I caught up with Courtney Thorne-Smith to discuss her Lifetime Television movie Sorority Wars, as well as her time on According to Jim — and a possible return to Melrose Place.
CE: Were you every in a sorority or had something similar you could use to relate to this character?
CTS: No, I wasn’t. And I wasn’t the kind of kid who thought high school was all that great either. I find that people who feel that high school was the best time of their lives are usually not very happy now. I had to find something that really meant a lot to me, something that I could relate to. It was really hard, especially because I had my son with me, and I am so totally in love with him. I had to figure out how something could be that important. I had to look at Lutie’s history and see that college where she felt the best about herself, and she never really created something else for herself after that.
CE: You come from a comedic background, as does your co-star, Faith Ford. Are we going to get to see some fun, comedic moments between the two of you?
CTS: I think you always have to bring the comedy. I adore Faith. I’d met her a couple of times in passing. It was such a relief to have her on set, because when I first read this, I thought, “Oh my God, I’m the mom!” And I remembered being the young ingenue in movies and seeing the people who played the parents and they were sort of extraneous. Then Faith came in, and I thought, “Thank God, I have someone to chat with!” I mean, the kids were nice to me, but they’re talking about going clubbing and I just don’t have much to offer. But Faith was a lot of fun.
CE: You’ve been in comedies and you’ve been in dramas. Is it nice for you to be able to change gears and do one or the other when you need to?
CTS: Definitely! I started in comedy, and when I was reading for Melrose, they said she doesn’t do drama, she does comedy. And then after Melrose, it was like, she doesn’t do comedy, she does drama. So it’s just the evolution — you have to keep proving yourself. I just keep going out there, relearning and retrying. I do love comedy. You can have a life while you’re doing comedy. And it’s fun to go to work.
CE: People often tell me that being on a sitcom is one of the best gigs in show business.
CTS: It’s THE best gig in show business. With According to Jim, we were on for eight years, so toward the end, we didn’t work very many days and the hours were good. On an episodic, you get close, but you’re working so hard and you’re so tired. On Ally McBeal, we always tried to get together for dinner, but I think we did it twice. On According to Jim we went to dinner all the time, we chatted all the time, and I still talk to them. You’re sitting around all day, just rehearsing and chatting, that you really get close, which I love. And Jim (Belushi) lives about two blocks from me, so we have to be on good terms.
CE: Yeah, or he might toilet paper your house.
CTS: Exactly — or have his people do it. Something would happen.
CE: What would be an idea situation for you if you were to do another sitcom?
CTS: Just to do a show with friends. I’d want to work with friends and people I love and think are funny, and I just want to go play. There’s no reason to work now unless I really enjoy it. I mean there’s also money — money’s good! — but the other reason is to really enjoy it. It has to be a lot to take me away from my son, because I am having such a great time with him that I really have to be lured away. The nice thing about a sitcom is you’re not taking away very much, and he can come to the set. On According to Jim, I brought him to the set all the time, and he loved it.
CE: What about the new Melrose Place? A lot of the stars of the original are coming back. Is this something you would consider?
CTS: I would totally consider it. The timing is not right for me now, but I do watch it, I think they are doing a great job, and I definitely would consider it for the future. It’s just not right for me right now. I think the new show is a lot of fun. I know Josie (Bisset) is doing it and Daphne (Zuniga) is doing it. If they do something where we are all there, I’d love to do it because I’d love to see everybody. That would be really fun.
CE: A couple of years ago, you wrote a novel called Outside In. Any chance you’d like to write another book?
CTS: I do think about it, but I don’t really have the time. I used to write in the morning, but Jack gets up at 5 a.m., which is fine, except that I used to write from 5 to 8 every morning. If he starts sleeping again, or if I get more time, then I’ll do it. I remember reading that this one author — I forget who it was — would write while her kids were napping, so she got in about three hours a day. I don’t have that baby. Jack doesn’t nap for that long; I barely have time to take a shower while he’s napping.
CE: You had your son, Jack, in January 2008. How did you get back into such fabulous shape?
CTS: I walk with Jack. I carry him, so that’s a 30-pound weight I have with me on my walk. I also do 20 minutes of yoga and Pilate stretches that I sort of put together myself. The Mari Winsor Pilate routines are really good. She was my teacher, and I just sort of put together my own little workout using what I learned and her DVDs.