Ryan Lee and Malin Akerman
One down, one to go? After Kate (Malin Akerman) helped successfully set up Pete's second ex-wife, Jackie (Michaela Watkins), earlier this season on Trophy Wife, Tuesday's new episode (9:30/8:30c, ABC) will see her take on a much tougher matchmaking job: finding someone for Pete's first ex-wife, Diane (Marcia Gay Harden). But will she go 2-for-2? Akerman talked with TVGuide.com about the big set-up, the show's upcoming Ace of Base-filled Christmas episode and what she really thinks about the show's title.
Why does Kate decide to set Diane up?
Malin Akerman: She's trying to get her to loosen up because she's such a Type-A, hard-edged woman and Kate always feels so inferior around her. I think she just wants to get her laid to loosen her up is her initial thought. But I think ultimately she ends up realizing that maybe Diane just needs a partner too. Behind it all, love is what we all want. I think her intention is, at first, more selfish and then eventually she realizes this is actually a good deed.
What are some of the challenges of setting up a woman like Diane?
Akerman: What aren't the challenges? [Laughs] To get her to listen to me at first. That's just never going to happen so I don't even think she tries. It's finding the right man. Diane is obviously a very picky woman so it will be very hard for her to find any man that is going to take her as she is. But, ultimately, Kate does a great job in picking the man that Diane is already seeing.
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Kate also kind of helped Jackie meet Pete's co-worker, Steve. Why do you think she has had such luck so far setting up his exes?
Akerman: Good things come to good people. It was, again, selfishly they set Jackie up because they think that will get her out of their hair a little more often. But, that's what I love about this show, there's just so much heart in it. ... Kate actually really likes Jackie and thinks she deserves somebody as well.
Jackie and Diane are totally opposite ends of the spectrum. How do you approach playing opposite those two characters differently?
Akerman: I think Kate is highly intimidated by Diane and is constantly seeking her approval because she just feels she is so put together. At the same time, she kind of feels she's a little uptight and would never want to be like her, but definitely looks up to her. Whereas with Jackie, I think it's more of here's this kooky lady who really is not somebody that intimidates her at all and is much "easier" to talk to. Jackie is so flip-floppy that you can get her to do or say anything almost, and that obviously puts Kate at ease.
You brought up a good point about Diane looking down on others. What do you think she thinks of Kate deep down?
Akerman: I think that she's not too crazy about Kate, but ultimately, anytime that she sees Kate with her kids and helping them out, I think she softens a little bit just because she is the perfect example of someone who would think that Kate is this trophy wife. Ultimately, I think that title gets torn down just by Kate's actions, and she realizes that, yeah, she may be young and it bothers her a little bit that her ex-husband has married someone so young, but she sees that Kate is really trying to be a good parent. I think it works out in the end for them.
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Hopefully this episode is a bit of step forward for them as well since Kate is trying to help her out.
Akerman: I think so. I think it's baby steps with Diane. That's how we have to take it with Diane: one step at a time. She's not easily won over.
How do you think Kate has evolved so far on the show? Not only is she dealing with these two very different ex-wives, but also juggling the kids.
Akerman: I think she's starting to realize that it's tough work. It's not a walk in the park. It's not just falling in love with someone and off you go. She's learning about real life and real responsibilities and I think we see that in her arc. She becomes a little better at standing her ground and standing up for her beliefs and having a voice in this family, whereas in the beginning, I think she was just going along for the ride. Now she's really trying to have opinions and be a great parent. I like watching her grow because, ultimately, she is the one person who will grow the most of all the adults. Everyone else is a little more set in their ways, but Kate is just on this learning curve.
What does the show have planned for Christmas? That is a big time for families and especially for the new person coming into a family.
Akerman: It is not what you would expect. Mix absinthe with a little bit of Ace of Base and you've got a real original Christmas. ... There's some dance choreography. It's nutty and amazing. I'm excited for the world to see this one.
Was Ace of Base your choice or was that already in the script?
Akerman: It was already in the script. It was a toss-up between ABBA and Ace of Base, but I think Ace of Base won because ABBA is more difficult to get rights to, which ended up being perfect. Ace of Base is great and you'll see why.
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The show was recently picked up for a full season so congrats! Was there anything special you did to celebrate?
Akerman: I threw everyone a party at a bar. I just told everyone to come and let their hair down and drinks were on me for the evening and it was great.
Any karaoke like there was in the pilot episode?
Akerman: No, no karaoke. There was garlic bread and drinks, and really good gabbing.
Is there one thing you've heard in particular from fans and viewers about the show?
Akerman: "Who is that kid?" — referring to Albert Tsai. I think he's really become our little shining star in this and people are so enjoying him. But I think overall the feedback has been what we've been feeling, which is that there's a great synergy among the actors and everyone's really enjoying the characters. They feel that they're becoming quite three-dimensional and it's not at all what the title sort of suggests of this show. That has been fun because I think a lot of people went, "Trophy Wife? I don't want to watch that." And then they watch and go, "Wow, this is not at all what I expected." I think that element of surprise is what gets everyone.
Any second thoughts about that title then?
Akerman: No way, Jose. It's been a big discussion point, and I think that's a good thing.
Trophy Wife airs Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.