Grey’s Anatomy welcomes an acting icon tonight. Emmy-winner Tyne Daly tells us all about her Grey’s casting as Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy Mom.
Daly portrays Carolyn, Derek Shepherd’s (Patrick Dempsey) mother on the January 15 episode of Grey’s Anatomy. We think that Daly is sure to return throughout the Grey’s Anatomy run. But, first things first, Daly needs to dish on the latest Grey’s gossip.
When it comes to her casting on Grey’s — as she is a television veteran — she knows to keep plot details non existent when talking to the press.
The actress is a six-time Emmy-winner who may be best known for playing Mary Beth Lacey on Cagney and Lacey. Daly is also a theater stalwart with Tony Awards adorning her mantle.
Daly tells SheKnows about playing Dempsey’s mother, a lifetime on television, working the stage and life on the Grey’s Anatomy set.
Tyne Daly: Hello Joel, Happy New Year.
SheKnows: Happy New Year to you. How are you doing?
Tyne Daly: I’m in the middle of a moving week which is a bit fraught. Other than that, I’m quite fine. How are you?
SheKnows: I’m great. It is a great pleasure to speak with you. Having been part of a television series from the first script reading, such as Cagney and Lacey and Judging Amy, how was joining the cast of Grey’s Anatomy as a guest star? Any drama to report?
Tyne Daly: It has been a long, long time since I did a guest shot. Everyone on Grey’s Anatomy was suffering from fifth-season-itis (laughs). It is a kind of particular disease of series television. Since I’ve done both five and six seasons on both Cagney and Lacey and Judging Amy, I got it right off the bat. They were lovely to me, totally lovely. But, everyone’s feeling kind of antsy. Actors are weird. They love having regular jobs and they don’t love having regular jobs (laughs). It’s a Gemini deal.
SheKnows: It seems like on Grey’s Anatomy, they could bring someone like yourself, an Emmy winner with a star-studded history, and it would inject something into the creative process. Is it an inspiring time for you as well to be a source of that?
Tyne Daly: You know there’s no rulebook in our business. If there was, I would have published it and been actually rich (laughs). There’s no way that it goes. When I started Cagney and Lacey I had already been freelancing for almost 20 years. I was 34 years old and according to the rules, or the unspoken rules, I was supposed to leave town. It was all over. I started to experience the true weight of my work in my middle 30s. Now I’m over 60, and also supposed to be gone (laughs) and the kinds of adventures that come up are very interesting to me. I’ve always wanted to do every kind of game there was to play within the game of acting. I’ve been lucky enough to do that. Each of the adventures has their own value for me and I feel that I’ve been lucky to play around.
The Tony winner
SheKnows: I wanted to ask you about your work in the theater. You’ve got so much experience performing live, how do you think that professional mettle has contributed to you as an actress?
Tyne Daly: The theater is about words and I love words. The movies are about pictures – moving pictures. So, because I’m more verbal than decorative, I do lots of theater. This summer was a particularly wonderful experience because I went back to the ancients. We did Agamemnon here in Los Angeles and my daughter played my daughter (laughs).
SheKnows: That must have been wonderful. Tyne Daly: We’ve worked together before, but it was fascinating and fun. It was just thrilling. The theater is the foundation.
SheKnows: I’ve seen you on Broadway and have treasured those moments, also you’ve had quite a career on television including the hit Judging Amy. Now looking back, is there one memory from your TV work that pops in your mind above all others?
Tyne Daly: (laughs) I’ll tell you. One year, I did a one day job with Peter Falk (Columbo) playing a little B-girl. Falk and I have a mutual admiration society. I’d done another Columbo before that. It was just a treasure of a day. It was all day, me and Peter — one on one. I actually am the only character that Columbo ever kissed. He couldn’t resist me (laughs).
Powerful female TV
SheKnows: Lastly, I was introduced to you and compelling female characters by my mother watching you on Cagney and Lacey and wondered what you felt about the current crop of strong female detectives. From Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer, Glenn Close on Damages and Holly Hunter’s Saving Grace, popular culture seems bowled over suddenly by the policewoman. Hello? Cagney and Lacey! When you see that come back at you, what does that feel like?
Tyne Daly: (laughs) We had precursors as well. The trouble with television is everyone wants to pretend that nobody’s ever thought of this before ever, which of course, is painfully untrue. But, we had Police Woman. We had Charlie’s Angels as the grandmother and mother of Cagney and Lacey in my opinion. There was a progression of having to be in hooker outfits and high heels to getting a little more confident — even though your hair still always have to be perfect. Then we got to the point where women are recognizable as human beings. I try to remember there’s a long line of female storytellers. I love being in that line.