Richard Dreyfuss

Has 38-year-old Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham) finally found her calling? It would appear so, when the play she recently penned generates interest from a theater producer played by Richard Dreyfuss.

"It was really our good fortune," says Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims of having the Oscar winner join the family drama for the last four episodes of the season. "We heard that he might be available and got him the script. I had a conversation with him about the character and he talked about what he wanted to bring to the role, and I was very excited by his ideas."

Showing up tonight as a favor to his old Army buddy Zeek (Craig T. Nelson), Dreyfuss' Gilliam T. Blount gives struggling single mom Sarah the chance at something she's never had before: a career. "What he sees is a woman who has written true genius art, but doesn't know the difference between that and the frou-frou bulls--t that surrounds it," says Dreyfuss. "It's this knockdown, drag-out fight in order to get the play finished."

But as Sarah takes off professionally, Katims says her personal life gets "very tense and dramatic" with teen daughter Amber (Mae Whitman) causing problems on the home front. "There is a major story line that has to do with the results of [Amber's] applications to college. I don't want to give too much away, but... She starts to spin out of control a little bit." 

Perhaps Sarah will find a shoulder to lean on in Gilliam? Katims confirms that their relationship "deepens as we go throughout the episodes" — in part because Gilliam has his own reasons for wanting Sarah to succeed. "He was put on this earth to make artists better, and that's what he wants to do with Sarah," says Dreyfuss. "At the very least, he's a great anecdote years from now. And at the most, he helps change her into Arthur Miller." Guess we should say break a leg!

Parenthood airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!