INTERVIEW: Liz Vassey on A MILLION LITTLE THINGS and her appreciation of DJ Nash, her stint on C.S.I., and her continued love for MAXIMUM BOB and THE TICK
A few days ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the inherent weirdness of befriending celebrities on Facebook, and I observed how—at least for the most part—my Facebook friendships with actors have either come about after I’ve interviewed them or else they started when everybody was first joining Facebook and it was kind of a free-for-all. In most of the latter instances, those friends haven’t checked their accounts in probably a decade or more, so they don’t really count anyway.
There are a few outliers, however, where I’ve befriended someone because we had so many mutual friends, and once such individual is Liz Vassey. I don’t remember how long we’ve been virtually acquainted, but it’s been long enough that she pops up and comments on the occasional post on my page, so I’m not entirely an unknown. As such, when I did an interview a few months ago with DJ Nash, creator of A Million Little Things, about his 2001 pilot Life with David J, I felt comfortable enough to drop her a DM and ask what she remembered about the experience of playing DJ’s wife in the pilot. This, in turn, let me to invite her to do an interview as well, and… Well, here we are.
We did the interview on Zoom, and although I decided to just transcribe the audio rather than upload the video, I can assure you that it was delightful to see her pop up on my screen, and the subsequent conversation matched that level of delightfulness and then some as we traipsed through her back catalog, touching on topics ranging from The New Leave It to Beaver to her recent arc on A Million Little Things.
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Ah, there you are!
How ya doin'?
I'm good! How are you?
I'm good! I love the [Odd Couple] picture right behind you. It makes me think of... [Does a pitch-perfect impression of Felix Unger clearing his sinuses.]
Beautiful. Yeah, I actually found that in a thrift store, already framed. I had to buy it.
That's so cool!
As a TV critic, it just felt right.
My husband and I were talking about how we want to watch that again, because one of my favorite movies is The Apartment. It's just a classic, and we re-watched it again - I watch it every year - and for some reason we were just, like, "You know what? We should watch The Odd Couple. It's been too long."
Well, it's all on Paramount+ for your streaming enjoyment, barring a few episodes where I guess they opted not to spend the money for the rights for the music or something. But it definitely holds up.
We should do that. Only first I've got to get over The Last of Us. This is our obsession right now. One more episode!
I'm behind by a couple, so I still need to play catch-up. But I've loved everything I've seen so far.
I mean, I get all the love for Pedro Pascal and everything, but Bella Ramsey is just extraordinary. Wait 'til you see this most recent episode. She's just unbelievable. Damned good.
So I actually sent an email to D.J. Nash before hopping on the phone with you, asking, "Are there any questions you think I should ask Liz?" Of course, he wrote back immediately, and I don't think he thinks I'm going to ask you all of these, but I am.
Okay, let's go!
"First of all, ask her, 'Who the hell does she think she is?'"
[Loud, long laughter.]
"Ask her if she'd ever develop a show with D.J. Nash."
Oh, you know, that's how this whole thing started, with me going and being on A Million Little Things! Because I did a pilot with him 107 years ago that you know all about, and I just absolutely loved working with him. I mean, I really loved working with him. And then I started watching how he was writing and selling his shows, and he's been an inspiration to me since I started writing. After I wrote an episode of C.S.I., that was a gamechanger for me, and I started really watching what D.J. was doing. I thought, "I can learn from him." So I actually reached out to him for the first time in years and said, "Hey, will you read my stuff? Can we talk about writing?" So we went to lunch to ostensibly talk about writing, and then he said, "What would it take to get you in front of the camera again?" And I was, like, "An offer and a good role!" And he said, "Okay!" So then the next thing I knew, I was up in Canada! [Laughs.] So it all worked out kind of beautifully. But I hope I do get to write with him. I would love to.
"Ask how she can reconcile being a great actor with thinking I have any acting ability."
I thought he was good. That didn't go where I thought it was gonna go. [Laughs.] I still disagree vehemently that he has no acting ability, because what I didn't know until I read what you wrote about Life with David J was that that was his first time on a soundstage, too. I knew he wasn't comfortable with acting, and I knew it was making him nervous, which worked out great for me, because I don't know that I've ever been calmer! Because I spent the whole time saying to him, "Just picture them in their underwear! It's all fine! We're all just people!" So I was so Zen that whole week because I was trying to help him see, "You know, it's just television. We're not curing cancer. It's gonna be fine!" But he was better than he thinks he was, in all honesty. And then to think of it being his first time on a soundstage in a sitcom... My first sitcom, it was an abject suck-fest. I was terrible in my first sitcom. Because I didn't know what the hell I was doing! There's a learning curve. So I think he does have the talent. I think he's a little hard on himself.
"Ask her if she thinks I'd look good with bangs."
[Laughs.] I think everybody would look good with bangs! I think bangs are a beautiful thing. I have a five-head, so I have to have them, because it's covering up... You could show movies on this sucker!
Lastly, he said, "Ask her about Star Wars. She loves Star Wars" - which I could tell already, since you have the visage of Darth Vader looming behind you - "And then ask her if she thinks I'm a better actor than Chewbacca. Not Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, but actually Chewbacca."
Uh, I'm gonna say "yeah," because Chewbacca had all that hair to fall back on, and quite honestly, it's a crutch. So I think that D.J. was just himself. He didn't have bangs, much less full body hair, so I'm very impressed that he got out there as the human being he is - as opposed to a Wookie - and he did it. So I'd say that, yeah, he crushed it more than Chewbacca. But I'm glad he didn't ask if he was better than Harrison Ford, 'cause nobody is better than Harrison Ford.
Close call. Okay, so I'm just gonna throw some various things from your back catalog at you and see what rings a bell or what leaps to mind when you hear them.
In particular, I just had someone on Twitter ask me to ask you about the experience of working on Maximum Bob.
It was, hands down, my favorite thing I've ever worked on.
Yeah, I mean, we had a get-together with some of the writers and some of the other actors from the show, I think it was right before the pandemic, and all of us said the same thing. That set was magic. We knew that we had something so beautiful. I mean, Elmore Leonard and Beau Bridges... The whole cast was just extraordinary. I was actually raised in Florida, and I moved to New York when I was 16. I didn't have an extraordinary experience in Florida when I was a teenager... [Laughs.] I mean, not that a lot of people have extraordinary experiences as a teenager, but mine... It was not the prime time of my life. And Maximum Bob shot in Florida. I was, like, "Hell, yes, I will move back to Florida to go do this!" It was just perfection. I love that show, and I think it's a crime it didn't go for longer.
I spoke to Barry Sonnenfeld a few years ago, and he spoke very fondly of it as well.
Yeah, I think Sonnenfeld loved it. I think he also learned a lesson, because he did the pilot and then skedaddled. [Laughs.] And I think we could've used him!
That's almost literally what he said, actually.
Yeah, we had great directors, but it just would've been great to have him around, if only because... I mean, he's an 800-pound gorilla, so it would've shown a little bit more faith in it. I think he'd say the same thing about The Tick. In fact, he has said the same thing about The Tick! That if he could've done anything differently, it would've been to stick around a little bit longer and "help my baby learn to fly." [Laughs.]
You mentioned that your first sitcom was a suck-fest. I was trying to figure out what it was. Was it The New Leave It to Beaver?
No, you know, I didn't suck on Leave It to Beaver, It was a funny part. I wasn't so bad on that. I watched that again recently. What's interesting in that was that I'm 15 years old, and I had to flirt with Beaver's son and Eddie Haskell's son, and I'm in a tiny spandex outfit, dancing for their video, because they're doing a song called "Fire in the Gym" with their band. So I'm dancing around with a basketball, and I'm shooting the basketball, and I didn't even realize at 15... I'm, like, "Oh, I'm doing this little dance, and I'm wearing dance clothes." I'm watching it now going, "Holy mother of God!" [Laughs.]
But the funniest thing was that I was showing it to my husband recently, and I was explaining to him how I couldn't - I could not - get a date in high school. I couldn't. Because I was the freaky one who was off doing theater and TV, and I was different, so I got pushed out of the herd. And I'm watching this going, "Maybe I should've danced in spandex more!" That was just a very odd period of my life. It was like living two different existences.
But, no, I sucked in Walter and Emily. I was added on in the 13th episode. It was Brian Keith, Cloris Leachman, Chris McDonald... It was a hell of a cast. Oh, and also, interestingly enough, Matt Lawrence, Joey's little brother. And I had never done a sitcom, so all I'd done was theater and some single-camera stuff. And I knew that when you go to a table read for theater, you just read through the script. You don't act. I didn't know that a table read for a sitcom is basically another audition. So I just sort of read my lines. And I remember specifically that the director, John Rich, who'd been directing forever, came up to me and went, "Um, you better be the girl that you were at that audition, or you're about to lose this job." And I was 19 years old, and I just remember kind of going, "Oh! Oh, uh, okay, um..." And the person who was actually most helpful on that show was David Schwimmer, who - pre-Friends - played my boyfriend, and he was to me what I tried to be for D.J.: "Here's how it works, it's all gonna be okay, that's the audience, play here, don't play for them..." Schwimmer was remarkably helpful in that experience, because it was all new to me!
Somewhere within my Substack newsletter is a photo of John Rich on the set of Pistol Pete, a pilot he did with John Swartzwelder, and I know his career went all the way back to, like, Gunsmoke.
Oh, my God. I mean, I walked out of that table read going, "Cloris Leachman is a health nut," which is now funny, because I am, too, "David Schwimmer is fabulous, and don't fuck with John Rich." [Laughs.]
Looking at your catalog, you were the queen of one-episode gigs for the first several years of your career, but they were mostly high-profile gigs.
Yeah! I mean, it just turned out how it turned out, but it really was a learning experience, like I said. I remember moving out here, and I'd done a soap (All My Children), which is really different from the whole grind of auditioning for stuff out in Los Angeles, and...I don't know what did it, but there was just a sudden change in my ability to feel at home in those rooms, and everything just started clicking. I guess it's the 10,000 hours philosophy: you go to a bunch of auditions, you're not comfortable, you learn what you're doing, you get more comfortable, you learn how to work the room, and you basically just sort of get ahold of it. But, yeah, I was extremely fortunate. I also was fortunate because I was so young. I moved out here when I was 19. I came off a soap, and it was just a really great place to be, because there were very few 19-year-olds that had the amount of TV experience that I had. I'd been working! So, yeah, it was a beautiful thing.
Do you remember anything in particular about the Star Trek: The Next Generation experience?
I remember I had about five fittings for that bathing suit, which is hysterical, because you watch it and you're, like, "It's a simple black one-piece. Why the hell did I go through all those fittings?" [Laughs.] But I was in awe, because it was the Paramount lot, so I would've gone back a hundred times, because it's holy ground. I remember that, and I remember they had great oatmeal. You know, again, I'm 19 or 20, so free breakfast is a very big deal! I remember my sister's boyfriend at the time was a Trekkie, and it was the first job I'd done where he was, like, "Oh, my God, she's the real deal!" I remember that Gates McFadden, I had a scene with her, and I thought, "I want to be her when I grow up." I was so in awe of her and her confidence and how at ease she was in front of the camera.
So your first time as a series regular, was that Brotherly Love?
Well, technically I was going to be a regular on Walter and Emily, but it got canceled. Then I did something called Secrets of Lake Success, which was a nighttime soap opera that only lasted for a few episodes. Then I did a sitcom called Pig Sty.
Okay, I wasn't sure where that fell on the timeline, but honest to God, I did watch Pig Sty when it was originally on the air.
It was actually really funny! It was by two of the people who worked on Cheers. The writers were great, the cast was great, we were developed originally for NBC, but we came up against a little show called Friends that was also about six people living in New York in an apartment building, so we lost, and we went to UPN. I remember I turned 21 around that time. I had my own dressing room! And it was also at Paramount, and I remember so specifically walking through those halls thinking, "You'd better remember all of this, because this could be the last time you're a series regular. This is rarified air. You'd better remember all of it!" And I do. I mean, it was wonderful.
You and I traded DMs about Brotherly Love when I interviewed Joey Lawrence for Decider. He and his brothers really seem like they're good "kids."
Yeah, they're very good "kids"! [Laughs.] I can't wrap my head around Andy being something like 6'4" now! I mean, this is a little boy who used to dance on my shoes. He'd put his feet on my shoes, and I'd dance around. They were great. I came from divorced parents and a rather fractured family, and suddenly I was working with these people where the brothers hung out willfully on their own time, and they were just this pack of people, including their grandfather and grandmother. And I remember Joey turned 21 on that show, and I was invited along for the day, and we went horseback riding, bowling, to a movie, to a meal... There were, like, eight activities with his entire family! So it was a quick jolt of some family that I needed at that time, so I'll always appreciate them for that.
I always loved Mike McShane on Whose Line Is It Anyway, so I was thrilled to see him show up on a sitcom.
I have a very funny story about him that I can't say on the record. [Laughs.] But he was funny. And he's still a buddy. We talk on Twitter. Oh, he was just great. One of the funniest human beings I've ever met, with a heart bigger than my head. A great guy.
You mentioned The Tick earlier. How was that experience? Thanks to the comic book, it was already a cult phenomenon even before it became a TV series.
Yeah, the funny thing about that... I mean, I watched the cartoon, and I liked it very much. That was during a point in my career where everything went for six or seven episodes, because I had very odd taste. [Laughs.] And it seemed like everything I responded to that responded back would be really cool in my opinion and then get canceled after about six or seven because it was very different. I think a lot of the things that I have been on would have quite a nice life in streaming, but it was a very different time then.
The Tick... Primarily the thing I remember the most is that you can't be serious when you're wearing capes. I don't think anybody would mind if I acknowledged that we were very politically divided in that cast, and I remember we'd start talking about things, we'd start talking about politics, and then we'd look at each other and just start laughing because... I mean, Nestor [Carbonell] had a codpiece, and I had a star on my chest. What, am I going to talk about foreign policy with a star on my chest?
So it just was a very fun, lighthearted time in that respect, and I'll always have a lot of respect for Patrick [Warburton], because he never complained about that costume. And there were times they'd take that headpiece off and steam would come off! Like, he was just boiling in that thing. And he never complained, so we never complained. All of us had worked a lot before that show, so it was kind of great, because there was no attitude. We just knew we were lucky to be on a cool show and, again, I wish that one had been given a little more time, too! But there you go.
So who came and asked to be a part of the Amazon version of The Tick as the voice of Lobstercules?
I think it was Barry Josephson at first, but he's a very smart man, so he set up a call with Ben Edlund, because I defy anyone to say "no" to Ben Edlund about anything. [Laughs.] So Ben called me, and I think he sent me a picture of Lobstercules and what I was gonna look like and... You know, it's a six-foot-tall lobster with a garbage bag for pants! But it was funny because I'd sold a script, and when they first contacted me about being on The Tick, I said, "I'm in the middle of a writing deadline! I don't have time to come to Brooklyn! I can't shoot this!" And they're, like, "No, no, no, we just need you in a booth, acting like a big lobster!" And I was, like, "Well, I can't say 'no' to that!"
Of those early series where you were making one-off appearances, is there a particular one that stood out for you as a favorite?
You know, a couple of things stand out. One thing I always talk about... I think it's really helpful if you start working with people you can model yourself after to be a good #1 or #2 on the call sheet, so the two people that stand out the most... I did Quantum Leap, and Scott Bakula, I'm sure you've heard this, the guy couldn't be nicer. First of all, my ears aren't pierced. I'm the one that doesn't have pierced ears.
You and my mother.
[Laughs.] I mean, look at the hair. I don't need them pierced, and I'm just not an earring kind of gal. But I had clip-on earrings for the role, and he saw me rubbing my earlobes, and I just remember him going up to wardrobe and going, "Can she get some pads to make that a little more comfortable?" It's, like, who does that? And then we worked 12 or 13 hours, and I said, "Are you going to go eat?" He said, "No, I'm going to the gym." So I thought, "Oh, he's bionic. This is not a human being. He's clearly a robot." But he couldn't have been kinder. His work ethic was fantastic, and I saw Scott at a restaurant later and got to tell him how much I appreciated him.
So I learned that from him, and then I did an episode of Love and War, and Annie Potts - and I've had a chance to tell her this, too - she was so kind and so funny and so sweet to me. Specifically, there was somebody on that show, another guest, who was doing some very over-the-top stuff, and I just remember her taking me aside and saying, "That gets laughs from the crew, but it's a different play than what we're doing here on TV." Like, she was basically saying, "It's okay to be subtle. It's okay. What you're doing is good. Your role isn't that." So just to basically tell me I was doing well, and to hear it from her, it meant a lot.
More than anything on these jobs, it's just the people that stick in my memory that were kind to me. Tim Daly was very kind on Wings. It really makes a big difference when you have a big, mushy, malleable 21-year-old brain and you meet nice people who show you how to act and...how to act!
One of the question I like to ask people is if they remember the first actor who impressed them by sticking around to read off-camera lines when they knew they didn't have to.
I can remember some who didn't. [Laughs.]
Many can. But they never tell me who they were.
Nope, can't do that! But Scott Bakula did. He stuck around. And recently... I just did an arc on NCIS LA, and I was so impressed: everybody sticks around. All casts and crews like to say they're a family, but they actually felt like one. They actually felt like they enjoyed hanging out together. Everybody was always there for each other. It shouldn't be something that goes away. I have very strong feelings about that.
I think it was Sam Elliott who told me a story about he actually worked with Jimmy Stewart on a short-lived TV series that Stewart did, and Stewart stuck around in full costume to read his lines off-camera. He said it really made an impact on him.
Yeah, it's interesting, too. I find that a lot of people that I work with that started in theater have that kind of mentality. Because theater's a team sport. So, yeah, I've always done off-camera. I mean, Patrick did off-camera, for God's sake, wearing a 137-pound costume! Maybe it was 150. I don't know. But it was big. And he hung around and did it. And I'd say 98% of the people I've worked with have.
It's been a long time since I've seen it, so I can't remember: in Man of the House, did you actually work with Tommy Lee Jones?
He's the only one I worked with! [Laughs.] I played his partner!
Well, there you go. I did say it'd been a long time since I'd seen it!
Yeah, I played his partner, and the biggest thing about that... [Sighs.] I do this thing that I call "poking the bear," and it cracks my husband up. I had a larger-than-life dad, so sometimes when you meet these people on set who are supposedly intimidating, I figure, "I've been fired before, and the good news is, you don't die." And I like to poke at them a little, because what are they gonna do? They're not going to decapitate you. The worst thing is, they find you annoying, they push back, and you get fired. Whatever. So I actually had a fun time just screwing around with him, because it made me laugh.
And what I didn't know was that the cameraman was watching that and found it kind of charming. And I was so myopically focused on handling Tommy Lee Jones that I didn't notice the cameraman until about day three, and then I went into makeup and hair and said, "Oh, that cameraman, he's dreamy!" Because suddenly I'm, like, from 1957. And she told him that I said that! And then I went to a goodbye party after shooting and I invited him along, and now it's 18 years later, and he's my husband! So Tommy Lee was a very interesting person to meet, but by far the most important thing about that movie was that I met my person. [Laughs.]
Well, I'm glad I asked about it, then.
Oh, yeah, I have very fond feelings about that movie. Not for anything I did on camera, just for everything I did off-camera. Because it was the smartest decision of my life!
How do you look back at the overall C.S.I. experience?
Overall, I'm incredibly grateful for it. I'm grateful that I was on something that didn't get canceled after six episodes! [Laughs.] It was pretty cool that I was on something that let me miss five pilot seasons, because at that point I was burnt out. I mean, you go to screen tests... I'm not talking about it like it's digging ditches, I know what it is, but in the world of acting, you go to these screen tests, you get your hopes up, it's down to you and two or three other people, and you work hard to get to that point, because hundreds read for them. One year I screen tested 15 times and finally got the 15th pilot. And it can be stupid shit that you have no control over. It can be a completely different type, it can be different ages, it can be that they had an offer out to a name. But C.S.I. took me away from that and gave me a steady job for five years, which... I mean, I will never not be grateful for that.
Another thing I'm grateful for is that I've gotten emails from young girls about how they got into STEM and how they're focusing on science because of my character. I care very deeply about that. I care very deeply about empowering young girls. So that has meant the world to me. And another thing is that I have friends who will be friends forever, like a lot of the writing staff, a lot of the cast. It just was a really good crew, so some of us will always be friends. So that was a really nice thing.
It didn't end the way I wanted it to end, frankly. And I'm still to this day not entirely sure why it ended the way that it did. But I think sometimes the universe gives you a swift kick in the ass, and it did, and I ended up writing and selling a script that year and doing all sorts of other things that I needed to explore. So ultimately it was good, even if it may not have gone down exactly how I wish it could've.
As I mentioned, I wanted to ask you about doing the pilot Nikki and Nora.
Well, Nancylee Myatt is still a dear friend. I just absolutely adore her. I had a great time doing that. It was funny because... Well, actually, the best story about that is that they wanted me to read for it originally, but I had just done a pilot about two cops, so I'd just played a cop, and it hadn't gone. And I'd just met David, and we were going to get married. Because we met, and we were engaged six months after the day we met. We knew. [Laughs.] This was it. Also, I'm a commitment-phobe, and he'd been married before and was never going to get married again, so I think we were, like, "Lock this shit down before we mess it up! Let's just do it!" So it wasn't a great time to shoot a pilot in New Orleans.
So I kept saying, "No!" And the sexiest word in Los Angles and this industry is "no," because then they're, like, "What does she have that she doesn't want to share?!" I mean, it's just so stupid, but you become so attractive when you say "no." But only if you mean it. That's the trick: you have to mean it. So they kept coming after me. The head of Warner Brothers called me at home going, "Please just come and read for this." And I thought, "Dear God!" But the thing is, I couldn't forget the script, and that's the part that was maddening. I kept saying "no" and meaning it, but then I had this little feeling in the back of my head going, "You love this. You don't love a lot, but you really love this." So I had a long talk with David about it, going, "I don't know that this is a great way to start a marriage, but...I kind of have to go do this! I have to go test for it, at least, and we'll see what happens."
But even then, I went to the test and I heard that I was going to be doing a chemistry read with a woman named Christina Cox, so I called my agent and said, "If I don't like her, then I'm out! I'm not going to go be away from my new husband and move to New Orleans and work with somebody I don't like. So just know that if I don't like her, then I'm leaving this test." So I met her, and five seconds after meeting her, I called my agent and said, "It's a go." [Laughs.] "I'm gonna read." It was a very loving, very easy set to be on. And, again, I think that probably would've had a life now, too. I think that was a bit ahead of its time.
I think we've confirmed that there's a lot of competition for this, but...do you have a favorite project that you've worked on over the years that didn't get the love you thought it deserved?
[Without hesitation.] Maximum Bob.
That makes sense.
Yeah, I mean, definitely. I just showed the episodes to my husband this past year - we got copies of them for the first time - and he really loved it as well. Also, I was 25 years old, going head to head with Beau Bridges. I mean, how lucky was I? And Todd Holland directed an episode. He's a very big TV director who, to this day, I'm still dear friends with. That's another one where... Well, my best friend I met on that show, an actor named Jonathan Slavin. I met him on an episode of that show. That was a very special show for that reason, too, because of those relationships. Beth Grant I'm still close to. I mean, really, more than a handful of people are still in my life this much later, so like I said, it was magic. Absolute magic.
Jonathan's great. I did a Random Roles with him several years ago, and we've been Facebook friends ever since.
Yeah, we have this thing where we can never tell each other how much we like each other. I was a rock, he was an island. Emotionally closed off. [Laughs.] So we just have this thing where I can't say anything nice about him, because he might hear it! I mean, between you and me, he's one of the best people on the planet. But, God, he can never know that I said that.
The odds are good that he'll never read this.
Well, if you talk to him, you can tell him that that's what you discerned. But that I never actually said it. [Laughs.]
Any other projects that leap to mind as being underrated?
Um... Help me out if I'm missing something! I mean, C.S.I. wasn't underrated, that's for damned sure. I had a good time with Push, Nevada. I don't know if it was underrated...
Well, I'll take it anyway, because that's literally the title I was looking at when you said it.
It was fun. It was definitely fun. I mean, that was just sort of funny because it was supposed to be this 13-episode mystery where somebody following along was supposed to win a million dollars, but it got all janky because they canceled it halfway through! [Laughs.] So they were, like, "Well, now we have to truncate the mystery!" So then it got really dumb. But that was the one show that I did where they canceled us while I was in the middle of shooting a scene. Which was fascinating, because they yelled, "Cut!" And I was, like, "Did I mess up?" And then they come out and go, "Actually, we're canceled." And we're all just looking at each other, going, "Do...we leave?"
Yeah, I did some pilots that I thought deserved more love. There was a pilot I did called The Partners right before Nikki and Nora that I thought was going to be great. I actually thought Life with David J was great. I thought that easily could've fit into a CBS lineup, with a young married couple. You never know what goes on behind the scenes and why these decisions are made. I have no idea. But other than that... I was thinking, "What did I do after C.S.I.?" I was on Two and a Half Men. That didn't need more love. I think that was doing all right. [Laughs.] But I loved all of those six-and-done shows that I did. I picked them for a reason, and I wish they'd all been given more time.
You were in one episode of this short-lived comedy, and you may remember nothing from it at all, but I always thought it was a cool series: Danger Theater.
Oh, with Diedrich [Bader]! Yeah, that's what I remember about that: that he was great. We're friends on Twitter. I'm trying to think... I think I played a rock star girlfriend or something, and I think I was playing an airhead. I don't remember much about what I did, but I do remember that my sister called me and went, "What were you thinking?" [Laughs.] I said, "I'm thinking I paid the rent!" But Diedrich was great. He hasn't changed a bit! He's exactly the same guy. So he was my takeaway from that. What a great, great man.
I don't think there's any question that that's where he test-drove his Batman voice. Literally.
Yeah. Absolutely. I should watch it again. I mean, I really remember very little about it. That's the funny thing, too: if you shoot a bunch of your scenes in one day, you end up spending two days on set, so decades later you kind of go, "God, that was two days out of my life, but I really don't remember it very clearly." But I do remember really liking Diedrich.
Well, I think that's about it, but before we go, can you talk at least a little bit about your arc on A Million Little Things? We'll bookend it by talking about D.J.
I don't know what I'm allowed to say! I mean, it was a really fun role that they... [Hesitates.] Well, I'll say this: they write three-dimensional characters, so sometimes people start out seeming one way, and they then explore sort of the flip side and what's motivating that behavior, which I appreciate. I had a great time working with David [Giuntoli]. That was really cool. And their set was just really kind. It's just a kind group of people. And it was my first time back on a big set in awhile, y'know, just because I've been writing so constantly It's been my focus for the last many years. So it was just really great to go back and have it be such a kind experience...even though it might not seem like I'm playing the kindest human. [Laughs.]
It's funny, I just realized that DJ wrote back after I said, "Don't think I won't ask all those questions." He said, "I knew you were going to ask her every one of those questions, which is why I didn't ask, 'Is he a good kisser?'"
[Bursts out laughing.] That was with you where he said that, right? That I was the only person he's kissed besides his wife since he's been married? That's so funny! I actually said that to my husband, and he said, "Oh, my God, that's his experience, and I had to watch you make out with Charlie Sheen!" The same cannot be said for my marriage. That poor dude, he's had to watch me make out with a lot of people...
And yet you've survived and thrived. That's what counts.
Exactly. Well, it was nice, too, because he met Charlie - and I had a great time working with Charlie, he was great, professionally speaking. I believe most people have some light in them and some dark in them, and I only saw the light firsthand with him. He was wonderful. And I remember him being so respectful not only to me but also to David, because he was making out with someone else's wife! I just remember him being so nice to David, to make sure that he knew: "This is just for TV, and I will be respectful." Now, that arc, that should've gone longer. But unfortunately things happened, and then he wasn't on the show anymore, so...neither was I.
And to close with a question tied to A Million Little Things, it must be nice to be able to bounce between drama and comedy.
I guess, although I don't really tend to look at it as any different. Both when I write and when I act, I tend to try and find some humor in the dramas and some gravitas in the humor, because I just believe that's how life is. So there are some nice lighter moments that I get with David on the show, and most of it is serious, but...I don't know, I'm a full-grown adult and I still get paid to put on clothes and play make-believe. It's all fun to me either way.
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You interview the radiant Liz Vassey and THIS is the one you decide to not post the video?!?