For 11 seasons Jane Leeves portrayed the quirky and loveable Daphne Moon on Frasier. These days she's showing a different side as Joy Scroggs, the bitter, former "Eyebrow Queen of Beverly Hills" in Hot in Cleveland.
Now in its third season, Hot in Cleveland, also starring Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, and Betty White, has become TV Land's most successful series since the network launched 15 years ago. Leeves admits it's been a real gift and says she feels the same camaraderie she was fortunate to find on Frasier.
If you spend just a few minutes with Leeves, you quickly realize that the native of England is nothing like Joy. As a wife and mother of two, Leeves is charming and witty and makes it clear that she doesn't buy into the Hollywood scene, especially when it comes to plastic surgery.
I spoke with Leeves as she was driving to the studio on what she called the "dreaded" 101 Freeway. However, she made sure to tell me she was hands-free! Although she was eager to discuss her views on aging, she was also candid on her thoughts on her marriage, the gay community, and, of course, Hot in Cleveland.
You called right on time! I love a punctual superstar!
Oh, yeah... yes, Superstar, that's me.
Congratulations on the continued success of Hot in Cleveland. What can we expect from season 3?
Wow! There's a lot going on. Victoria [Wendie Malick] is trying to mine everything she can out of this gay marriage between her and I. So, that will boil over eventually. We will go on a gay cruise, which is a lot of fun. The wonderful John Mahoney is back for three episodes. He's playing Elka's [Betty White] love interest, but he has some issues that we discover. There is a wonderful episode with Sean Hayes where we find out what's going on with John's character.
And Sean is one of the executive producers of the show.
He is, so we didn't have to twist his arm too hard. He plays a hand model.
You once called Joy a "cynical old bag." Is she?
I would say she's more than cynical. She's damaged. She's never had a successful relationship in her life. She's desperate, I think. She's desperate for love, and she looks for it in all the wrong places.
Have you ever been desperate for love?
I think I was desperate for children. Let me put it that way. Before I met my husband, I was just about to look into adoption. It was John Mahoney who said to me actually, "Don't. Wait. Wait. Maybe in a year you'll meet someone and be married." He was right. I was.
How did you meet your husband, Marshall Coben?
We met at the Paramount Christmas party. It was the Wings/Frasier Christmas party. He was the executive for Wings, among other shows.
And this year it's 15 years. What's your secret?
I married the right guy. I love him to death. He's my best friend, and he's really cute, too. I think the fact that I have a successful marriage is because I wasn't looking for a relationship. My life was on track. I was doing what I loved. I think that's an attractive package right there. I wasn't desperate like Joy. I sat back and relaxed. I said, "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I have a fantastic career, and I can adopt some kids."
Getting back to the show, have you ever been to Cleveland?
Yes. I think it was May last year, and we received the keys to city of Cleveland. I haven't figured out what it opens yet. I have a key, but I have to go back and find out if it actually opens anything! What perks come with it?
Maybe you can get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at any time of the day.
We did that! It was on the day they had just received Lady Gaga's meat dress.
Then what more do you want?
Really? What more could I ask for?
You have been outspoken about aging in Hollywood. Earlier this year you turned 50. What's the best part about aging?
I think the comfort that comes with age. You don't sweat the small stuff anymore. I think you become more comfortable with yourself as a human being and with your sexuality, as well. I think you look more attractive to people than an insecure person.
What is something you used to worry about that no longer causes you as much stress?
I think you worry about your appearance more when you're younger. I have a uniform now. It's my white t-shirt and my jeans. That works for me. I don't have time to worry about looking cool. I used to wear makeup all the time when I was younger. Now I go out and I don't care. When people come up to me and say, "Aren't you--," I go, "Oh, no, she's much prettier!"
Would you ever consider having work done?
Oh, I would never do surgery. I don't think you look any younger. You just look like you've had work done. You could be 35 or 95. I mean, I have said, "Well maybe if this wasn't sagging..." My husband says, "Honey, don't touch it!" I keep wondering who is going to be playing those older lady roles in the future if everybody starts looking the same.
There will be no Betty Whites!
No, and I want to be Betty White when I grow up!
Speaking of Betty, you once said she has the "filthiest mouth." Can you recall a joke she's said that's been dirty?
It's not so much that they are dirty. She is a fan of the double entendre. She always has the crew in stitches with her sassy way.
How do you keep a straight face?
I'm impressed by your determination. At 21 you packed a suitcase and headed to LA with a $1,000 in your pocket. Where did your confidence come from?
I think that's something you're born with. You're lucky enough at a young age to find your calling. Nobody tells you that you can't do it. If you talk to anyone successful, they always believed they were going to be successful. From Obama to Donald Trump to Steve Jobs. I bet they would say, "Yeah, I knew I was going to be successful."
Who are your inspirations?
I admire my mother. She raised four kids and worked and had no help. I loved bold actors like Peter O'Toole. I always looked up to him because he was just so out there in his performance. You just never knew what he was going to do. I've always adored Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury, too. I always loved Angela Lansbury. I thought, "Now that's a career that I would like!"
Speaking of inspirations, the gay community loves Hot in Cleveland.
Oh good! That's fantastic!
Why do you think they've gravitated to the show?
I really don't know. I think maybe it's because we are unapologetic characters. We are proud of who we are. We own who we are. That's something that the gay community appreciates.
When you aren't working, what do you do for fun?
I don't really have much time for fun. My work is my fun, actually. We live at the beach. So, I spend time at the beach with my husband and my kids. I have a little workout room at the top of the stairs, where I watch all my shows that my husband won't let me watch.
Things like Oprah and all those home decorating shows. I love House Hunters International. I love to see how people in other countries live.
Finally, what has been your favorite Hot in Cleveland episode thus far?
For me it was when I was pretending to be 26 years old while dating a blind guy. He was 22. I had to learn how to speak like a 26 year old, and that was a lot of fun. Joe Jonas was on the show, so I asked him to show me a few moves. It was so silly and fun.
Catch Hot in Cleveland Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET / 9 p.m. CT on TV Land.