Martha Plimpton and Greg Garcia Chat about RAISING HOPE

Martha Plimpton-Raising Hope

RAISING HOPE is one of the brightest spots of the new fall schedule, earning the first full-season pick-up and making critics and fans laugh every week. A big part of that is Martha Plimpton’s hilarious performance as Virginia Chance, and Daemon’s TV was lucky enough to be there when Martha and Raising Hope creator/executive producer Greg Garcia answered questions about how Martha was cast, what it’s like working with Cloris Leachman, and what Martha likes most about the character of Virginia. There are no spoilers.

On how Martha got the role of Virginia

Martha said the whole thing happened organically. She had been in Toronto shooting a movie and wasn’t looking for a series, but she said she also wasn’t “not looking for a series.” She was told a pilot script for Raising Hope was being sent to her and she said, “When I read it, I loved it. It was hilarious. I actually laughed out loud and I realized I had to get on this because that never happens.” She said she talked to Greg on the phone and then went to LA to audition and went through that whole process before winning the role.

Martha said the move to television felt like a natural progression. “I’m an actor first, so I’ll go where I think I’ll have the most fun. When asked if she saw this as a comeback role, Martha said no, remarking that she’s never been a series regular before, so “it’s hard to call it a come back when you’ve never been there.” She also said, “I feel like I’m an actor who just goes where the fun, exciting work is.” She loves that right now she’s working with great people in this talented ensemble with smart, funny material.

According to Greg, that audition process “was just an exercise to keep the network and studio involved.” He knew he wanted Martha, whom he called “a very funny person,” just like he knew he wanted the other actors as soon as he saw them and he said he feels very lucky that he got exactly the cast he wanted.

When asked why Greg zoomed in on these actors, he answered, “I think everyone just feels real.” He added that he doesn’t see them pushing or trying, so they get laughs from smaller, subtler things.

On the character of Virginia

When asked if Virginia is becoming more like Martha, Martha chuckled and said, “I want to pretend that the answer to that question is no.” She added that the writers do seem to be particularly good at playing to each actor’s strengths.

Martha said that her favorite thing about Virginia is her “soft and chewy core. Virginia is tough on the outside and says what’s on her mind, but she’s got a gooey, chewy soft center. She’s a sucker for love.”

Martha also likes what she called Virginia’s “Lucy-esque desire to be in the spotlight.” She said we’ll see more of her aspirations as the season goes on and Martha is thrilled about those aspirations.

Martha said she really likes watching her character–and all of the others–develop and along with that she likes the ensemble and learning each other’s rhythms.

On working with Lucas Neff

Martha said, “It’s actually really fun watching someone who’s never done this before. It’s been awesome watching him find his sea legs and gain confidence in his performance, which is great, by the way.” Martha noted that it’s actually new to her, also, since she’s never been a series regular before.

Greg interjected, saying “Lucas is easy to f@#k with,” to which Martha laughed and agreed. “He’s very easy to tease. He has the biggest bull’s-eye on his back.”

On working with Garret Dillahunt

Martha said she and Garret had known each other or at least known of each other for years and that she had actually been wanting to work with him for a long time, but the opportunity had never presented itself before. She called working with Garret “an entirely pleasurable experience” and said that his acting technique is all about behavior, which she loves because it gives her something to work with. She thinks she’s getting better at her job the more she works with him and she said it’s also fun because he’s a hilarious person–not something you might expect from many of his previous dramatic roles.

On working with Cloris Leachman

According to Martha, “Babies are a breeze compared to Cloris. Cloris is the one who gets the leash. She can find fifteen jokes in a half a joke. She’s fearless and willing to do anything for a laugh. Martha said that her most memorable moments on the show have to do with Cloris–“I’ve seen her ass.”

Greg said that his most memorable moment with Cloris came shooting a scene where Virginia is shaving Maw Maw’s legs while Burt cleans her ears with a cotton swab. Maw Maw wakes up, so they hide the shaving cream. Cloris began eating the shaving cream, which really was shaving cream, by the way. Greg laughed, “She ate handfuls of it. No one told her to do it, but when she did, people laughed, so she kept doing it.”

When asked if there were anything Cloris said no to, Greg joked, “I asked her to stop licking me–she said no to that. I asked her to stop jumping on me–she said no to that.”

On upcoming guest stars

Greg said that most stories are being kept to the main cast because the show is about raising a baby, which keeps you close to home, but Jason Lee will be filming an episode next week where he’s playing one of Burt’s music idols and we’ll get to learn about Burt’s musical aspirations.

Greg is very excited about someone who will play Virginia’s cousin. Because the deal won’t be finalized until Monday or so, he wouldn’t say who the actor/actress is, but it is someone Greg has worked with before.

On writing the baby mishaps

Greg first said that the writers sit around and pitch the stories, throwing around absurd situations. While the car seat flipping over in the pilot did come from a real-life worry, they haven’t used any actual life experiences yet. Life does bleed in, but there are no direct references. The baby getting trapped in the garage just came naturally from the idea that Virginia is a hoarder.

On holiday episodes

Greg said the Halloween episode was really fun to do because it has a really good story that uncovers stuff between Jimmy and Burt. It also has Maw Maw dressed as a kitty cat. It will also have Jimmy trying to decide whether or not to show Hope videos of her mom and, according to Martha, Virginia, who is against showing the videos, has secrets of her own she wants to protect.

The Thanksgiving episode will feature a visit from Hope’s other grandparents, the parents of executed serial killer Lucy and it ends with the family singing on the porch. Greg said that because they enjoy doing the musical stuff, we can expect to see more bits like that down the line.

They are shooting the Christmas episode this week.

On the full season pick-up

Martha said, “It feels awesome. It feels good that FOX is behind the show because we’re having a good time making it.

After echoing Martha’s sentiments about having fun, Greg mock-sighed and said, “I’m exhausted, but other than that I’m thrilled.”

Raising Hope airs on FOX Tuesdays at 9pm/8 central. You can find all of our Raising Hope coverage here.

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