Christina Vidal Mitchell is headed to the sitcom world in ‘United We Fall.’ She spoke with HL about Jo and Bill’s relationship, the ‘huge compliment’ Jane Curtin gave her, and more.
United We Fall premieres July 15 at 8 p.m. on ABC. The show follows the trials and tribulations of Jo and Bill, the parents of two young kids, as they go through their day-to-day lives together as a family. Christina Vidal Mitchell plays Jo, the hilarious and protective mom.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Christina about why she went for a sitcom role after a series of dramatic roles. For the actress, sitcoms have always been something she’s wanted to do. Christina was drawn to Jo instantly because she identified with her as a mother. Christina also discussed working with the legendary Jane Curtin and revealed what to expect this season.
Why you were drawn to the role of Jo?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: I remember when I was reading the breakdown and I thought, first of all, this sounds hilarious. Second of all, this is me. I mean, this is literally how I feel. I was a new pretty much a new mom at that point, and I was like, this is how I feel, how I think, the experiences I have. This is me. I’ve got to play this part. When I read the script, I just loved the relationship between the husband and wife, and how they just always tried to make fun of themselves in this situation with the kids. They just gave themselves a lot of slack and grace and I connected to that.
Will Sasso plays your on-screen husband. What was your first impression of him?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: He’s the sweetest guy, so humble, so willing to just do whatever it takes to make your experience and your job easier. He was so sweet. My first experience with him was at our chemistry meeting. He sat outside with me and went over the script as many times as I wanted to go over it. I just remember that I told myself that I could work with this guy every day.
For the past couple of years, you’ve had a lot of dramatic roles. Were you looking for something like a sitcom?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: Yes, I was. Sitcoms are my favorite, and for a while, I wasn’t getting hired to do any. So when this came around, just everything about it was a dream. I actually missed the first round of auditioning because pilot season was so crazy. They moved kind of fast on it and went to testing people and I missed that. I remember saying this little prayer and going, God, if I get a chance, I will not drop the ball. I will give it all I have. And then they called me and said they didn’t really find anyone that the studio and network liked for testing, so I got another shot at it. The experience was just great from then on.
With Jo and Bill, what can you tease about their journey this season? What kind of experiences will we see from them?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: You’ll see all kinds of stuff. Parenting blunder after parenting blunder, but then you see them realize that so much of it is instinctual and happenstance. You’ve just got to trust the process and trust what you have sewn into your kids in good faith. I think they also learn how to shut out other voices, even well-meaning voices of family members, and just really stay united and stay together in their parenting efforts. One of the things I love about this couple is they have the best sense of humor about everything. No matter how scary or awful, they just maintain that sense of humor and positivity about things. Life is going to be hard enough. You have to be a unit. I feel like Jo and Bill really do a good job of that.
Jane Curtin plays your mother-in-law on the show. She’s obviously such a comedy legend. What was it like working with her, and what is Jo’s dynamic with her mother-in-law?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: So Jo’s mother-in-law kind of overbearing, even though she means well. She’s very opinionated. She’s kind of self-absorbed and oblivious at times. It’s fun to watch Jo and Bill navigate that, but I think that they have a good relationship inside of all of those things. I think that, ultimately, you see this mother-in-law is supportive of them as parents, and she’s supportive of Jo as a mom, even through all the blunders. As far as me personally working Jane, she’s so opposite from her character in that she’s so warm. She’s so sensitive to what’s happening, so aware, so present. She’s so humble. You forget you’re on the set with a legend because she just behaves like a professional actor, like a person, a human being. She’s encouraging, she’s supportive, and she paid me one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. After we shot the pilot, she was like, “I really feel like you’re a driving force on the show.” To me, that was a huge compliment coming from Jane Curtin. For her to say that with all of her experience, that’s just her. She’s very quick to give a compliment. She’s very quick to encourage. I feel like she uses her influence and her power because she has power being who she is in this industry. She uses it to build everyone else around her up to make the project even better. That’s truly who she is.
Guillermo Diaz plays your brother, Chuy. What is that dynamic like between these two siblings?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: Well, it’s complicated because they love each other. But in typical Latino families, there are just no boundaries. Everyone’s in everybody’s business, and everyone has something to say. He’s completely opposite to Jo. Jo can be kind of irreverent. Chuy is extremely reverent. He is extremely disciplined. He’s very by the book, by the rules about everything. He’s judgmental. He’s critical, but it’s all under the genuine intention of just wanting to help his sister. But he’s oblivious to the fact that his help is not always helpful. You kind of see them struggle through that. But again, I love that Jo just kind of accepts who her brother is, and she loves him for who he is. Even though sometimes it’s a little bit much.
I’m very excited to see Guillermo do some comedy because he was so serious on Scandal.
Christina Vidal Mitchell: Okay, here’s the thing about Guillermo’s comedy. It’s so grounded, which is really hard to do in a half-hour sitcom. He has a way of doing the timing of a sitcom comedy but grounding it like it’s drama. It’s funny because he’s funny, but he’s still at times a little bit scary.
You’re a Latina woman in the leading role in a sitcom. This inclusion is still rare in the television industry. What does it mean to be a part of the Latinx representation in the sitcom world?
Christina Vidal Mitchell: It’s exciting, and I’m honored to do it. I’ve gotten to do it for most of my career. Taina was probably where it was most prevalent, but it’s an honor to be able to represent Latino people on screen. It’s exciting because I’m looking forward to us normalizing that, at the end of the day, we’re all humans having a human experience. We have the same needs for love and understanding and relationships. I’m excited to be able to portray that on-screen and hopefully be able to normalize it in society.