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One Bad Mother

Jessica Walter shares her tips on playing the most terrible TV mothers in the world

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As Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development, Malory Archer on Archer, and now Maggie Doyle on TV Land’s Jennifer Falls, Jessica Walter has perfected the art of the imperfect grande dame. ”Maggie is passive-aggressive, as opposed to Lucille, who is just aggressive. Malory is just so over-the-top,” Walter says of her various matriarchs. We asked the 73-year-old actress for her maternal rules.

1. Dress to Impress
”To me, one of the most fun parts is wardrobe and makeup, deciding how the [women] should look. A lot of times I think people in charge don’t quite understand that what they think is like a muumuu look might not really be the best thing for the character.”

2. Have a Signature Move
”Lucille had the one-eyed wink. I came up with it. Most people can’t do it — literally to close one eye totally and keep the other one totally open. It’s very difficult, but I could do it, so I did it as Lucille. But I’d never do it for another character.”

3. Even the Best Moms Need a Hand
”In animation, everything is bumped up. Some things, I don’t even know what they are. There was a thing [in the script], boom chicka boom boom. I said, ‘What is that?’ [Creator] Adam Reed said, ‘That’s like a porn signature.’ Have you ever heard of that?”

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