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Interview with Cloris Leachman of "Raising Hope" on FOX
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!
FBC PUBLICITY: Raising Hope Conference Call with Cloris
January 23, 2013/11:00 a.m. PST
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.
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
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
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,
R. Owen It’s another sitcom and they kind of aped the style
of that show with the direct address to the camera,
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
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
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
J. Slotek Radio? They don’t do as much radio as they used
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
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
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
C. Leachman In where?
J. Slotek In your family - before your parents, before your
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
K. Chain I do. I think it’s something you just don’t get rid
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
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
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
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
(Maw Maw on RAISING HOPE)
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
JIMMY AND SABRINA TIE THE KNOT
ON AN ALL-NEW “RAISING HOPE”
TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, ON FOX
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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