Jayma Mays calls herself a “TV polygamist” — and with good reason.
She’s currently married to both Glee‘s Will Schuester (and is shooting her penultimate appearance on that show soon) and The Millers‘ Adam. Plus, there was that coat-check dalliance with How I Met Your Mother‘s Ted.
On The Millers, however, she’s not just a wife, but a sister (to Will Arnett’s Nathan), a daughter (to Margo Martindale’s Carol and Beau Bridges’ Tom) and a mother (to Eve Moon’s Mikayla). Being part of such a funny family comes with its challenges, she tells TVLine.
“I break. I feel like I’m constantly snickering behind everyone. I’m just thinking, ‘Please, please don’t get this camera or they won’t be able to use this in the edit,’” she says, adding that she always takes her inability to stifle an on-camera giggle as a good sign. “Gosh, if I’m laughing, hopefully that means that everyone else will be laughing, too.”
In this Thursday’s episode (airing at 8:30/7:30c on CBS), Nathan tries to knock Debbie down a few pegs after he finds out why she’s their father’s favorite child. Read on as Mays previews what transpires.
TVLINE | What can we expect from Debbie and Nathan in this week’s episode?
As you know from previous episodes, [Debbie is] overshadowed by her brother. Her mother thinks that Nathan is the golden child, I think she even says that in the pilot, and Debbie’s not succeeded in the way her mom wanted her to. But we find out in this episode that Nathan’s been aware of the fact that he’s tried hard to be the better child, in a way. He was jealous of Debbie when she was born, he says something like “Debbie was so cute and fun” and all the attention goes to the younger child… He tried to find ways to rise above that and get the attention back. So you see why they butt heads from time to time, because he’s always fought for that coveted slot of being the golden child.
TVLINE | In the episode, we’re going to see flashbacks featuring younger versions of Debbie. Were you happy with the young actress (Reece Caddell, Hello Ladies) they cast to play a younger you?
I was happy with her but a little annoyed because she’s a better actress than me. She was so funny, she nailed it, she was so cute. Everyone hee-hawed the second she came in and did our table read. I was like, “Oh no, this is stiff competition.”
TVLINE | How do the flashbacks contribute to your understanding of Debbie?
It was great to see those moments of Debbie being young and having these explosions. She’d get angry every now and then – I call it ginger rage – this rage that just comes out all of a sudden and is purely emotional. It was great to see that as a young child, because you see that later on with Debbie… Every now and then, she just flies off the handle, and that probably comes from her mom a bit too, because we’re all screwed up on the show.
TVLINE | You’ve had some fun guest stars: Happy Endings‘ Eliza Coupe and Casey Wilson, the ladies from The Talk. Are there any guest stars coming up about whom you’re particularly excited?
We worked with Jerry van Dyke (Coach, The Middle); he’s in our Christmas episode; he plays our grandfather. And his wife is played by June Squibb (Ghost Whisperer), she is brilliant… I was like, “Seriously, these are our grandparents?” I can’t believe I’m working with these actors. They were so fantastic. There’s something wonderful about watching people – this comes from experience, I’m sure – they’re just so comfortable in what they do and they know how to land jokes and wait for pauses in laughter. There’s an ease about acting that comes with doing it for so long.
TVLINE | And that makes you Lena Dunham’s comedy cousin, because June Squibb’s also playing Lena Dunham’s grandmother on Girls this season.
Oh no way! She’s my comedy cousin, that’s really funny. That’s good family to have.
TVLINE | The opening credits have awkward family photos. Were those Photoshopped, or did you shoot them?
We shot them! We took an afternoon and had those – I don’t want to say horrible, they were amazing — outfits tailored for us to wear for our photo shoot.
TVLINE | You actually piled your heads on top of one another?
Yes, we did, and poor Margo was on the bottom… I was like, “I can’t believe we’re doing this. I’m wearing a turtleneck, and I’m piled upon really amazing actors.” It was so bizarre.
TVLINE | And how was it being back on the Glee set to film the Finn tribute episode, “The Quarterback”?
I was really glad to be there with the cast. Obviously, I wish it was under different circumstances. It wasn’t an easy episode to film, but I was glad to be a part of it and I was glad to be there with cast… But it was hard.
TVLINE | Last year you were back on How I Met Your Mother – is there any chance of seeing you there again in this final season?
I would love to go back, but I haven’t been told that I’m coming back as of yet.
TVLINE | Were you ever hoping that you’d end up being The Mother?
Yeah, totally! Oh my gosh, yeah! I have had people tell me, “You’re the mom, you’re the mom on that show!” I’m like “OK, all right, let’s do this!”