Elizabeth Perkins Talks 'Weeds,' 'How to Live,' and Dealing With Her Out-of-the-Blue Diabetes Diagnosis
When did you first become an Elizabeth Perkins fan? During her very quotable performance as Demi Moore's roommate in "About Last Night"? When she played the love interest of the adult-sized Tom Hanks in "Big"? Her Emmy-nominated turn as the hilariously uptight Celia Hodes on "Weeds"?
Perkins is always a scene stealer, and her performance in ABC's "How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life)" is no exception. Perkins plays Elaine, the laidback, free-spirited wife of Brad Garrett's Max, and mama to Sarah Chalke's single mom Polly, who moves in with Elaine and Max after her recent divorce.
The comedy didn't make the cut for the network's 2013-14 lineup, but Perkins's TV schedule isn't likely to remain open for long. Yahoo! TV talked to the actress about "Parents," about her new documentary, which spotlights a fresh take on how diabetics can approach their health issues, and about "Weeds" and how she thinks Celia deserved a big send-off in the series finale.
Elaine is definitely one of the least grandma-y grandmas on TV …
Yeah, that's why I loved her. I loved Elaine. I just think she's awesome. I had been on "Weeds" for five seasons, playing somebody who was incredibly bitter and angry and down. It's not easy playing somebody like that (laughing) week after week. When (series creator) Claudia Lonow showed me the script for "How to Live" with Elaine, I thought, here's a person … the glass is always half full. She's always going to find the positive. She loves life. She likes to eat it and drink it and taste it. That was kind of where I was in my life, too, so it was a perfect match for me. I get to play somebody who's happy and alive and stimulated and just loves to laugh and thinks everything's funny. You don't get to see a lot of middle aged women like that on TV. We're usually sort of cranky and controlling … this was really a great opportunity for me, and I get to work with Brad Garrett, who's awesome.
You two have great chemistry, like you've worked together before, even though you haven't. Was that instant?
Oh, I love him. He's just so easy. Yeah, we definitely connected. Like I said, everything's easy. It's like I've known him forever. He's such a professional that you can do anything in the middle of the scene, and he's never thrown, because he's a standup. He'll just catch the ball and throw it right back. He likes to have fun, and so does Sarah Chalke. She's one of the most positive people I've ever worked with. It's a really different environment for me than shooting "Weeds," which was a very dark, sardonic show. This is like, "How much fun can you have?" It's perfect, because it's exactly where I'm at in my life.
Celia was a fan favorite on "Weeds," and it was disappointing that she didn't reappear after you left the show, even to wrap up her storyline. Was there any discussion about having her return for the series finale?
They asked me to come back for the final episode, but it was, I think, just to sort of stand around at the bar mitzvah. I just felt like, no, Celia should die. I was actually also busy shooting a new show and couldn't really have made it work. But, it just seemed like Celia deserved a better send-off.
I would check in from time to time [after leaving the show at the end of Season 5]. I always thought they were going to have Celia back. I always thought at least just to blow her head off or something, blow her up in a car or something. (Laughs.) I do think fans wanted some resolution with her. She was such a vital part of the show for so long that I was a little surprised that they didn't do her in. I think they should've just blown her up or something.
You mentioned the tone of "Weeds" versus the tone of "How to Live," and how the ABC show is more in line with your personal attitude … as an actress, you obviously play all kinds of roles and characters, but does it make a difference with your health, with dealing with your diabetes, to play a more positive character?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Everybody's diabetes is different. To be in an environment that's supportive and happy, and we're doing a sitcom … it's a pleasure to go to work. It's not exhausting me. Everybody is really supportive. I fully came out about my diabetes. I use my insulin on the set. I don't retreat to my trailer, and it's been a great experience on every level. It really supports exactly where I am in my life. Everybody on that stage is my diabetes co star, and that's been profound. That's been absolutely … it helps me manage it so much better.