Guess who's coming to Thanksgiving dinner tonight on Cuts (9:30 pm/ET on UPN)? Why it's no less than Peggy Lipton, who is perhaps best known as The Mod Squad's Julie and Twin Peaks' Norma. Where has the actress been, and what brings her to the UPN comedy? TVGuide.com asked her those questions and more.
TVGuide.com: In prepping for this Q&A, I was reminded that three years ago, TV Guide ranked you No. 5 on its "Sexiest TV Stars of All-Time" list. Do you remember that?
Peggy Lipton: Yeahhhh... can you believe that? It was a great feeling. It came as kind of a shock, but I guess people have very long memories! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What is your secret to staying beautiful?
Lipton: In a weird way it's "thinking young." It's like there's this little girl in me who never really grew up — and having daughters helps that, it really does. That has been a real boon in my life in a lot of ways. I'm very, very, very fortunate.
TVGuide.com: So tell me, what are you doing on Cuts?
Lipton: Have you ever seen the show? It's cute, right? I had no idea, I just said I'd do it. It was one of those spontaneous things, and it turned out to be some really funny stuff. I do like sitcoms, they're kind of fun, but it's a little different than I thought it would be because you don't really perform for an audience. It's so chopped up now, it's not like doing a play, the way it used to be. But I just got there and everybody made me laugh so much.
TVGuide.com: Corbin "Arnie Becker" Bernsen is your character's ex-husband.
Lipton: Yes, and he is a stitch. Who knew how funny he is?! I don't know if he had ever done a sitcom before this, but he has great timing and he happens to be a fantastic guy. I sound like I'm all Pollyanna-ish, but really, having worked for so many years and having met not always fantastic people, I was blissed out on Cuts.
TVGuide.com: Your "daughter," Shannon Elizabeth, is no slouch either.
Lipton: She is fabulous. First of all, she's funny as hell, but she's also deep. I play a mother who hasn't really been [home] too much — she's a globetrotter for all the right causes, spending the alimony on different charities across the world — so when she comes back, her daughter is angry. At the end we have some funny scenes and all of a sudden Shannon went to this very deep place and it turned out to be something other than ha-ha funny, it was touching. I was really impressed with her as an actress. I had never seen her work.
TVGuide.com: Never saw American Pie, eh?
Lipton: No. I know I should see it and probably one day I will, but.... I know it's a classic. Was she wild?
TVGuide.com: Uh, yeah.
Lipton: She's absolutely darling. And what about those guys, Rashaan Nall and Marques Houston? They're unbelievable. It amazes me that a lot of these kids have these big talents to hold a show and to have a musical career. I feel like I've been in a dark hole for the last five years because I haven't really done much.
TVGuide.com: Your last project was Alias, right, in spring 2004? You played Melissa George's equally evil mother.
Lipton: Yeah, Alias was cool, but I wish they had done more — it wasn't long enough to develop something. When I did that part, the mother knows [her daughter is a double agent], but there's no backstory, it was all very secretive. It reminded me a little bit of Twin Peaks, where you really had to make up your own history.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of Twin Peaks, between that and Mod Squad, which experience holds fonder memories for you?
Lipton: Well, Mod Squad was such a formative experience in my life, I think that stands alone. Twin Peaks, in terms of the acting, in terms of coming back after not working for so many years, was very, very special. It really tapped into my abilities as an actress, which I hadn't had the courage to really work with. So that stands as an "If I can do Twin Peaks I can do anything" kind of experience.
TVGuide.com: Were you caught off-guard by the Twin Peaks mania? Figured going in, "Oh, I'm just playing the cop's waitress-girlfriend"?
Lipton: Yeah! Never, never, never [predicted it]. As a matter of fact, I was staying at an ashram in India when it aired, having a very peaceful time, so I had no idea what was going on. Then somebody brought a Time magazine and a newspaper from Bombay, and I said, "Oh my god, this is a huge hit show."
TVGuide.com: I thought you were going to tell me a Sherpa asked you, "Who killed Laura Palmer?"
Lipton: [Laughs] No, I don't think it had gone that far — but almost! It was interesting. I just did the work, but I also knew that it was a very tenuous situation. You had a lot of emotional characters and you knew [series creator] David [Lynch] wasn't going to take care of that show forever. I felt it probably wouldn't make a long haul, it was one of those explosive things that just happened. There are still people who hold these "reunions," throughout the year, dressed up as the characters....
TVGuide.com: "That's a damn fine piece of pie."
Lipton: That's right, exactly.
TVGuide.com: Your younger daughter, Rashida Jones, is currently on TNT's Wanted. Did you give her advice about acting?
Lipton: Rashida showed interest when she was really young, and it was hard for her. I supported her, though, because my mother did that for me. Many, many times I worked with her, coaching her on pieces, and that was a very personal thing, so we have a great relationship. I told her that no matter what, I was there for her. Now I hear complaints from her that are the same as [mine used to be]. [Laughs] Exactly the same. She's beautiful and talented and has a harder shell than I had. Everything got to me.
TVGuide.com: She's working there with one of your contemporaries, Gary Cole.
Lipton: And she loves him. She loves the whole cast. I hope the show gets picked up. Hey, isn't it weird that Wanted is an Aaron Spelling show? That's crazy! She called me one day and said, "I'm going in for an audition and there's a big poster of Mod Squad here!"
TVGuide.com: What's your plan from here? Up for another full-time prime-time gig?
Lipton: I don't know.... I have to tell you, it was exhausting, it was tiring being on my feet again for 12 hours. I don't know what kind of circumstance I would need to go back full-time. Guest-starring is fun, but I don't want to do a lot of those either because I like to have a character, a thread of "something." I'd rather do stage work than anything else at this point, but I'm open to anything!