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Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview that took place on July 9, 2014 with Andrea Martin from Working The Engels.

Working The Engels

Question:
How was your character originally described to you?

Andrea Martin:
As an overly protective, overbearing mama bear is how I remember it.

Question:
Have you added anything to her that wasn't originally scripted for you?

Andrea Martin:
I probably took away something. I think they originally wrote it maybe with a harder edge, or maybe much more narcissistic to the sake of being narcissistic and I probably softened that a bit and instead of being narcissistic, I wanted her to kind of live through her kids. So, they became her focus, as opposed to her becoming her own focus.

Question:
Since you are a part of Twitter, are you looking forward to the instant fan feedback you'll be receiving, once the episodes begin airing?

Andrea Martin:
I don't know, I haven't experienced that before. I'm in Portugal right now, so it's kind of surreal to have a show premiere and me be in Lisbon and I don't quite know how it's all going to work, but I'm happy for any attention.

Question:
What was about this character that made you want to play her?

Andrea Martin:
I identified with being a mom of two grown kids and I have two sons, they're 31 and 33. So, I really understood the pitfalls of being a mother with two grown sons and still trying to be in their life, or enabling them, or being way too consumed about their lives when they're grown men. So, I thought it was relatable, and also I thought I could make that funny, because I understood it.

Question:
What did you find to be the most challenging thing about making the series?

Andrea Martin:
This is kind of pathetic, but I guess the hours, because this is single camera and we shot it in Toronto. And we shot it during the winter, so the hours were extremely long, like 5:00 a.m. calls, and kind of like 11 o'clock, we'd be home and you would have to drive through the snow to get home.

I think the schedule was challenging. But once I got on the set, I just was voracious. I love that kind closed set and I love the cast and huge creative outpourings because it was just so kind of isolated in Toronto; there were no distractions. So, on one hand, it took a long time to commute, but on the other hand it made for a very spontaneous comedy because there were very few distractions.

Question:
Given your background, how tough is it for you not to want to like rewrite some of your lines? Or do you do you get to pitch in? And how much is scripted and how much is adlib?

Andrea Martin:
Probably 90 percent was scripted and 10 percent was adlibs when the cameras were on. But I would say, there was an enormous amount of collaboration before we started filming. We do a table read. And then I might say, ???I don't understand something, or maybe we could do this and maybe we can change this a bit.??? And, so I kind of knew going in, that I had been listened to, and we'd all been listened to and maybe changes have been made, so it did feel very free and collaborative.

Question:
The family dynamics, did you guys do anything off-set to kind of get that bond? Or was it all through the table reads?

Andrea Martin:
That was an insanely quick sense of intimacy with these kids and me. We had one dinner party, and then we did a table read, and then I think we had another little dinner, the producers threw for everybody creatively involved. I just think it was very instant chemistry, and everybody comments on that it seems like we've known each other for a long time or it does seem like a family. And it really felt like that immediately; sometimes that happens. I don't know if it's because it was in Canada, but it did feel really smooth and trusting, I guess, from the very beginning.

Question:
How much did Working the Engels feel like coming full circle for you, having have it started out with SCTV here in Toronto?

Andrea Martin:
It did feel completely full circle, because we were actually shooting the series maybe five minutes away from the studio that we shot SCTV in, and it was Toronto, and I have a house in the same place, same area, that I used to have a house in doing SCTV, so the route to work was the same. So, it was kind of like a flashback, a kind of surreal flashback.

However, once we were on the set, it seemed really different, because it was a single camera, and we shot SCTV with four cameras. It was just because we were writing and acting and everything, where we used to do a scene, look at the monitor, corrected ourselves, go back, do it again. So, that was really strange, and not being able to see myself and go back and when we do something, or try to make it funnier. It was really shot like a film, and in that way it had changed, but there was a lot of familiarity for sure.

Question:
Shooting a series that's originally meant for Canadian television, but then sold to the states. Does it feel this time around? Does the climate in terms of having a series shot abroad, even if it is Canada, and then sold in the states, does it feel different? Does it feel the same, a generation later?

Andrea Martin:
You know there's a huge difference, obviously, shooting something in Toronto, as opposed to New York or L.A. where I'd shot other series. There's just really no distractions; it's all about the work. And in that way it's fabulous. That's how we shot SCTV. We were really isolated from media or networks. We had a little bit more freedom obviously. It was really just about the work, and really, there's nothing better than that. The fact that this is actually how SCTV was done too, we shot it in Canada, not thinking it was going to be on NBC, and then it was on NBC. Gosh, isn't that something? NBC?

Question:
You have a great comedic timing. Is it something that's natural to you? Or is it something you've worked at home?

Andrea Martin:
I think that my timing is natural. I think it's really hard to teach timing. I think people can be funny, for sure. Beautiful actors who have only done drama can be funny, and that depends on the material. But I think you're born with it actually.

Question:
What do you think it is about ???Working the Engels??? that will make it a fan favorite show?

Andrea Martin:
I think it's a fabulously, cozy, intimate, fun, broad, sometimes, it's physically comedic, other times, I think relatable between the mom and the kids, at other times, and I think it's a wonderful way to spend an evening in the summertime. I think it's relatable, approachable, light, and funny. So, I hope people will feel the same way.

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