"Parenthood" left off its third season with a wedding to remember as Jasmine (Joy Bryant) and Crosby (Dax Sherpard) said their "I do's."
With Season 4 about to kick off (premieres Tuesday, September 11 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC), HuffPost TV talked to Bryant, who's also a former model, a Yale alum and a snowboard enthusiast, about what's to come for the newlyweds, what it's like doing those fight scenes, how her ovaries hurt working with her TV son Jabbar, played by Tyree Brown, and much more below.
Every year, I'm holding my breath, hoping "Parenthood" comes back.
[Laughs.] I know. So now you're excited!
Absolutely. Very excited. Were you worried the show wouldn't come back?
Yeah. If you don't get the automatic, that definitely crosses the mind. But that's kind of the chance you take with TV. I'm so happy we're back. This show could on and on and on and I'd be the happiest person. I love the show.
I have to say, the Season 3 finale wedding was one of my favorite "Parenthood" moments. What was filming that like?
I loved it because I loved my own wedding and the fact that I got to have another wedding is just awesome. I was like, "I get to pick my own dress? Oh my god! Again? Oh my god! I love it!"
That's so cool.
Yeah. J. Crew. So, to me, it was having another wedding without getting divorced to have another wedding.
What's married life like for Jasmine and Crosby in Season 4?
Well, we're in that sort of newlywed bliss phase, but also, now raising a child together under the same roof poses its own challenges. We have different parenting styles. Obviously, we were co-parenting before, but when you're under the same roof, now it's sort of like, you can't just run away to your own respective corners. [Laughs.] You have sit and deal with things as they come along.
We're going deep into things like religion -- what's his belief system? One of them feels this way, the other one feels that way. How do we come together to teach him what's best?
And even race. I mean, one of the great things about the show in regards to race is, you know, you have a black woman, white guy, mixed race child and we never made a big deal about it. Maybe 10, 20 years ago, it still would have been a big deal -- you know, showing affection towards one another and that kind of thing. It's not taboo anymore, which is amazing. So we don't address it in that way. We're not like, "Hey! She's black everybody." But we still have a child who's black and it's great that we were able to dive in to that reality. Regardless of the fact that it's not all about race anymore, racism still exists. It's still a problem and an issue in our country so I'm glad that we are -- in a "Parenthood" way -- going for it. Because to not go for it wouldn't be right.
At what point in filming the show did you learn Jasmine and Crosby would have a happy ending and get married?
We don't know what's going to happen next episode. It's not like, "OK. Here's the sketch of the season." So, I swear to God, it was really like the episode before. [Laughs.] They were like, "Can you pick out a wedding dress?" And I was like, "For what?!" "You're getting married!""We are!? Really?! We're getting married?!" [Laughs.]
But that's kind of how my wedding was. I was engaged for a year and then, we decided on May 28, four years ago, that we were going to get married on June 28. So I was kind of used to that throw-a-wedding-together kind of thing. And ours was in the backyard, but it was a little different from that. [Laughs.] And my dress was Missoni. [Laughs.]
A little different from J. Crew.
It's a little different. But I picked the J. Crew dress because I love J. Crew, too so I got the best of both worlds.
When you were watching Jasmine in Season 3, it was hard not to be conflicted. Dr. Joe was pretty likable too. Even though you wanted to root for Crosby, it was hard to deny Dr. Joe was a good guy. Did you want Jasmine and Crosby to get back together?
Yeah! But it was great that they kind of threw that monkey wrench into the whole thing because Crosby and I were separated for a while and then Joe and I got together. Sometimes things happen that way: Someone's really good on paper, but, when you get down to it, you have to follow your heart. No one can tell you if it's right or wrong. It's what you feel. So yeah, man! I love being married to Crosby.
The fighting on the show is frighteningly realistic. The way you talk over each other and everything. Do you guys ad lib?
You know what? [Creator and executive producer] Jason Katims just sets the tone for the whole thing -- from Jason Katims on down to the writers, directors and producers. We have an amazing writing staff so most of that stuff is scripted, but what's great is Jason and the directors and producers, they allow everyone to just go for it. If something doesn't seem like it makes sense, they allow us to just be free with it and improv. That's why the show really resonates I think. It really adds this naturalness and that realness because we're not worried about stepping on someone's lines. I mean, you better get your line in! And it's tough when it's the whole family.
But there's so much freedom. Not every show or production is like that. Our show's just great because we're not in a box. And it's fine to be in a box sometimes, but for us, it works really well with what the whole show is. They really trust us to bring not just the words, but the feeling. It's really about the feeling and the intention behind it, not just the lines.
So it's great that we can talk over each other and we can just go at it in that way, it just makes you more relaxed as well.
Yeah. That really is what I think stands out to fans.
Oh. Our fans are so awesome. People are so invested. It's funny because, when we were in the middle of that whole Dr. Joe thing, one woman came up to me and said, "You know what? Why don't you just go with Crosby? He bought you a house. What more do you want?" She's talking to me like she's talking to Jasmine. I was like, "You know. You're right. He bought me a house. I should. You're right." [Laughs.]
Or another woman came up to me and was like, "Think about Jabbar. Think about Jabbar! What's best for him!" Laughs.]
One scene that still stands out to me is the dishwasher fight with Jasmine and Crosby. Do you like doing the fight scenes?
Yeah. Anything with high emotion can be intimidating because you want it to be real and honest, but you also want to hit the mark. You still have beats to hit and things like that. It's not like we throw the script out. But with the show being so loose, it takes the pressure off and you can just be.
We don't do table reads. We rehearse on the day on the spot, basically before blocking and then we block and then we shoot. We adjust as we go along.
But that was one of my favorite scenes. [Laughs.] And some things we did ad lib. I think one of the things that was improvised that stood out to me was he called me ungrateful. It wasn't scripted, but that's a push-button thing for me. So when he said it, I freaking exploded!
I remember they yelled cut and one of the cameramen who I'm good friends with was like, "OK, everybody! Note to self: Do not call Joy ungrateful. That's not a good thing to do."
Did Dax know that word really gets under your skin?
I think he did it on the fly and then for the next take, I was like, "Say that. Say anything in the vein of that because that's going to set me off."
But that's why I love this show. I mean, just to be a working actor already, is an honor and a pleasure and just the most tremendous gift and blessing ever. But then to also work on something like this, where all the stars align and to work with really, really great actors on great material and also to be trusted to bring life to that, is just amazing in itself.
Do you have a favorite episode from the show so far?
Whenever we get like really meaty stuff it's always fun, but in recent history, we did a couple episodes about religion so getting into that and race. That's something I was really excited about. I commended Jason and the writing staff for being very bold and brave in the way they addressed it.
It's the same way people look at Max's storylines and they see their stories reflected. I was at the flea market in Pasadena and an older woman came up to me who had an adult child with autism. She gave me a hug and told me to tell everyone at "Parenthood" thank you for telling this story. "You don't really see our lives reflecting and the challenges and the joys of having a child with autism, the ups and downs."
And I've had mixed race people and people who are in interracial relationships with children who are mixed race come up to me. We're not post-racial. Despite the fact that we have a black president and there's been so much change and growth for black people and people in interracial relationships, there's still just so much further to go. So I feel like this was a great way to address it and that was probably one of my favorite episodes, and not just because I'm black. [Laughs.]
This season, in general, I'm so excited we're married and living together because we're going through all the crazy shit right now. It's awesome.
The "Parenthood" kids are adorable. I love Tyree, who plays your son on the show. Do you love working with him?
I mean, come on. That kid makes my ovaries hurt for just a second -- for like five seconds and then they dan't hurt no more.
[Laughs.] Are the kids good to work with?
They are really good to work with. They really casted the hell out of these kids. They're all super talented and just adorable. You know, this is my first show. We started four years ago -- Tyree was four years old! So to watch them grow up, all of them, before our eyes, it's just amazing. If this show goes on, he's going to be a teenager. I don't have children so it's wonderful to experience that.
"Parenthood" has such a big cast that you don't get to do scenes with everyone. Who do you wish you had more scenes with?
Yeah, I mean, I would love to have scenes with Monica [Potter] and Lauren [Graham]. And I don't know for sure, but now that I'm in the family, I'm sure at one point that will happen.
I love everybody on the show. I don't know how Craig T. and I are going to have our own scene, but me and Tatonka -- that's my nickname for him, Tatonka -- I would love to have a scene with Tatonka.
Did you work with Ray Ramano at all?
We did! Not one-on-one, but we did do a couple scenes together. Obviously having him on board is great. He's Ray Ramano.
It's so crazy. I didn't even know he was going to be on. I was like, "Hey! Ray Ramono's here! He's visiting?" And they were like, "No. He's on the show." I'm like, "Awesome." I thought Ray Ramono was just hanging out with us.
What else is coming up for you?
Well, I begin shooting "About Last Night" -- it's kind of like a remake of the original. I don't know if they're changing the name or not. It's with myself and Michael Ealy so all the Rob Lowe and Demi Moore thing. And Kevin Hart and Regina Hall play our best friends. That starts filming the 15th so I'll be pulling double duty with that and "Parenthood," which is filming the sixth episode currently. I'm really excited. Steve Pink is directing. It's going to be a really funny movie,
I also have a web series coming out on YouTube, called "Across the Board." It's on the Conversation Channel and that launches, I believe, Sept. 20. I'm executive producer and basically the host of the show and it's all board sports, so snowboards, surfboards, stand up paddle boards, skateboards. Cause I catch the wave from time to time. And I'm a big snowboarder. The last time I surfed was like two years ago, but I'm going again in a couple weeks.
My first guest was P. Rod, Paul Rodrigguez Jr., the top skateboarder in the world. And Steve-O. I'm really excited because it's something I love to do.
You're definitely busy.
And busy's good! [Laughs.]
"Parenthood" Season 4 premieres on Tuesday, September 11 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
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