Megan Mullally found success with Will and Grace. But it is In the Motherhood, her current series premiering March 26, that has us buzzing anew for the comic actress.
Mullally first became noticed by the pop culture masses starring opposite Rosie O’Donnell in the Broadway revival of Grease in 1994. The very next year she made musical theater magic opposite Matthew Broderick in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Megan’s a gag on Grace
Then, in 1998, lightning struck. Will and Grace would produce 187 episodes, break barriers and make America laugh in the process. Mullally’s Karen Walker was unlike anything prime time television had ever seen. As Karen, Mullally possessed a raw honesty that was a scene-stealer each moment she was on screen.
Will and Grace took their last bow in May 2006. Mullally came right back that fall with her own talk show. It was short-lived, but the show’s lessons were priceless. “I learned a lot about what I want to do and a lot about what I don’t want to do,” Mullally says.
Meanwhile, an internet entertainment revolution produced the hilarious In the Motherhood – a web series that produced sitcom episodes based on mom’s real-life adventures.
ABC jumped at the opportunity to bring it to prime time. With Cheryl Hines and Jessica St. Clair alongside Mullally, it looks as if television has its next mom-based hit In the Motherhood.
Presenting…In the Motherhood
SheKnows: First off, the reason why In the Motherhood is so special to us at SheKnows.com is we featured several of the episodes in 2008 when it was an internet show.
Megan Mullally: That’s great! You really have a connection with it.
SheKnows: It’s such a story that is frankly, ripe with possibilities. What first attracted you to In the Motherhood?
Megan Mullally: Exactly what you said that it’s ripe with possibilities. It is about women and mothers and families. But, it’s really about people and friendships. Not to bring up Will and Grace so early in our conversation, but on Will and Grace, it essentially was about gay man and a straight woman who are best friends. It was really about friends and friendship. I think that is so universal. I think In the Motherhood also has that quality.
SheKnows: You brought up Will and Grace, what a great cast to work with and here is another fantastic group of performers for you to work with. How has it been for you as an actress?
Megan Mullally: This cast is off the hook (laughs). It’s ridiculous. It’s such a great group. We’re super lucky to have the people we have, the chemistry between me and Cheryl and Jessica is really, really great — which, as you know, that’s a crap shoot. You don’t know if you’re going to have that or not. Totally from the first day we’re like… ‘OK (laughs)…we got good chemistry.’ I think what people don’t know and won’t know until the show has aired a few times is the supporting cast that we have. It is ridiculous how funny these people are on this show. Every person is so good and different. Me, Cheryl and Jessica are all really different from each other in interesting ways so we can play off of each other well. Everybody in the whole cast has an improv or sketch comedy background. They can really act! We’ve got both!
SheKnows: Motherhood and the balancing of its demands with personal dreams and aspirations is such a topic right now with First Lady Michelle Obama making that issue her current number one.
Megan Mullally: Isn’t that nice of her to promote our show like that?
SheKnows: You know, I called her and I wasn’t sure she would go with balancing motherhood in the 21st century as her thing, but I knew you’d appreciate it.
We both laugh.
Megan Mullally: (Still laughing) You and ABC has a lot more sway than we realize.
Mom’s true stories produce a sitcom
SheKnows: Seriously, right to the top. Now, for you is there the opportunity to inject some personal stories from friends?
Megan Mullally: Totally! Almost all of my friends have young children. I hear a lot of stories (laughs). I don’t have children myself, but I was a child with a mother. So, I can also draw from that.
SheKnows: I see with that cast, as you mentioned, has there been any room on In the Motherhood thus far for improv?
Megan Mullally: The first couple episode of any new series is always pandemonium, because nobody knows what they’re doing. I have to say, we have been laughing on the set a lot. The crew laughs. That’s a good sign, you know what I mean? We’re on our sixth episode now. The show is getting really, really good. And it’s fun to do. When we have a script, we have a shooting draft, we come in basically we pitch little jokes here and there or things come out improv-wise. We are shooting to a script, but I think without exeception every scene we’ve shot there’s been something that’s changed and gotten a little funnier or kookier.
SheKnows: When Will and Grace first hit and got huge, we didn’t necessarily have the option of watching it on the internet or on DVR. How do you think those innovations — you have a show with In the Motherhood that came from on the internet — how do they help new shows in 2009?
Megan Mullally: It is weird. I hadn’t thought about it that much, but everything is so different now than it was eleven years ago. I think it’s better because people have more options at their disposal. There are more chances for people to see it. You can catch in online. I’m not sure how all of that works. I’m not as modern as you, Joel (laughs), but yeah, I think it can only be a good thing.
SheKnows: Did I read correctly, you’re in the Fame remake?
Megan Mullally: Am I insane? (Laughs)
SheKnows: No! I…
Megan Mullally: (Laughs) I heard you — I just still had to say that! Yes, I am in Fame. That was really fun. I only worked on it for four days. I play the singing teacher. I get to sing in the movie. It was funny going into it because I didn’t know what to expect. They’re doing a remake of Fame, whatever. I must say, I may not have had the most…I didn’t know what to expect. I think it’s going to be really good (laughs). I actually saw some scenes, it looked pretty good.
SheKnows: You’ve worked in many different arenas. How did the talk show fit in as far as making you a better actor?
Megan Mullally: Definitely. I really wanted to do a talk show. Then I was approached out of the blue, I thought, ‘hello!’ So I did it. The only thing about it that I didn’t love was that it was more of a business than it is a creative enterprise. I’m not really used to that. It’s hard for me to fit into that part of it. In terms, I am sort of a people person. I really like hearing people’s stories. I was very excited to talk to all of the guests. Also, that’s part of why I am an actress – and if I’m any good at it- it’s because I do pay attention to how people are and their quirks. You just keep learning and going with the flow. It ended up being a good thing in the long run.
SheKnows: Megan, thank you so much for this visit. Best of success with In the Motherhood and Fame!
Megan Mullally: (Laughs) Thanks, I’ll be sure to check out SheKnows.com. I’m just getting into the modern age from the Flintstones era.
SheKnows: We could not be a better place for you to start!