Marcia Gay Harden ‘angry funny’ in CBS drama ‘So Help Me Todd’

Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden said her role as a Tony-winning actress as Veronica on God of Carnage helped shape the character she plays in the new CBS dramedy So ​​Help Me Todd.

“‘So Help Me Todd’ blends the drama with the comedy, and that’s right up my alley,” Harden, 63, told the Post. “It’s really what I like to do the most. I love comedy…God of Carnage was very serious but you never stopped laughing and it was so physical with it [verbal and emotional] hammer [of co-star] James Gandolfini on the couch.

“Maybe [series creator/executive producer] Scott Prendergast saw ‘God of Carnage’ and thought, ‘If you can make angry, that’s a good thing.’”

Harden stars as Margaret Wright, a senior attorney in Portland, Oregon, in “So Help Me Todd,” which premieres September 29 (9 p.m.). Her adult children, whom she mistakes for one path too controlling, go divergent paths. Daughter Allison (Madeline Wise) is a married paramedic; Son Todd (Skylar Astin) is a former private investigator who lost his license two years ago and now works for an insurance company investigating disability fraud.

Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Astin as Margaret and Todd in So Help Me Todd, which premieres September 29 on CBS.
CBS

In the series opener, mother and son work together, albeit reluctantly, when Todd becomes involved in one of Margaret’s murder cases – while also trying to find her husband Harry (Mark Moses), who disappeared from the scene in the midst of an illness (Parkinson’s) and left a mysterious trail as to his whereabouts.

At the end of the episode, Margaret realizes that Todd, for all his flaws, is really good at his job – and hires him as her company’s internal investigator to establish the premise of the series.

“I think that’s something that a lot of parents identify with and grapple with,” said Harden, a mother of three, of Margaret and Todd’s relationship. “If you have a black sheep in the family, it’s your own child first and foremost, so you don’t really realize how great your kids are until someone else tells you … In which case, Todd really is a black sheep and probably has ADHD; I sometimes wonder if he’s a bit on the spectrum – he’s out there and he can’t be responsible. He’s so offbeat and so offbeat and [Margaret] is in the box and a rule follower. I don’t think she recognizes his investigative, technical and digital skills… and that she needs to leave him as he is.

“I think every parent comes to this place,” she said. “There comes a point when you’re out of control and you have to let your kids be who they are and stop trying to pigeonhole them. And if you stop this dance, I think they’ll grow exponentially. It’s just that classic dysfunctional relationship.”

While Margaret and Todd’s relationship is the focus of the series, Harden said viewers will see both characters evolve as the series progresses.

Photo of Astin and Harden as Todd and Margaret.  They face each other outside;  Margaret looks very serious.  She wears a plaid jacket and white shirt;  He wears a brown coat with a dark brown collar.
Harden said Margaret has to “let Todd be who he is” rather than try to control him.
CBS

“What I hope for Margaret is that she stops caring about Todd — that he grows, but that she grows too, that what she wants as a woman in her early 60s is accomplished,” she said. “That’s being forgotten. Other women in their 60s across the country are asking themselves, “What do I want in this second or third chapter of my life?”

“She’s a woman that people can relate to,” Harden said. “She’s worked her way up from the bottom – her first husband died – and to me it’s not unlike a divorce pandemic. Women in their late 40s and 50s are no longer childbearing and, shall we say, no longer driven by the sexual dynamic — and the divorce rate is skyrocketing and they are often left with bills and reduced livelihoods and children in college and around the world back the responsibility they gave up.

“What I love about Margaret is that she has this incredible strength; She worked her way up from a legal secretary to a partner at this law firm, and now she really wants her name above the door, but she keeps bumping into that glass ceiling and wanting to break it,” she said. “She also made a small mistake by hiring her son… and he keeps screwing things up, so if they solve cases together, he’ll jeopardize their rise.” I said to the writers, ‘You better make sure her name isn’t on the door just because Todd helped her.

“Make sure she deserves it because she’s a really good lawyer.”

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