What do you like best about playing Joy on Hot in Cleveland?
I love that she’s such a mess. She’s so cynical and damaged, and that’s wonderful. I went from playing Daphne on Fraiser, who was the glass-half-full girl. Joy is the glass-half-empty girl. It’s a nice change.
Was it tough being pregnant while starring on Fraiser?
During my first pregnancy, they put me in a fat suit and gave Daphne a weight problem, which was great. But those suits weigh a ton, and eventually, you’re like, “I can’t put this on anymore.” But I worked through both pregnancies. Literally, I had my second baby the day after we shot an episode.
Do you feel like your successful career caused your personal life to take a backseat?
Yes, I think that’s true. I was so focused on my career, I had my eye on the prize, so the rest of my life just fell to the side. [When I met my husband at age 34] I was ready and comfortable. I had achieved a certain amount of success in my career, so I could relax a little. I wasn’t chasing that brass ring—I already had it. So I became more open to a relationship. Also you’re so much better off being in a position where you don’t need a man.
How do you deal with guilt when you can’t be with your children [Isabella, 10, and Finn, 7] because of work?
I think just by setting a great example for my daughter, because she’s not suffering at all. She can see that it’s an equal partnership between me and my husband. It’s also a good example for my son, because he’s going to make someone a great husband. He’s not going to expect someone to cater to his every need.
How did you meet your husband, Marshall Coben?
He worked at Paramount—he was an executive there. And we met at the Paramount Christmas party. We stood there for hours talking, and everybody on Fraiser says that they just pulled up their chairs and watched us fall in love.
Tell us about your new baby-care line.
Tellurian Baby has a great texture—it gets a good lather. The baby oil has cleared up my niece’s eczema. I sometimes even put the lotion on myself, and it makes my skin feel great.
Now that your kids are older, do they come to the set of Hot in Cleveland?
No, they’ve never really expressed an interest. And I’d kind of like to keep that separate. The subject matter on Hot in Cleveland is a little racy for their age group. They visited the set once when their cousin was there, and they watched a little bit of a scene that was harmless. Most of it would go over their heads, but it’s just not appropriate. And even if they’re sophisticated, it makes people uncomfortable when children are present and you’re talking about sex.
Are you enjoying working on Hot in Cleveland?
One of the best things is being able to experience aging with these fabulous women. Valerie Bertinelli, who just turned 50; Wendie Malick, who—unbelievably—just turned 60; and Betty White, who just turned 89. I’m about to turn 50 this year, and I’m in such a good place about it because I’m working with such incredible women. And it makes you go, “I can own this. I can absolutely own this.” And none of them are Botoxed and pulled—everybody’s just so comfortable, and I think it’s a great example.
What’s it like working with TV icon Betty White?
I’m just trying to crack what it is about Betty that makes her so vibrant and fabulous. She’s 89, and she has such passion in her life for what she does and for her animal causes that she supports. And I think it’s that passion. She never stops. I think it’s that “use it or lose it.” She plays Scrabble, she does crosswords. She keeps her mind incredibly active. And she laughs—we laugh like crazy every day. So I think it’s being a happy, passionate person. Have something in your life that you truly love. She certainly has that.
What do you think are the keys to balancing motherhood and a career?
I think it takes a village. I have so much support. I have an incredible husband who is extremely hands-on and has sort of taken a backseat to my work. He’s Mr. Mom most of the time. I have a really supportive family. I have a sister who lives here, and when my daughter started preschool, she has a daughter the same age, so she’d take them both to preschool and pick them up. So my kids have always been with family. Also, reminding yourself you don’t have to be perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. That really takes the pressure off.
Does your fame affect your kids?
I don’t know that it does, because we do live in a town with lots of famous people—a lot more famous than me. I’ve kept them out of the public eye. I’m always being asked for pictures of my kids for interviews, and I say, “I’m sorry.” I’ll give them old pictures of them as babies so they won’t be recognized. But I’m certainly not going to shove them in magazines and have them do photo shoots with me, because that’s not their choice at that stage. We live in Malibu at the beach, and they spend most of their days at the beach playing. So I don’t think it has affected them. It’s certainly not an intrusive thing in their lives.