Andrea Anders has been doing strong sitcom work for years. The problem is that not enough viewers have noticed, since none of her shows have made it as far as a third season.
The unlucky streak began in 2004, when she was cast as Matt LeBlanc’s love interest — a role she would later take on in real life — in the Friends spinoff Joey. Two criminally underrated comedies, The Class and Better Off Ted, followed.
“I was at a party recently,” the good-natured Anders recalls. “There was a casting director who was retiring, so there were a lot of casting directors there at the party, and we got on this rant and started joking and laughing about how I was Two-Season Joe. … I told them, ‘If you want your show to run past two seasons, I wouldn’t put me in it.'”
The creators of Mr. Sunshine obviously weren’t listening. The series, which premieres Feb. 9 on ABC, stars Matthew Perry as the self-involved manager of a San Diego sports arena called The Sunshine Center. Anders plays his love interest — whose interest seems to be waning due to his noncommittal ways — but she was smitten by the idea of acting alongside another of her costars, Emmy winner Allison Janney.
The two actresses have had a couple of near encounters in the past, when then theater student Anders waited at the stage door after Janney’s Broadway performance in A View From the Bridge, then again on the Warner Bros. lot, where both Joey and Janney’s former series The West Wing were filmed. Both times, Anders was too nervous to speak.
“When I found out I was going to work with her, I thought, ‘Oh man, I hope I can come up with something to say. I’m so intimated by this woman. She’s such a powerhouse actress. I’m sure she’s one of these very serious thespians’ and whatever,” Anders says. “But she is my new favorite person. She is the most silly person I have ever met; it makes me love her all the more.”
Working with Perry has proved to be a pleasant experience — as well as a familiar one, given how much time Anders has spent with Perry’s former Friends costar LeBlanc.
“It’s interesting,” she says. “They’re funny, the two of them, because I spend so much time with Matthew, and then I’ll tell Matt that, ‘Oh, Matthew did this’ and ‘Matthew did that,” or vice versa. And they know each other so well that they’ll cop to, ‘Oh, I stole that from Matt’ or ‘I stole that from Matthew.’ They kind of melded into one person after 10 years [together on Friends].”