With just a few episodes left of Season 7 and no renewal news yet, CBS's "Rules of Engagement" takes a dramatic turn with Monday's episode, titled "Timmy Quits."
Megyn Price, who plays Audrey, was given the chance to drive that episode home as its director. "I think the gift for me was that I was given a script that had depth and also comedy," Price told TheWrap of her first crack at directing.
"I had to direct David Spade, and Adhir Kalyan to go there," she continued. "It's a serious story that we're talking about, but it's completely entrenched in comedy. That's a really tricky line to straddle, but it's the only line that I find interesting."
On the episode, Russell (Spade) finally goes too far with assistant Timmy (Kalyan), which finally spurs him to resign. It's a storyline that will continue through the end of the season.
"It was important to me that we make this episode real so that it sets up the ending of our show," Price says.
The actress didn't take shortcuts. Her part wasn't minimized on the episode to give her more time to direct. The only part of the process she didn't take part in was the one-camera preshoot without an audience.
With plenty of experience directing theatre under her belt, she still wanted to make sure to prepare as much as possible. She did that by looking up some directors who she looked up to.
"Obviously, the happy blessing is that I have worked for a number of TV comedy directors in my life as an actor," she said. "It was an easy road for me. I called up the directors I loved the most, and said, 'Can I be a puppy and follow you around?' All of them said yes, so that was great. It was a very different experience watching a director from their chair rather than from the set, and I feel like I got the most incredible education."
One of the most surprising directing lessons she learned was from Andy Ackerman ("Seinfeld," "Whitney") about working with actors.
"The truth is actors are very vulnerable people," Price said. "Once you make a comedian or a comedic actor feel safe, then they can turn on the magic. If they don't feel safe, they don't feel comfortable being silly and letting go."
Price says none of her cast mates hazed her while she was on the job – quite the opposite.
"When Patrick [Warburton] was in a scene with Krista Allen, who was our guest star, he would come to me and ask questions," she recalled. "It was so sweet that he trusted me to help him through a scene with someone else, but when it was the two of us, we adopted our normal bravado and smart-aleck stuff that we do with each other."
Watch a preview from "Timmy Quits" below.
"Rules of Engagement" airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.