Time Out with THE MILLERS’ Nelson Franklin

Adam Miller is such a nerd, but not unlike any of the characters Nelson Franklin has played over the years – characters like Robby in New Girl and Nick in The Office.

Adam vs. Robby

When I talked with Franklin, he told me he thinks Adam is really a split between Robby and Nick, with Robby shouldering the most similarities. “Robby’s a really nice guy that doesn’t have any social skills, really smart, but super nerdy. He doesn’t have any coolness to him.

“Adam’s a vegan that grew up in sort of a hippie commune. He was raised this way, juicing and all that stuff. That sort of evolved because of the environment he grew up in. He’s also sort of fun, and he doesn’t take himself very seriously. And, he’s a hypochondriac with some weird conditions, also very insecure. He’s sort of nerdy and sort of all over the place. His self-esteem probably needs a little bit of work, though he is pretty daring when he does things like dancing and singing in front of everybody. He thinks he’s fun; he thinks he’s cool; and he loves his daughter. I think he’s come a long way from the commune.”

Episode Chatter

Franklin’s not a vegan in real life, nor is he a “juice-drinking grass munching sort of guy. But, he thinks Adam is an interesting mix that he plays “with sort of a deadpan, nonchalant sort of vibe.” And if he were writing the perfect “Adam” episode, Franklin told me, he’d write something between Adam and Ray (J.B. Smoove). “He and Ray just know each other superficially on the show,” he said.

One episode of the series stood out to Franklin this past season as his favorite – “Plus One” (Episode 17). In the episode, Nathan (Will Arnett) scored tickets to a dinner with President Obama and had to choose one of his family members as his “plus one.” Franklin said, “By some weird thing, Adam ended up elected in a survival-style voting system. And it was all sort of immediately rescinded. Nobody took him seriously. In the episode, though, Adam sort of stood up for himself for the first time and said something like, ‘You gotta stop treating me like this.’ Nothing changed, but he stood up for himself. I thought it was really funny.”

The Millers has also been pretty innovative in its episodes. In Episode 20, “Tomlandia,” which aired April 24, Nathan used Tom’s (Beau Bridges) imaginary children’s book to pitch a kids’ show to his boss. “It’s a Saturday, and we’re all trying to figure out what to do,” said Frankln, “The comic book becomes animated. It’s a super cool episode and very ambitious. An animator created this fantasy world on set and sort of built a show with puppets.”

While on Hiatus….

For the first time ever in his career, Franklin has a job to return to in the fall. He described this as “surprisingly freeing.” Though he does have the summer off, he is trying to work with an actor friend to write something (a movie) together that’s just in the beginning stages. “I’m going to enjoy this time,” he said. For the first time in his career, Franklin has also had to turn down work due to a committed acting schedule.

The Millers, which airs on Thursdays on CBS at 8:30 (following The Big Bang Theory) airs its Season Finale on May 15.