ER is pulling out all the stops for its two-hour series finale Thursday (9 pm/ET, NBC), including recruiting a few familiar faces from television — not just ER — past. Taxi alum Marilu Henner will drop by County General after clashing with a certain member of her family. The actress, who is also guesting on Starz's Party Down and ABC Family's Roommates, previews her scarring turn with TVGuide.com and shares how she indirectly shaped the iconic ER cast.
TVGuide.com: I understand you're the bitchy mother of the groom on ER.
Marilu Henner: I got in right under the wire! I've played this kind of character three times. They keep casting me as the mother of the groom who can't stand her daughter-in-law. Although this time it's really funny because we somehow end up in the emergency room — me and the bride. There are a lot of mouths to feed [in the episode] and it's just a really fun and flashy part.
TVGuide.com: Do we get to see you throw down at the wedding?
Henner: I wish! You see the aftermath. Let's just put it this way: I got to bring my scars home.
TVGuide.com: So it was rough being a patient?
Henner: [Laughs] Well, my kids have had a good time with my scars — my wounds, I should say. I don't think it's the last time you see someone on camera, but it was the last day of shooting and I was the last person to go through the ER doors — the last gurney to push through! They went, "Whoa! That's the last time!" It was funny. I was the last one shot, so I'm the last patient!
TVGuide.com: Is there a nice resolution for your family?
Henner: I am sworn to secrecy! I will say that I'm the mother-in-law from hell, but they get to live happily with me ever after. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of the show before?
Henner: Oh, yeah! When ER came on, my then-husband and I had a production company called Crystal Beach. We had two shows that year: Under Suspicion and Medicine Ball. ... On Under Suspicion, they [demoted] some regulars to recurring. One of them who fell victim to that was Eriq La Salle, so he was freed up to do ER. So I've always felt like a step-family member of ER! ... I didn't see him on set, but he came on my talk show, Marilu, when ER started. We talked then and he was so nice.
TVGuide.com: It all comes full circle. He was the last one to be cast too.
Henner: I know! Also, one time I was very pregnant with my son who will be 15 in May and I was sitting in the commissary with [ER casting director] John Levey, having lunch. All of the sudden George Clooney — who wasn't George Clooney then — came up and introduced himself. He was like, "Oh, I'm so excited! I'm so happy!" I was like, "Oh, he's so handsome! But dammit, I'm pregnant!" [Laughs] He walked away and John said to me, "Oh my God, his life is about to completely change because it's the perfect actor for the perfect part." And it did!
TVGuide.com: What was the mood like on set?
Henner: When I asked people, they were like, "We're sad, but it's time to move on." Everybody was kind of resolute. My call time was at noon on the third to last day. I got there and there were so many people there. I was like, "Wow!" Then I realized they were dedicating Stage 11 to ER. It was cool. I happened to be at the right place at the right time.
TVGuide.com: ER was originally conceived as a movie and now there's talk of a Taxi movie. Would you do one?
Henner: Oh, sure, absolutely! Are you kidding? I could still fit into those Elaine pants. Listen, we're the kind of group that looks for any excuse to get together! People always think Man on the Moon was a reunion of sorts, but it wasn't quite the same.
TVGuide.com: You're also guest-starring on Party Down this Friday, which I hear is supposed to be hilarious.
Henner: You have to see that. I am an author/motivational speaker named Pepper McMasters and I have a series of books called Senior-licious. Ed Begley Jr.'s in it and he's a riot. I have some tricks up my sleeve with the seniors. To spice things up, there's a stripper involved. And I paid for them to be there. That cast is great. Jane Lynch is perfection! It reminds me so much of Taxi because they all adore each other.
TVGuide.com: And you're going to be on Roommates as someone's mom, right?
Henner: Yes, and I am in my cougar phase... and stuff just kind of happens. [Laughs] That was a fun cast. Tyler Francavilla — oh my God, he's amazing! Every day, they changed what they wanted my character to do, so it was just fun. When you have people who show up to play, it's great. I think it airs in a few weeks.
TVGuide.com: You're guest-starring on all these shows, so would you ever do another series?
Henner: I would, if it's the right script. You don't want to be on something bad! Any of these shows are great, so I'm getting spoiled with these parts. I'm so busy now. My book, Wear Your Life Well: How to Use What You Have to Get What You Want, comes out next week and I am writing two other books [with my ex-husband and another with my husband]. I'm doing my one-woman show too, so if it's the right thing, great.