A Cocktail Convo with Elizabeth Perkins

Grab the egg nog and a bottle of brandy! The calendar says Christmas is still a week away but The Moodys are wrapping up the holidays tonight (9PM ET on FOX). Elizabeth Perkins has starred as a loving, desperate mother. Loving her family and desperate to have the perfect holiday. Of course, it never works out like that.

Elizabeth took us on her Moody’s journey. “I play Anne Moody, I’m the matriarch of the family. I’m an extremely nosy mom. I also am pushing for a perfect Christmas, particularly this year. As usual, my family shows up with all of their dysfunction.” Over the last two Wednesdays, Anne’s quest for Family Holiday Perfection has spiraled out of control. “We have a meddlesome uncle who seems to talk too much. We have a son who won’t wake up before 4pm in the afternoon. We have a dog who can’t really walk anymore. And as much as Anne would give anything to have the perfect Christmas. As usual, it’s just not going to work out that way.”

It makes your family seem normal. Or at least less horrible! “Exactly. It’s a big dysfunctional family.”

The Moody’s Christmas has made for decent television, if we’re judging by holiday fare. But if you want true family dysfunction, rent National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Family Togetherness

The Moody’s wasn’t shot on some large studio soundstage. “We were on location in a 1200 square foot house with three different camera rig units going. As well as a cast of about 12 people and a dog.”  1200 square feet isn’t a lot of space for me, my roommate and my small cat, much less a network television production.

Elizabeth told me it put the ‘together’ in togetherness. “We were pretty much sitting on the stairs between takes and sometimes sitting on each other’s laps. People were bringing coffee and eventually we settled into: okay we’re a family and it was very cramped.” But it didn’t last very long. “Oh absolutely. And we shot it really fast and furious. We really wanted to get it up before the holidays.”

And on the whole, she thinks the intimate atmosphere helps make the series stronger. “But I think it actually helped with the feeling that these are people that are stuck in this house together. But we all really got along. Everybody got along. It was really a great group of people.”

One of those people is Jay Baruchel. He plays her son who can’t/won’t get out of bed before four. I’ve met him a couple of times, and he puts off a slacker vibe in real life, even though he has a reputation of being the hardest working person on a set. When I shared my experience with Jay, Elizabeth laughed and quickly gave me her opinion. “Oh no. You think he’s a stoner, you think ‘okay, this guy sleeps until four in the afternoon.’ But he’s one of the most alert alive people I’ve ever met in my life. So he’s just a testament to his great acting abilities.”

When I talked with another one of her co-stars, María de Faría, she mentioned the hope of a sequel next year. Since that means at least some of the family will survive Christmas, I asked Elizabeth what she’d like to see the Moodys do next. “We love the idea of six episodes to tell a story and then move on. In that you take the family and you put them in a different situation for six episodes.”

Elizabeth likes being trapped with this gang. “Because once you throw these people together in a situation where they can’t really leave, that’s when the tensions arrive. And that’s where the comedy comes from.”

Basically, get them on the road. “The six episodes cover a three or four day period. The Moodys go to Disneyland, or a wedding. The Moodys go on vacation. The Moodys in Miami! That would be fantastic!”

All She Wants for Christmas is.. Warmth!

Miami strikes a hopeful tone in her voice, because when we talked, she was shivering in the northeast while I was talking to her from my sundeck in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s a little cold and rainy here in New York so I’m a little envious.”

I asked what she’ll be doing next Wednesday morning, and she gave me her Christmas dream in one word. “Nothing. And that’s my favorite thing to do over Christmas is absolutely nothing. I like staying in my pajamas all day. I like making wine and watching movie and maybe taking a dip in my swimming pool once I get back to warm, cozy LA.”

Which movie? “The movie I have to watch every single Christmas Eve is It’s A Wonderful Life.”

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Rumple Minze. Do a shot with a candy cane chaser!


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