Meet Matthew Perry's Lesbian Sidekick
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
September 10 2012 11:00 AM ET
Will this research come into the show?
I would hope so. At this point, they’re still just trying to figure out how this show works. But if we get to stay on the air for some amount of time, then that story about Anne’s family is a big deal. And they plan to tell that story, if we get to — so tell people to watch it so it can stay on the air. [Networks are] so obsessed with their numbers, and they need a lot of eyes to watch it so we can keep going. So we can Go On. [Laughs]
When you were first working on Broadway, your daughter was just a toddler. How hard was that?
Theater is kind of a great job for a single mom because once you get it rehearsed and up-and-running, then you really only work two or three hours a day, except on matinee day. I dragged that little kid with me all over the country, and she was such a gamer, she’s just so fantastic. And right about the time where I was like, "Oh shit, how am I going to keep doing this? She has to go to school and stay in school" was about the time I did television. That’s when I did Grace Under Fire. So that was the Big Kahuna’s way of cutting me some slack, I guess. I suddenly got a very well-paying job that shot all year long, and I was able to do it for four years, so I was like oh, OK, problem solved. So we settled down in California then. She went to first grade through ninth grade in California, and then at that point, I moved back to New York and she finished up high school in Brooklyn at the Berkeley Carroll School.
Did all this exposure to entertainment make her want to follow your theatrical lead and go into entertainment?
[Laughs] Oh, Jesus, no. I would joke that she was just raised by wolves. She was actually was a painting major at USC where she was a Presidential Scholar, which means they gave her a full ride — she’s a super-smart girl. And now she is — oh God, I don’t know, it’s something so modern, I don’t know exactly what you’d call it. But she’s a software designer … at a fellowship called Code for America. They assemble these super people, these super kids, who then go to different American cities and try to improve or build a technology suite for them. And Alex is a visual person, she’s a designer. And her city is New Orleans, so she’s working with New Orleans right now. She’s way too smart to ever want to be a theater person, but she has great appreciation for us, she’s a wonderful audience member. But no, I think she recognized early on this is kind of goofy.
One of the funniest stories I heard about you is when you accepted your Tony Award for Little Dog, the camera panned to you and you were hugging and kissing a pretty, young blonde. And a lot of people thought that woman was your girlfriend, but it was in fact your daughter.
[Laughs] I know! And there was like a chat about it, and I was like, Ew, that’s like Woody Allen and Soon Yi. Yuck! But I love that they thought I was such a hot lesbian that they I could catch such a beautiful young girl.
A hot cougar.
A hot cougar, yes! But gosh, she looked so cute that night. She looked so pretty. We had a lot of fun. I know, I’m really proud of her.
That’s a good way to be, as a mom.
Yeah, but it’s exciting to have her grown up. It’s kind of nice. It’s like, Wow, I’ve done it. And the whole empty nest thing? I feel really good about it. It’s like, Good! Good for you. Go, fly, fly, little starling. Go out and do your life. Go out in the world and do it. And she really seems to be doing it in a very exciting way.You ever see in the park when there’s like a mother bird and the baby birds are full size, but they’re still hopping around her going, "Weh, feed me!" And the mother’s always like, "Hey! Back off!" That’s how I feel about people with grown children who are still way up in their lives a whole lot. I’m glad that she’s not hopping around me. She’s out there doing her life, and I’m so happy.
You’ve had a long role in Grace Under Fire, and several recurring roles in shows including Six Feet Under and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Are you ready to be back on a series fulltime?
Yes, it’s actually something I’ve been looking forward to for the last couple of years because I’ve had some wonderful runs in the theater, and then I started doing a lot of film stuff. But with movies, you kind of feel like a carny worker. You go someplace, and you’re in this group for a month or something, and then you’re done. I was like, Oh, I want to know the names of everybody. And I want a place where you go to work, and you’re all working on something. But, boy, it’s easier said than done. I’ve done quite a few pilots, and they just don’t get picked up. So this is the first one that I’ve done in awhile that really has a shot. I’ve so got my fingers crossed. I would just so love to get to do it for a few years. This group is amazing.They’re so darling and funny. One of the biggest problems is that I keep laughing so hard that my mascara runs. They have to keep funding more, better waterproof makeup because I’m one of those people that actually gets kind of teary when I laugh. I laugh so hard I cry, and that happens with regularity on that set. Those people in that group: Suzy Nakamura, Sarah Baker, Seth Morris, Bret Gelman, Bill Cobbs, and Tyler James Williams, the Everybody Hates Chris kid. They’re just adorably and funny. Funny, funny.
I know the pressure’s on, but we have high hopes for the show as well.
Well, gosh, from your mouth to God’s hear. I appreciate your support. I will try and represent to the lesbian community a really swell gal that you will be proud to call your own.