"It may be my favorite picture ever," Annie Potts says. And she's not talking about a photo with her co-star Justin Kirk, but one with that other star of Animal Practice : Crystal the Monkey.
"I've worked with a lot of actors and I have to say Crystal is unbelievably magnetic, gifted, totally natural and she's very direct-able," Potts tells TVGuide.com. "I've had costars that were a lot of more difficult. She's adorable. Almost as adorable as Justin."
Potts has to say that because Kirk plays her son on TV. On Wednesday's episode of Animal Practice (8/7c on NBC), Potts makes her debut as George's brash and self-absorbed mother Virginia, who shows up at Crane Animal Hospital to see her estranged son. "He doesn't visit her or have a relationship with her so she borrows her neighbor's cat that's dying," Potts says. "It's her excuse to have a relationship with him and get some sympathy from him."
Virginia's entrance will not only rub George the wrong way, but peels back some of his layers. "I think that they wanted to bring in the mother to shed some light on why he's so damaged," Potts says. "From this script, I would say she's played a large part in it."
Potts said she was not only able to relate to the show because she has three children — "I'm pretty sure my children think I'm an overbearing mother" — but also because of her own childhood. "I'm a big animal lover," she says. "I grew up on a farm so we had everything: cats, dogs, bunnies, lizards, an alligator."
The role of controlling mother is one Potts has been tapped to play quite a few times recently. Last spring, she played the nosy, trigger-happy matriarch Gigi Stopper on ABC's short-lived GCB and she was recently cast in the USA pilot Paging Dr. Freed, where she will play the ball-busting mother to Kyle Howard and Joel David Moore. "It seems that I'm coming into an age where some mature mother roles are available to me and they're fun," Potts says. "As somebody said, almost all women on TV over 45 are crazy, drunk or mean or a combination of the three. It's kind of a sad state of affairs that all women should be represented in that way after a certain age. It's a bit of cliché, but its fun to play."
Although Potts admits she doesn't watch a lot of television, she's enjoys working in the format as much as she did when she starred on Designing Women back in the late '80s. "I love to work in television. I still have a kid in high school and so I like to stay local if I can so I can be a part of his life," she says. "It is not easy in this business to do that."
Will that include a return trip to Animal Practice? Potts won't say whether Virginia and George will be able to resolve their issues, but she's hopeful Virginia will be back for a follow-up appointment. "I hope so, I think that they are situating for another visit from Virginia."
Watch a preview:
Animal Practice airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.