LOS ANGELES – American actress Martha Plimpton, best known for playing quirky roles in indie movies, shot to fame in the teen classic The Goonies in 1985. Born into a performing family – her father is Keith Carradine and her mother is Shelley Plimpton — Martha has starred in I Shot Andy Warhol, Running on Empty and Beautiful Girls. She currently plays Virginia Chance on the new Fox comedy, Raising Hope, about an uneducated working class family attempting to raise a baby. Metro caught up with the 40-year-old star in a Beverly Hills hotel.
After being a big indie actress, was it a big decision for you to chose to do television comedy series?
It was a big decision only in the sense that it involved leaving my home city of New York for a while and having a steady gig, which is great by the way. But as far as the decision to do it, it wasn’t a tough one at all. I read the pilot and I thought it was hilarious. I loved Virginia. I just got her and that doesn’t happen all that often. I figured after talking to the creator/producer Greg (Garcia), that if you’re going to sign your life away for how many years, you might as well do it with people that you like. That was a no brainer.
What’s it like playing a grandmother at the age of 40?
At first of course I was a little bit nervous because I thought, ‘Well, shouldn’t I play a mother first? I don’t even know if I’m ready for that yet.’ (Laughs) And you can’t forget that Hollywood does tend to age people rather rapidly, so I was naturally concerned about that, as any actress would be. But that is the joke. The idea that these people have no idea what they were doing when they had their own child and that child is a father and we’ve got to learn how to be adequate responsible grandparents all over again. So in that sense I don’t feel like I’m playing a grandmother – like I’m not wearing a grey wig or walking hunched over or anything like that.
Are there any similarities between you and your character?
(Deadpans) Well, Virginia and I are both very hot… I would be nervous to identify anything like that just because I feel like it’s a good fit right now and I don’t want to mess with it. I feel like Greg cast people he felt could play to the strengths that he wanted in these people. So yes, we must have something in common.
Do you chain smoke in real life like Virginia?
Oh that I can’t discuss with you! Well, she doesn’t smoke on the show anymore – she quit smoking in the second episode. The family had to make an adjustment for the new baby. Obviously, it was awesome and fun that I got to smoke in the first few episodes, but it’s understandable that we don’t want to encourage such behaviour on television.
What’s it like having the legendary Cloris Leachman playing your grandmother?
She is an unbelievable actress and woman. So much fun. This is a woman who ate actual shaving cream. If there is a joke to be had, nothing will stop her. We had a scene where she is asleep and we are grooming her in the middle of the night as it’s the only time she will let us. I’m shaving her legs and then she sort of pops up awake and we all hide underneath the bed. This is entirely improvised by Cloris – she took some of this actual shaving cream, it was not whipped cream and just ate it. And she did it for three takes.
What feedback have you had from fans?
So far it’s been really great. I’m very happy. My friends are not a particularly friendly bunch and not one of them has told me they hate it, which is really impressive as they can be pretty brutal with their opinions. So it’s all been positive and I’m very grateful for that.
Are you getting recognized more on the street because you’re on TV every week?
Yes, I am getting recognized more, which is to be expected, but I will say that when I’m in New York as you’ll never get noticed on the street in L.A. because no one walks anywhere here. But being in New York over the last hiatus, I would usually get someone screaming ‘Goonies!’ at me on the subway. This, of course, means I can’t escape as I’m in a carriage with them at the time. But this time I noticed people would walk by and say, ‘Awesome show. Love it.” and then keep on walking. To me, that is terrific high praise.