Swoosie Kurtz returns to TV tonight as the mother from hell in the new CBS sitcom “Mike and Molly”
Before last month, I had interviewed Swoosie Kurtz just once before and it was at a very interesting place: a cemetery!
It wasn’t just any cemetery, it was Hollywood Forever where all kinds of famous folks are buried. That’s where ABC decided to hold the premiere screening for the late, great Pushing Daisies which Swoosie had a juicy role in.
She’s back with a regular series role in the sitcom Mike & Molly which premieres at 9:30 p.m. tonight on CBS right after Two and a Half Men.
Swoosie and I chatted in a less dramatic place this time around: the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Other reporters swarmed around the show’s main stars, Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy, but I only had eyes for this two-time Tony and Emmy award winning actress who has been delighting us for decades in movies, television shows and plays.
It was fun to hear Swoosie describe her character of Molly’s mother: “She’s a real piece of work. She is appallingly insensitive and oblivious to her daughter’s plight with her weight issues. With all the love in the world, she says and does the wrong things.”
“I think sometimes when one of our loved ones is trying to change, we’re used to having them a certain way and we kind of don’t want them to change so we do everything we can to gold them back – as I say, with all the love in the world. I think she’s a nurturing, loving, loose cannon, insensitive monster.”
Swoosie, who famously starred in the NBC series Sisters and was stunning in Huff, is having the time of her life on this sitcom in this role.
“This is great, I’ve never played a part like this,” she said. “You can picture her in the bowling alley with a bottle of beer competing with the guys on the lanes. Everything goes over her head.”
“I especially love the half-hour in front of a live audience because that’s most like the theater,” the actress said. “You get rehearsal and you get to work on a piece of material for several days, you don’t have to worry about hair and make-up except for one or two days a week. You can really just do the work.”
She’s used to the ups and downs of showbiz but the end of Pushing Daisies after just two delicious seasons was tough.
“It’s hard, hard, hard when you see a piece of art like that and to not have it live on. But, I choose to look at it as a miracle that a show like that, so original, so risky, so daring, got that big of a shot on commercial network television.”
But the acclaim of Daisies reminded people of how gifted an actress Swoosie is and she has been busy working: “I have however been incredibly blessed with the guest roles that I’ve done since Pushing Daisies, they were tumbling down on me. Desperate Housewives, Heroes, Nurse Jackie, Chuck. It gets a little like a gypsy moving in and our of trailers after 2-3 days on a show here and there. But it’s great and I’m very grateful for it.”
Before Daisies, there was Sisters which ran for six seasons and earned Swoosie two Emmy nominations for her portrayal of Alexandra Barker.
Her fellow Sisters alum Sela Ward is also back on series TV this fall as she has joined CSI: New York. I wondered if they and the cast of that great show ever see each other anymore.
“We kept in touch for the longest time, we were very close and used to go out to dinner all the time. Life takes over. But I always miss them, I always think of them with love.”