ABC’s Imaginary Mary Exclusive Interview with Jenna Elfman, Stephen Schneider & Executive Producers
ABC’s IMAGINARY MARY pilot episode aired last Tuesday and it is the perfect show to describe the overwhelming situations that arise when your life gets turned upside down and you go from a single women to a women with kids in your life. It’s so funny and so incredibly relatable I think it’s going to be a great hit.
During the #BeOurGuest Event we were given exclusive opportunity to view Imaginary Mary pilot and 2nd episode. After viewing the pilot I wanted more and couldn’t wait to see the next episode. Tonight you will get to view episode 2 on ABC. if you missed the pilot be sure to catch that at ABC.com before Imaginary Mary airs tonight at 8:30p.m CST.
When I was younger I had an imaginary friend not that I remember her or anything but I am also a mom with 4 kids and kids who had wild imaginations growing up, too. This is alot like Alice. The only difference is once she no longer needed her imaginary friend she disappeared only to reappear once Alice couldn’t cope with her life as an adult about to meet her boyfriends children for the first time.
Today I watched the Pilot (On abc.com) with my 16 yr old daughter and I loved watching her laugh at the silly parts that had Imaginary Mary in them. She really liked the show too and it’s going to be our new show that we watch together. It created some really great conversation during and after the show and it was great to connect with her on a level that she really hasn’t reached yet. Having to deal with growing up and dealing with kids. It gave her a little insight on how someone would react to situations that could arise with kids and it’s not just me that freaks out when things get crazy. So for that I thank the producers for opening my teenage daughters eyes. Just to be clear this show isn’t for the younger kids which is part of the reason for it airing at 8:30p at night. Can’t wait to see what happens next.
We were granted interview with Jenna Elfman (“Alice”, Dharma and Greg, Friends with Benefits), Stephen Schneider (“Ben”) and Executive Producers David Guarascio & Doug Robinson.
Before I get into the interviews here’s a video Featurette for you to enjoy. It’ll give you a bit of insight on what your in store for when you watch Imaginary Mary.
“Divorced dad with kids; started dating – just like Alice- a single career woman who really did not plan to have family in her life”
Jenna Elfman was really excited when she got the show idea. This is what she said her first initial thoughts were.
I love that there’s the romantic part as the leading lady, and then there’s the fish out of water aspect with the kids because she’s just has no point of reference for dealing with children at all, and has no plan for it, and has a negative point of reference of childrearing. Then she’s super accomplished; she’s a woman on her own, which I liked, and as an actor dealing with comedy, I have to now also deal with something that doesn’t exist but that I see, but that they don’t see, and then do physical comedy, and fish out of water, and it was just like, “Oh my god, that’s like.. a lot of balls to juggle.”
And she was in!
Her energy when she talks is incredible. She’s just as animated and funny in person as I thought she would be. She brings that lightening personality to the screen and that’s why I’m super excited for Imaginary Mary.
Comedy off screen these two are hysterical Read this short clip from our interview transcripts about Jenna and Stephen.
Doug Robinson : Then we got stuck with Stephen
Stephen : Nobody else would take the part, and I still had to audition twenty times for the role, but I had just become a dad myself and I’ve never played a father on TV.
JENNA : You do it so well.
Stephen : I do! In real life, I’m terrible.
They have this dynamic all the time and that was important to the producers that they work well together because they were going to be this couple who was dating on screen.
Being a Mom off screen Jenna brings herself into her character as “Alice”. Alice is kinda this quirky lady on screen and Jenna says that her husband tells her she’s quirky all the time so it makes for a great blend.
But acting as a single women and having been a mom for over 9 yrs of her life there still has to be this “me, me, me” element that she brings to the screen. She has to act like she has no idea what it’s like to have kids around and has no idea what she is going to do with them. She has to give up the “Me” and “It’s like you make that sacrifice as a woman when you have children.” This is where the great comedy comes in because really do any of us moms know what we are doing. We all kinda of wing it and that’s one of the major reasons why this is so funny and so relate-able.
Who came up with how Imaginary Mary would look like? And how do the Actors work with an Imaginary Character on set?
Doug Robinson says,
co-creator, Patrick Osborne, who’s also an animator, he really came up with the design and sort of just worked with us about what she would look like, and he wanted to do something that was, loveable-looking particularly because its an important part of Mary’s character is that she’s not always saying the right thing, so to speak, and she is a defender of, in a very important way, of Alice’s independent streak and her sort of like feminist side, so to speak.
Animation is added in after the live is done. The “Mary” you see today on the screen wasn’t the original they used. They refined her a bit as time went on and redesigned her because they found that certain things worked, and just made her rounder and cuter.
To make things easier for people to act with an Imaginary Character Shawn Levy actually would jump on a table and act out Mary, or jump up on a barstool and a lot of energy of Mary is produced by him. He brings so much energy to the character and, Jenna and Shawn just rift together really well. Shawn would be down there dancing in the bar scene; it was fantastic, and we just like to blackmail him with the footage every once in a while.
The hardest thing was for them to find the voice of Mary. It took a really long time and once they heard the voice they just new that was it.
Script supervisor does Mary’s lines off camera. And they’ve got a great, Improv Comedy actress to do lines with Jenna, so she actually helps her learn her lines, too.
There’s not a lot of spare time in my life when I’m filming this show because we’re doing sixteen hour days.
Steven and his thoughts on Playing the Part of a SINGLE Dad
Steven really likes that he’s playing the part of a single dad. “I also like the ability to play a single dad. You don’t see that a ton on TV. A good guy that’s just trying to do the best for his kids and has his custody. It’s cool to play that part. Hopefully it brings some humor and reality to that.
What they hope the audience takes away from the show
“Laughter, joy, entertainment, and feeling better about the lives they’re living. That’s all. Personally, I just wanna make people have relief, you know? Like, we’re all in this together. We know how hard it is. Like, life’s freakin’ hard and I want people to watch the show and like that laughter. Like me sitting here listening to you guys laugh and react, that’s everything to me. That’s why I do it because it removes you from the stresses of life for that moment. And in those moments, you rehabilitate a little more life juice to go on, and that’s all I want to do for people.