“First and foremost, I’m incredibly happy; but second and almost as foremost I’m already tired,” exclaims Minnie Driver on the news that “Speechless” has been picked up for a third season by ABC. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she adds, “I’m very well compensated, but they are 65-hour weeks. It’s junior doctor style. While we are not saving lives, they are really long days. It’s pretty full on. I’m a bit nervous but feeling good. We get to keep telling this family’s story.”
After a successful Willy Wonka inspired musical number this season, Driver reveals the upcoming plans for an entire musical episode: “We did a musical teaser to one of the episodes with full dancing choreography. It was my favorite thing I’ve done on television to date. I didn’t know how we’d pull it off. We rehearsed and shot it in one night. It was a long bloody Friday night. I remember sitting in my trailer thinking ‘there’s no way I’m gonna be able to dance and sing with no practice.’ But we did it. And they promised me we could do a musical episode if we got picked up for a third season. So I’m gonna have that written into my contract; probably not literally.”
Driver plays Maya DiMeo, the strong and determined matriarch of the ABC family comedy. She says Maya has taught her “about patience. And what it means to be a mother of three children, with no money and a child with disability.”
Maya’s eldest child, J. J., is played by Micah Fowler. Both J.J. and Fowler have cerebral palsy. Driver reflects that “diversity looks different. There are all kinds of diversity. Gender and ethnicity has been the main focus of diversity. I’d love to see people of disability included into that. ‘Speechless’ can further that conversation. A lot of the time it’s difficult to find actors with disabilities who have training and experience. I’d like to see that change. I’d like to see more actors with disabilities in the workplace because they’ve had the same training I was afforded. I don’t think it’s always available or easy for them.”
Driver thinks “the extraordinary humor around that subject matter is what makes the show stand out. There is levity and life and love and grace and humor and sharp, weird, funny stuff around this conversation. That makes the show very special. Because first and foremost it’s a bloody funny show.”
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