TV Guide: Brothers & Sisters is another series about a dysfunctional family. Does it feel familiar?
Rachel Griffiths: It is kind of Six Feet Under meets Dynasty.
TV Guide: How do you see your character, Sarah Whedon?
Griffiths: She's really beautiful, really warm, really competent. Harvard Business School, loving mother of two, just trying to juggle the whole thing with elegance and depth. She's been brought in to sort out what the hell has happened to this family company.
TV Guide: How would you compare Sarah to your Six Feet Under character, Brenda Chenowith?
Griffiths: Sarah feels much more powerful in the world. She's not debilitated by personal issues, but she's still very feeling and very sensitive. And very mothering.
TV Guide: As a mother of two [to son Banjo, 2, and daughter Adelaide, 1], can you relate?
Griffiths: Yeah. In Sarah's marriage, we really want to look at the kinds of issues the exhaustion, distraction, just getting through the day that come when you have young kids, and just trying to find each other in that.
TV Guide: Does that inform your approach to the show?
Griffiths: I didn't become an actor so that my life and work could be separate things. I feel great about being able to come in and say, "I had this great idea. This thing happened with Banjo over the weekend." I've already done that once. [Executive producer] Ken Olin said, "Oh, that's great."
TV Guide: Six Feet Under fans still mourn its passing. Do you?
Griffiths: No. It was a really great time for that show to end. It was great that [creator] Alan Ball was still a central figure right to the end, and that he was still engaged in it. Alan is the key voice of his generation he speaks for this time the same way that Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams spoke for theirs.
TV Guide: It's been suggested that, ideally, no series should last longer than five seasons. Do you agree?
Griffiths: That's right. Up until five seasons, we actually kind of remember the trip. After that, we forget where we've been.
TV Guide: You're also starring in the HBO film Angel Rodriguez [check TVGuide.com listings for airtimes], where you play an overwrought social worker who provides tough love to this neglected but promising teenage boy. What made you want to do the movie?
Griffiths: It's a very real conflict in a woman of seeing people outside herself who need help, and feeling the limitations of her own life. She's pregnant and is going to be bringing life into the world, and reaching a point where she can't do more than she's doing to save this person. I've studied as a teacher, I've felt responsible for other people, but not with the same kind of intimacy.
TV Guide: How are you holding up with the demands of motherhood and work?
Griffiths: I've had a really great year, because I went back to work when Banjo was barely 6 weeks old, and that was a little traumatic, to be honest. As supportive as the Six Feet Under environment was, I was really quite unprepared for knowing how it would work.
TV Guide: Was that a factor in signing on to do Brothers & Sisters the stability of living in one place with a fixed schedule?
Griffiths: A little bit. [You have to] kind of imagine how you're going to bring your little baby in and make sure his needs are met to say, "OK, guys, I know there are a hundred people standing around, but I've got to just be with my baby now for about 20 minutes."