“The Neighbors” is visiting family in “Uncle Benjamin.” Specifically, the Weavers are traveling to California to see Debbie’s (Jami Gertz) mother, Janet. Played by Rhea Perlman, this wild-child older woman is maybe settling down.
Check out a clip from “Uncle Benjamin” above, and find out more about Perlman’s character in an interview with the actress.
Zap2it: How did you end up guest-starring on ‘The Neighbors’?
Rhea Perlman: I watched “The Neighbors” when it first came on, and I thought it was hysterical. And every time I think something just tickles my funny bone, I call my agent and say, “You know, I like this show. If they’re ever looking for somebody, I’d like to work with them.” So I told them that, I guess it was a year — two years — ago, and then he said, “They want you to play Jami’s mother!” And I was free, so it was perfect timing. It just seemed like a lot of fun, and it was.
What was it about the show you liked?
You know from the first episode that it’s insane. That’s what I like about it! That’s what I love about it — I like that it’s just kind of absurd. It’s just absurd and doesn’t totally make sense and is out of the norm. I don’t think it’s trivial. It’s just smartly crazy. I like things like that, that are a little warped. And it’s a little warped.
What can you say about your character, Janet?
She hasn’t been the best mom over the years. And I guess that was set up before in some shows. She didn’t go to her daughter’s graduation, because she had to shop for a tank top, something like that. How could you give up a tank top for the graduation? She was a bit of a terrible mother.
But now she’s invited them to come to her house and spend the weekend with her. She wants to see them, and she wants to get to know her grandkids. And she has a little surprise waiting for them. She wants to change her ways, and it’s hard for Debbie to believe that I would make such a radical change. But it’s nice, and I am changing.
It might have been more fun to be an alien — let’s face it!
Speaking of aliens, what is Janet’s reaction when she meets them?
She doesn’t know what to think. There’s not a lot of interaction between her and the aliens — there isn’t much one-on-one interaction. She’s just like, “Who are these people? Where did you say you were from?” They tell [Dick] to put on sunblock, and he comes out basically looking like a ghost.
When you were on the set, what was it like?
Easy. Easygoing. Everybody gets along. Everybody’s on time. It’s really very … I feel like the grown-ups of course lead the way for the kids, but it’s very easygoing on that set. There’s no hysterics and everybody seems to truly like each other — they’re friends.
That’s what the best of sitcoms are — it’s like a family.
What do you think real aliens might be like, and are they coming to visit us?
If they’re not weird people coming from suburban New Jersey? Wouldn’t that be fun? I’m thinking that aliens will be really cool. I was always hoping from Gort from “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Gort comes from another planet. He’s a robot really, run by the intelligent person on the other side, who comes to basically stop violence on this planet. And it’s about the only way we’ll ever do it is with Gort.
That’s the alien I’m waiting for! A handy alien — someone who can help the human race! Then we’ll welcome the rest of their society, whoever they are. I don’t care — the more the merrier. I’ve got a big house.
Are you in anything else that’s coming up?
A little movie called “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” It’s an indie movie with a nice cast — it’s with Blythe Danner is the star. And me and June Squibb and Mary Kay Place play her buddies. Sam Elliott’s in it, Martin Starr. I think it’s going to be really cool. So you can look out for it.
The “Uncle Benjamin” episode of “The Neighbors” airs Friday (March 21) at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.