BWW Interview: Wendi McLendon-Convey Talks New ABC Comedy THE GOLDBERGS
This TV season, ABC invites us to meet "The Goldbergs"- your average all-American family living in the 1980s and making each other crazy. The show, written by Adam Goldberg ("Breaking In", "Fanboys"), is based off of Goldberg's own childhood experiences in the 80s; each episode closes with a home video of the real-life Goldbergs. The series stars Wendi-McLendon-Convey ("Bridesmaids") as Beverly, the loving but overbearing mother figure who keeps the household together by effectively erasing all personal boundaries and offering strong words of advice (whether they're wanted or not).
This week, BWW spoke exclusively with the actress about the new series, airing Tuesdays, 9-9:30pm.
How would you describe your character, Beverly, on "The Goldbergs"? Can you relate to her in any way?
Beverly can be described as "the ultimate mother"-she has her mom goggles on at all times. Everything her children do creatively is brilliant! She proves it by calling them idiots, you know, she's very bipolar in that way, but she will go to great lengths to humiliate herself; she will risk her reputation to make sure that her kids don't ever feel humiliated in any way. Of course, that has the opposite effect- she's a very protective mom.
I understand the show is based on home movies that creator Adam Goldberg took when he was a kid growing up in the 80s. Did you have a chance to see the footage, and if so, has it helped you develop your character?
Yes, that was what kind of sealed the deal for me taking the role, was the footage. I thought, I have to be a part of this crazy family, I cannot believe what I'm seeing! And they show clips at the very end of each episode and I think it really drives it all home for the audience to see what all of this is really based on. It did help tremendously because I couldn't imagine someone who turns on a dime as quickly as Beverly does- there's a piece of footage where she's saying "You don't get any dinner! You're being an asshole! Where'd you get that sweater, it's beautiful!"-within the same sentence, she turned on her kids! I just thought that was so interesting, and I wanted to play it.
You got your start in improv and sketch comedy at LA's Groundling Theatre. Are you allowed any improvisation on the set of "The Goldbergs"?
We improve sometimes, but the scripts don't really need it. Everything's really there, all the comedy's written right in. So we don't really need to improvise- I mean, if the script needed punching up or development in some way they would ask us to improvise more, but for the most part we don't really need it. But there are times when we kind of go off on an improv tangent just to amuse ourselves and sometimes they keep it in. But for the most part, 98% of the time, it's scripted.
You seem to have great chemistry with Jeff Garlin, who plays you husband on the show. Did that come pretty quickly?
It did, it did. And I've been a fan of his forever, and I was just thrilled that he even knew who I was! It was pretty apparent from the get-go. I couldn't love working with him more. My complaint-if you even want to call it that- is that he likes to say something hilarious right before they yell action! And then I start laughing, and I can't stop myself. It's very fun to work with him