Raising Hope returns with all new episodes tonight, Tuesday, April 19 at 9 PM ET on Fox with an episode entitled Episode 1.18: Cheaters. Creator/executive producer Greg Garcia and star Martha Plimpton recently held a conference call to discuss the Fox show's first new episode in over a month. Here's what they both had to say below.
Martha, as an accomplished actress, what excites you about playing a character like Virginia?
Martha Plimpton: Gosh, well I appreciate the compliment and first of all. Second of all, I don't know. I like to have fun and Virginia's really fun. I mean, Greg's written some really characters. It's not something I've ever done before. I've never done a television series where I was like a regular before. I figured if I was going to do something like that I'd want to do it with people I really liked who seem really smart and kind and funny and sweet. So it kind of all worked out perfectly.
Greg, how did you know that Martha would be a perfect fit for the role?
Greg Garcia: Well, I've just always been a fan of Martha's. She's a great actress and I just felt like she could definitely do this. I think that one of the things that Virginia has as a character is some balls and the things I watch Martha in, I just always feel that there's some balls there.
So they say you never work with babies? Have you had any mishaps while filming the show?
Martha Plimpton: I can't think of any mishaps really. I don't know Greg can you think of mishaps?
Greg Garcia: No.
Martha Plimpton: I mean, we did shoot a scene where one of the twins was pooping the whole time. That was pretty good.
Greg Garcia: Yes, you're going to have that with the twins or any other various cast members ... because of our catering, but no, it's been a delight. That's what they say and usually that's a fair thing to say. You tend to spend a lot of time waiting for the babies to be in the right mood to just sit still. So far, we've been very lucky with that that our babies have really grown attached to the cast. So there's no separation anxiety there when they have to just leave their parents for a little bit and be with our cast. I think that they kind of consider the cast their family at this point, which is nice for everybody. Hopefully as we go forward, we're now going to be quickly getting to the terrible two stages of our babies showing in Season 2, so we'll just see what happens. Hopefully, our luck continues.
Do you think you will be going on to the toddler stage and watching Hope grow up as the seasons go on?
Greg Garcia: Yes, that's the plan. That's the plan right now is that we would stick with the Hope that everybody has met and fallen in love with and we'll stick with her and we'll watch our family raise her.
Martha Plimpton: Hence the title, of course.
Greg Garcia: Yes. There you go.
On Raising Hope, there seems to be a certain disregard for political correctness in the humor. I was wondering what are the lines that you like to cross and what are those lines that you don't think you'll ever be crossing with the show?
Greg Garcia: Gosh, it's a good question but it's a tough one to answer because the lines are blurry and constantly moving. You just sit in that writers room and you hear jokes and you decide kind of on the spot, is that something we want to do? I mean, the general rule is if it makes everybody laugh we do it. There's been very few occasions where the network says we don't want you doing this joke, but they have their certain buzzwords and certain topics that they always want to stay away from, no matter what. So you kind of know what you can and can't put in a joke. Like, you can say pecker but you can't say Jesus Christ. There are all these rules, but I think the answer to that question is that you just kind of have to go with your gut and see what makes you laugh. Occasional you're going to offend some people, but hopefully, you're making more people laugh than you're offending.
Martha, I was going to ask you since your time on the show from the beginning until now, what has been the most surprising thing for you?
Martha Plimpton: Oh my gosh. That's a good one. A lot of things have been surprising. I had never done a TV show where I was like on the show every week like a regular. I think part of that was I was afraid that I'd get bored, like I've never played the same character for a year before, ever. I haven't ever one time been bored at all. I can't say I'm surprised by this necessarily, because I knew what I was getting into and I knew Greg. I was a fan of his and I know how good our writers are. So I can't say it's necessarily a surprise. I guess it's more of a sort of a happy relief. I don't know. I don't know how else to describe it. Yes, I'm always happy to go to work every day. It's not really surprising it's just sort of more a pleasant-
Martha Plimpton: Yes, pleasant, grateful feeling, exactly.
You've been referred to as one of the hardest working actors in the business. What keeps you working so hard and what is the appeal that you've got that you think means the parts that keep coming at you?
Martha Plimpton: Well, thank you for the compliment. Why I keep working so hard? Well there are a number of reasons for that. Number one, I really like working. I really love it. It's what I do for a living and I've got to make a living. I've got to keep at it. I like to try new things. I like to go new places and I like to work with new people. That's sort of the definition of my job. As an actor, you just go where the work is, right. I guess, maybe part of the reason why I'm fortunate enough to get to keep working, I'm hoping, is because maybe people like working with me because I like what I do for a living and I want to have a good time. I want to have fun doing it and it's important to me. It's important to me if I'm having a good time than I feel like the work is better. The quality of it is better and my level of interest is higher. So maybe that's why. I feel like, obviously, it's a little bit of both. You have to really keep at it and keep focused on moving forward as an actor and a performer. You can't get stuck in ruts or allow other people to stick you in ruts. You have to keep challenging yourself. Then, hopefully, the pleasure that you take in that leads to other people going, "Hey, she seems like fun to work with I want to work with that," maybe.
Our viewers want to know how much of the show is ad lib verses scripted?
Greg Garcia: Yes. There's not a lot. I think it's a combination of the cast, kind of trusting the writers, and the writers kind of spend a lot of time trying to get the words right on paper. Also we have a lot to do in a day. We usually shoot anywhere from 12, 14 hours in a day and we have a lot to get done. So, I think as long as the actors are comfortable with what's on the page we try to stick to it and get the job done and move on. That doesn't mean there aren't discussions before we shoot a scene. If something feels wrong coming out of their mouth or it just doesn't feel like the character then we'll talk about it and we'll make changes.
Martha Plimpton: I think we're all pretty confident that-maybe Cloris (Leachman) is the one exception because she's been doing this so long and she's such a pro, but I think the rest of us is pretty confident that we're not sure we could come up with anything as funny as our writers come up with. I think we're all pretty confident that they've got their eye on the ball with it.
So you're spending 12 to 14 hours a day, do you shoot 6 days of the week, then?
Greg Garcia: Five days.
I want to know Martha, do you agree with Virginia and Burt's views and their understanding on cheating.
Martha Plimpton: I'm pretty sure they have an agreement on cheating that it's probably not the best plan for a marriage, but hey, listen when you been together as long as Burt and Virginia have you're obviously doing something right. They've been together since they were kids. They've grown up together. They have a whole long back-story that we're still kind of mining and obviously, whatever they've got going is working for them.
In the episode, Cheaters, Greg, the cast and the Charlie Sheen reference at the end were hilarious. So who else is on your list to put on blast this season?
Greg Garcia: The Katherine Heigl thing, I think one of the writers put that in there. I don't even know who Katherine Heigl is. So, I don't know if I'd actually put her on blast. I mean somebody put her on there. I guess she does movies that are kind of chick flicks or something, but I'm really not sure. Yes, the Charlie Sheen thing... what was our Charlie Sheen thing?
Martha Plimpton: I'm trying to remember.
It was the "Duh winning."
Greg Garcia: Oh, yes my kids says, "Duh winning," at the end of the episode on the Amigo ... Garcia. We did a thanksgiving thing. We said Charlie Sheen is thankful for his whores and his dog. Yes, I recently spent three hours at Charlie Sheen's house. It was an adventure. I don't know if anybody's on blast with us. Whatever joke makes us laugh we just go with it and sometimes using some pop culture references is a nice easy way to get a chuckle out of people.
Now what can you tell us about the upcoming episode and what it was like working with Jerry Van Dyke?
Martha Plimpton: Oh my gosh.
Greg Garcia: Well I worked with Jerry Van Dyke before many times on Yes, Dear and My Name Is Earl. I'm a big Jerry Van Dyke fan and he's always a pleasure to have. He always has great stories. He's an extremely funny guy. So I was just pleased to have him there. I'd love to have him back to more next season. In fact, on Friday I'm going to see him and Dick Van Dyke doing The Sunshine Boys in Malibu.
Martha Plimpton: Oh, I'm so jealous. Oh my gosh, please videotape it.
Greg Garcia: Yes. Maybe I can face time it. But no I love Jerry and he's always an absolute delight. I believe this is Martha's first time working with Jerry.
Martha Plimpton: It was my first time working with him and I could not have been more excited and star struck. I mean, obviously I've been watching him for years. I think he's one of the funniest people in the world. In fact, Greg loaned my, which I still have to return to you, Greg, the DVD of his movie ..., on the front porch, which this is a movie that Jerry made about him trying to make a movie. I really think he's a genius. I love that he came and did our show. He's such a pro. He was just dreamy. I'm thrilled to know that Greg is going to have him back.
Greg Garcia: Yes, I definitely want to have him back. He's just one of those guys it's great to have him on set. He's just a lot of fun.
What can you tell us about the episode?
Greg Garcia: That episode with Jerry Van Dyke. Yes, there's a little bit of a love story between him and Cloris Leachman and there's some controversy going on because Cloris is not thinking all the way correctly and believes that she is still married even though her husband has passed away, so she thinks she's cheating. Martha's character has some problems with that even though it's just in her mind. Meanwhile, in that episode, Jimmy and Sabrina are going through some similar problems where Sabrina feels that that, Wyatt, her boyfriend at college is cheating on her. So they're going to investigate.
Martha, I really love your relationship between Virginia and Burt. How would you describe their relationship and what it's like working with Garret (Dillahunt)?
Martha Plimpton: Oh my gosh, working with Garret is a dream, an absolute dream. He's wonderful. He's hilarious. He's incredibly smart. He's a very, very smart actor. I love the relationship that Greg and his writers have been developing the first season. I love that they grew up together. I love that their childhood sweethearts, and they have that history, and they're so familiar with each other that they're best friends as well as husband and wife. I love very much that they're not like the Bickersons. They're not like your typical sit-com couple and that they're not always fighting about who's right or wrong about something. Obviously, this show has its conflicts. You have to because that's comedy. But I like that they're in it together. I think that it gives us way more room over the long haul just as characters to have fun and to get to know these people, the fact that they're not always at each other's throats that I really like.
Greg Garcia: It's always better when we can have the two of them against something else as a team, as a nice married team. They may not agree about the way to go about whatever conflict they have, but it's nice to see them working as a team.
I'm thinking, if Jimmy wants a relationship with Sabrina, he's definitely going to have to run things by her before making huge decisions like he did with the will. So will we have more opportunities for him to show that quality and responsibility and really run anything by her in the final episode of the season or are we going to explore that more in Season 2?
Greg Garcia: I think that if you're looking for that it'd be more in Season 2. We actually end our season this year on actually a flash back episode that happened five years in the past, which we have a lot of fun with. I think for anybody, if you're just tuning in the show, you'll definitely get a lot of laughs out of the episode. I think that if people have watched the whole season there's a lot of little fun things in there that call back from other episodes and questions about why people are where they are in their lives and stuff like that. So that's how we're ending the season. But I think one of our main things to think about in Season 2 is exactly where that relationship is going with Jimmy and Sabrina and we have a lot of different ideas and we haven't decided everything yet ourselves. So it's a whole process to kind of getting in there and seeing where the stories go and what's the best thing to do.
You just mentioned the flashback, Martha how was it filming that for you?
Martha Plimpton: It was great. It's a lot of fun that we get to do this-that we get to play these people now, that we've seen them as teenagers. We have these two wonderful actors who play us as ourselves, young, just starting out. It's a lot of fun that we get to jump all over the place. That's the beauty and luxury of being on a show like this. We can kind of do whatever we want which is awesome.
Greg Garcia: Martha was lucky there's some characters who have braces. There's characters who have gained 400 pounds or were much fatter back then. There were characters who wear a lot of make-up. Martha, she looked exactly the same.
Martha Plimpton: Yes, I just wear barrettes.
Greg Garcia: Yes, barrettes. That was the big change.
I know. I was a little bummed about that. I kind of thought maybe I should have shaved by head or something.
Greg Garcia: Well, when we do the six-year flashback.
Martha Plimpton: Yes that's a good idea.
Are there any guest stars we should be looking forward to in the last couple of episodes?
Greg Garcia: Yes in the last couple of episodes we mentioned Jerry Van Dyke, Ethan Suplee and Jaime Pressly from My Name Is Earl, they play a married couple in our second to last episode, so look for that. That's about it. In our flashback episode, we have our finale. We try to cram a bunch of people that have been in the show throughout the season. So there will be a lot of familiar faces in that episode.
Martha Plimpton: And a couple of nice cameo's too I think, right?
Greg Garcia: Yes.
Martha Plimpton: People sort of come in and out of the frame really, really fast and you go, "Oh, man, that's awesome. He's on this."
Greg Garcia: Yes. There's some fun stuff.
Although you obviously didn't start acting as young as the little ones on your show, you started when you were-was it-eight. What are your earliest memories of acting and how did you think it helped to starting off at that kind of age?
Martha Plimpton: I was actually having a conversation about this the other night with some people that I was working with. I was remembering that when I did the first play that I was in when I was eight years old, I remember my mother-who is not your typical stage mother at all. She was not thrilled about me doing this. She didn't necessarily think I would keep doing it, which was something to do in my summers instead of going to camp, which I hated-she watched the performance and then afterwards she said, "Honey, you did great. I'm really proud of you. You really were excellent. I just want you to remember one thing. Even when you're not talking you're still in the play." I would say that that's probably the most valuable advice I've ever received as far as acting is concerned. It's certainly stuck with me the longest.
Would you say you missed out on anything by starting working when you were young?
Martha Plimpton: No. My goodness no. What could I possibly miss? I've gotten to do all kinds of crazy things. I've gotten to learn how to drive boats. In fact, I learned how to ride a bike because of my first big movie job. I grew up in New York City and I hadn't learned to ride a bike by the time I was 12 years old because it's hard to learn how to ride a bike in Manhattan. It was because of a movie job that I got to learn how to ride a bike; so not at all. I had a very, in most respects it doesn't seem like it, but I've actually had and continue to have a very normal banal life.