Annie Potts Interview: "Young Sheldon" Star Talks Season Six
Image attributed to Kate Romero
Annie Potts is known for her roles in films such as Ghostbusters and Pretty in Pink. She made her debut on the big screen in the comedy Corvette Summer (1978) with Mark Hamill, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. She had a seven-year stint as one of the stars of Designing Women and also voiced Bo Peep in the animated films Toy Story (1995), Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 4 (2019).
In 2017, Potts was cast to portray Meemaw in Young Sheldon, a spinoff of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The series also features Iain Armitage, Raegan Revord, Lance Barber, Zoe Perry and Montana Jordan. Season six of Young Sheldon premieres September 29, 2022, and CBS renewed the show through to a seventh season.
"I’m not quite as brash as Meemaw is. I think it would scare the little children."
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Hi Annie, thanks for taking the time today to speak with me.
Annie Potts: My pleasure. What part of the country is your accent from?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Birmingham, Alabama.
Annie Potts: I thought it might be down there in that neck of the woods.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You were raised in Kentucky and haven’t lost any of your accent?
Annie Potts: You know, I can lose it when I want to. But most of the time, I have to use it professionally (laughs). So it doesn’t matter so much anymore.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Young Sheldon is such a great show. It seemed like season five focused more on on the other members of the family instead of just Sheldon’s personal dilemmas. Will season six be more of the same?
Annie Potts: Yes. As you know, when we left off last, Georgie and his girlfriend had discovered that they were expecting a baby, and Georgie and Meemaw were left in a jail in Mexico. So that gives us a great jumping off point for this season (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Iain Armitage and Raegan Revord are 14 now. Has it been interesting to watch them grow up?
Annie Potts: Oh, it seems to have happened so fast, too! They were just so tiny when they were nine. They’re small human beings. Both of them have moms and dads who are smallish people. So they were smallish children. Then all of a sudden, they were big! Big as me. Raegan and Iain are as tall as me now, five foot four.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Since Iain’s portraying a genius, he’s had some difficult words and lines to say over the years.
Annie Potts: That doesn’t bother him. He’s really bright, and he’s a natural born actor. I mean, he memorizes them. He looks at it, and he’s got it. Some people have that.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Remarkable. Had you ever watched The Big Bang Theory when you were cast as Meemaw?
Annie Potts: I was not a Big Bang watcher, sort of not my generation. When I started this show, I watched it a few times just to see if there was something I needed to know, what had gone before me, but that’s in a galaxy far, far away for me. It was just a clean page to start on.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Was there any particular inspiration for Meemaw?
Annie Potts: Well, I didn’t have to look much further than my mother’s backyard. I know a lot of southern women like Meemaw. While my mother was a little bit different, the flavor is the same. Look. I know a lot of southern women. I love them. They are fun and are fun to play.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: What was it like working with Reba?
Annie Potts: Double the fun. It’s just all kinds of fabulous. I love her. She’s got a new show now. I’m so thrilled for her, although I miss her on our show. But I’m glad she’s going that. There’s nothing she can’t do.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Is there a chance of Meemaw and Dale (Craig T. Nelson) reuniting?
Annie Potts: He’s definitely back. I think Meemaw’s a very modern woman in a place that doesn’t have modern ideas generally. She wants her freedom, and she doesn’t want anybody telling her what to do. But he’s trying to rekindle things. I guess she’s thinking about whether she wants that or not.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: And she may not and that’s fine!
Annie Potts: Yeah! (laughs) I love Craig. We have such a good time together. I just adore him. We laugh all day. He’s just wonderful to work with.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Are you and the other cast members friends off screen?
Annie Potts: Yeah. We’re all friendly. We all live in the same neighborhood close to the studio. So, yeah. We’re pretty tight. It’s a very sweet set to be on because the children were so little when we started. I mean, it’s not like they had to make an announcement, but everybody went out of their way to make it a positive and fun experience for the children because it’s not normal for little children to be working like that and have all that responsibility. So we didn’t focus on that. We’re just sort of a family. We like each other, and we like to work with each other. It’s fun. So, yeah. It’s an ideal situation.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Why were you interested in pursuing acting as a career, Annie?
Annie Potts: I did a play. I was still a kid, and the woman who directed it said, “You’ve got the gift.” Nobody had ever told me that before, and I was like, “Well, that’s something I should pursue.” It was a big wild dream given that I was living on a farm in rural Kentucky. Not a lot of people had those kinds of ideas (laughs). But once I got a taste of it, it’s all I ever wanted to do, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Your first big break was Corvette Summer?
Annie Potts: That was the first film that I did, yeah. It was my first film, and I starred in it with Mark Hamill who had just opened in Star Wars. It seemed like a good jumping off place (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: One of my favorite shows of all time is Any Day Now.
Annie Potts: Me, too! Of course, we were a Birmingham show. It’s my most favorite project I’ve ever worked on. I felt it was the most important, the closest to my heart. It checked all the boxes for me.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I spoke to Lorraine Toussaint a few years ago. She said that the show is so relevant today.
Annie Potts: So relevant. We were able to do things that nobody certainly was doing then. It’s not easily done now. It was really something.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: It was groundbreaking.
Annie Potts: It was groundbreaking. We were the first or one of the first cable dramas. Everybody was like, “Oh, you’re going to work on cable?” Now, of course, it’s come full circle. It’s like, “Oh, my God, you’re going to work on a network show?” So everything that goes around comes around. We have all these things now that I can’t even figure out. Lifetime, who produced us, just completely left us alone, which was awesome. We were just battling it out ourselves, and I mean battling it out with big ideas not amongst ourselves. We were all aware of what ground we wanted to break and how to do it, and it was thrilling. It was really thrilling.
Smashing Interviews: I’ll bet. You tackled racism, interracial marriage, women’s rights …
Annie Potts: Friendship. Friendship between a white woman and a Black woman.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Absolutely. A close friendship.
Annie Potts: Yes, and it took years for that show to get done by the creator, maybe 12 or 15 years. She took it everywhere and they kept saying, “Couldn’t it be about two little boys?” She said, “No. It can’t be.” So I was grateful to Lifetime for picking us up and supporting us as long as they could. But, yeah, my favorite.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I think it would make a great reboot.
Annie Potts: I know. When Obama first got in office, I went back to the creator and said, “You know, we should really do a two-hour movie or something.” Lifetime, of course, had changed regimes. But they weren’t interested in it. It’s shortsighted of them, but there you go. Lorraine and I are still very close friends. We’d love to do it. We both have apartments in New York and just live a few floors apart in the same building. We vacation together.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Very cool. You’re also known for Designing Women, of course.
Annie Potts: Another groundbreaking show set in the South.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Did you enjoy your time on the show?
Annie Potts: I did. I loved it. It was fantastic. Again, it was groundbreaking. Four white women and a Black man working together equally with mutual respect hadn’t been done before.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Did you have to change your voice for Bo Peep (Toy Story)?
Annie Potts: Yes. Yeah, a little bit. It did take a minute. I love doing her, too.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Any upcoming projects, Annie?
Annie Potts: You know, Sheldon keeps me busy 10 months of the year. I usually have a little down time, but I haven’t been in pursuit of other things. I’m just happy to do that. I have a couple of grandchildren now, so I leave a little space for them, too.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Does Meemaw pop out every now and then? (laughs)
Annie Potts: I think it would be really weird to be Meemaw in reality and on TV. I don’t know. Granny’s granny, you know?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Yes, and talking to you in person, I’ve definitely observed some differences between you and the character. I believe you are quieter and a little bit shyer than Meemaw.
Annie Potts: Yeah. I’m not quite as brash as Meemaw is. I think it would scare the little children. My grandchildren’s ages are three months and a year old. So they’re not old enough to see how very odd their Granny is (laughs). Of course, my ace in the hole is Toy Story, or it will be eventually.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I think Toy Story is wonderful entertainment for any age.
Annie Potts: They’re beautiful. I love working with the Pixar folks. They have beautiful minds, and of course, it’s always nice to work with Tom Hanks.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You’re about to turn 70 on October 28, so let me be the first to offer my best wishes.
Annie Potts: Thank you so much.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Any special plans?
Annie Potts: You know, I think I’ll have dinner with my family and be grateful that I’m still alive.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Your husband and sons are also in show business?
Annie Potts: All but one, but he just got out of school. So that isn’t over yet.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: So everybody understands everybody else's schedule (laughs).
Annie Potts: (laughs) Yeah. We’re just circus people. We’re not like the rest of the world.
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