“It feels like a really comfortable shoe I had been wearing,” says Julia Louis-Dreyfus of the divorced single mother she plays in “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
After playing single characters in “Seinfeld” and “Watching Ellie,” Louis-Dreyfus had been trying to develop a show about being a mother, but concedes she wasn’t really getting anywhere on her own. Then she read Kari Lizer’s script, which took the mom idea and added a few new twists — namely, the lead character maintains an amicable relationship with her ex-husband Richard (Clark Gregg) but isn’t particularly pleased to find out his new girlfriend (Emily Rutherford) is also named Christine.
“It felt familiar to me comedically,” she says. “I loved the script and that’s what happened.”
Even though Louis-Dreyfus isn’t a divorced mom (she’s married with two children in real life), she does relate to her character’s utter devotion to her son.
“She has a desire to do well by her child, which is where she is screwing up completely, despite her best intentions,” Louis-Dreyfus says. “It’s the nature of the beast for any parent. You just hope you don’t screw them up too much.”
In the show, Christine is a working mother who enrolls her 9-year-old son (Trevor Gagnon) in an exclusive private school where she faces one run-in after another with the judgmental stay-at-home moms.
Between the actress’s delivery of sharp dialogue and her stable of comic expressions, Louis-Dreyfus can transform something as everyday as throwing her son’s birthday party into a hilarious event.
In another episode, she deals with an aspect of life that is a goldmine of comedic material: the dating scene.
“It’s an opportunity to exercise my comedic muscle from week to week, particularly when you have a script that is rock-solid,” she says.
As the show progresses, the actress also looks forward to doing more physical comedy.
“Any challenges are really incredible, delightful ones,” she says.
Louis-Dreyfus confesses that an added bonus to working on the hit show is that she and creator-exec producer Lizer have become good friends.
“I can’t believe I haven’t met her before,” Louis-Dreyfus says. “I feel like I’ve known her all my life.”
Now that the show has been picked up for the fall season, Louis-Dreyfus predicts it’ll take years before “Christine” gets old.
“I love this part, and I would love to be in it a long time,” she says.
Favorite scene of last season?
“I liked the first season’s final episode, ‘A Fair to Remember.’ We were all in the scene together, and we were all trying not to laugh.”
“I watch ‘The Daily Show,’ ‘The Sopranos, ”The Office’ and ‘American Idol.’ ”
“Will Arnett on ‘Arrested Development’ is a genius, all the women on ‘Saturday Night Live’ are brilliant, and Don Lake on ‘Watching Ellie’ is one of the funniest actors in the universe.”