Jaime Pressly, <EM>My Name Is Earl</EM> Jaime Pressly, My Name Is Earl

Judging by the way Joy's been carrying on for the past few months on NBC's My Name Is Earl (Thursdays at 8 pm/ET), you'd think she'd been pregnant for a year now. Jaime Pressly, who plays the trash-talking, trailer-park diva, herself isn't due until the end of May, and frankly she's a bit tired of waiting to pop out her son with fiancé Eric Cubiche. But thankfully, the 29-year-old North Carolinian didn't have a trace of Joy's ire when she called TVGuide.com to discuss Joy's impending trial (for stealing a truck and an employee from a discount store), her own impending motherhood, and how Earl has managed to avoid the dreaded sophomore-year slump.

TVGuide.com: How has the second year on the show been different from the first?
Jaime Pressly:
Well, I was pregnant. I am still. Ethan [Suplee, Randy] and his wife had their baby, like, three weeks ago, and [series creator] Greg Garcia and his wife just had their baby [on April 9], then I'm going to have mine. I'm due on Mother's Day, but we think he's going to come early, so I'm due at any time.

TVGuide.com: What are they feeding you guys over there?
I know! Fertility drugs. It was a little rough for me because of the pregnancy, but I work with such an amazing group of people who could not be more comforting or more like family.

TVGuide.com: What has been the hardest part about being pregnant while filming the show?
Nobody told me that you take your prenatal vitamins before you go to sleep so that you sleep off the sickness, so I would wake up at four in the morning to go to work, take my prenatal vitamins and then be sick until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. In your first trimester, you could fall asleep standing up, you wake up so tired. The first and third trimester is when your body does all the baby-growing. Second trimester is bliss. And then it goes to the third trimester, when you want to absolutely stab your eyes out with a pencil because you can't believe how fat you've gotten, your hips hurt and you can't sleep at night. You want to eat your hand off every five seconds. It's like, "Get this child out of me!" Luckily, I was working with people who not only all have children but also had pregnant wives as well.

TVGuide.com: Wow, you make it sound like so much fun!
I'm not going to lie to you, it's hell. Everybody goes, "It's so great, look what you're getting, it's such a gift...." The gift would be if he'd come out early, 'cause I've about had it.

TVGuide.com: This season, Earl stopped being strictly about the karma list and started following the other characters of the show, too. Were you surprised when you found out there would be this season-long arc about Joy's trouble with the law?
I was extremely excited about it, I'll tell you that. In the first season, we found out how much people enjoy the character of Joy and how much life she brought to the show. She was a big part of Earl's life. It can get boring when you're constantly righting a wrong. Everybody would be like, "We get it. He's trying to be a better guy."

TVGuide.com: True, and some of the best moments on the show are when everyone's being naughty and invoking the bad karma.
Exactly, and that was another part of it. You don't want it to be all this goody two-shoes stuff. I have women come up to me all the time and say they live vicariously through Joy every Thursday night, because she says and does things that a lady is just not supposed to say and do.

TVGuide.com: Do you live vicariously through her, too?
Absolutely. It's way too much fun to be able to play that bitch. But she's a likable bitch. She doesn't purposely go out to hurt people; she just doesn't know any better. That's just how she was raised. She's a fight-or-flight person. She's a Southern woman, and that's what I have in common with her. In the South, all women have one thing in common — we all have a survivor instinct about us.

TVGuide.com: Have you ever found yourself quoting her?
No, it's my Grandmother Pressly that I'm constantly quoting when playing Joy. Grandmother was wealthy and was far from a whore — she was with my grandfather for 52 years and that was the only man she was ever with — but she would say things like, "Men are like parking spaces. All the good ones are taken and the only ones left are handicapped, honey, so just go on and find one and settle down." She had sayings left and right. Very blunt. Had no screen from her brain to her mouth, much like Joy.

TVGuide.com: Have you learned anything about parenting from Joy?
You learn everything that you would never do. That's about it.

TVGuide.com: Do you have your own theory about Darnell's secret past?
I know as much as you guys do, that he's in the Witness Protection Program. I don't know that even Greg Garcia and the writers have any idea. I think they make it up as they go along. It could have been pot-related, or that he tattled on somebody to get out of trouble.... I guess we'll have to wait and see what they dream up.

TVGuide.com: He's a very surprising character.
That he is. Talk about surprises, who would have thought that the way we use my pregnancy would be for Joy to find out that juries are sympathetic to pregnant women and she becomes the surrogate mother to the sister she just finds out she has, who is black? Where the hell did that come from? That came from Greg Garcia. He gets those story lines. Since the first season, he walks in [the writers' room] and says, "I'm saying one thing to you guys: Juliette Lewis is the bounty hunter for Joy." Then he walks out of the room, and they all look at each other like, "What the f--- is he talking about?" And then they come up with that brilliant episode [from Season 1].

TVGuide.com: I know you seem to have your hands full, but do you have any other projects coming up?
At the moment: Earl, my son and my clothing line [J'aime]. I'm also doing a voice in [the animated Dr. Seuss feature] Horton Hears a Who. My character is Carol Burnett's best friend.

TVGuide.com: Do you long to play someone really sweet next?
As an actress, you want to play everything. That's why I got into the business, to act, not because I found one character and I want to play her forever. People who do that don't work for very long.

For more on My Name Is Earl and to get your Laugh 'N Sniff card for this week's episode, pick up the new issue of TV Guide. Subscribe to TV Guide for more exclusive stories like this. Try four risk-free issues now!

Check out exclusive photos from behind the scenes of this TV Guide cover shoot.

Coming Thursday in Interviews & Features: our Q&A with Earl's Ethan Suplee.