Whether you’re more familiar with Juliet Mills from her title role on Nanny and the Professor or from her work as wacky witch Tabitha Lennox on Passions, there’s one fact upon which we can all agree: she’s a delight.
Funny, fearless and capable of turning a reading of the phonebook into an acting masterclass, Mills is now casting her spell on Grey’s Anatomy in the recurring role of Maxine Anderson, the unlikely roommate of Adelaide Kane’s Dr. Jules Millin.
Wait a second… Juliet Mills? Jules Millin? That can’t merely be a coincidence, can it?
“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Mills tells TVLine. “I believe this was fate and meant to be. And don’t forget, I’m referred to as ‘Max’ quite a bit in the show, and that’s my husband’s name. So it’s not just J.M. and J.M., it’s also Max. When I was doing the self tape, I actually thought that all boded well for me.”
After making a memorable impression with viewers in the March 30 episode, for which she was named one of TVLine’s Performer of the Week honorable mentions, Mills makes her triumphant return to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital tonight (ABC, 9/8c).
Below, she discusses her fated role with TVLine, from that wild first episode (“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy!'”) to the more “serious” turn her arc will soon take. Plus, she tackles the one question that should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind: Why hasn’t Peacock made Passions available to stream?
TVLINE | I’m already in love with Maxine. How did you wind up in her shoes?
I’ve always loved the show, so when [the audition] came up, I thought, “Yeah, I’ll have a go at this.” She’s a real character. She’s feisty, full of herself and full of good advice for everybody. She’s a very positive person who enjoys life, and I thought it would be fun to play. It’s not far off from what I am, so I did the self-tape and there we go.
TVLINE | How do you feel about self-taping? It seems like actors have pretty mixed feelings about it.
It has changed the whole business and made it more difficult for actors to get jobs, because instead of a casting director seeing about 20 people in a room in downtown LA, they can see about 100 tapes sitting at home. The competition is stiffer, that’s for sure. At the same time, I like being able to fine-tune an audition piece. If you don’t like it, you can do it over again, which you can’t do if you go into the casting office. So there are pros and cons, I suppose.
TVLINE | And what did you think of the role once you got it? A gonorrhea diagnosis is quite an introduction.
I thought, “Oh my God, this is crazy!” Then I read further, and it got even crazier with my friend Norma and me bonking the same old guy who neither of us knew the other was carrying on with. It was a very funny premise, and I could see that it was meant to be the light relief in a very serious, dramatic episode. I like being the light relief, though it all gets a bit more serious further on in my arc.
TVLINE | You had that tremendous speech in your first episode about women becoming invisible after a certain age. Was it sort of liberating for you to be able to say all of that?
Yes, it was actually. And it’s surprising how many people who saw the show — friends and fans alike — have referred to that as kind of an important speech and how they really appreciated it. That’s what’s so clever about the writing on this show. They make points, and they’re always very current. I liked that speech very much, and I thought was important what I saying. It’s very relevant to a lot of people.
TVLINE | It must be wild to guest-star on a show that you’ve been watching, especially one that’s been running like a machine for 19 seasons.
It was exciting, though it’s always always a bit nerve wracking to be the new girl at school when everybody else has been working together forever. You don’t know where you are or where you’re going, but it was so exciting to suddenly be in the hospital. It’s huge! You have to be led around by an A.D. so you don’t get lost and end up on one of the operating rooms. And of course it’s the most wonderful crew and cast. Everybody made me feel so welcome.
TVLINE | Grey’s is such a comfort show for a lot of people. Do you have any personal comfort shows?
I’m mostly a Netflix girl. And Disney+, of course. I watch a lot of streaming streaming shows. Ted Lasso is a huge favorite of mine because I’m a soccer head. I don’t really watch series on a weekly basis, but Grey’s has been an exception, because I’m fascinated by hospitals and operations and things like that. And [my husband Maxwell Caulfield] played a doctor on a nighttime soap in England, so he got very much into all of that medical stuff.
TVLINE | I still consider Passions a comfort show. I find myself watching old episodes on YouTube quite a bit.
Oh, that show was a great experience. It was nearly nine years we did that. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. The amount of dialogue I had to learn was absolutely astronomical. Tabitha was often doing spells and talking to inanimate objects and dolls and bowls and animals and stuff, so I had these endless monologues. Looking back, I really don’t know how I did it, but it was a wonderful show to be involved with. It was a very different soap from any other, and it was a great group of people. I was very, very fond of Josh Ryan Evans [who played Timmy], too. He was a great friend of mine, a wonderful person. It was very sad when we lost him [during the show’s run in 2002], both for me personally and for the show.
TVLINE | Since you’re a streaming girl, I’m sure you agree that Passions would be a huge hit on Peacock.
Yes, I don’t understand why they don’t. I mean, they could. I don’t understand why it seems like soaps never do get streamed
TVLINE | Well, the 25th anniversary is next year. I think if we start lobbying, we can make it happen.
Please, you start lobbying and I’ll chime in. Anything I can do — any letter I can write or anybody I can talk to — I’d be happy to do it.
Are you relishing Mills’ time at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital as much as we are (and she is)? Drop a comment with your thoughts on all things Maxine Anderson below.
Passions Supremacy!!!! Wake up, Peacock.
It’s probably not on streaming so Peacock can avoid paying residuals.
I’m pretty sure it was an NBC Universal production, so unless it had another studio partner, like how Friends airs on Max, than it should be cheap and easy. Remember CW Seed? Now it’s fully integrated onto the CW app.
I would love to be able to watch Passions from the beginning. I only found the show in it’s final couple of years and absolutely loved it.
I’m probably the world’s #1 fan of both Mills sisters – Juliet and Hayley. Don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy (nor will I ever) but oh my gosh “Yes” to Peacock streaming Passions episodes! Passions and Sunset Beach are at the top of my Peacock wish list!
How could I forget Santa Barbara? Would very much enjoy seeing Cruz and Eden, Mason and Julia again! Please NBCUniversal bring it to Peacock!
Yes!! Streaming of Santa Barbara and Passions would be so great!!
I, too, love both Mills sisters. My parents were both British. Mummy was evacuated in WWII by a group of Actors & Actresses, including Juliette’s Godfather, Sir Noel Coward. So aside with having her autograph book with his (and many other) autograph(s) in it, Mummy never let me miss any show those young ladies were in. I was delighted to see Juliette on Grey’s, which I have watched since episode 1. Another inherited trait from Mum, she started me on General Hospital, Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey at a young age! 😁
I would love to see the Josh Ryan Evans episodes again. For me, those are the golden years of Passions. Nothing after topped the awesome stories of Tabitha & Timmy. MPI should release those on DVD like they did with Dark Shadows. I would buy it. Even the other stories were fun to watch during the Tabitha & Timmy years.
“Passions” forever! I have my Martimmy pitcher ready and a prom boat cruise waiting!
They really could capitalize and do a channel of Passions as “live tv”. And then do memorable storylines as “volumes” instead of like every episode. They could even do a “vault” of volumes, and make them available for short periods (monthly).
In fact, do this for Days and Santa Barbara. I guarantee there are Soap fans out there that would pay monthly just to see different storylines!
Peacock should be streaming Santa Barbara and Another World.
Love Passions! Stream the old series–such a talented group! and reboot it–it could be great! Bring back Pilar and Theresa for sure, Ethan, Luis and Tabitha. Juliet and Hayley are wonderful! Hire them both for Passions! The storyline went off the rails the last season, but it could be rebooted and great as the first 7 seasons were. We need more good writing and stories on tv!
I love seeing my favorite actress, Juliet Mills on Grey’s.
You are right that Passions needs to be streamed and so does Nanny and The Professor which also needs a DVD release.