stripping is fun –

J. Slotek The great thing about your show, about Raising Hope, is that it’s sort of forbidden laughs. I mean the subject matter and everything, and the two-parter with Maw Maw in the old age home, the nursing home. Her character makes some people uncomfortable, I think, what from the reviews I’ve read. How do you react when people say oh you shouldn’t joke about certain subjects?

C. Leachman I’ve never heard that or read that or know anything about it – nobody tells me anything. That’s what happens when you get old. They talk about you but you never hear it.

J. Slotek How do you feel about that? Are there subjects that should not be the subject of comedy?

C. Leachman I don’t think so. No, that’s how you get through them. If you find the humor in things, it saves people’s lives.

J. Slotek Well, it’s obviously done pretty well for you.

C. Leachman My phrenic nerve was overextended for about 5 years. My son was my manager and he’s so funny - really, really funny, and his timing is exquisite, it’s perfect – so I would laugh so much with him that my phrenic nerve got out of hand. Once it hooks in it just keeps laughing.

J. Slotek I read somewhere that your background is Episcopalian, and there wasn’t much humor in your grandparents family?

C. Leachman In where?

J. Slotek In your family - before your parents, before your mother?

C. Leachman You read that?

J. Slotek Yes.

C. Leachman That’s not true.

J. Slotek From the grandparent’s side?

C. Leachman No, they didn’t have that much to do with my life. Not true.

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Reg Seeton with

R. Seeton After playing so many great characters in your career, how much of a challenge was it to be different with Maw Maw?

C. Leachman It was just easy as pie the first year. The second year, Greg said “this year, you’re not going to have …” What is it that I have? It’s not Alzheimer's.

R. Seeton Dementia?

C. Leachman Yes, dementia. Good for you. Dementia. So I did that second year, but I wasn’t comfortable with it. I couldn’t find myself, I really couldn’t. I didn’t know who to be because I was a little too aware and knowledgeable and with-it. I still had funny lines, but my character, I didn’t think, was as interesting as the first year. Third year’s the same thing. Let’s hope we have a fourth year and I find out.

R. Seeton Let me ask you this: When you were a young girl, before acting, what did you dream you’d be doing at this age?

C. Leachman When I was 14, I had to make a list of what I would like to be in school. I’d been taking piano lessons from Andy Williams’ aunt, Cornelia Williams Hurlbut, and I loved her with all heart. I even did a game show once and I won a piano for her, and I gave it to her. That was my great happiness. I don’t know how much she taught me, but we talked all the time, just talked constantly together, just so interested in her and that she loved me.

She sent me somewhere in Iowa to a place where all the best students are sent to compete, really with themselves. Anyway, I got the highest score, which was the superior rating. I loved the piano. I never practiced it, just with my heart, I just loved it. I would just touch the piano and it was as if something from Heaven came into my body.

So I was either going to be a concert pianist – but I decided I couldn’t do that because I was definitely going to have children and they wouldn’t let me play and that’s really true, too. Or a social worker, but I do that in my work anyway. I’m always rubbing people’s backs or telling them what to eat or taking their cigarettes out of their mouths. Or I was going to be an architect or marry an architect. In my day, when I was little, women weren’t architects. But I’ve done architecture in every home I’ve ever been in. Right now, I’ve bought a new house in Topanga Canyon, but I can’t live in it probably till June. It’s clear down to the studs. It’s just beautiful and I love it. I’m very thrilled with what they’re doing so far. It’s sort of a hobby. What else? There were four things, but I don’t remember the fourth thing.

R. Seeton Well, it turned out great for you and I wish you all the best in the future. Thank you very much.

C. Leachman That was a long, boring answer, but anyway.

R. Seeton No, it was great. Thank you.

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Krista Chain with TV MegaSite.

K. Chain Hi, thanks for talking the call today.
C. Leachman Suzanne, is it?

K. Chain Krista.

C. Leachman Krista? Where’s Suzanne?

K. Chain Suzanne was not able to be here today, so I’m in her place.

C. Leachman No, I want to know what happened.

K. Chain I don’t really know.

C. Leachman Where are you from?

K. Chain I’m from Alabama.

C. Leachman That’s what I thought. Do you know that you sound funny when you talk?

K. Chain I’ve been told that we have quite an accent.

C. Leachman You don’t know you do, do you?

K. Chain No, I don’t notice it, but other people do.

C. Leachman “I don’t notice it.”

K. Chain Well, I just want to know, is Maw Maw lucid today?

C. Leachman Well, they woke me up for this phone call, but I’m outside now and someone gave me a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, just squeezed this minute, it’s so delicious. It’s a beautiful day in L.A., my goodness, it’s not cold or anything, it’s just lovely and cool.

K. Chain That’s good. It’s cold here.

C. Leachman Where are you in Alabama?

K. Chain It’s cold for us, anyway.

C. Leachman What’s the temperature today down there?

K. Chain I think it’s maybe in the 40s. So that’s cold for us.

C. Leachman I come from Des Moines and I had to learn not to say “orich juice” for “orange juice.” I think people don’t have much accents anymore because of television. It’s sort of leveling things out a bit, don’t you think?

K. Chain I think so.

C. Leachman “I think so.” You still have your accent, though.

K. Chain I do. I think it’s something you just don’t get rid of.

C. Leachman It’s kind of lovely, don’t you think?

K. Chain People have told me that it’s a nice accent.

C. Leachman You also speak in a sweet way, I think people would like you right away.

K. Chain Thank you. That means a lot to me.

C. Leachman Thank you, too.

K. Chain My question was since the show is so hilarious, do y’all have fun behind the scenes? Do y’all play pranks on each other or anything like that?

C. Leachman There’s not much time. We’re very aware that we’re probably behind and going to have to work late and we have our own places to go to the minute they say “cut”. We either know we’re going to do another take and we get ready for that or we go back to our dressing rooms or we go and eat something or look for something to eat and find it.

K. Chain What’s your relationship like with the other characters on the show?

C. Leachman Wonderful. I made Martha awfully mad for a long time because she said “You ruined it” and I did. It was not willingly, it was entirely by accident. For instance, one night there was an award show and I was invited and she couldn’t be there and she won an award. They were going right by it, she’s not here, so I tore up onto stage and accepted the award for her to give our show more publicity, which I thought we were not getting enough of properly. I accepted the award but I don’t know what I did, for sure, that may have made her mad, but I did something that was not right. So we had to work through that and we have. I am the best back rubber in the world for a nonprofessional and she loves my back rubs, and she thinks I have a real talent for it.

Anyway, I think we really love each other now. I had to work really hard to earn her respect and forgiveness, but I think I did it.

Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Kristyn Clarke with Pop Culture Madness.

K. Clarke You’ve taken on a ton of different characters throughout your career. Is there anything that you’ve been surprised to learn about yourself by playing Maw Maw?

C. Leachman I think there were body parts on myself I hadn’t even seen and I can’t see. But I’m sure that millions of people will see shortly.

K. Clarke The comedic timing is excellent on the show. Do you feel there’s a formula for good comedic TV?

C. Leachman Do you?

K. Clarke Sometimes.

C. Leachman What is it?

K. Clarke I think it’s the chemistry of the cast.

C. Leachman Once on the Carol Burnett Show, Bob what’s-his-name was trying to make the other guy laugh all the time and he’d just crumble him. The audience couldn’t wait to see him helplessly turned into a helpless fool laughing. What were their names? I can’t even remember. Bob…? What were their names, do you remember?

K. Clarke Not off the top of my head.

C. Leachman Well everybody knows. That was awfully funny, I thought.

K. Clarke Do you guys have a lot of that on set, trying to make each other laugh?

C. Leachman Garret’s really funny. He’ll do something that’s completely surprising in some reaction and I just go south. He’s so funny. I think we all respect each other very much and look forward to the scenes we’re going to do to see what each one is going to do with it. It’s amazing how we fall into it instantly, though.

Moderator We have time for one last question that will come from Jamie Ruby with SciFi Vision.

J. Ruby What’s your favorite part overall working on the show?

C. Leachman Oh, being half naked or wearing a bra or something. My favorite part is finding out what the other guys are going to do when they do their parts.

H. Hindinger That concludes our call today. Thank you everyone for joining. Please turn into Raising Hope.

C. Leachman I don’t think I said anything that anybody either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about.

H. Hindinger I think it went really well. Thank you everybody.



Cloris Leachman is a celebrated American actress of stage, film and television. She has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards – more than any other female performer – and one Daytime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and numerous other awards. She also earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1971 for her role as “Ruth Popper” in “The Last Picture Show.” In 2011, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on RAISING HOPE.

Leachman is best known for playing the nosy, self-centered and manipulative landlady “Phyllis Lindstrom” on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and later on the spin-off series “Phyllis.”

Her additional film credits include the Mel Brooks films “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety,” as well as “American Cowslip,” “Ponyo,” “Inglorious Basterds,” “New York, I Love You,” “Expecting Mary,” the upcoming “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure” and “The Fields.” She became popular in recent years for her recurring role on the hit FOX series “Malcolm in the Middle” and appearances on “The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget,” “Love Takes Wings,” “The Office,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “HawthoRNe.”

The 86-year-old Leachman competed on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2008 and served as Grand Marshal of the 2009 New Year’s Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena, CA, where she presided over the 120th annual parade and the 95th Rose Bowl football game. In March 2010, Leachman became a published author with the release of her bestselling memoir, “Cloris: My Autobiography.”

Leachman currently resides in Los Angeles.






Leslie Jordan Guest-Stars

The wedding day is finally here and Sabrina’s mom has hired the camera crew from “Modern Family” to capture the whole blessed event. But a series of catastrophes threatens to ruin the day, including a battle between Maw Maw and Reverend Bob (guest star Jordan). So Burt and Virginia scramble to save the ceremony and keep Jimmy and Sabrina in ignorant, matrimonial bliss in the all-new “Modern Wedding” episode of RAISING HOPE airing Tuesday, Jan. 29 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (HOP-314) (TV-14 D, L, V)

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