Rachael Harris, Cougar Town

Rachael Harris stops by Cougar Town to play Shanna, who is kind of the anti-cougar. Shanna and husband Frank (Spin City's Alan Ruck) used to socialize with Jules and ex-husband Bobby, but grew apart after the Cobbs' divorce. On Wednesday's episode (9:30/8:30c, ABC), Jules finds out why Shanna is so "disapproving." The 41-year-old Harris — who has made a name for herself in places as varied as Showtime's Fat Actress, ABC's short-lived Notes from the Underbelly, the hit feature film The Hangover, Christopher Guest movies and The Jay Leno Show — tells TVGuide.com how she uses the Internet to hone her comedy chops, how long Shanna will be sticking around Cougar Town and why she's always cast as kind of a man eater.

TVGuide.com: How did you get this gig?
Rachael Harris: They came to me and asked if I would be interested in playing Courteney Cox's nemesis, and I said, "I would love to do that." I could be a cougar, I think, but it's always more fun for me to play disapproving characters of some sort.

TVGuide.com: Yeah, you always seem to be torturing someone.
Harris: Yeah. I just played a bitchy lesbian on Party Down too. I just can't escape it. I like those characters who always think they're right. They're not trying to be bitchy. They're just doing the right thing in their minds. I like playing characters who are complex, but who have got it wrong in some way. They're self-righteous. I come from the Midwest where everyone is sort of down-home and nice.

TVGuide.com: Tell me about Shanna.
Harris: Shanna doesn't like [Jules]. She's seen the short skirts she wears and her young boyfriends, and she's appalled by it. So I said, "I'm in, that sounds really fun." Also, my TV husband has a thing for Jules. That's what really drives Shanna crazy; she's just really jealous. She wishes she could be that free.

TVGuide.com: Are you ever afraid of typecasting?
Harris: Obviously I'm not. I know that I'm capable of doing other things. I want to do other things, but I'm drawn to these characters and I hope that I continue to do them well. But I do like to mix it up. I am playing a mother in Diary of a Wimpy Kid [which hits theaters next spring] who is the complete opposite of what I did, say, in The Hangover. She's married, loves her husband, is crazy about her kids and it's very earnest and lovely. There's still a part of it that's just in me, that dryness. But it was refreshing to play her and do something completely different.

TVGuide.com: Tell me about the online shorts you've made.
Harris: The thing I love about doing those shorts is, I come from the Groundlings, so coming from the sketch-comedy world, I love doing three- or four-page sketches. I had sort of lost that attitude of "Let's just write something that makes us laugh and see if it's funny or translates." But near the beginning of Funnyordie, I had forgotten that this will be around forever. It's not like the Groundlings where you [perform it] and then it goes away, and only the 99 people in the theater will remember it. When I did all the Amy Walker stuff (warning: some coarse language), I think we did three takes of that. We were just goofing off. It's a way for us to have fun and try things that make us laugh.

TVGuide.com: I'm assuming we'll see Shanna again in future episodes?
Harris: I hope so. I think it would be great. I was talking to [Cougar Town co-star] Busy Phillips and I said, "Wouldn't it be great if Frank left Shanna and she had to become the thing she despises the most?" I would love that.

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