Actress Mimi Rogers guest stars on the Dec. 12 episode of "Two And A Half Men" playing the mother of Ashton Kutcher's character, Walden.
In early 2012 she will hit the big screen opposite Seth Rogen in the film 'For a Good Time, Call...' Rogers has appeared in more than 50 films, everything from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) to small-screen comedies like the FOX sitcom The Loop. She's also a professional poker player who finished high school at 14.
HP50 Contributing Editor Nina Kotick caught up with Rogers at the Second Annual Beauty Bazaar to Benefit P.S. Arts, a California non-profit which bringing arts education to underserved public schools. Guests at the fundraiser, run by Beauty Undercover, enjoyed beauty treatments at the offices of Hollywood's leading dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer.
Ashton Kutcher's mom on "Two and a Half Men," wow! What was the best part of playing the role of a mom and appearing on the show?
Well, it was just really fun. Particularly because they wanted a vibrant and attractive woman for the role -- I didn't have to go in looking ultra-motherly. Also, I am a scientist -- again, against the typical stereotype, but I won't spoil it any more...
We hear that Alan is smitten with you, and that you reveal a secret about Walden that puts him into some sort of downward spiral. Any other hints?
I show up for Christmas Eve and yes, Alan is smitten. It turns out there are some things that Walden doesn't remember about his childhood -- things I'm actually surprised he doesn't remember. That's the big reveal. And then it starts to get kind of kooky and fun.
How was the set? Was it energetic and fun? Controversy far behind?
Oh yeah, it's a great group of people. And when you've been in the business as long as I have, you get to a point where you know people on sets. The director James Widdoes directed me in a play 26 years ago, so we go back forever. Jon Cryer did a show briefly called "Partners" on which I was a guest-star, so I've known him for a long time. It becomes a very small world, super warm and welcoming.
You have appeared in so many movies, more than 50, and so many different kinds of roles. What do you enjoy the most about acting and what is your biggest challenge?
Getting Jobs! Being an old lady actress trying to get jobs in Hollywood is very challenging. There's just not that much out there. That's why having "Two and Half Men" come along was just wonderful, like a golden apple falling out of a tree. It's really ironic because just when you get to a certain point in your career where you feel like you're at the height of your power with the most to offer, the opportunities dry up. So I get really happy when I work.
Why is that? It doesn't really make sense to me because the older we get, the more depth of character we develop and the more complex our stories and back stories become.
You're right, and when they get creative about it, people come out and watch. It's the youth-obsession of our culture. It continues to be endemic and we continue to fight it. And God bless Meryl Streep because she still makes movies that make money so the perception of viability remains.
You were born in Florida but your family moved around frequently before settling in Southern California where you managed to complete high school by the time you were 14 years old. How did you manage that?
Not well, but I finished. We had just moved to so many different places and I had been to so many different schools that I was just over it. There was a private high school that essentially allowed students to move at their own speed -- you could study 15 hours a day if you wanted to. So I just completed the minimum amount of credits that I needed to graduate and be done with it.
Did you always know that you wanted to act or was coming into it more fortuitous?
Well, I actually got involved in theater in my teens but I didn't decide to take the plunge professionally until I was in my early 20s. I did a lot of community service -- drug abuse counseling programs. I followed my father's lead, he did a lot of that. Oh, no, not drug abuse -- he did a lot of the community service part! He was a civil engineer, philosopher and all around wandering Jew.
That brings us to P.S. Arts, where we are today. How did you get involved?
Well, I have been supporting P.S. Arts by coming to its events for years. My friend Julia Sorkin first introduced me to it. One thing that we all agree on vehemently is that when you cut the arts from public schools, you're cutting one of the primary areas where kids can find a way up and out. It's like cutting off a blood supply. That's really why I love this organization -- we're helping to keep programs available that literally save lives.
I know you're a competitive poker player; we've actually played together. How did you come to poker and how did you hone your skills?
Again my father. He liked gambling so I started playing Black Jack when I was 14. Through the years I played various forms of poker but it was really only like eight or nine years ago that I got introduced and fascinated by Texas Hold 'Em. I mostly learned through tons and tons of practice. And I read books. I'd take different elements from different people's writings and styles -- that's how I developed my own game.
If you were to give yourself a poker nickname, what would it be?
Probably 'Smiley.' I play with people who have really great poker faces but not me. I just grin all the time!
Lastly, tell me about your real life role -- being a mom to two kids, 17 and 10. What's the best part of this stage of motherhood for you?
Well, your child becomes ever more interesting each year. There are things you give up but there are things you get. I'm one of those moms for whom watching my daughter grow up has been extremely difficult. I'm already having separation anxiety about her leaving for college. I resent her schooling situation because she's doing so many APs and I feel like I have so little time with her. But she's a great girl and really smart. And language and literature are very much her things, just as they are mine, so I'm able to be involved -- whatever books she reads for class I've either read or will read so I can help her.
Is she like you?
Yeah. Sometimes after we butt heads I'll be up in my room being nursing whatever it is I'm upset about and I'll just sit back and say, "Yeah, I remember being this way." And my son is a 10-year-old uber-athlete and a nuclear warhead of a boy. But he is so sweet and he loves his mommy. He's just a joy and a great kid, and much nicer to me than my daughter is.
I think that's just the age.
Yes, teenage girls are hard.
Especially on their moms, no?
I actually had this exact conversation recently. Teenage girls need someone they can be mean to, someone they can dump on, someone to blame. When recently arguing with my daughter, I looked at her and said, "Even YOU must see how insane your logic here that this could be MY fault. How could you even think to blame me for this?" Through her tears, she said, "Well who else am I supposed to blame?"
I have three and it's quite challenging. I always tell them, "If you can blame me for all that goes wrong, then I must also be responsible for all that goes right."
I've talked to my daughter and said "I'm willing to be your scapegoat as long as you balance it with some good stuff. Otherwise what am I getting out of this deal?" And then I notice that when I pull away or am not there even for a teeniest bit, she gets bothered. So I guess I take a certain degree of comfort knowing she needs me. Don't we all?