Will Wendie Malick ever get a chance to play a demure, down-to-earth role? Let's hope not. Best known for her seven-season, Emmy-nominated stint as narcissistic fashion editor Nina Van Horn on Just Shoot Me, Malick has made a career out of playing outrageous small-screen characters, including Brian Benben's neurotic ex on Dream On and a husky-voiced lounge singer during the final year of Frasier. Currently on ABC's mid-season sitcom, Big Day (Tuesdays at 9 pm/EST) — a real-time comedy about wedding-day drama — Malick adds a new broad to her résumé: Jane, the übercontrolling mother to Marla Sokoloff's bride. Happily, the actress isn't as high-maintenance as her TV alter egos.
TVGuide.com: What attracted you to this particular project?
Wendie Malick: When I'm offered a job, I always ask myself, is it a role I want to play? Are the writers good? Are these people cool? Meaning, will my coworkers be easy to be around? Is this a good family to join forces with for what could be a long time? I've been lucky enough to have two shows — Dream On and Just Shoot Me — that went on for five and seven years, respectively. Sometimes I spend more time with [my costars] than my own family, so I don't want to be around any divas or lunatics.
TVGuide.com: Have you been around people like that in the past?
Malick: Ohhhhh, yes. Fortunately, that project didn't go anywhere. A situation like that can be very painful. I really want to look forward to going to work every day.
TVGuide.com: You're certainly costarring with some really wonderful actors — Marla Sokoloff, Kurt Fuller (Desperate Housewives) and Miriam Shor (Inside Schwartz), to name a few.
Malick: Yes. And the people behind the scenes are great, too. Most of the crew are people I worked with on Jake in Progress — like Mike Spiller, our director. And our show runner, Matthew Carlson, is wonderful. He came from Malcolm in the Middle. They're a fun group to be with.
TVGuide.com: As the title implies, the entire first season of Big Day takes place on one very eventful day. What will happen if the series gets renewed?
Malick: We've actually talked about that. The show would follow another "big day."
TVGuide.com: Like what? A funeral?
Malick: [Laughs] I hope not. [Deadpan] "And then, they all died." No, that wouldn't work. One of the ideas that the writers have been kicking around is having my husband, Steve [Kurt Fuller], run for office, and it's election night.
TVGuide.com: That's definitely more clever than, say, following the couple on their honeymoon. How many episodes have you shot so far?
Malick: We've finished 13. How many have you seen?
TVGuide.com: Just the first two.
Malick: Oh, the show gets so much better. In the pilot, we had to establish all these people, so there was a lot of obligatory pipe we had to lay. But now that that's done, we can take it somewhere else. The show's about these extremely odd, somewhat dysfunctional people.
TVGuide.com: You're playing someone dysfunctional? You're kidding!
Malick: [Laughs] Yeah, I know. What a surprise, right?
TVGuide.com: Can you give us any dirt about the upcoming episodes?
Malick: Jane's old boyfriend, Bob [played by Angel's Jack Conley], comes and brings her some goodies... you know, a little pot. Jack was really funny in the role. He looked like Kevin Bacon, but weathered and wet. And Marian Seldes, who played my mother on Frasier, appears as my mother. It totally explains why my character is so nuts.
TVGuide.com: I know you've been through a wedding in real life.
Malick: Two, in fact!
TVGuide.com: Were they anywhere as crazy as the one on this show?
Malick: Not at all. My weddings were of the intimate, good-friend variety. The first one was about 60 people in a brownstone in New York in the snow in January. For my second, 10 of us climbed a mountain in Sedona at sunset, opened a couple of bottles of champagne, then we all went back down, changed and went out for this fabulous dinner.
TVGuide.com: Wow, your guests had to be in really good shape, huh?
Malick: Well, it wasn't a really tall mountain or anything. But it was pretty steep. There were no old folks at that one. Everyone was pretty spry.
TVGuide.com: The whole affair sounds lovely and low-key — not the kind of thing your character would approve of at all.
Malick: We're very different. You have to understand, my husband and I met at a dump in Tijuana, where we were building houses for the poor. So when we met we were not at our best in terms of cleanliness and attractiveness. We figured if we could handle that, maybe we could get through the rest of it.
TVGuide.com: Is there anything else you want to share about the show?
Malick: Just that while I think it's quite funny, I hope it's also a lesson to people who want to do weddings like this. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Go behind the scenes with another ABC star — Men in Trees hunk James Tupper — on TV Guide Channel's The 411.
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