Jessica Walter: Elaine Isn't Mrs. Brady!
By JARETT WIESELMAN
July 10, 2012
"Isn't it interesting how I always get these mother from hell roles?"
That's the high note ETonline's interview with Retired at 35 star Jessica Walter ended on. A conversation that began with a discussion about the real world significance her TV Land sitcom has taken on since its 2011 debut (Retired follows an overworked company man who moves back in with his parents to save on rent after deciding to quit his job and live a life of leisure).
On the series, Walter plays Elaine Robbins -- a self-assured mother who refuses to let retirement signify the end of her life. Elaine is the latest in a long line of strong, confident characters Walter has become synonymous with since her breathing venomous life into Arrested Development's marvelously mean mommy Lucille Bluth in 2003.
ETonline: The second season of Retired introduces Elaine's daughter Amy, played by Marissa Jaret Winokur -- what excites you about this addition?
Jessica Walter: Marissa is so special – she has so much energy and is such an original. I think all of the above really injects a bit of adrenaline into the show. In the coming weeks she gets a boyfriend and there's lots of comedy drama that comes from that. I think the episodes just get better and better – I really do.
ETonline: What kinds of reactions have you gotten from fans of this slightly twisted family?
Walter: Is there any such thing as a not-twisted family these days? [laughs] I think the whole premise, beginning with the son moving home, a lot of people can relate to because lots of kids can't afford to live on their own. So seeing the effect that has on the parents is really interesting.
ETonline: The show also examines the time in a child's life when their parents become real people; they're no longer "mom" and "dad" -- what intrigues you about pulling the curtain back on that?
Walter: I have a daughter at this age right now, so I see it in my real life too and it's interesting. The roles kind of reverse a bit because the children become the parents in many ways. It puts everyone on an even playing field and it's funny having that in my real life and my TV life.
ETonline: In addition to Retired, you also voice Malory Archer on FX's animated series, Archer. What can you tease about the new season?
Walter: Mal gets married and my real life husband [Ron Leibman] is going to play her husband. He comes in at the end of the premiere episode. I love that show and there are so many fans out there. I think they're going to love what's coming up.
ETonline: And at some point you'll also be juggling a third project when you reprise Lucille Bluth in new Arrested Development episodes. How excited are you to be returning to that world?
Walter: I'm just thrilled. It's been rumored for so long, and I think the idea to have the nine episodes leading up to the movie is so inspired. No one has ever done that before, which is just one reason why Mitch [Hurwitz, creator] is such a genius – and as you know from the original show, so crazy. Sometimes I had to read the scripts a couple of times just to wrap my head around the whole thing, which is funny because a lot of the fans have watched the show 25 times and they're always telling me about these hidden things that I didn't know about! That’s the writing, we just had the most amazing writers on that show.
ETonline: What do you think would happen if Lucille and Elaine were to meet?
Walter: Oh gosh, that's such a great question! Elaine can be pretty sharp, she ain't Mrs. Brady [laughs]. I think it would be two worthy adversaries coming at each other! And then if Malory walked in ... oh boy, that would be something to see!
Retired at 35 airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land.