Maggie Lawson previews an all new BACK IN THE GAME

BACK IN THE GAME - ABC's "Back in the Game" stars Maggie Lawson as Terry Gannon, Jr.. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)

BACK IN THE GAME is back tonight at 8:30/7:30c with an all new episode that finds Terry looking for a job, desperately trying to get out from under The Cannon’s roof.  Dear old Dad then needs to help coach The Angles on the best ways to overcome the fear of being hit by a baseball.  To celebrate the launch of the show, and the character who seems on paper so much different than the Detective O’Hara we’ve known and loved, I spent some time chatting with one of our favorites, Maggie Lawson (Terry, Jr.), about BACK IN THE GAME – why this show, what comes next, and how she had to prepare for the role!

It’s hilarious to me that the first thing I noticed is that Terry wears shorts.  And I don’t think we’ve ever seen Juliet in shorts.
[laughs] It’s true, I don’t think she’s ever worn shorts!

What was it about Terry and the show that drew you to the show?
I think it’s character – that was the first thing I was drawn to.  I come from a family of athletes, so there was that element as well, that I was really interested in when I first read the script.  Seeing this character, I think she’s a really complicated, interesting, flawed, funny, vulnerable female lead which I don’t know if we see that often.  It was just really interesting, and then to meet the Cullens [creators Mark and Robb] and sort of hear their background, and their life, and how they came up with this idea, and I feel like my character in a lot of ways is a blend of those two brothers in the form of a girl.  I just thought it was a really interesting take – I loved them, I loved that the show was set in the world of baseball, and then of course James Caan [laughs]. 

And I liked that it was different than Juliet.  There is still a toughness.  Juliet is very tough, obviously.  I think there’s an innocence to Juliet that has sort of been beat out of Terry over the years.  I describe Juliet as calculated and very smart.  She knows how to keep her calm in a lot of situations.  Terry is a little bit more of a firecracker, and could probably take Juliet in a bar fight [laughs].  Juliet, in any other scenario, would probably kick her ass.  [laughs]  There is a bad ass quality to both of those characters that attracted me in very different ways.

And you mention the very unknown James Caan!

He hasn’t been in much – didn’t know the name.

JAMES CAAN, MAGGIE LAWSONHe was involved, or did you both come in together?  What was it like getting to meet him, and shooting the pilot with him?
Obviously, I was a bit nervous to meet him.  It was sort of the last step in the audition process, testing process, and I swear to you, he like stepped off the elevator, and we were instantly joking, and I was completely relaxed around him.  He has this way of making you feel like you’ve known him forever.  I literally felt like I had known him forever.  It was easy – there was never a moment of like, ahh, can I say this, is this awkward?  Am I acting too much like a crazy fan right now?  He was a total goof, and I’m a goof, so we just hit it off right away, and I just love him.  He’s the best.

Obviously different here – Terry has a son, so talk a little bit about working with Griffin (Gluck) and what’s that like, to approach that?
Griffin and I before we started shooting, we went out and played minigolf, and some laser tag – it was very similar in that it was sort of instantly, we were pals.  That I think for me is different from going – I went to TV mom not just having a baby, I have a ten year old.  In a way, it was sort of like, huh… I have nephews, they’re all under the age of 5, and in my head, it was like, this is different.  We’re sort of buds, he’s my pal.  And that made it really easy.  We had a dynamic like that from the get go, very similar to Terry and Danny.  That transition, I have to tip my hat to Griffin – he’s so easy to work with, and he’s so smart and so wonderful.  It all felt really easy and natural.

MAGGIE LAWSON, LENORA CRICHLOWWhat can you tease about what comes next?
So far, obviously, there’s this family dynamic that needs to be repaired and worked on, and we’re obviously going to see a lot of that, but also, my character, she was raised as a boy.  The Cannon sort of raised her as a boy, and when she went to college, she got pregnant, so she spent her 20s being a mom.  Now that she’s at home, and she’s in her 30s, and she does have The Cannon’s help, she is just getting to know herself for the first time as a woman.  She’s met this new friend, who is an expert when it comes to sort of getting out there, and being a woman, I should say, from heels to the life among all of the coaches on the team. She’s a flirt.  She’s going to help Terry sort of get out there again.  We’re going to get into my dating life pretty quick.  We’ll sort of see that, and with that comes all of the new challenges as well that The Cannon’s not too happy about, and I have a son, too, so there’s that dynamic of dating and how that’s going to work.  And then obviously the team!  We’re a few episodes in now, and we have sort of touched on all of these things.

JAMES CAANYou mentioned growing up around sports in your family – but to be great at baseball like Terry, did you have to go through any kind of training for the show?
I grew up playing softball, and I love it.  Both of my brothers played baseball, basketball, football, soccer, so I’ve been around sports my whole life.  Baseball is obviously very different than softball.  Mark Cullen is a coach; actually, Robb is, too. And they both played baseball, so they trained me themselves, and Mark sort of helped me with pitching.  It was sort of getting BACK IN THE GAME again [laughs].  I had a lot of help from them.  It is different.  Throwing a baseball is very different than throwing a softball.  Pitching is very different.  It feels really comfortable to be on a baseball field, and they’ve been so supportive of helping me look authentic.

For more info on BACK IN THE GAME, head to, and check out images from tonight’s all new episode, “Stay In or Bail Out,” in the gallery below (photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless!