In a matter of months, Valerie Cherish, one of the best—yes, really, one of the best—TV characters of all time will return to our screens in The Comeback after almost a 10-year absence. The show premiered in 2005 and followed Valerie, a sitcom actor returning to the spotlight with a reality TV show and bit role on a multi-camera sitcom. The show received positive reviews, Emmy nominations and a cult-following, but lasted only one season. Until now.
Lisa Kudrow, co-creator and star of the HBO series, said she's feeling the pressure of bringing the fan-favorite redhead back. "Of course! A ton of pressure," she told E! News at a TCA Summer Press Tour party. "I still feel it, can't you hear it?"
Kudrow, who also stars in Showtime's Web Therapy and produces the Emmy-nominated Who Do You Think You Are?, talks about returning to the beloved character, balancing her workload and more.
Did you feel it was a seamless transition back into Valerie?
Well, yes. Actually, yes. Michael Patrick King and I, we just decided it's been nine years so it's been nine years. What's fantastic about that is more happens to a human being nine years down the line. There's stuff that's like real stakes and not just—as much as we love "Which hair product should I use? I don't know," those big decisions—there are actual big decisions. That was kind of fun to see what she does with that.
I know you guys had been talking about it here and there. Did you get everything you wanted in that you had thought about Valerie over the years?
Yeah, in the first 10 minutes of the first episode.
What can you share about the HBO dramedy she's starring in now?
It's called Seeing Red, written by Paulie G [Lance Barber].
There's a photo on Twitter and it looks like Valerie is holding an Oscar.
Oh! Yeah. That's someone else's.
What's the best part about playing Valerie Cherish?
Oh, the best part is that no matter what, she finds what's OK about it. That's what I LOVE. I know it was brutal, but I never felt brutalized playing her. Ever. People would ask "Wasn't that really hard?" And the answer is, "No." I mean, "No!" She doesn't get insulted.
I talk about this show to everybody and I tried to get my dad to watch it and he said it made him feel too uncomfortable.
Yeah, there's something about—also I think younger people are fine with it because it wasn't new to them. Right? There had been the Housewives of everywhere. When we first started there were no Housewives, at all. It was only the second season of The Amazing Race, so you just saw this woman humiliating herself for your not sure what reason. Now, you're used to that. It's not uncomfortable anymore, I think that's why.
At the end of the day, she was always OK.
She was always OK! "I didn't hear what you said, I heard something else in my head…I turned it into something else." She's crankier now, too. You know how we left off…How she got really mad at Jane—"Oh, those spider eyes!"—she got angry. She punched Paulie, she stood up for herself a little more, so we didn't go backward.
She's a changed person?
She's showing a little more of that angry part of herself, but she's not angry...She invents bad things, she does't hear it coming from people. It's an insecurity we all have, just like with the hair product thing (in season one). It's like, "I don't, how will people won't know it's me? This isn't the time to try something new!" It's that kind of angst that she's still...you know?
Were you surprised about the excitement about its return?
Yeah, thrilled! It was thrilling, it really was thrilling because—it was nice that we're not crazy, that we didn't think it was too brutal, it was just good. Parts were funny, parts were honestly kind of heart-wrenching, that's just what it is. I think it's the same in that respect.
You've been asked about a third season already.
There's no way to answer that. No one comes out—no one is OK answering that question right now. Michael has his other show...
And you're busy with Web Therapy and congratulations on the Emmy nomination for Who Do You Think You Are?, by the way.
Oh thanks! That's good, right? Busy enough for me.
The Comeback returns to HBO in November.