Raising Hope Season 4: Cloris Leachman keeps Maw Maw kicking
Cloris Leachman has worked in show business since the 1940s, won an Oscar in 1972 and took home a record eight Primetime Emmys. After decades of success on stage and screen, the 87-year-old Leachman has finally found a role worthy of her esteemed stature.
“Usually I have to take off my pants and sit in the toilet or take off my top and go outside,” Leachman laughs. “You know, it’s one or the other.”
For the past three seasons of FOX’s comedy Raising Hope, Leachman has played elderly matriarch Maw Maw, complete with unrestrained bodily functions, wild bouts of dementia and tales of randy escapades. Leachman doesn’t embarrass easily, but the writers can still come up with things that make her blush. “But I just do it,” she says, “because it’s Maw Maw who’s doing it, really. It’s not me.”
Maw Maw’s popularity resulted in an expanded role for the character, who has become generally more lucid since Season 1, yet still finds plenty of opportunities to rail against the expanding Empire of Japan or attempt to tunnel out of her bedroom.
“The second year, [creator Greg Garcia] said, ‘This year, you’re not going to have so much dementia.’ I said, ‘Oh. All right.’ And I didn’t quite know what that meant, and I still don’t. But I’m dealing with it.”
Some big changes are coming to Raising Hope in Season 4, with the show moving to Fridays beginning Nov. 15 — back-to-back new episodes air each week — and writer/executive producer Mike Mariano taking over showrunner duties for Garcia. But fans of the show will be pleased to know that the show, its characters and its cast remain in good hands.
“I feel like Mike really has a good feel for the show and a good hand on the backs of everybody,” Leachman says. “I think we all feel very cared for and not forgotten. We’re doing awfully well, I think.”
In Season 4, newlyweds Jimmy (Lucas Neff) and Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) face the challenges of living on their own and caring for Jimmy’s daughter Hope, who is now entering preschool. This leaves something of a void in the house for Jimmy’s parents Virginia (Martha Plimpton) and Burt (Garret Dillahunt). With an empty nest, will Virginia and Burt give Maw Maw a little more attention?
“I don’t think so,” Leachman says. “I think they all have very much to do. I think I’m just in there for some laughs.”
Raising Hope Season 4 premieres Friday, Nov. 15, at 9pm ET on FOX.
Photo: Credit: Miranda Penn-Turin/FOX