Madeline Zima: ‘The Nanny’ Wasn’t A Fun Experience

Former child star, now 28, is raising funds to release new indie film, #STUCK

Madeline Zima

Fran Drescher and Madeline Zima on 'The Nanny'

Fran Drescher and Madeline Zima on ‘The Nanny’ (Photo: CBS)

Madeline Zima does not look back very fondly on her days as ‘Gracie’ Sheffield on THE NANNY.

“It wasn’t a fun experience,” she admits.

“There were other experiences on other sets where people treated me kindly.  I worked when I was 5 years-old on THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE and everybody was wonderful to work with on that set.  People treated me as they should have — because I was a child.  There was just a kindness and a sensitivity that didn’t exist on the set of THE NANNY.  They treated me more like a prop than like a human being.”

Madeline, 28, has since transitioned to much more adult material — including Showtime’s CALIFORNICATION — but says people still have lots of questions about her days on the iconic Fran Drescher sitcom.

“At a certain point I can’t pretend like it was some great experience anymore,” she tells me.

“And it bums so many people out because they love the show.  They are like ‘What’s wrong with this girl?  Why didn’t she like it?’  But I would rather be honest.  I have been diplomatic and neutral and politically correct long enough.  I don’t have to do that shit anymore.”

Madeline — who has managed to work almost non-stop for the past 20 years — is currently helping raise funds to secure a theatrical release for an independent movie called #STUCK.

The film was completed in just ten days using crowd funding.

“I invested in the film myself,” she says.  “I believe in it.  I think it’s a very sweet story — a story that a lot of people can related to.”

#STUCK follows two twentysomethings who meet in a bar, have a one night stand and then end up stuck in traffic the next morning — forced to get to know each other.

The “happily single” star told me all about her involvement with the movie, stripping down for CALIFORNICATION and who she considers the worst men to date when we caught up on Friday.

You didn’t get paid to be in #STUCK…you actually paid to be in it?
Something along those lines.  I don’t have the same advantages of being Zach Braff.  But we are trying to get more [money] for our little love child.

How did you get involved with #STUCK?
I was working on a film called BREAKING THE GIRLS a couple of years ago.  One of the producers on #STUCK was friends with Jamie Babbit, who is the director of BREAKING THE GIRLS.  So Jamie told him “Madeline can do anything.  You should really consider her if you are having trouble finding a girl.”  I think someone had fallen out and it was sort of a last minute scramble to fill the spot.  The second I finished BREAKING THE GIRLS, I started #STUCK.  I had no time to prepare.  I had no time to learn the lines.  I just learned the lines for the next day the night before.

Stay up-to-date with breaking news and features from
Follow us on Twitter uu“Like” us on Facebook uuSubscribe to Email Alerts

You have done a ton of film and TV over the years.  Which do you prefer?
Someone once said that TV is like a marriage and film is like a love affair.  Obviously a love affair is something that you are going to give more of yourself to and not get as tired of as quickly.  I think everyone would rather feel like they are in love than feel like they are under contract.

Even a show like CALIFORNICATION?
I have literally had to audition for every single job I have ever gotten.  I have never had anything handed to me.  CALIFORNICATION put me through the ringer.  They bought me back like five times for that and every young girl in Hollywood, my age, above and below for three years went out for that role.  And I got it somehow.

Why do you think you got it?
I asked the executive producer once and he said, “You looked down at your bracelet at one point in the audition and we just thought that you were the girl.”  I guess I was a little distracted and not as present as I could have been and they thought that was the girl.  The way that people get jobs in the industry doesn’t make any sense.  No one really knows how or why these things happen.


Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly