Diedrich Bader – American Housewife
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I’ve been doing a lot of animated projects. “American Housewife” has been open to me continuing that part of my career. “American Housewife” takes up a lot of my time and I’m so deeply grateful for the work and the opportunity. I sing its praises every day. It’s the best show I’ve been on and I’m incredibly excited to go to work every day with Katy Mixon. I’m not just blowing smoke! She is great to work with and the writers are really lovely. I had a scene with Meg Donnelly and I was really looking forward to it when I got up at 5am, which is saying a lot! I just love the writing and that we’re a family show. One of the things I love about the show is that we’re kind of able to defy peoples’ expectations of what a family show is going to be. I think it is realistic and pointed. A lot of that comes from the perspective of our creator Sarah Dunn who has a wicked sense of humor. And I mean that in the proper sense of the word. She is a dark individual and really Katy’s doppelganger and voice. That is what makes it cool – that we’re really an expression of Sarah’s unique voice.
Q) Talk about your chemistry with Katy Mixon. Was it there in your chemistry read?
A) It was a really fast audition process because they had seen so many other Greg’s and they were at the point where they were sort of frantic. It all sort of happened in a day. I went in that morning and they asked me to come back. I met Katy in the hallway of Disney/ABC and I knew instantly that the show was going to get picked up. It was the combination of script and star. I had seen “Eastbound & Down” and she is just magic, in my opinion. She just pops on screen and is just an amazing actress. When I saw her, I knew it was going to get picked up. What is weird about chemistry reads is that you do them all the time and as an actor you pretend you have chemistry with someone, but Katy and I actually genuinely had chemistry right from the second we met. We all felt it and I think everyone in the room felt it at that exact second. It was really exciting!
Q) It was touching last episode to see Greg cover for his son.
A) He’s in an environment that he feels less than and everyone feels that way at some point. It’s a complicated territory and Greg weighed into it. There is no real guidebook for this so people make mistakes and they make assumptions. I really loved that episode. Isn’t Daniel [DiMaggio] great? It really is amazing that we can go to the kids with genuine storylines and they can actually handle it. They are really, really good actors. So, we can go to them and give them storylines that really works and you can feel Oliver’s aspirations and his frustration. That’s what I think is really super cool. We have such talented kids!
Q) Was there something you added to Greg that wasn’t originally scripted for you?
A) My family are largely academic so they kind of went in that direction because of my family history. I’m very comfortable with the lingo of academia. Originally, Greg worked for NPR so it was something he was doing that was out of the box and not very well paid. But they made him a professor based on my family history. I’m the only kid in my family without a PHD. So, I feel really comfortable with academia. So, they sort of leaned in to that and altered it. They found they could do a lot of geeky jokes. I’m sort of a closet geek. It’s sort of a fascinating process because every time I have a conversation with the writers they are really just looking for material! [laughs]
Q) Did you also spend much time with the kids on the show to create a familial bond?
A) They wanted to have a chemistry read for the recast of Taylor, but I was out of the country so I was unable to do that. I have to say that Meg is just a fabulous actress, fun to work with and just a really nice down to Earth person. It’s hard to find a kid in Hollywood that has grown up and still loves to do it. Meg did not grow up in Hollywood so I think that is part of the reason why she is excited to come to work every day and has a lovely, lovely attitude. The other kids, Daniel and Julia, were cast without doing a read, but I have to say they are total homeruns. Daniel is an amazing actor and was born a forty-year-old man. You wouldn’t believe it when you meet him. His own mother says he was born a forty-year-old man. He’s such a serious dude! It’s hilarious! Then, he’ll like goof out like thirteen year olds should. Julia [Butters] is a total rock star. She’s just so good and so present when she acts. When she hits it she really knocks it out of the park and we can count on her to deliver. This is my fifteenth pilot and so much of it is the alchemy of getting it together – all the pieces need to be in place and that is what is so complicated about casting and pilot season itself. To get this combination is so incredibly rare. I just feel so blessed to have the opportunity.
Q) What have been some of your most memorable moments from filming “American Housewife?”
A) Every day with Katy is something because she is just this little spitfire of a woman and a ball of fire. She is really fun so we laugh a lot and enjoy each other. I did have a fun episode a couple weeks ago that is the Valentine’s episode. It is just a really great script and we had a scene with a gospel choir that allowed me to do a little bit of physical comedy that was really super fun. That’s an episode coming up that is going to be great. It is one of our bests and I’m super looking forward to it. It’s a clever script by our showrunners Kenny [Schwartz] and Rick [Wiener]. They really conceived a kind of brilliant plotline. It breaks up and gives different peoples’ perspectives on the same incident. It’s going to be really, really good. I’m super excited about that one!
Q) What do you think it is about the show that has made it a fast fan favorite?
A) I would say that a lot of it is the perspective that Sarah brings that a lot of people can associate with the Katie character. Frankly, we have Katy Mixon and she is just a rock star. I think women in particular really associate with her and have empathy for her and that is something that is really difficult to capture. It is lightening in a bottle and she has got it. She is a real star. The number one thing I get is people coming up to me and saying, “This is my life.” We’ve been able to capture (hopefully) that this is what a lot of people’s lives are like. We’re not trying to duck out of being parents or any of our responsibilities. We love it, but we realize there are complications along the way.
Q) You are a part of social media. What kind of fan feedback have you received?
A) I loved “The Drew Carey Show,” but there were some episodes that we just shot – frankly. Some were okay. Others were great and I’m pretty proud of them, but some we just shot. The TV environment now is tougher. I’m extremely proud of the show and I’m not just saying that. I think it is a very, very well run show and it is a good concept and we’re executing it properly. I’m trying not to sound like I’m bragging, but I’m just really pleased to be associated with such a high quality show. The feedback I have gotten has been universally great. I don’t know if our reviews are good because I haven’t read them. Vast majority of people (in fact everyone I’ve talked to) really, really enjoys the show. I took this crazy early yoga class and I went in and was surrounded by a bunch of women taking the class. They all came over after the class and said, “We love your show!” That was really, really cool. Lots of positive feedback and that’s really nice. I’ve been on shows that people haven’t liked. [laughs] Let me tell you, it’s nicer to stand in the sunshine than in the dark.
Q) There is such a wonderful longevity to your career. What do you attribute that to?
A) Just sheer dumb luck and an odd shaped head. [laughs] I don’t know. It’s hard for me to analyze. I just keep moving forward. I love what I am doing and I never wanted to do anything else. If you go to my IMDB page you can see my origin story so comedy has been something that I thought about and loved for my whole life, really. The fact that I have the opportunity to, hopefully, make someone laugh is my goal. Other than keeping my wife happy and my children fed…So, I’m just really genuinely happy. I would hope that what people would see is that I’m joyful and I’m trying to spread joy. I’m just delighted to have the opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. So, I hope that comes through. That may have something to do with it, but I don’t really know.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure fans know about Greg Otto and your show “American Housewife?”
A) I would tell you that I would love the opportunity to have another season and see where we are going with these characters to go further into discovering the depth of the marriage and more into the issues that people deal with every day – the difficulties of keeping a marriage happy and going and dealing with difficult financial straights and always feeling like you’re being judged by other people. I think these are avenues we can continue to explore and we can go in different directions as far as the family. These kids are so great that we can take the storyline in different directions and branch out. We can meet my family and Katy’s family – the extended family. What we’ve got is a template to go in all kinds of directions and really explore with great depth the life that a lot of people are living. I’m just hoping that we have the fanbase to be able to explore that and continue. I sure hope so!
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) They can go support us on Twitter at @AmericanWifeABC and tell us how much they love the show. These are things that are important for a network to see. Just continue to watch. I feel like we have some of our best episodes coming up so I just hope we can continue to build our fanbase. It’s a little bit like that commercial where the lady goes, “I told two friends and she told two friends…” I think that’s the way we can continue. I know with “The Drew Carey Show” we only really took off as a show in the second season. I think it takes a long time for people, especially now with the more modern viewing, to really discover a show. I think a show on a major network has to think outside the box and this show definitely does. I’m really proud of it! So, I just hope we can continue to build and that people will spread the word.