411mania Interviews: Maggie Lawson (Back in the Game, Psych)
Posted by Al Norton on 10.02.2013
411's Al Norton sits down for an exclusive interview with Maggie Lawson, star of USA's Psych and ABC's new comedy Back in the Game.
Maggie Lawson has been making TV audiences laugh out loud for the last seven seasons of USA's hit comedy PSYCH, and now she can be seen starring opposite James Caan in the new ABC comedy Back in the Game.
Al Norton: How much baseball or softball did you play growing up and how long had it been since you'd picked one up before the pilot?
Maggie Lawson: I played most of my life, actually, most of childhood up through high school, and I grew up all around sports in my family. I play off and on with friends in different leagues but it had probably been eight years since I had played at all. It was really comfortable, really nice, and I loved that about the script, that we should up on the first day of work on the pilot and we were on a ball field. It was dirty, it was fun, and it felt really nostalgic for me.
Al Norton: Is that one of those, "I can't believe I get paid for this" moments?
Maggie Lawson: Absolutely. Every day is like that.
Al Norton: What drew you to Terry?
Maggie Lawson: What didn't? She's such a cool, tough, complicated, and also feminine, funny, and vulnerable character. As a female lead of a comedy, she's also very real and very grounded. I loved this script so much, the baseball element but also just this character. She's in a transitional period in her life and that gives me so many fun things to play. I think the Cullens (series creators Mark and Rob) did a really good job in writing a female lead like this. I am over the moon. Honestly, it's rare to read a role like this.
Al Norton: I know you've had a ton of big name guest stars on Psych but were you still a little bit nervous working with James Caan?
Maggie Lawson: Oh my God, absolutely. I met him as the last step of the audition process and I was totally nervous. The Cullens had told me not to worry – they said, "play with him, bite back, he's a goof" – and I know they were just trying to make me feel comfortable but they were dead right; from the second we shook hands, we were joking around and it was really easy and natural. All the nerves went out the window once I met him.
Al Norton: I know from watching Private Practice how great Griffin (Gluck) is but what's he like to work with?
Maggie Lawson: I love that kid so much. He's so smart and so real. He's such a normal boy and he's such a great actor. He's not actor-y at all, he's just a scrappy kid who happens to be a great actor. He's always in a good mood, he never complains about anything. James Caan is teaching him how to play baseball - he'd never played – and he's picking it up so fast that he's really good now. I am in awe of him; I love him.
Al Norton: Based on the sharp dialogue in the pilot plus James Caan and also all the kids, I am guessing the outtake reel at the end of the season is really going to be something.
Maggie Lawson: And also mostly bleeped out. They're going to have to release two versions, one for adults, one for kids. There is a lot of silliness and we have so much fun but I will say there is a jar and Jimmy puts a lot of money into the bad language jar and it's going to make Griffin rich.
Al Norton: I watched the pilot while my wife was sleeping and I woke her up at least twice because of how much I was laughing.
Maggie Lawson: That's like the greatest compliment, thank you.
Al Norton: One of the things that I loved about the episode was that, different than most TV shows that have female leads – not that there are too many of them – there was no introduction of any sort of romantic elements. I thought, "great, this makes sense, let's establish her as a person first and then see what happens."
Maggie Lawson: How great, right? In the first few episode we do get into a couple of girls nights but Terry was pretty much raised as a boy, and then she got pregnant in college, so she's never really been a woman, and this is the first time she's getting the opportunity to do that. I love that they are really exploring that without, as you said, immediately setting up "oh, this is where this is going." It's really nice and we'll see a lot of that. She's getting used to her new life and we're taking our time with that, which is a lot of fun to get to play.
Al Norton: Was there any hesitation about doing this new show because it might limit your participation in what most people seem to think will be the last season of Psych?
Maggie Lawson: No, actually. Psych has been, from the get go, so supportive. Steve Franks texted me after the pilot aired and he's been so sweet and such a cheerleader for me. He basically said, "we'll work it out", and they did. I got to do both and it was such a blessing. Everyone at Psych is so wonderful and I am so grateful but even from the time I was auditioning for this Steve was behind me.
Al Norton: Is it possible that the musical episode of Psych could live up to the fan's huge expectations?
Maggie Lawson: And then some! I can guarantee it.
Al Norton: Can you preview the next episode of Back in the Game for me?
Maggie Lawson: We've established that I'm home, that the Cannon is going to help out with practice, and we're all living on top of each other in this house that probably hasn't been cleaned in a decade. It's a very family life oriented episode plus there's a wonderfully ridiculous part where, because the kids are afraid of the baseball, The Cannon decides he'll take them to a prison so they'll see what it is they should really be afraid of. It's a riot.
Don't miss Back in the Game, tonight at 8:30pm on ABC