Mary-Louise Parker: Puffed Up For "Weeds" Finale

After eight years, the actress reveals the sadness in saying goodbye to Nancy Botwin.

By Scott Huver
|  Friday, Aug 24, 2012  |  Updated 3:18 PM CDT
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Actress Mary Louise Parker celebrates the Showtime "Weeds" 100th Episode on July 17, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

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There are only a few more episodes before “Weeds” goes up in smoke for good, and Mary-Louise Parker’s considered going out with her first real toke.

With Showtime’s long-running series about a pot-dealing suburban mom nearing the end of it’s eighth and final season, Parker reveals her conflicted feelings about the finale, her son’s unique idea of a way to keep the show on the air,  the love and respect she has for working in television and how she’s mulling an apropos celebration of the last episode.

Do you love the television format? And did you feel that way coming into the show?

I do, I love it. And I did [feel that way]. I'd done "West Wing." That was the only other television that I'd done and I mostly always only liked theater because I feel like movies, if there's any kind of a budget whatsoever there's so much sitting and I really like to work. My blood sugar, otherwise it just drops, like six hours sitting in a camper and I'd rather work. I'm there to work and collaborate. So movies to me are not my favorite.

You and Justin Kirk have worked together for a while. What do you enjoy about that?

I just love him. I think he's a completely underrated actor, and I think he sort of belies his own talent because he works so hard and he makes it look so easy. He comes to work to work. He wants to do it and he'll keep going, and that's my kind of actor.

Any tips for him as he goes off to lead his own show, "Animal Practice"?

‘Come back to me!’

What can you hint about what we can expect to see with Nancy as the end draws nearer? Is she going to hand over her pot growing business to someone else?

Well, not necessarily. I feel like it becomes more in the end about the journey of the family. That's a good question, but I feel like it becomes more about the family and the way that Jenji [Kohan] tied it together. I think she did it. I wasn't expecting that as the finale at all, but I really love it.

What kind of role will you look for in your next show?

I just had a meeting with one of the networks and they asked me what I wanted to do and I said, 'I just want to do a TV show and I want to do it right now,' because I'm so sad about this ending. I like controversy. I like things that are extreme.

One of the broadcast networks?

Yeah. I've met with a few networks. I just like good writing. I'll play anything, and that's why when I did this, I remember that there were people who said to me, 'You're doing a show on Showtime? Why?' I just liked the part and I liked her writing, and I would do it anywhere.

How do you feel about Nancy now that the show is over and you've seen the journey that you two have gone on together?

I've always felt connected to her, and it's just sad. I feel like I cry at work every day. It's hard. It's eight years. It's my son's entire life.

Is part of taking a new gig right away something to help you get through grieving process of the show ending?

Yes! [meekly] Maybe. But I haven't found one yet. I really want to. I was really sad that it ended, but things do have to end at some point, I guess. I'm still mad. My son said, 'If I used all my allowance would do they one more season?' I said, 'Honey, I don't know, but here's [Showtime president] David Nevins’ phone number.'

Did he say that because you seemed sad?

HE was sad! He said, 'Why aren't we?' And we're still going to see Hunter [Parrish], aren’t we?' – because Hunter comes to our house every Thanksgiving and we're very close. 'Yeah, we're still going to be close.'

What about the final night, will you guys get stoned or drunk?

I've actually never smoked pot. I've done that thing that's like a Listerine slip, that you stick at the top of your [mouth]. I did that the night my father died because I honestly would've done anything, but I've never smoked it. I said, 'Hunter, maybe the last night…’ Like, now at the age of 48 I should start smoking pot. I'm going to be really sad, and so I might. I might do it.

Have the fans of the show tried to slip you –

Oh, all the time! I went to see the musical 'Fela!' on Broadway and at the curtain call someone came up and handed me a bag. I want to be gracious. I just pass it along. It's nice when people are so generous.

I imagine that you'd get some weird fans from playing such an extreme character, right?

Yeah. It's funny because sometimes people look so conservative to me and they say that they love the show and I find that really surprising. All sorts of people have responded to it.

Any politicians?

Well, you know, former President Clinton told me that he liked it and he watched it. I don't know if the current president watches it. But no other politicians.

Do you think you opened the door to a new kind of female protagonists by playing this character on television?

I think that Jenji did by writing this character. I mean, if I fulfilled it, I hope so. It was one of the first ones like that. Then they started writing a lot of women that had deep problems and deep inner conflict and that's more fun to play, but Jenji wrote it.

There's always talk of a movie when a cult show like this ends…

Jenji said she would do it if they would do it. I would do a spin-off. I would move it to another network. I'd use my son's allowance.

How much longer would you have continued to do the series if it were up to you?

I would've kept doing it until I couldn't wear those cutoffs anymore, really. As long as everyone wanted to do it. Like, I did a play on Broadway once for a year and I stopped doing it because I felt like I wasn't as good anymore. If I felt like I couldn't give to it anymore and I didn't have any more ideas, then I would have stopped. But otherwise, if Jenji wanted to keep going I would've kept going, absolutely.

How many cartons of ice cream in her lifetime?

Per day, like four. But it's the way…I found myself holding it the way that I have her hold it, the other day. I was like, 'This is really starting to seep into my personality.'

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