Greg Garcia and Lucas Neff Talk About FOX’s RAISING HOPE

RAISING HOPE (FOX)

FOX’s RAISING HOPE, one of fall’s most anticipated new comedies, centers around Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff), an aimless 23 year old whose one night stand with a serial killer results in a pregnancy. After the baby’s mother is executed, Jimmy must care for the baby, Hope (formerly Princess Beyonce), with the help of his reluctant parents (Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt), senile grandmother (Cloris Leachman), and bored grocery store clerk Sabrina (Shannon Woodward).

Daemon’s TV was there when creator/executive producer Greg Garcia and star Lucas Neff talked to the press about what we can expect from the show.

On why Greg likes to write quirky, lower income characters

Greg said he has always been drawn to characters like the ones in Raising Hope and My Name is Earl because the characters feel real and like home to him. He grew up around characters like this and so he’s more comfortable with them than the Frasiers and Friends of the world.

When asked specifically about why he and so few others center shows around lower-income people, Greg said that he would rather write real people with real problems than the opposite. He knows some people prefer to watch what he termed “lifestyle porn” and covet the great apartment or want to “hang out with the guys from Entourage and that they can be good shows and there`s definitely a place for them, he joked that he would rather “go to the zoo and watch some lunatics behind bars.”

On how Lucas was chosen for the role of Jimmy

Lucas auditioned via videotape and Greg said it only took about one half of the first scene for him to know Lucas was right for the role. He explained that Lucas was funny, “in a relaxed way,” without trying too hard and that he felt real and honest. Greg found himself rooting for Lucas in the scene, which is what he wanted for the Jimmy character.

When asked what had drawn him to the role, Lucas was very forthright in saying that he didn’t have a lot of options at the time and that he was honored just to be asked to audition and he’s grateful it turned into something that he could enjoy and be so proud of. He laughed that a year ago at this time he was in rehearsals for a play where he would be paid $500 for three months work and had just quit a canvassing job for an environmental lobby to scrub his first toilet in a new housecleaning job.

On having a baby as a main character

Greg said that while there are shocking moments with Hope in the pilot, there is no plan to put her in peril each episode. The baby will be more of a catalyst to stir up conflict in the family and lead into adult-focused stories. There will be some baby-centric episodes but Greg said he mostly wants to take advantage of the talented adult ensemble.

Greg also talked about how his experience as a parent gives inspiration for baby Hope. In the pilot, Jimmy vomits on Hope when he has to change her diaper, and Greg said that while he’s never actually vomited one of his kids, he has certainly gagged a lot. He also remembers forgetting to strap a car seat down at least once.

When asked how much experience he had with babies before Raising Hope, Lucas replied he had next to none and that like Jimmy, he’s learning on the fly, and that he’s impressed by how loud one of the babies is when she passes gas-especially mid-scene– and that he`s had a fair amount of vomit on him. He said the challenge is in learning how to work at the babies’ pace and adapt to what they need.

On Cloris Leachman and Maw Maw

When asked how he got Cloris Leachman to take her shirt off, Greg joked, “You mean, how do I get Cloris to put her top on?” He called her a pro and up for anything that will get a laugh. Lucas called her fearless.

As for the character of Maw Maw, Greg described her as 90% kooky and 10% lucid, which Lucas called “about as true to life as you could get.” Greg also said that we’ll see in a future episode that the family know to wake her out of a sound sleep if they want a few solid minutes of lucidity.

As a tease, Lucas described a day he spent shooting with Cloris that he called one of the most memorable so far: she is sprawled out, wearing only a nightgown while rubs moisturizing lotion into her feet.

On flashbacks

In the pilot episode there is a great flashback to Jimmy as a child sticking his head through a hole in the bottom of the family car, and Greg said we can look forward to more such moments in future episodes. He explained that while the flashbacks will be short, at least one appears in each episode, so we`ll be able to see Jimmy at different stages of his childhood.

On quirky recurring characters

When asked if there would be many My Name is Earl-type townie characters in Raising Hope, Greg replied that while there are plans for them, not many appear in the episodes that have been shot. Because it’s a story about raising a baby, they’ve had to stick close to home so far. We will meet the grocery store manager and a dancing homeless man who goes around on roller skates, though.

On what Greg hopes people take away from watching Raising Hope

First and foremost, Greg said he wants people to think the show is funny because he is in the business of making people laugh. Other than that he said he hopes viewers will connect with the characters and feel good after watching.

Raising Hope premieres Tuesday, September 20 at 9pm/8 central on FOX. You can find more Raising Hope coverage here.

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