Sara Rue talks Reba, “method” babies, and MALIBU COUNTRY

You all recognize Sara Rue from her multiple roles throughout the years on some of the best shows on TV – POPULAR, anyone?  And I will always remember her on PHENOM because that show was incredible!  This season, she’s spending her time as neighbor to Reba on ABC’s new comedy MALIBU COUNTRY.  Rue plays Kim, the bubbly and inviting next to neighbor to Reba’s Malibu beach house, and every week, manages to insert herself and her opinions in Reba’s life. I spent time chatting with Sara about the role of Kim, why she wanted to be involved, working with Reba and Lily Tomlin, and what’s coming up next!

What was it about MALIBU COUNTRY that you really wanted to be involved?
Well, start off the fact that it was Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin were both involved by the time that they were calling me to possibly come on board.  I just thought working with those two women was such an opportunity, how could I pass that up.  On top of it, just from a selfish actor point of view, the character was so much fun.  I’ve never played a character like this.  Kim is sort of like a woman who has never had a job, and doesn’t really want one, or need one [laughs], gets to wear silly clothes.  It’s just so far from, one, who I am as a person, and 2, anything I’ve done as an actor before.  That’s always something that I’m looking for as an actor, to try and play new things and stretch, try out different stuff, so when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t turn it down.

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I love how Kim can say anything, and gets away with saying whatever she wants!
It’s such a California thing!  When I first moved from New York, I was kind of appalled by the things people would tell me right away about themselves.  I would know their childhood history before I knew their last name.  I love that Kim is such an over-sharer.  She has no filter.  That’s so fun to play.  As a normal human being [laughs], you probably have a filter, you have to pick and choose your words carefully, and you don’t want to upset people.  God, if I spend a fourth of the time that Kim did being free and just saying what I thought, I would be in so much trouble. [laughs]  I think it’s fun to play a character who can really say whatever she wants.  Because there’s nothing malicious about her, ever.  She never means any harm, just the way it is in her world, it’s really fun to do as an actor, because there are no boundaries with her.

You mentioned of course, Reba and Lily Tomlin – what’s it been like to come on set with these women we’ve kind of grown up with?
Oh it’s been great.  Reba, like, how many people can have one name, like 6 of them?  [laughs] Reba’s one of them!  She is such a country legend, and such a fabulous human being to spend your time with.  And Lily who has been a comedy idol of mine since I was very young.  I remember recording 9 TO 5 off of the TV and rewinding and playing it back and just thinking that she was a favorite.  It’s really a wonderful gift to be around these two ladies.  I’m pregnant and it’s such an important time in my life, and you want to be around kind people, you don’t want to be around any nasty and negative energy, so I’m really lucky to be able to go to work on this set.  It’s really a kind place to be.

What can you tease for us about what we’re going to see in this week’s episode and beyond?
Sure, in this upcoming one, there is a dynamic where my character is spending a lot of time with Reba’s daughter, June.  Taking her shopping and sort of influencing her.  June is becoming a little more like Kim than Reba would like, and so there’s a great dynamic where once again Kim doesn’t mean any harm; she just thinks it’s fun.  She doesn’t have a daughter of her own, and Reba feels a little jealous, maybe a little threatened, but also, Kim is doing things that are totally inappropriate [laughs], so that was a fun dynamic to play.  And then we shot a Christmas episode that I’m so excited about, that’s airing December 14.  Where Reba and Kim are sort of pitted against each other, they’re in competition, over a solo, for them to each sing.  That was really fun for me.  Terrifying, but also really fun, like okay, now I am at a table read, sitting next to Reba McEntire, and she’s singing, and now I’m about to thing.  It was a little intimidating.

Being on a set with Reba and Lily, I wondered if you were going to sing, too!
In my defense, it is the character singing, and not me, I want to be very clear! [laughs]  You’ll see what I mean when you see the episode.  You’ll understand why I want to make that distinction.

Was the character of Kim going to be pregnant, and life imitated art, or was it written in as a result?
I’m not that method [laughs]!  She was not supposed to be pregnant.  Someone else asked me that and I said, yes, the writers all impregnated me because they wanted to write it in!  She aws not supposed to be pregnant; my husband and I had been trying for a while.  I have one of those jobs, where when you’re pregnant, it sort of affects your job [laughs].  They were nothing but wonderful about it.  I went to our producers as soon as I could.  You want to wait until you’re out of the first trimester, and I went to them a little early, to tell them this was going on, do whatever you want – if you want to hide me, that’s fine.  They were very much like, I think this works great for a character, and luckily, she is a character that could easily be pregnant, and it’s funny.  I want them to write more about how she’s probably one of the last people that really should have a child of her own, because she’s so self involved, [laughs], which I think is hilarious.  I want them to write more to that, more about the vanities of getting pregnant, and losing your body, and feeling uncomfortable, and then also, she shouldn’t be teaching family values, so the idea of her having a child of her own is kind of terrifying [laughs].  I think there’s going to be more of that.  They’ve been great.  At first, I was covering up, because we were just launching.  You don’t want to just introduce a pregnancy in the second episode of a series, and it was airing out of order, so some episodes I’m 7 months pregnant, and some episodes I’m 4 months pregnant!  That’s the magic of TV; you just have to go with it!

Why do you think MALIBU COUNTRY is a show that people should be tuning into?
I don’t’ think there is any other good family sitcoms on the air.  We have LAST MAN STANDING and us, and it’s like a nice hour to sit down with whomever in your family.  My parents really like the show, and I think that’s really telling.  They genuinely enjoy it, they’re not sitting down with their kids; we’re both grown and we don’t live at home, but the fact that they genuinely enjoy it is a testament that it is for all age ranges.  You can watch it with your kids, you can watch it when you’re home alone.  There are not too many shows on the air that are family friendly and still adult enough to be entertaining.  I think it’s a nice balance, and I think the writers have worked hard to achieve it and I think they’ve done a really nice job!

MALIBU COUNTRY airs on Friday nights at 8:30/7:30c. For more information on the show, head to ABC’s site and find photos, episode recaps, and videos!