Imagine being a twenty-something and finding out your best friend is dating your mom. That’s the outrageous premise of the CW’s new comedy series SIGNIFICANT MOTHER. It sounds pretty crazy, but therein lies the comedy and SIGNIFICANT MOTHER smartly offers a lot of love and heart in the show.
In an exclusive interview, star Josh Zuckerman talked about playing a character who finds himself in just this very predicament and what he loves about the show.
What initially drew you to the show and the role of Nate?
JOSH: The writing. Right off the bat. The script was sent to me from Alloy Entertainment and I knew the quality of that company. Then I read the script and it read like a dream of comedy. It’s a grounded and really sweet with charming relationships. That’s what makes comedy so much more funny to laugh at — when it goes to heightened comedic scenarios with its relationships. Rich Keith and Erin Cardillo created the show and, from the first script I read to the last script I read for the season, I am constantly amazed at what they were capable of creating.
How do you describe your character of Nate?
JOSH: Nate is a young Portland restauranteur. He has a flair for the hip, in terms of his wardrobe. It’s Portland-hip. And he’s a big “foodie,” as is the city of Portland, as well. Nate is very business-oriented and business-driven — often ads the expense of his personal life. His dating life is non-existent and he lives with his best friend Jimmy (Nathaniel Buzolic), who he has known since he was 5 years old. They live in a houseboat. Then he finds out that his best friend Jimmy has been sleeping with his mom. He overreacts to a lot of things that are outside the realm of expectations, so that of course throws him.
What do you admire about Nate? What do you like about him?
JOSH: I love that he has such a big heart. He really wants what is best for his mom and his best friend. And I love that he has a passion for food and being a restauranteur. I love how excited he is about that aspect of his life. I also love how he is always trying to make the best of every situation and keep everything under control — but he just doesn’t know how to do that. He’s always in way of his head. So I love the times that he gets loose and he gets a little bit goofy because he doesn’t really let himself do that. But when he does, it is certainly fun to play. Those are some of the things I love about him.
What is Nate’s relationship like with his parents Harrison (Jonathan Silverman) and Lydia (Krista Allen)? He seems very close to them.
JOSH: He is. His dad wasn’t around so much when Nate was growing up as Harrison was very business-oriented. So Nate’s mom was mostly the person who raised him, especially since his dad cheated on his mom and that is why they are separated. His dad is all about business — business just for the sake of business — and yet Nate is also all about business, but that’s accompanied by his passion for food and “foodie” culture. Nate’s parents are constantly embarrassing him, but he is definitely closer to his mom. Then the new development with Nate’s mom and Jimmy, that tries Nate’s relationship with his mom and it then has an effect on his relationship with his dad and they kind of end up bonding a bit more than they ever had before as they both adjust to a situation that is undesirable to the both of them.
What is it like working with Krista Allen and Jonathan Silverman, who play your character’s parents?
JOSH: It’s fantastic. In a word: fantastic. I cannot wait for people to see the show because they are so tremendously talented and wonderful in these roles. They are endlessly charming and funny. Just fun to watch. Off-screen, they are so generous and fun and kind. We really lucked out all around with our cast. Everyone is so appropriately cast and just so damn good. Everyone is so funny and charming. It is everything you could ask for in a romantic comedy.
Of all your co-stars, who is the biggest crack-up?
JOSH: Johnny makes me laugh. He could pick up a spoon and make me laugh. I don’t know what it is about him. Nathaniel — and I mean this in the kindest and most loving way possible — is a bit of a trouble-maker. (Laughs) He loves to put on a show in between takes. It’s like the whole crew is his audience. So he is a bit of a crack-up as well. In between takes, he loves to have fun and certainly causes a lot of laughter.
What surprised you working on the show?
JOSH: I was constantly surprised by the direction of every script. Obviously, in television, you don’t often know where the stories are going. But I was delightfully surprised every time I read a script and found that they had written stuff well-beyond and so much more specific, elaborate and fun than what I had thought would be in the script. I was also surprised by how when we got to Portland how hot it was. There was kind of a heatwave while we were there. It was an unseasonably hot heatwave. We worked in these converted warehouses where our soundstage and set were on. When we shot the series originally, we shot it on an actual houseboat; and it was really funny because if too much of the crew was on one side of the boat, it would start to tip and someone would yell, “get to the other side before we tip over!” And then we’d have to move all the equipment and the cameras to balance out the boat. That was one of the many reasons it was decided to rebuild that set on stage this season. It was really eerie when you first walked into it because it felt like the houseboat.
As a teaser, what kinds of adventures will we get to see him embark on this season?
JOSH: Gosh, there are so many! What is really cool is we got to have some great guest stars this season. Right off the bat in Episode 2, we’ve got Denise Richards showing up for a very uncomfortable double-date scenario. Then Linda Gray — of the DALLAS fame — will be appearing and playing a hysterical grandmother character for the family. And Jerry O’Connell shows up this season as a real estate agent who gets involved in a lot of hijinks. There’s also a surprise appearance by Terry Kiser who played Bernie in WEEKEND AT BERNIE’s, and it is just so fun. That episode is a great WEEKEND AT BERNIE’s homage.
To see all the zany adventures that Nate ends up entangled in and how well he adapts to his best friend dating his mom, be sure to tune in for the premiere of SIGNIFICANT MOTHER at 9:30 p.m. on the CW.