Anderson visited with The Envelope recently. Here are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Q: I read a quote from you saying you stopped reading the reviews because you didn’t want Christine to become “highfalutin.”
A: I love that line my mom used to use, “highfalutin.” “They think they’re so highfalutin.” My mom’s delivery on it was really good. She was a very funny person and is a big part of Christine.
Oftentimes during the shoot, I asked Jonathan Krisel, “Can I say it like my mom would say it?” And that seemed to really help the character develop.
If you believe in divine intervention, I think my mom has her hand in this thing.
Q: Can you feel her presence in the work?
A: When I spew off some line that isn’t in me that comes out of nowhere, I go, “I think that was my mom who just took over, you know.”
Q: Once that door opened, were there other aspects of your life that came out?
A: You remember the Easter episode where my mom is belittling me for not becoming the cheerleader I could have become because I started putting on weight? My father always belittled me about my weight.
And I remember my dad telling the person doing radiation therapy on his prostate cancer these personal things about his childhood that he had never told me. It was a way of him sharing all that with me without having to look directly at me. And I found that really a profound thing at that time, and I was able to use that in a scene.
Q: Was Jeffrey Tambor’s work on “Transparent” an inspiration too?
A: I watched some episodes of “Transparent,” which is brilliant. One thing I watched that he did that was so positive for my character was that he didn’t try to become a woman. He tried to become himself. Does that make sense? He didn’t change his voice. He remained himself and maybe his true self. I’m a maternal person in my life. So I just embraced the idea that I’m Zach’s mom.
Q: I loved the episode where Mama Baskets makes the sugar pie for her friends and you see, later, that the pie hasn’t been touched. Your reaction is heartbreaking.
A: We all have one thing we think we can do really well. And people go along with it. It’s like Grandma’s green Jell-O with the carrots in it. You don’t really want it but it’s Grandma’s green Jell-O and that’s all she makes and she brings it. But at some point, somebody always says, like my dad did when he saw the green Jell-O, “What, did your aquarium freeze up?”
Christine’s sugar pie became her nemesis. I think people should say, “Listen, your sugar pie is no good. You’ve got to move on. How about some, you know, vegetable pie?”