Cloris Leachman Wants in on the 'Downton Abbey' Action
She's won more primetime Emmy Awards than any other performer — eight, including two in one year in 1975 — plus a Daytime Emmy and an Oscar. And while she hopes to add another Emmy nomination to her already stellar resumé this year for her role on "Raising Hope," Cloris Leachman has another item on her TV bucket list: She wants to hang out with the Crawleys on "Downton Abbey."
"I want to do everything!" Leachman tells Yahoo! TV. "I really want to do that English [series] that everybody loves, 'Downton Abbey.' I just did an English accent. I played Higgins's mother, Mrs. Higgins, in 'My Fair Lady' — 'Colonel Pickering! I don't understand! Do you mean that my son is coming to Ascot today? What a disagreeable surprise!' That was thrilling."
The actress is referring to her recent performance in the Kennedy Center's Spring Gala production of "My Fair Lady in Concert," which followed her third season on the Fox comedy "Raising Hope," which was renewed for another season this fall.
Leachman, best known for her role as Mary's neighbor and friend Phyllis Lindstrom on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its spinoff, "Phyllis," plays the Chance family's grandmother Maw Maw on "Raising Hope." Maw Maw is an 84-year-old woman who's given to various stages of streaking, saying exactly what's on her mind, and spending lots of time in the bathroom. "It takes as long as it takes," she tells her impatient family members/housemates.
In the Season 3 finale, "Mother's Day," Leachman did double duty as Maw Maw and Maw Maw's mom, the 104-year-old Norma June, who was estranged from her daughter for years.
See Leachman in both "Raising Hope" roles:
"It was my idea," Leachman says. "I kept saying, 'Listen, everybody has a mother but me! I need a mother! I think Carol Channing should play my mother. I need a mother!' Then after about five or six weeks, I said again to ["Raising Hope" creator Greg Garcia], 'Greg, I need a mother! I do ... and Carol Channing should be my mother!' Finally, he said, 'Well, I agree you should have a mother, Cloris. But I think you should play your own mother!' That was the end of it. I didn't hear another word until we started working on [the episode].