Behind The Scenes of Imaginary Mary #ImaginaryMary

There’s a new comedy on television! We have an exclusive interview for a sneak peek. Disney & ABC invited me out to LA to interview the cast and crew of Imaginary Mary. All opinions are my own. Travel and accommodations were covered.

Behind The Scenes of Imaginary Mary #ImaginaryMary

Photo Credit: ABC/Bob D’Amico

We screened the first episode of Imaginary Mary called The Mom Seal. Imaginary Mary stars Jenna Elfman (as Alice) and Stephen Schneider (as Ben).

If you are a mom like me, you will see how much you can relate to Alice! As I watched the episode, it reminded me of my life before my family, my son and my husband. Remember single life? Remember all the freedom you had? When you look back, do you see how selfish you could be? Your world revolved around your own schedule! Yes, I remember my life too. Do I miss it? Of course, I do, but I also love my life as a mom and wife.

Imaginary Mary is the perfect show for the modern woman. The new mom. The newly single woman. No matter your circumstance, you will enjoy watching Imaginary Mary.

Our interview includes Executive Producers David Guarascio and Doug Robinson as well as the Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider.

Imaginary Mary Stars and Exec Producers

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com

So where did the idea for Imaginary Mary come from? How was the cast chosen?

Executive Producer Doug Robinson said he “always wanted to do a show about somebody who has an imaginary friend.” He then brought in David Guarascio to collaborate.

Imaginary Mary centers around a “divorced dad with kids who starts dating Alice, a single career woman who really did not plan to have family in her life.”

As for Jenna Elfman, she told her agents, “I’m not doing another network show. Don’t even bring it to me. Don’t bring any network shows, because I’d just become so frustrated with my experiences in the last several years with network television. But it hadn’t been on ABC. I hadn’t been on ABC since Dharma and Greg. ABC is actually doing well with their comedies and then this came to me- network show that actually films in Vancouver, Canada. I was like, GUYS!!”

Jenna Elfman

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com

Jenna Elfman further explains how she got involved, “I read it and went, oh, that’s just so interesting because I love that there’s the romantic part as the leading lady, and then the fish out of water aspect with the kids, because she’s just, has no point of reference for dealing with children at all, and has no plan for it, and has a negative point of reference of childrearing. And then she’s super accomplished; she’s a woman on her own, which I liked, and then as an actor dealing with comedy, I have to now also deal with something that doesn’t exist but that I see, but that they don’t see, and then do physical comedy, and fish out of water, and it was just like, oh my god, that’s, like, a lot of balls to juggle.

And I felt like it’s like I can take that on, and it felt like the next new level of challenge for me. And then everyone involved is so great, and I was like, it was really hard to say no to. I just couldn’t find a reason not to do it, so that’s how I came into it.

Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider are hilarious. You can tell they have a great friendship and get along great on and off camera.

Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com

As for Stephen Schneider, we learned how he was cast for the part of Ben.

“Nobody else would take the part and I still had to audition twenty times for the role. But I had just become a dad myself, and I’ve never played a father on TV.”

He goes on to say “it’s a very cool challenge to have- to be able to, to have the insanity of juggling three children. I mean, kids are crazy and just one is a lot, but imagining, having to deal with three? I thought it would be a fun experience to basically get me to get a vasectomy. That’s where I’m going after this.”

Ben asking Alice to meet the kids

Photo Credit: ABC/Dean Buscher

 

Question: Jenna, how much do you bring to your character. [Alice is quirky] and I was just wondering how much that is the character and how much is that you?

Jenna Elfman: I thought it was fun to play something in terms of, she’s super not a mom and has no idea what she’s doing, and I really, I mean, as much as us mothers do know what we’re doing, we feel like we have no idea what we’re doing, and we also feel like, I got this, depending on the day and depending on how much sleep your kid has had- or sugar they had the day before. I thought it was fun because I had a conversation with myself of like, okay, how am I gonna play someone who doesn’t know anything about this when I’ve been doing this for nine and a half years, like, in real life.

My character [is all about] the “me-ness” like me, me, me, me, me down, and she’s in a really high operating level, being an only one, and as a mother, you lose all that. That’s the whole thing. It’s like you make that sacrifice as a woman when you have children. And, that’s our eternal struggles just like have a flippin’ Sunday on the couch which we never get to have [time alone], or go to bed at seven when you’re really tired.

It never gets to happen. So, I was like, oh, that? I’m just gonna go fully forward into luxuriating in the selfishness of being me as a girl, and it’s like a vacation in a way playing this role, because she doesn’t have to sacrifice anything. She’s got time and sleep and money, and so much “me” time in her life.

So I just sort of did that and then the more selfish you’re being, when the kids come in with all their problems, you’re just like, what? You know, and I just sort of use that to hook into that.

 

Question: I love all the accessories you wear and the constant change of earrings.

Jenna Elfman: It’s all about, about the earrings.

 

Question: So I just wanted to say, do you ever find yourself talking to Mary outside of work?

Jenna Elfman: No, because my kids are always talking to me. I can’t even hear my own thoughts, it’s just Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama…

I’ll be up at 3:30 in the morning to get to work at 5:00, and then do a fifteen/sixteen hour day, and sometimes come home, and then the kids are up late or something, then I’d have to put them to bed at 9:00/9:30.

Jenna Elfman Talks Imaginary Mary

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com

Executive Producers David Guarascio and Doug Robinson, Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider were in the theater with us when we screened the episode! I was surprised!

 

Question: What are you hoping the audience takes away from the show?

Jenna Elfman: Laughter, joy and entertainment, and feeling better about the lives they’re living. That’s all, personally, I just wanna make people have relief, you know? We’re all in this together. We know how hard it is. Life’s freakin’ hard and I want people to watch the show and what you guys — that laughter- me sitting here listening to you guys laugh and react, that’s everything to me. That’s why I do it because it removes you from the stresses of life for that moment. And in those moments, you rehabilitate a little more life juice to go on, and that’s all I want to do for people.

Question: Are we gonna see more physical comedy as [the show] keeps going?

Jenna Elfman: Yes, please.

Doug Robinson: Well, yes they’re so both great at it, so we try and find moments for whoever we can. That’s definitely- the physical aspect of Mary and Alice’s relationship but particular is something we keep building on through future episodes and try to make it a unique part of our show.

Imaginary Mary kids on the show

Photo Credit: ABC/Dean Buscher

 

Question: How did you guys get such great chemistry? You do have exceptional chemistry- with the kids, too. How did you can tell there’s such a relatability piece to it that, like, you as their dad, and you coming in, was there any tricks?

Jenna Elfman: We all are just decent human beings with not a lot of neuroses and weird baggage that we’re dramatizing everywhere. Everyone’s just really hardworking and cool.

Stephen Schneider: We don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Jenna Elfman: And so that allows us to connect.

Stephen Schneider: It’s especially nerve-wracking for kids when they come on a show because they don’t know, it’s oftentimes it’s the first thing that they’ve done; the big thing that they’ve done, and they’re very nervous about it.

Jenna Elfman: It’s a really safe environment.

Stephen Schneider: It also helped that we were in Vancouver. We didn’t know anybody there. I mean, we just had our families and the people that we were working with.

Nicholas Coombe plays my son, he’s twenty-one in real life.

Jenna Elfman: And he’s Australian.

Stephen Schneider: The little girl, Bunny, is in her forties.

Jenna Elfman: CGI.

Stephen Schneider: Yeah, that’s CGI, so.

Jenna Elfman: We’ll be passing out her dermatologist’s number afterward.

Imaginary Mary brother and sister on the show

Photo Credit: ABC/Dean Buscher

Stephen Schneider: The thing is they were all really nice people; really nice kids, and we tried to go- oh, we actually tried to act like their parents, in a way and just like make it very…

Jenna Elfman: We were shepherding them and educating them as to, experiences.

Stephen Schneider: But I do think it trickles down from the top. This producing team is so nice and good human beings, and they’re not…dicks; they’re not jerks, they’re not…that happens!… and these guys are just so sweet, and so open. From the top down, when you create that kind of atmosphere, we- everybody feels it.

Jenna Elfman: No, it is rare. It’s rare. We’ve done this enough. It’s rare.

 

Mary

Photo Credit: ABC/Dean Buscher

 

Question: As far as the imaginary character, who came up with the design, and how did you decide on what the character would look like?

Doug Robinson: Our co-creator, Patrick Osborne, who’s also an animator, he really came up with the design and sort of just worked with us about what she would look like, and he wanted to do something that was loveable-looking particularly because an important part of Mary’s character is that she’s not always saying the right thing. She is a defender of, in a very important way, of Alice’s independent streak and her sort of like feminist side, so to speak.

So we felt like we could get away with Mary saying more of what she shouldn’t say if- the cuter she looked. So, he just wanted to make sure she sort of had that appeal was his big- she needs to be appealing. And so it was hard. We had a lot of different concepts and worked to- over time and shot a pilot with one aspect, and kept tweaking it until we finally came to the current look. So really it just came from his brain.

David Guarascio: We completely changed her between the pilot and the series. We redesigned her just because we found that certain things worked, and certain things didn’t work, and we sort of just made her rounder and cuter, and just kept refining her the whole time. It was great.

Imaginary Mary poster

Photo Credit: Lester Cohen/Getty Images for Sony Pictures Television

 

Question: How is that done? Is the animation done after the live is done, and then you guys just drop that in there?

Jenna Elfman: So just the lines are there and then…

David Guarascio: Like Jenna said, we have a person [do that]. When we did the pilot, we had no one read it- Shawn Levy actually would jump on a table and act out Mary, or jump up on a barstool and a lot of energy of Mary and it was really great to see. He brought so much energy to the character and Jenna and Shawn just rift together really well. Shawn would be down there dancing in the bar scene; it was fantastic, and we just like to blackmail him with the footage every once in awhile.

It was great to watch and sort of evolved- it became a process. The hardest thing – believe it or not, was actually finding the voice of Mary. It took a really long time, and we just read a lot of people; we listened to a lot of people blind, and when we listened to Rachel Dratch, we didn’t know it was Rachel. We just sort of just were listening to people, and watching the picture, and then that all came together and, like, that one. That sounds great and it was a really interesting process, unlike maybe a pilot that we’ve ever done.

 

Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider on playing the characters

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com

 

Question: What’s your favorite part of playing these characters?

Jenna Elfman: I love, I just love the sensation of the dynamic with the other characters. It gives me a lot of sensation. I feel really alive when I’m acting with him and the kids and the humor, and the warmth, and the awkward. There’s all these fun elements that just make me feel really- I like the way it makes me feel. I like being at work and we love working. It’s just fun.

Stephen Schneider: I also like the ability to play a single dad. You don’t see that a ton on TV, a good guy that’s just trying to do the best for his kids and have custody of his kids so it’s cool to play that and hopefully it brings some humor and reality to that.

Imaginary Mary group photo

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright/LovebugsAndPostcards.com

Imaginary Mary premieres tonight at 9:30pm EST on ABC with The Mom Seal.

You can find Imaginary Mary on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Connect with Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider on Twitter.

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About Admin

Stephanie is a wife and mom. She has been married for over twelve years and started blogging shortly after getting married. When not blogging at Beauty Brite, she can be found spending time with her husband and son, catching up on Netflix, or working out. Feel free to contact Stephanie for more information on how she can help your company.

Comments

  1. Betsy Barnes says:

    This looks like a really fun show! I’m definitely going to give it a go!

  2. I’m always amazed at how much thought and planning and execution goes on behind the scenes, esp when the results seem so effortless. I wouldn’t be surprised if this show is a big hit, you can relate to it! I want to see it!

  3. tat2gurlzrock says:

    I haven’t heard of this before today. Looks like something I would enjoy!

  4. I’m looking forward to the premiere! Great interview!

  5. accontests6 says:

    Have this show recorded on my DVR. Can’t wait to watch it.

  6. Hannah C says:

    This looks like a great show! I haven’t heard of it before, but I’d like to see it!

  7. I have never heard of this show.

  8. Chrissy says:

    I have never heard of this show before reading this but I love Jenna Elfman so my curiosity is totally piqued! Thanks!

  9. Darcy Koch says:

    I watched this show one time to see if I liked it enough to continue watching. Although I like the main character, the premise of the show seemed not true to life.

  10. This show looks perfect for me!

  11. Anothervgreat Disney show,there’s all kinds of fun to be had

  12. When I first started reading your review I was thinking “imaginary Mary” this is so not for me, but as I continued to read I found I was very wrong. I love any shows that portray women as strong and independent, but I like how this show shows that it is ok to have both. I love the idea of a single dad raising kids that is something we don’t see often in the tv world and there are more and more “non-traditional” families out there. I can honestly say I think I might enjoy this even if there are no kids in the room lol.

    • When I saw the title of the show, I thought the same thing. “Oh great, this should be interest…” But really, the show is too funny!

  13. Darcy Koch says:

    I watched this show one time and knew it wasn’t for me.

  14. I have always liked Jenna Elfman and I saw the pilot and it was cute but some of the other shows haven’t been as good.

  15. Kelly Kimmell says:

    It looks like a really fun and entertaining show!

  16. Funny and great read about this interview. I have watched a couple episodes of so far and this show is so funny and entertaining. Love it.

  17. I would like to try and sit down and watch this. Hopefully I like it haha.

  18. Good interview. I always enjoy Jenna

  19. Suzanne Leavitt says:

    fantastic interview. I will watch.

  20. Michelle s says:

    I have never heard of this before, but the interview gave me some insight. It’s cute and family friendly plus seems clean for everyone.

  21. I gave this show a shot but didn’t like it.

  22. Betsy Barnes says:

    I love Jenna, especially in Dharma and Greg!

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