Surviving Jack (Fox) Interview: Christopher Meloni and Rachael Harris On Playing Husband and Wife and More

Surviving Jack Series Premiere 2014 Pilot (5)

Fox is going back to the ’90s tonight, Thursday, March 27th, with the premiere of the new sitcom Surviving Jack. Surviving Jack stars Christopher Meloni as Jack, an ex-military man and oncologist who becomes a full-time parent so that his wife, Joanne (Rachael Harris) can go to law school. In addition to chatting with the comedy’s executive producers, TV Equals also joined a conference call with Meloni and Harris. The hilarious duo discussed their TV marriage, why they love Surviving Jack and more.

Check out the highlights from the interview below and then catch Surviving Jack tonight at 9:30pm on Fox after American Idol‘s results show.

The Family Dynamics of Surviving Jack

Meloni and Harris both discussed how much they love the way the Dunlevy family dynamics play out on Surviving Jack, not only through their characters’ marriage, but also in their interactions with the kids. It seems Meloni and Harris have a great working relationship with Connor Buckley and Claudia Lee, who play the teen kids who have to “survive” Jack’s parenting. Meloni revealed that the writing of the family and how they interact is his favorite part of the series.

On Jack and Joanne’s Marriage

Jack and Joanne’s marriage is not the standard sitcom marriage for one important reason according to Harris: the characters respect each other.

“Well, first of all, I think what’s different is there is no eye rolling and I never put my hands on my hips, like, “Oh, Jack, what are you doing?” because obviously, he’s taking up parenting as I go back to law school,” Harris elaborated. “But, I think the thing that’s great about our relationship is they really love each other. They don’t feel put upon by each other. I’m not the ball and chain and he’s definitely not this man that I don’t respect.”

Meloni added, “Jack, my character, deeply, deeply loves Joanne. He voices that without compromise or anything. He loves his wife deeply, and is unashamed to admit to it.”

Meloni On Returning to Comedy

Meloni’s early career included several sitcoms and comedic movies (Wet Hot American Summer and Runaway Bride being two of the most memorable ones), but in more recent years it has been his dramatic work on series like Oz and Law & Order: SVU that have defined him. Meloni’s personal sense of humor was evident throughout the call and he was quick to express his love for Surviving Jack, revealing it was the script that drew him to the project.

“I responded to this one because I thought it was the best written,” Meloni said. “I knew Bill Lawrence both personally and professionally. So, I trusted his taste and his ability to give this project the best shot of seeing the light of day.”

As to why he infused Jack with his dramatic tough guy vibe, Meloni said, “It’s just how the script struck me and I think possibly my physicalness kind of lends itself to that in combination with how Connor plays his part. He seems like he’s a kid who seems perpetually uneasy in his own skin. When you compare that to a guy like Jack who seems to me perpetually absolutely calm and comfortable in his skin, it really then makes my character a little more threatening.”

What Viewers Can Expect From Surviving Jack

’90s references, great family moments and an upcoming scene involving some American Gladiator action. Meloni revealed that in episode two he gets to show off Jack’s physical side during a scene featuring his TV son and his friends. “Those three guys, my son and his two buddies on the show, are always grab-assing around anyway. So, it gave me a nice, fun opportunity to get in there and basically “play with the boys.” So, that was a lot of fun.”

See, Jack is not always the scary dad…

Surviving Jack Series Premiere 2014 Pilot (7)

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