How Minnie Driver helped lure John Cleese to ABC sitcom

How Minnie Driver helped lure John Cleese to ABC sitcom

British comedy legend John Cleese not often seems on American tv, not to mention a community sitcom.

So it took two years — and a bit assist from “Speechless” co-star Minnie Driver — for sequence creator/govt Scott Silveri, a self-professed “obsessive” Cleese fan, to snare the 78-year-old “Monty Python”/“Fawlty Towers” icon for a guest-starring position within the two-part Season three opener (premiering Friday at 8:30 p.m.)

The episodes finds the DiMeo household — kicked out of their dilapidated LA residence within the Season 2 finale — flying to London to (hopefully) borrow cash from British-born Maya’s (Minnie Driver) curmudgeonly father, Martin (Cleese) — from whom she’s been estranged for 20 years.

“We didn’t need to go to London and hand the present over to London or to the visitor stars there,” Silveri says. “We wished to go to the land of Maya/Minnie and discover issues to illuminate her character and her again story and broaden her world.

“We wished [Cleese] final season once we began speaking a couple of dad story for Maya,” he says. “There was some curiosity [on his part]; he’d heard of the present and was open to it, nevertheless it by no means turned actual. Then this yr we went again and stated, ‘Hey, bear in mind us?’ ”

It helped that Cleese and Driver performed father/daughter Lestor and Lorraine Finster on the unique run of “Will & Grace” in 2004. “They favored one another so much and that helped open the door for us a bit,” Silveri says. “Minnie vouched for us. It was like a buddy setting you up with any person. I reached out and wrote him a word and stated, ‘Regards from Minnie’ and reminded him of the nice occasions they’d.

“He additionally occurred to be in the appropriate place on the proper time,” Silveri says. “A lot might’ve gone incorrect by way of scheduling. He does loads of touring however was in London the times we had been capturing there. We received very fortunate. He does loads of comedy you’d need and anticipate from him, however there’s additionally a really susceptible and candy aspect.”

John Ross Bowie, aka goofball dad Jimmy DiMeo is, like Silveri, a lifelong Cleese fanatic. “His quiet [on-screen] exasperation has been one thing I’ve been stealing for the size of my profession,” says Bowie (who additionally recurs as “The Huge Bang Idea” nemesis Barry Kripke). “To see that up shut was a helluva factor. He was a great sport and enjoyable to work with and clearly loved the work. I made him giggle a few occasions, which is one my all-time 5 prime emotions — I’m gonna put it up there with the beginning of my youngsters by way of exhilarating moments.

Bowie is requested if he observed any variations between the British and American actors who seem within the episodes.

“The tone of our sitcom is exclusive amongst America sitcoms,” he says, alluding to lead character JJ DiMeo (performed by Micah Fowler, who has cerebral palsy). “We now have to thread a reasonably nice needle between sensitivity and edginess … It’s a singular present and I feel you form of get it otherwise you don’t — and everybody we labored with within the UK received it.”

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