Annie Potts found inspiration for the look of her character, Meemaw, on the hit CBS comedy “Young Sheldon” from one of the biggest guest stars she worked with on “Designing Women”: Dolly Parton. As she explains in our exclusive video interview (watch above), Connie Tucker may be a grandmother but she is not ready for a rocking chair just yet. She thinks the tough-talking Texan would have modeled herself on Parton who was starring in “Steel Magnolias” in 1989, the year that this prequel to “The Big Bang Theory” is set.
To get a sense of who Meemaw was to Sheldon (played by Iain Armitage as a boy and Jim Parsons as a man), the actress binged on “Big Bang.” But as she explains, “all of that is just a departure point.” She does not feel constrained by his memories or by the performance of Oscar nominee June Squibb (“Nebraska”) who guested as the elderly version of her character in 2016.
For Potts, it always comes down to what is on the page. She readily admits that she responded to this role, much as she had when she first read “Ghostbusters” and “Designing Women.” As she recalls, “they sent me the pilot, which was sweet, funny and tender” and the first three scripts. She was particularly intrigued by the idea of working with Chuck Lorre, the current king of the three-camera sitcom, on a different kind of series.
“I think a one-camera show is a wonderful new territory for him. They are loving it, the challenge of doing something so different.” She credits showrunner Steven Molaro with explaining the difference between the two series so succinctly. “On ‘Big Bang’ he is looking for the joke while on ‘Young Sheldon’ he is looking for the moment.”
“Designing Women,” which ran for seven seasons, certainly had its share of both jokes and moments, But Potts notes it was not an Emmy favorite. Indeed, Delta Burke was the only one of the four leading ladies to ever reap a bid. Potts would have to wait until her next series, “Love and War,” before she was nominated. While she, like Burke, lost to “Murphy Brown” star Candice Bergen, this TV veteran has fond memories of that 1994 Emmy ceremony.
Do you think Potts will be in contention again at this year’s Emmys?
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