The brand-new Lifetime movie Deranged Granny will premiere Sept. 12 on Lifetime. Wendie Malick stars as Barbara, who finds her last hope to be a grandmother comes when her son, Ethan, falls for Kendall, a divorcee with kids. Barbara begins to use devious tactics to win over Kendall’s kids and goes to dangerous lengths to protect her relationship with her grandchildren.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Wendie about taking on the role of Barbara. She was drawn to the “obsessive” aspect of Barbara and loves playing “complicated” characters. Despite Barbara’s bad decisions, Wendie admitted that she does have some “empathy” for the character. Read our Q&A below.
What made you want to step into this role?
Wendie Malick: It was kind of some territory I hadn’t covered before. I was wondering what it would be like if you loved someone to the point of it just all really went too far. It’s hard to imagine loving someone too much where it would become unhealthy, but there was something about the obsessive quality of this character that was very intriguing.
Barbara does become obsessed with keeping her family together. What can you tease about her journey over the course of this film?
Wendie Malick: I think she’s someone who probably just couldn’t make relationships work other than with her son, and now wants to capitalize on that and is putting all our eggs in that basket. So now her grandchildren have become so hugely important to her, and she doesn’t have any boundaries whatsoever. I have some empathy and compassion for her. I think she just didn’t get enough love in all the right places. She’s just gone off the deep end.
What was it like for you to dive into that dark mindset of Barbara and that obsessive aspect?
Wendie Malick: Pretty fun. I love playing complicated and somewhat off-center characters. I find it’s much more fun if they have some sort of tics or neuroses or something. I think the interesting part for me in playing Barbara is she also has some good people skills and could be very charming and very nurturing and could give you the impression that she was your friend and had your best interests at heart. I think she believes that she is. But when you cross a line with her, you suffer the consequences.
How far would you say Barbara goes to get what she wants?
Wendie Malick: I don’t think there’s any limit to that. I think that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
You’ve obviously done a lot of comedy and drama over the years. How do you choose your roles?
Wendie Malick: I think over time, and television certainly reflects this, I think it’s so much a spectrum but all good storytelling has moments of humor and then stuff that’s darker or more serious. And that’s what life is like. We don’t live in just a sitcom world, and we don’t live in a world where everything is doom and gloom. It’s sort of this roller coaster that we all are on together. I think when you can draw elements of humor and drama and poignancy, if you can pull all that together in a story, I just think it’s far more memorable and satisfying.