‘Bad Teacher’: Sara Gilbert Embraces Her Inner Geek

“Irene is really over-the-top, which is unusual for me to play”


Sara Gilbert - Bad TeacherSara Gilbert is getting in touch with her geeky side.

The ROSEANNE alum and co-host of THE TALK is back on series television this week as socially awkward middle school teacher Irene in the new CBS comedy BAD TEACHER.

“Irene is really over-the-top, which is unusual for me to play” she says.  “She is very nerdy, really eager to please, has super low self esteem and kind of lets herself be treated like a doormat.”

Sara, 39, tells me the character will evolve a bit during the first 13 episodes.

“She goes from being completely people-pleasing to kind of standing up for herself and asking to be treated like an equal.  I don’t think she ever quite gets there though.  We all have our deficits in our personalities.  It is still who she is at her core, but she gets better.”

BAD TEACHER — also starring Ari Graynor, David Alan Grier and SEX AND THE CITY’s Kristin Davis — is based on the hit 2011 movie.  Cameron Diaz serves as a producer.

The single camera comedy is filmed on the same Los Angeles studio lot where Sara spent her teen years as wise cracking Darlene Connor.

“When I pulled up for the first day of work, I was like, ‘oh, were we on this stage?’ It was literally the stage right across from ROSEANNE,” she reveals in an interview airing Thursday on THE TALK.

“The parking spaces were the same.  My dressing room was the same. I would look up and see where I went to high school every day.  So it was like, I was in high school again and then my high school was right there. So, it was really like a weird mind trip.”

I spoke with Sara yesterday to find out more about the show, balancing her two jobs, and whether she will appear in wife Linda Perry’s upcoming reality TV show.

Here’s more of what she told me:

You must be offered a lot more roles than you end up accepting.  What was it about Irene or this show that jumped out at you?
When I read the script, I didn’t expect it to be as great as it was.  You hear somebody is doing the movie and you are just not sure.  Then I read the script and I was totally impressed and I met with Hilary Winston who is one of the executive producers and it was like an instant connection.  I totally felt like she had this amazing creative vision and I just really wanted to be a part of it.

Any problems juggling this with THE TALK?
We are done shooting for the season.  I was definitely working a lot harder when I was doing both.  But I am also really passionate about this show and when you are passionate about something, it really drives you.

It seems like no one has just one job anymore…
That’s true.  I guess it is because we are all such workers in America.  When you act there are times when you don’t work at all, so when you start getting jobs you get greedy.

There was a point where you didn’t really work as much.  What was that like after you worked steadily for so many years on ROSEANNE?
I always pretty much worked continuously.  Maybe I wouldn’t work for six months or nine months, but I did a lot of pilots and recurring roles.  So I always worked, but a lot of times pilots don’t make it to air.

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Was there a pilot you did that you felt really, really passionate about that didn’t make it to air?
I did a show after ROSEANNE called THE NEXT BIG THING that I was really excited about.  It didn’t make it to air, so I was kind of sad about that.  Then I did some other pilots that I was less excited about.  It always makes sense in the long run (why they didn’t make it).  You look back and say “Okay.  I can see the strengths and the weaknesses that were in that show.”

How is everything going at THE TALK?
It is great.  I can’t believe we are almost done with four years!  Numbers are growing and luckily we are doing well.

It seems like it is a different show now.
It has definitely evolved over time which, I think, probably every show does.  You find your footing and you become what you are supposed to be over time.

Is the show now close what your original vision was?
Now it is more like a group vision.  Some things, since the launch, have gotten more like my original vision.  And some things have gotten less.  I think that is just the nature of the business.  When you think of something and then you have a couple of hundred people working to make it in to something and it lasts for four years, it is going to change.  There are just all those voices.  That is what is exciting and great about collaborating with people.  You have one thing in your mind and then all of these energies come together and you make something else.

I don’t hear as many comparisons to THE VIEW anymore.
I don’t hear that anymore either.  I think that is nice because it means that people think of us as something of our own.  I never minded the comparisons because it is such a hit show and there are so many talented people on it, but there is something nice about people considering you to be your own thing.

Will you do anything to acknowledge Barbra Walters retirement?
I have no idea because I am not the one that plans that stuff.  But I am sure we will mention it.  I know we all respect her so much on the show and think she is a legend.  So I am sure we probably will.

How has The Talk impacted your career and you life?  People really see you and knwo you in a very different way than we ever did before.
I feel like I was never much of a talker.  I was always really private.  And this show… Part of why I wanted to do it was to push myself out of my comfort zone and live life differently.  Have a different experience.  So it has been just that.  I think in ways it gives me more confidence because I have experienced life as slightly more extroverted.

You are more comfortable putting your life on display.
I wouldn’t say I am putting my life on display, but I am more comfortable speaking up and being more fully myself on camera.

I heard your wife is doing a reality show for VH-1.  Will you be on that?
I am not on the show.  But she is doing something called THE LINDA PERRY PROJECT which is about music and (mentoring) talent.  She says when people are on regular music reality shows they get kicked off and the people don’t really know why.  She is giving people the why.  She is going into the studio with them, talking about what is working, what is not working and helping them have emotional breakthroughs and figure out who they are.

So it will be very business-like from her end?
It is her work, but I wouldn’t say she is very “businessy.”  She brings a lot of her emotion and her personality to it.  She is very passionate about music, so I wouldn’t think of it as just business.  But it is not showing her home life.

Did you not want to be on it?
It is a show about music.  About artists in the studio.  You wouldn’t [send cameras] home with Simon Cowell, right?

Do you watch any of the music competition shows — AMERICAN IDOL, THE VOICE?
I don’t watch a ton of television, but there are times I have watched shows like that, for sure.

Speaking of TV… Some folks in the media are lobbying for Aisha Tyler to get her own late night show.  How do you think she would do?
I am sure she would be great…but we wouldn’t want to lose her on THE TALK!

BAD TEACHER airs premieres Thursday, April 24 at 9:30 PM on CBS


Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
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