‘Parenthood’s’ Monica Potter on Cancer, Marijuana & ‘Three’s Company’

by | November 12, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Interviews, Parenthood

Monica Potter of 'Parenthood' (Photo: NBC)

Monica Potter has made countless “Parenthood” fans cry this season. Her character Kristina’s diagnosis with breast cancer has been one of this television season’s most powerful, realistic and moving storylines. The show’s most recent episode ended with Kristina learning that her cancer was more serious than she initially thought and that she would have to undergo chemotherapy, as new episodes of the beloved drama return this Tuesday night on NBC.

In an exclusive interview with xfinityTV, Potter previewed the challenges that Kristina will face, shared her all-time favorite episodes of the show and confessed to loving reality television.

How bad are things going to get for Kristina? Are we going to see her lose her hair?

Potter: We’re going to see it all, I think. I actually don’t know the fate of Kristina, honestly. The writers haven’t told us yet. I think that she’s going to go through the gamut. I think everything’s going to start to happen and you’re going to see her going through it emotionally as well. At one point she might be like, ‘Eff it. I want to be Kristina again.’ I think it’s hard for her because she’s such a control freak. She just wants to feel normal so she can get through the day. I can see that being a mom. You just want one day to feel semi-good so you can get all of your chores done and all of your lists and just be normal.

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I read a spoiler that at one point Kristina will try medical marijuana, which is legal in California where the show is set. What is someone as uptight as Kristina like when she is high?

Potter: [Kristina] is a control freak. That’s how she’s written. But there’s a side of her not many people see — which you will see after going through what she’s gone through. To come out the other side, I think you’re going to find a Kristina that’s a bit more footloose and fancy free and a lot more fun. That’s the journey I’d like to take her on. But as far as the medical marijuana, we shot that scene. It was a fun scene to shoot because it was sort of like she’s still in control but in a very, very weird, psychedelic way. It was interesting because I’m not going to say I’ve never smoked pot, because, you know, but I have and I know what it’s like. I’m not going to be pro-pot and start talking about how great it is, but it’s her vice right now and I think throughout the episodes you’re going to see her using that a lot.

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In real life, a lot of times when a woman gets breast cancer, their marriages are impacted because their husbands have trouble dealing with the physical changes in their wives. Sometimes they even leave. Will Adam and Kristina face that issue?

Potter: We just got the script for the next episode and that is in there.  Adam, there’s a point where he sort of does something stupid and then catches himself and it really affects the way that she feels about herself… He does something where he thinks that he’s helping but he’s not really helping. Kristina’s really sensitive about her hair and her hair loss and what’s coming, and he does something that’s kind of insensitive. He does something that’s just like, “Are you kidding?” Like something that any husband would do trying to help, and it just backfires.

Are we going to meet Kristina’s mom?

Potter: I don’t think so. I think you hear about her and I think it’s stronger if you don’t meet her. I think that’s why the writers have chosen for her not to have a family… The only time you really see her feeling sorry for herself is when she’s alone because she doesn’t have her family supporting her. You’ll see that in the next episode. She reaches out to her mom… You see why she is the way she is.

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Is there going to be a point where Max realizes how sick his mom is and has a meltdown?

Potter: We haven’t shot any of that yet, but we do have their quiet moments together, and I think Kristina and Max are a lot alike in certain ways. They are both very stubborn. I think she can relate to him on a level, like she feels so close to him because he’s the one person who’s treating her semi-normal and just being honest with her.

What’s it like filming the big Braverman dinner scenes where everyone talks over each other?

Potter: I made a decision when we do those scenes to say nothing. If you watch the episodes, I don’t say anything, I eat. That’s what I do. Especially if it’s a big family dinner… I like to be a spectator and listen to what everybody else has to say. I don’t feel the need to partake. I like to eat. Joy [Bryant] and I have this thing where we [stay quiet]. One Thanksgiving, which was so dumb, I think it was a couple of years ago, we literally ate through the scene sixteen times. (“Happy Thanksgiving“) We were so full.

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What are your favorite episodes of the show?

Potter: Definitely the birth of Nora (“Nora“). For me that was a big one. That was great. Another one would be when I caught Adam in a lie from last season. Kristina was going through post-partum. She caught Adam in a lie and he said that he fired Rachel and didn’t. (“Mr. Honesty“) She was feeling badly about herself and the way she looked. That was a huge scene that Peter and I did. We improvised it and it was kind of an amazing, awesome experience. The episode where we told Max that he had Aspergers was pretty touching. (“Qualities and Difficulties“) This season, every episode that we have aired so far I love. She has evolved so much and it happened organically… I just added my own things and brought things to the writing room and talked to them. All of this stuff just started happening with her through the writing so it’s been kind of cool to experience it with her. Nothing was really planned.

Last year, I think the episode that I hate the most, and I said ‘Let’s please don’t do this’ when I heard about it, and I’m glad that I did, and I’m not apologizing for it because that’s just what Kristina does, is the one where she went to Amber and Bob Little’s hotel room and tried to break up their sex romp. (“Tough Love“) I’m like, ‘No. Please don’t.’ I love the talk that I had with Zeek [in the episode called "Road Trip"]. I loved that. And you also understand a little more about why Kristina is the way she is with her relationship with Zeek and Camille. I love when Seth is in the picture with his drinking. (“Forced Family Fun“) I love Drew and his relationship with his dad. (“Tales From the Luncheonette“) It’s so heartbreaking. Julia adopting Victor (“Left Field“) and Sarah’s relationship with Mark and Hank this season (“There’s Something I Need To Tell You”). Haddie going off to college — that was a tough one.

Other than “Parenthood,” what are some TV shows you like and why?

Potter:Long Island Medium.” I am obsessed with her. I want Theresa to be my best friend. I love her. I love “60 Minutes,” which is the total opposite. I love “48 Hours Mystery.” I like “Ghost Hunters.” I like “Too Cute!” which is on Animal Planet. I love it because my daughter loves it so much. But I notice the guy who does that voiceover for the show also does the “Cheaters” voiceover.  Who would give him that job? It’s total opposite ends of the spectrum. “He’s going into the bar where he’s going to pick up this woman,” and then he’s talking about kittens on the other show. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve seen “Cheaters.” I had to turn it off because I felt like I had the flu. I love “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” And “Orange County.” My favorite show of all time is “Three’s Company,” and my favorite actor is John Ritter [costar Jason Ritter's father]. I got to meet him once at an event. My dad passed away the same year that John did of the same thing, so it was kind of kismet. When I was little I wanted to be in their apartment with them, with Janet, Chrissy and Jack.

“Parenthood” airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.