Justine Bateman, <EM>Men in Trees</EM> Justine Bateman, Men in Trees

In a candid TV Guide interview, former '80s teen star Justine Bateman opens up about making mayhem on ABC's Men in Trees (Thursdays at 10 pm/ET), her kids, and... knitting sweaters for Courtney Love?!

TV Guide: How did you land the role of Lynn on Men in Trees?
Justine Bateman:
This is going to sound so made up, but I was on an airplane and [series creator] Jenny Bicks was also on the plane. We didn't have a conversation. She saw me, called my agents and said, "Oh, can she play Lynn?"

TV Guide: Lynn was a character on the show before we even met her. She was discussed for months, right?
Bateman:
Yeah. Sometimes in theater, they'll talk about your character a lot before you enter, but that rarely happens in television. Lynn was mentioned in almost every episode up until I came in [last November]. Lynn had the best intro of any character I've ever had.

TV Guide: As in Lynn — nature photographer and longtime resident of Elmo, Alaska, who is pregnant but not with her boyfriend's child?
Bateman:
[Laughs] Even though Lynn's the type to travel the world or go camping for a year and not have anything tie her down, I think she's decided, "I'm ready for this next phase of my life." It's like a switch got flipped. She's even going to have a baby shower.

TV Guide: Where does that leave poor Marin?
Bateman:
Well, Jack is the love of Lynn's life, and Lynn is the love of Jack's life. He's very grounding to her, and she's very exciting and com­fortable to him. So if anyone has a person they have this amazing chemistry with and it didn't work out and there wasn't any closure... what if that person were to come back? What would you do? Wouldn't you want to see that played out?

TV Guide: You and James Tupper, who plays hunky biologist Jack, are great together.
Bateman:
It was great pretty immediately with him. When there's an instant chemistry or comfort, you just go with it. You nurture it. It makes your job so much easier.

TV Guide: His chemistry with Anne Heche is steamy, too. Has Anne mentioned your chemistry with James to you? Have you guys compared notes?
Bateman:
Has she mentioned our chemistry? Oh, I don't know. I think she has great chemistry with him, too. Maybe James just has great chemistry with everyone! If the whole cast is there at the same time, it's like a party.

TV Guide: Why?
Bateman:
The cast is full of really neat people. Like Emily Bergl [a celebrity blogger for TVGuide.com] — she has a fondue club. They get together and make fondue and share recipes. The last time I talked to her, she was like, "Can I call you right back? I'm brewing beer." She was brewing beer in her house! And John Amos? He's so cool, a legend. He lives on a boat in Mexico.

TV Guide: You have two kids, ages 3 and 4, with your husband, real-estate developer Mark Fluent. Which version of Mommy would you prefer they see: the accidental parent on Men in Trees or airhead Mallory Keaton on Family Ties?
Bateman:
They're not interested in anything I've done. They're interested in, like, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! or Cinderella.

TV Guide: In 2000, you took a break from acting to create a successful line of rocker-chick clothing [see justineb.com]. Courtney Love is a fan. What did you make for her?
Bateman:
I made her this spider-web sweater. It has a very irregular knit with elas­ticized wool so it looks like a shriveled-wool, torn-apart sweater for an 8-year-old. But when you stretch it over your torso, it looks really neat. When I got into [design­ing], there were just a few celebri­ties doing clothing lines. I think Kathie Lee Gifford had a line at Wal-mart, and Monica Lewinsky had a line of handbags.

TV Guide: When your daughter becomes a teenager, will you make her clothes? She'll think she has the best mother ever.
Bateman:
Maybe. Or maybe she'll hate me. Isn't that the time you turn on your mother? I'm going to be in another city when my kids are teenagers. I'll be like, "Give me a call when you're done with all that."

James Denton of ABC's Desperate Housewives reveals what he's watching on the tube these days in the Feb. 19 issue of TV Guide.

Send your comments on this Q&A to letters@tvguide.com