Long-serving actress tells why she is addicted to Mom.
It has taken more than 50 years, but Mom actor Mimi Kennedy has finally found her perfect role. “It is the best work environment I have ever had, I think,” she says of playing reformed alcoholic and cat devotee Marjorie Armstrong-Perugian in the hit comedy.
Even an allergy to cats has failed to dampen the 69 year old’s enthusiasm for the show.
“I loved kittens when I was a little girl, rescued a lot of kittens, so I’m returning to my childhood love of kittens and cats – but I do have to take allergy pills to do it,” she says, laughing.
Mom, now in its fifth season, follows the lives of dysfunctional mother-and-daughter duo Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie Plunkett (Allison Janney), both recovering alcohol and drug addicts who are trying to rebuild their lives and relationship in Napa, California.
As their Alcoholic Anonymous sponsor, Marjorie keeps the pair on the straight and narrow. But, in reality, it is Faris and Janney who are in control, Kennedy says.
“Allison and Anna take leadership seriously and it is so much fun because they make it like a team,” she says, adding that working on
Mom is so different to her past experiences in the industry.
“It’s almost a new template. I came into showbiz when there was a lot of bad behaviour and there was a hierarchical star system. You had to know your place and there wasn’t a sense of everybody being in it together.
“But with Allison and Anna, and I’d say Chuck Lorre’s writing team, it’s really there and the network supports us because everybody knows someone who’s done (the AA) 12 steps or needs 12 steps.”
Kennedy started acting at age 12, and has appeared extensively in movies (Erin Brockovich, The Five-Year Engagement) and on television but is probably best known for her role as Abby O’Neil, the free-spirited mother of Dharma (Jenna Elfman) in the long-running comedy series Dharma & Greg. Her role in Mom reunited Kennedy with Chuck Lorre, who also created Dharma & Greg, and other hits, including The Big Bang Theory, Cybill and Two And A Half Men.
“It kind of came out of the blue for me,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting it and didn’t know anything about it until someone called me and went, ‘Chuck Lorre is looking for this part and somebody said Mimi Kennedy would give a better reading on this than anything we’ve seen so let’s ask her to do this and see how it goes’.”
Kennedy says the latest storylines should not disappoint fans.
“A big thing – literally and figuratively big – is that Ms Jaime Pressly, playing the svelte, beautiful rich Jill, got pregnant with twins and returned to us with two big babies in the oven.
“So they built her a fat suit, and the story is that because she loses her foster child to the original biological mother, she gets completely depressed and eats herself into obesity.”
It was a storyline that initially confused the show’s live audience.
“We thought the audience would laugh and join in the joke but they did not because they didn’t realise it was a joke. They thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this actress has gained so much weight, they had to write about it’.”
Pressly gave birth to twin boys, Leo and Lenon in October, and is on maternity leave while Jill does time in rehab for her food addiction. It is just another addiction in a long line to affect the show’s characters.
“I must credit those old Oxford people who started AA a long time ago, for creating something that can sustain a lot of story and character,” Kennedy says.
“I didn’t know about 12 steps. I had to learn about 12 steps in order to play Marjorie. The more I knew the more I had no problem playing anything because I saw everybody falls off the wagon, nobody’s perfect.
“I think for certain kinds of people, certainly a lot of us in the arts or the world of celebrity, we feel that we are alone and special and can’t ask for anything, but what I love about Mom is that it shows a community and they do ask.”
Mimi Kennedy, Anna Faris and Allison Janney