For someone who calls herself a "reluctant celebrity," Sara Gilbert sure is everywhere! On Monday, Sept. 9, she kicks off Season 4 of The Talk — the hit CBS gabathon she created — and that same day she starts work as a regular on the new CBS midseason sitcom Bad Teacher, based on the randy Cameron Diaz flick. Plus she just put out a book, The Imperfect Environmentalist (Ballantine), a guide to saving the Earth without driving yourself nuts. TV Guide Magazine spoke with Gilbert about her perfectly imperfect life.
TV Guide Magazine: So each host on The Talk will reveal a wildly personal secret during season-premiere week — something you don't even know about each other. Interesting!
Gilbert: Interesting for you. Scary for me! [Laughs] It's a tough assignment. You don't want to make it too serious or depressing, so I think we'll all fall into the embarrassing category. Mine certainly is. I almost blurted it out once before on the show but stopped myself because I felt I'd be going too, too far.
TV Guide Magazine: You were pretty reluctant to open up when this show hit the air. Are you surprised at how far you've come?
Gilbert: Yes! I was such a private person before I started The Talk. [Laughs] I don't know what happened! It almost feels like I've started a second life. In my previous lifetime, I didn't talk about stuff. Now I'll discuss anything. It's crazy! But it's also kind of nice. The show itself has changed a lot, too. At first it was about a group of moms getting together talking about mom things, but then eventually we didn't talk about our kids at all. Now, two out of the five of us don't even have kids!
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking of kids, how will you juggle Bad Teacher?
Gilbert: Both shows shoot on the same lot, so that helps. The Talk owns me in the morning, then I go to the sitcom in the afternoon and they own me until I pass out. I play this schoolteacher, Irene, who is supernerdy, totally sweet and guileless. I usually do more subtle characters. For me, this is extreme.
TV Guide Magazine: Loved your book! Is it hard to save the planet without annoying the crap out of people?
Gilbert: You don't want to push too far. That's why I kept my advice simple — just one page per topic, sometimes even one sentence per topic. And humor makes it all much easier to digest. The key is to cut yourself slack. So you purchased a product in the really bad kind of non-recyclable plastic today? Make up for it by buying the right kind of paint tomorrow. Do what you can and as much as you can. You can't be a perfect environmentalist, unless you're Ed Begley, Jr. whom I once saw on TV using a bicycle to power his toaster. He's amazing. [Laughs] But that's so not me.
TV Guide Magazine: How do you keep from going mad when you think about the really ghastly stuff — like that massive collection of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean that's supposedly the size of Texas?
Gilbert: That's when a healthy dose of denial comes in handy. You want to keep the severity of our environmental problems in mind enough to keep yourself motivated but not enough to paralyze you into depression.
TV Guide Magazine: So you actually have faith in mankind?
Gilbert: I have faith that we'll get it together but it might be after a huge and terrible cost, if that makes sense. It may take something horrible, like more ice caps melting which leads to the loss of some of our great beaches, before people wake up to the severity and are motivated to make things better. Unfortunately, that's human nature. We need a tipping point. But, in the meantime and on the bright side, more and more people are waking up — and a lot of small, smart choices can make a big dent in the problem!