How Minnie Driver helped snare comedy legend John Cleese for ABC sitcom

How Minnie Driver helped snare comedy legend John Cleese for 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 somewhat assist from “Speechless” co-star Minnie Driver — for collection 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 dwelling 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 needed to go to the land of Maya/Minnie and discover issues to light up her character and her again story and broaden her world.

“We needed [Cleese] final season once we began speaking a few dad story for Maya,” he says. “There was some curiosity [on his part]; he’d heard of the present and was open to it, but it surely by no means grew to become actual. Then this yr we went again and mentioned, ‘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 preferred one another rather a lot and that helped open the door for us a bit,” Silveri says. “Minnie vouched for us. It was like a good friend setting you up with any person. I reached out and wrote him a word and mentioned, ‘Regards from Minnie’ and reminded him of the nice occasions they’d.

“He additionally occurred to be in the proper place on the proper time,” Silveri says. “A lot may’ve gone unsuitable when it comes to scheduling. He does a number of touring however was in London the times we have been taking pictures there. We acquired very fortunate. He does a number of comedy you’ll need and count on from him, however there’s additionally a really weak and candy facet.”

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 Massive Bang Principle” nemesis Barry Kripke). “To see that up shut was a helluva factor. He was an excellent 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 high emotions — I’m gonna put it up there with the delivery of my youngsters when it comes to 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 guide character JJ DiMeo (performed by Micah Fowler, who has cerebral palsy). “We’ve to string a relatively advantageous needle between sensitivity and edginess … It’s a singular present and I believe you sort of get it otherwise you don’t — and everybody we labored with within the UK acquired it.”

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