‘Imaginary Mary’ – Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider Interview

Imaginary Mary stars Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider
(Photo © Richard Chavez / Showbiz Junkies)

ABC introduced the new half-hour relationship comedy Imaginary Mary on March 29, 2017, with Jenna Elfman (Damages) starring as a single woman who finds herself freaking out when she finally meets her steady boyfriend Ben’s children. As a way to cope with the situation, her imaginary childhood friend – Mary – shows up to give her life advice.

Imaginary Mary airs on ABC on Tuesday nights at 9:30pm and in support of the show’s first season, stars Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider (You’re the Worst) took part in the 2017 WonderCon held the weekend of March 31-April 2 in Anaheim. In addition to participating in a panel, Elfman and Schneider teamed up for roundtable interviews to discuss their new comedy.

Schneider recalled that during the chemistry reads, he was 15 minutes late because he was stuck in traffic. He thought he’d blown it but the read went great, and they seemed to instantly connect. Schneider discovered that night he got the part and just a couple of days later they were in Vancouver filming the pilot. Schneider says that after he arrived in Vancouver, Elfman reached out an invited him on a walk to get to know each other. “From that point forward, we became friends,” said Schneider.

Elfman said she totally fell in love with Schneider’s humanity during that walk and was appreciative of just how funny Stephen is. “He’s so truly, sincerely funny,” explained Elfman. “As a woman, to find a leading man that you can be romantic with who’s truly funny is really hard to find. I was so grateful that they cast such a great guy.”

Asked who has the more challenging job when it comes to interacting with the character, Mary, Schneider said it’s much more difficult for Elfman than for him. “She’s got to juggle all these different focal points and whatnot. I just have to pretend that I don’t see it,” offered Schneider. “I just have to keep my eye on the prize.”

“We rehearse with a puppet and a puppeteer, and so as with any rehearsal you’re figuring out where you go in the scene,” revealed Elfman. “You do the exact same rehearsal process with the puppet in figuring out where Mary’s going to move in the scene. We film one take with the puppet so the animators have a point of reference of where she moves in the scene in real life, in the real space. And then they take her away and I just have my memory of her moves, and do comedy with everybody else and her. So, it was quite the challenge. I think I did okay the first season but I realize there’s even so much more I could do.”

So what can we expect in the upcoming episodes now that Mary is back in Alice’s life? “As Alice evolves as a woman in this relationship and learning how to integrate into a family, Mary evolves because she’s part of Alice’s mind. So, we have some definite storylines there and the season finale’s…it’s incredible. The whole season’s great but the season finale there’s a lot to it and it’s pretty cool.”

Watch the full interview with Jenna Elfman and Stephen Schneider from Imaginary Mary:

[Interview by Fred Topel. Article by Rebecca Murray.]