On Back to You (Wednesdays, 8 pm/ET, Fox), the Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton sitcom vehicle, Fred Willard plays freewheeling sportscaster Marsh McGinley, whose lead foot alarms a coworker tonight when they carpool together. Marsh is the latest in a gallery of grinning goofballs that Willard has given us over the course of a career that spans 40 years.
TV Guide: What do you enjoy about Marsh?
Fred Willard: I love it that he's a sports guy and that he says whatever comes to his mind. He doesn't think things through too much. Nothing seems to perturb him. It's pretty much opposite to the way I am in real life — I tend to overthink things.
TV Guide: You have so many TV credits. Anything make Back to You special?
Willard: Kelsey Grammer is the kind of guy I love to work with because he doesn't want to overwork anything. As a result, you tend to focus more.
TV Guide: You excel at exaggerated stereotypes. Are you a cutup in real life?
Willard: If I'm in a good mood and around people I feel really comfortable with, I can be the life of the party. But I can also be the guy at the table who people turn to and say, "You're awfully quiet."
TV Guide: One of your louder characters was Fernwood 2-Night's Jerry Hubbard.
Willard: I loved that show and working with Martin Mull. That's my favorite TV character. I think it was the first time I ever played a character who never thought twice before he said something. And there's been kind of a through line into the things I did with Christopher Guest, particularly in Best in Show when I was the dog-show announcer.
TV Guide: How is it working with Guest and his rep company?
Willard: It's like being called up with the Dodgers. I'm a longtime friend and fan of Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara. I just love [Guest's] quiet, offbeat sense of humor. I think everybody who does his movies is on the same wavelength.
TV Guide: You never seem to age. What's your secret?
Willard: [Laughs] I'm a big square, I love to exercise. I'm just a step away from being a hypochondriac. And a sense of humor helps.
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