Elaine Stritch Talks the 30 Rock Mother's Day Episode
With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, the NBC hit comedy series 30 Rock is celebrating with a brand new Mother's Day-themed episode entitled The Moms, which will air tonight, May 6 at 9:30 PM ET on NBC. A special episode like this calls for a special guest star, which they have in Elaine Stritch, who will portray the mother of Alec Baldwin's character. Stritch recently held a conference call to discuss her guest-starring stint on the series and here's what she had to say.
What's it like being Alec Baldwin's mother?
Elaine Stritch: Well if I had my choice I would not - I wouldn't mind working with Alec Baldwin, but the mother role - I'm kidding. It's terrific. I'll tell you what happened with Alec Baldwin and myself. This is a couple acting together just this side of heaven. He's one of the best actors I've ever worked with in whole life. And I - I'm not overdoing it. I just think he's about the best around today. So I got lucky. I got lucky and I enjoy it thoroughly.
There's such great chemistry between the two of you.
Elaine Stritch: Absolutely.
Is that what brings you back to continue to play this role or is there other factors involved?
Elaine Stritch: That's the - a big factor that we do - I don't - I can't explain chemistry. I really can't. I haven't got a clue what it's all about. It just happens. It's like falling in love, you know? You don't say - you don't - you can't explain why you fall in love or explain why it's this particular person. All the - all the question, the whole questionnaire falling in love is out to lunch as far as I'm concerned. But with this chemistry idea of actors who work together, you know, actually in (Meldanie), in Gone With the Wind, you know, Rhett and Scarlett, the casting of those parts, wow. It's just happens. Who can put their - the reason, you know, you can't put your finger on it. That's what makes it exciting. And I feel that with Alec. And also it's so much easier. You come on the set. You've learned your lines, you know, you hope. You hope you have. And you start out and it happens. It just - my reactions to him, he doesn't talk about it. I don't think I've ever discussed our - quote, our relationship. We don't go there. We - I think neither one of us - I think we passed by the studio and went to 8th Avenue and had a drink. You know what I mean? I know that's what I did. So you'll have to ask Alec. I think probably it's a similar experience he had. I'm not knocking it, what's his name at the Actor's Studio?
Oh James Lipton?
Elaine Stritch: No. I'm trying to think of the guy that started the Actor's Studio and was their great teacher. What the hell was his name? Well anyway, he paid me a great complement. One of the students at the studio one day, I was a guest at a discussion about acting. And they said do you think Elaine Stritch does the method? And he said Elaine Stritch was born with the method. So she didn't have to come here. I thought it was a lovely very amusing comment and I'll never forget it. No, not (Piscater). My assistant (Marge) just stuck her head in the door and said (Piscater). It was - get it on your cell phone. It was the head - the great guy that taught everybody. Oh, this is age is what it is.
How does Ms. Donaghy feel about the love triangle her son is in?
Elaine Stritch: Say that again?
Elaine Stritch: Well she thinks he's - you know, he's got to catch up for God's sakes. You know, grow up, grow up is what she's telling him. And she loves him. This is the wonderful part. This is the wonderful part. And it's - and I've just been talking about Alec Baldwin. I mean he's a real prize package to work with. I just couldn't have done any better. If I have to face the fact that I'm old enough of course to play the part and be his mother, I won't say I live that aspect of it. But actually I do. Actually I do. I'm not one of the - well never mind. We won't go into that. Anyway, it's as I said, it's a joy to work with him. He's a (constinous) actor.
Elaine Stritch: To do what?
To have scenes with the other women who play his girlfriend?
Elaine Stritch: Well I think a little bit I did on the Mother's Day I think I did. No, I usually work with either Tina or Alec. Oh and this time I got a chance to work with that divine character actor that, you know what - what is his name on the show? I can't remember it. I know his name for real. What?
Elaine Stritch: The real silly giddy one?
That's Jack McBrayer.
Elaine Stritch: Oh heaven, absolute heaven. I mean he really is funny and he's legitimate and he's real. He's some actor. You'll always find that at the bottom of a real comedian. You know, he's an actor as well or first and foremost and actor. And then he chooses what he does. You know what I mean? A little bit do you know what I mean?
All right, well you talked a little bit about Jack and Alec. So what is it like for you working with Tina Fey?
Well Tina is a trip. That's the - that's a good word for her. You don't know where you're going but you're more than willing to get onboard. You know what I'm talking about?
Elaine Stritch: She is - she's an original piece of work. She really is. And that is what is almost demanded today to be a full-fledged performer, star quality --all that -- all that terrific mish-mash stuff. And she's got it in spades. That's all I can say about Tina. And I think she's enjoying it. I hope she is.
Away from 30 Rock, are there any roles you're interested in taking on?
Elaine Stritch: Well for the past eight, nine years I've been playing myself. And I'm rather happy about it. I think I'm a good acting partner for me, you know? And I don't have anybody else but me. I seem to do very well. There's no room for any difference of opinions - nothing. I just do anything in the world I like up there. Of course I think I've been doing that all my life anyway. But it's a very simple way to perform and yet it's the most difficult I think, the, you know, the one woman show. That's really tough. And I'm really getting enormous satisfaction of what I'm doing now at the Carlyle Hotel. It's closed now but I did it - I opened in January in Elaine Stritch singing Sondheim one song at a time. And I - they - I love this expression. They said by popular demand they booked me two more weeks just these - the last two weeks we've just closed. And I honored Stephen Sondheim and did all his material. And, you know, when you have a writer like that it's hard work but it's so satisfying. I've just had a wonderful time, talk about being scared to death. I think - I love that expression in the theater, still fooling them when my husband used to say that. And I think everybody's husband who had anything on the ball used to say that. You know, how you doing? I'm still fooling them. I love that. Anyway that's what I'm doing. I'm - the main thing I'm doing is I'm not fooling myself. I fess up to the fact that it's the most difficult material I've ever done. And it gave me - it was a big success on Broadway when I introduced Sondheim's stuff long ago in a musical called Company. And now to do my choice of anything of his that I want to do is thrilling. And the audience felt the same way. Ho, ho, ho. They really did. I'm bragging but I'm telling the truth.
Elaine, if Tina Fey ever wanted you to come on the show full-time, is that something you'd want to do?
Elaine Stritch: Well what do you mean like...
Like a regular?
Elaine Stritch: I consider I'm a - that I'm a running part as now. But I - no, I don't think it's a good thing to have her overkill for mother. I think she should come on once in a while. Maybe one or two. One or two or possibly three shows a season. That's enough. That's enough for me, but not just because I don't want to do more. It's enough because I think taste-wise it's the best thing to do with her. She comes on every once in a while, raises hell, you know, changes the whole atmosphere and leaves for a while. And I think that makes her not the boring mother, you know what I mean. She just floats into New York with her furs and diamonds and tries to straighten him out a little bit. And then she leaves. And I live that about the part. I like this because you want her. When is Colleen coming back? I love to hear that.
And now it is a Mother's Day episode. And were there any other moms on (show) or did you kind of take on the mom role?
Elaine Stritch: Everybody's mom came to visit them at NBC, absolutely.
Oh that's good. And how was that?
Elaine Stritch: Well it was fine. But I'm just saying the writing was terrific. They had everybody's mother, not just Alec's. You understand what I'm saying? And there was a nice show about it at NBC. And all the mother's got together. And it was a cute idea for the script I thought. I'm sure it'll - it played well. I hear good things about it.
Yes oh and what about on set? Like did anybody kind of bring cupcake or like was there any kind of special mom thing going on even like behind the scenes and stuff?
Elaine Stritch: Well of course, that's what it's all about or it's what's going on behind the scenes. You know what I mean? Patti Lupone is on the show as you probably all know. And all of their mothers are - I mean they're the mothers that visit the characters on 30 Rock.
I wanted to know what does Jack have planned for Colleen on Mother's Day?
Elaine Stritch: Well just another stab at trying to get her to stay out of his life. And he's involved in a lot of romantic bullshit. And she tries to straighten him out. And I don't think he wants her to try to straighten him out. But as it turns out he's very grateful because she - she's very straight-forward with him. And they really have a wonderful relationship. And they really love each other very, very deeply, I'm sure of that, not to get too serious about 30 Rock. But, you know, real comedy comes out of reality, you know? I always say if you can't give a reason for the banana peel being in the alley, then don't have the comic trip over - slide over it. Do you understand what I mean? First explain how the banana peel got there quickly. And then there's a reason for all the comedy. And that's good in 30 Rock because they usually do that.