Jerry Nunn: Hi, Laurie. How are rehearsals going?
Laurie Metcalf: Well, I don’t know. I just asked the assistant director, “What the hell does it look like up there?” We just blocked this giant party scene. I call it a “party scene;” it is more like a borderline orgy, I guess.
JN: [ Laughs ] So that is what attracted you to the show! You don’t live here in Chicago now, do you?
LM: I have a house in Idaho but it is kind of a vacation place. For the past three years I have been splitting my time between L.A. and New York, because I have been doing more theatre.
JN: You were one of the creators of the Steppenwolf.
LM: I was in at the beginning, yes, I am partly to blame. [ Laughs ]
JN: But look at it; it’s massive. This office alone is huge.
LM: I know. It is so great to come back. It has been too long for me. I think it has been six years. Chicago is my favorite city still and it looks gorgeous. There is no better place to work.
JN: Did they approach you about this play?
LM: Yes, they sent me the script and I immediately took to Lisa D’Amour’s writing style. It is very contemporary. A lot of it is about human behavior, which is fun for an actor to play. There are five very juicy parts and Austin Pendleton was going to be directing, I am excited to be working with three ensemble members that I have not worked with before but have known for years.
JN: That is a good opportunity.
LM: Yeah, it is a full ensemble cast and directed by an ensemble member that is nowadays hard to put together, because everybody is off and doing projects all around the country.
JN: So this is a comedy about a BBQ?
LM: It is a dark comedy.
JN: Your character is named Mary.
LM: Yes. There are two couples that live side by side in a Detroit suburb and are just getting to know each other over the backyard fence. We bounce back and forth between BBQs at each other’s house. In that typical and non-controversial setting some odd things happen.
JN: Sounds interesting.
LM: They are four people who are not good at boundaries and yet they want to be friends very badly because they are so lonely. So they try to force the issue and make this friendship work. They are all very different and things go haywire!
JN: So everyone can relate to this because they have neighbors and BBQs.
LM: Yes, but there are settings where you don’t get to know your neighbors. She examines how the suburbs have sort of backfired in that way. Many people just put their head down and go inside rather than engage. These people are trying to become pals.
JN: I want to see it. So Toy Story 3 is currently doing so well and you were able to voice Mrs. Davis in all three movies.
LM: I have been so lucky and fortunate to do so many things in theatre, Steppenwolf, in movies, Toy Story and, in TV, with Roseanne. How many times can I hit the jackpot? I have been in the right place at the right time and the friendships I have made at all of those places.
JN: Do you still talk to Roseanne?
LM: Oh, yeah.
JN: And Sara Gilbert is about to blow up with her new show called The Talk.
LM: Oh, I didn’t know. I am going back on Monday to The Big Bang Theory, which she is on; that’s what I thought you were talking about.
JN: She just came out of the closet so she could talk openly about her partner and kids on the show.
LM: Great. That’s huge!
JN: What’s in the future for you?
LM: Since I am focusing more on the theatre now, I am going to do a play with a group called MCC in New York for a show called The Other Place by a man named Sharr White. It’s directed by Joe Mantello, who directed me in David Mamet’s November. We had been looking for something to work with together and that came up. Usually I don’t know what my next project is but in this case I do.