Leachman was billed as a "special guest star" throughout Season 1. For the show's second season, Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia says it was time to give Leachman a promotion, given her amount of screen time. And he'll have some fun with the veteran actress, who will now be billed this way: "... and introducing Cloris Leachman as Maw Maw."
"I thought it would be funny to make it 'introducing Cloris Leachman,' and she thought it was hilarious," Garcia says. What took so long to name Leachman a full-fledged series regular? "It just worked out that way with her schedule and stuff," he says. "And in the first season we didn't know how much we would use her and where the stories would go."
Turns out, they used her quite a bit. Leachman — who was just coming off a well-publicized stint on Dancing With the Stars — remains a force of nature, even at 85. "I am inspired by her," Garcia says. "She's sharp as a tack and here working all hours of the night... She's fun and funny and has great ideas. Her rule is if it's funny, she'll do it. And she trusts us."
Garcia says Raising Hope's writers are trying not to simply play Maw Maw's dementia for laughs. "It's a constant challenge for us," he says. "We don't want it to get old and be the same joke." That's why we're seeing a bit more lucidity in the character, as well as more flashbacks (like in the show's season finale), back when Maw Maw was still fully awake. "We'll play with it more in Season 2," Garcia adds.
And if that's not enough for Leachman, the busy actress is also touring the country with her one-woman show, and just joined the cast of the motion picture remake Gambit, starring Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz.
Meanwhile, the Raising Hope writers returned to the room this week to start mapping out Season 2. Besides more flashbacks, Garcia says the show will also explore how Hope's growth as a toddler impacts the family. "Everyone bought the book What to Expect: The Toddler Years," Garcia says. "We'll sit down with the parents of the babies [that play Hope] and see what they're capable of. But we're sticking with the same Hopes. We're a little family here, and we'll let them age as they age."