Hey Gasmii, I had the chance to talk to Jane Kaczmarek for her new series, Raising The Bar. Raising The Bar is the new Steven Bochco courtroom series that premieres on TNT tonight at 10PM and Jane is quite the piece of work on the show. She’s plays a pain in the ass judge, the kind you love to hate…and she’s brilliant at it.
Here’s the interview:
Nads: How does it feel to be back on a series and specifically as a judge?
Jane: After Malcolm in the Middle I was so exhausted. I – we had done that show for seven seasons and I had two babies during the filming of Malcolm and I was tired. I just did not want to work that kind of schedule anymore. So when authors came to me after Malcolm ended, I tended to pass on anything because I wanted a small part, I did not want to play lead in anything. I just want to – you know I wanted an interesting character that was not going to be carrying the show. And I was very grateful when the show came along because I thought it was interesting.
Nads: Your role is very different from your Malcolm in the Middle “Mom” character…do you prefer comedy or drama?
Jane: You know I am enjoying this a lot. You know for many, many years, all I did was play dramatic roles. I went to the Yale school of drama and one of my first job coming to Los Angeles was on the Paper Chase which was a show about Harvard law students. We did that on Showtime and I – I played a lot, a lot of lawyers in those years and I had a hard time getting seen for comedies. When I finally did a – I was doing a show, actually where I was playing a prosecutor in a show called Equal Justice in 1989, 1990.
And as I auditioned for Lost in Yonkers which was a Neil Simon play on Broadway and I got that and that really changed things for me. Playing in a Neil Simon play, casting directors started thinking, “Oh, maybe she can do comedy.” And between that time I had – I had a hard time being seen for comedies because people really pigeon-holed me as a dramatic actress. So Lost in Yonkers opened a lot of doors and it ended up with me during Malcolm for seven years. And most people now think of me as a comedic actor. So I am just kind of going back to what I – what I used to do.
Nads: Can you talk a little bit about your character on Raising The Bar, and what we can expect from her?
Jane: Well, you know we have done 10 episodes which is not – you know is less than half of what you do on a network show – so a lot of things are still up in the air. You know we do see her relationship with Charlie, my clerk, my law clerk becoming a little more intense and finally some resolution to that which I really enjoyed doing. You know because the courtroom seem to run things but what happens back in the chambers with this actor Jonathan Scarfe who played Charlie has – has really been the most interesting and satisfying to me. You know he is 20 years younger than I am and there is a real power difference between me, being the judge, and he, being my clerk, and being (sexually) involved with someone like that is, is ((inaudible)) with all of such complications. So we are going to see – we are going to see that trajectory reveal some more.
And basically I just continue to be really annoyed by Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s character who is very idealistic and very earnest and totally justified in his arguments and very, very outspoken. He would make a lovely lawyer. I think Mark-Paul is a wonderful actor. I have a great time working with him but he basically continues to drive me nuts and I think in season two when we have a little more time we will probably see even more evolution of Trudy Kessler.
Nads: You play a character that everyone loves to hate, how do you motivate or prepare for something like that, and why does your character hate Mark-Paul so much?
Jane: I do not know. You know I always find that people that annoy you the most is often because you are a lot like them, that there is something in them that you recognized and suddenly you do not want to recognize that you want to avoid that kind of recognition. So, you know my guess is that there was one time that she was as idealistic as Mark-Paul’s character is and that is something – something happened to her that makes her just shut down in a way that she does not look that kind of vulnerability to enter into her decision making any longer. So I would assume that that is going to be revealed as we continue.
But I was just saying, there is not really anything that she is really doing that is you know that is out of the ordinary, I am led to believe or that – or that kind of horrible. You know judges – what I was told is that this is their – this is their kingdom you know it is their fightdom, that courtroom, and they have complete control over the behavior of people in it. So I think that she probably feels it is here responsible to teach him a lesson and to get him to heal and he just refuses to be afraid of me.
Nads: What kind of personal touches did you put on the character?
Jane: Well, I love that they have her in a relationship – that relationship with Charlie the clerk you know, I find that one of the interesting things in this show is that this very powerful woman is involved with this man that is 20 years younger than she is but you know is really quite smitten with him. We are going to see more of that as the season goes on. But – (but the only thing I can really say as the) personal thing was we decided to wear scarves you know instead of that horrible judges thing. We have a very nice, very, very beautiful silk scarf around your neck. And I think that judge Kessler takes great pride in her – in her clothes and in her appearances although you do not see much of it until she takes her – until she takes her robe off. But you know she was kind of working it. She is interested in more than the law, for better or worse.
I want to thank Jane for taking to time to talk to me! Check out the season premiere of Raising The Bar on TNT tonight at 10PM ET/PT.