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Mary-Louise Parker portrays a suburban widow who turns to drug peddling in the Showtime hit 'Weeds.'
BY CHUCK BARNEY
Contra Costa Times
Mary-Louise Parker apparently doesn't buy into the whole method acting bit.
Even though her character has been peddling little baggies of dope for eight seasons on Showtime's soon-to-end comedy "Weeds," she swears that she has yet to inhale.
"I've actually never smoked pot," she told us during the summer TV critics press tour. "I've done that thing that's like a Listerine slip, that you stick at the top of your mouth. I did that the night my father died because I honestly would've done anything. I've never smoked pot, though."
Her abstinence might be tested when the final episode of "Weeds" airs Sunday. Parker figures she'll be in a somber mood and, well
"Like, now at the age of 48, I should start smoking pot?" she said, laughing. "I'm going to be really sad, and so I just might do it."
You can understand why Parker is emotional. Yes, the creatively exhausted "Weeds" overstayed its welcome by at least three seasons, but there's no denying that it was a groundbreaking show that presented the actress with a dynamic opportunity to dig deep into a complex and fascinating character.
When "Weeds" was ushered into prime time by creator Jenji Kohan in 2005, "The Sopranos" had already launched an antihero movement that would play out in shows like "The Shield," "Breaking Bad," "Dexter" and "Mad Men." But it was Kohan and Parker who boldly dared to thrust a woman into the boys' club.
And what a woman. Here was Nancy Botwin, a suburban California mom left with two boys to raise after her husband dropped dead of a heart attack.
Desperate to hold onto her fancy house and SUV, she begins to sell pot to make ends meet. A so-called "danger junkie," Nancy soon finds herself consorting with all kinds of tokers, jokers and crooks.
"Weeds" became a mind-altering hit, shaking up the shopworn sitcom format and helping to establish Showtime as a pay-cable destination for edgy, innovative programming. Moreover, it paved the way for mature actresses to play deeply flawed characters in shows such as "Nurse Jackie" and "Damages."
It was Kohan's concept, but it wouldn't have worked without the award-winning efforts of Parker, who brought her laid-back charm and playful sensuality to the role. Even as Nancy sank deeper into moral quicksand, the actress was able to earn our sympathy--and our laughs.
"I've always felt connected to her," said Parker. "She just keeps going. If there's something appealing about her, that's it. She continues to make the wrong choices, but she just can't be defeated, and she keeps trying."
In fact, if it were up to Parker, she would have had "Weeds" continue, even if many critics and viewers have slammed the show for its increasingly illogical and outrageous plot twists.
"I would've kept doing it until I couldn't wear those cutoffs anymore," she said.
Instead, "Weeds" will finally go up in smoke with what she calls a "beautiful" climactic episode penned by Kohan.
"I just cried when I read the [script]," Parker said. "She didn't make it a total happily-ever-after thing, but there was hope in it, and there was some sort of benediction."
As for the future, Parker is already signed to do a couple of big-screen roles, but she's eager to return to television and its faster pace.
"With movies, there's so much sitting around and I really like to work," she said. "My blood sugar, otherwise, just drops, [when] I spend six hours sitting in a camper. I'm there to work and collaborate. So movies are not my favorite."