After , I broke the ice with her at an industry dinner event, and we chatted about her most famous role, public defender Christine Sullivan on Night Court. And if you want to know how she still looks so good decades after the classic '80s sitcom ended, we talk about that too!
PATCH: I knew you weren’t in Night Court from the beginning, but when I got the complete second season on DVD, you still weren’t in it. How long was it before you were on?
MARKIE POST: Well, the first season was a half a season. It was a short order. The second season was Ellen Foley. The third season, I came on. I think that once the cast was set, that’s sort of the show you remember. We had Florence Halop after Selma Diamond. I only did one show with her. I guest starred on it when they lost Shelley Hack. They had her cast originally and she didn’t work out so I came in just for one episode in the second season. Then they cast Ellen Foley but my character came back in the third season so I guest starred on it. That’s boring.
PATCH: It’s still shocking to see reruns without you.
POST: I know, I’m shocked too because I’m not there.
PATCH: Do you ever see your episodes and go, "I don’t remember that one?"
POST: My kids are seeing them all the time. They go on Hulu and they show their friends their mom. There was one where my husband played a rock star that didn’t know who was president because he was so drugged out. I got to scream when he came on because he was this rock star. That was fun. They like to watch that and show that to their friends.
PATCH: Were you disappointed they didn’t hook you up with Harry in the end?
POST: Yeah, the fact is they were sort of hooking me up with John [Larroquette.] It was weird. He followed me. He realized I was the love of his life. I was disappointed. This is so interesting because you know 30 Rock did a show last season about how disappointed Kenneth the page was in the ending of Night Court and he was really down because his uniform had been changed. So Tracy’s character gets us together and he’s written a new ending, Kenneth has, and we shoot the new ending for Kenneth to cheer him up. And the new ending is Harry and I get together but we have a big fight in the middle of rehearsals and it shatters his dreams. Absurd, but they built the entire set exactly so when Harry and I went on, it was weird. We really felt like welcome to our show. We were right back in mode. That was fun.
PATCH: Do you have any memories of crazy shenanigans on the set?
POST: Oh, Harry sticking a needle through his arm all the time. He had to teach me how to be sawed in half. I can’t tell you how to do it but I had to be sawed in half on the show once.
PATCH: For people who remember Hearts Afire, was that heartbreaking when they retooled that?
POST: It was so heartbreaking. It was the best thing I had ever done, the best scripts I had ever gotten to do, the best star. I loved John Ritter. I loved that I was a chain smoker. I loved that I was a world traveling journalist who was down on her luck and had to live in his guestroom and fall in love with him in the most beautiful, romantic way. Then they get us married and they send us to a small town because CBS wanted it that way and Linda [Bloodworth-Thomason] wanted to keep the show on the air. That’s what they had to do and she kept it as pure as she could but it was just never the same.
PATCH: So they wanted to take the politics out of it, and now they mix politics in comedy shows all the time.
POST: We were so controversial. She’s always. I mean, Designing Women, she was very political and she was friends with the Clintons. That’s how I knew the Clintons.
PATCH: But all the jokes on 30 Rock are political, and Spin City did it successfully so it could’ve worked.
POST: Oh, absolutely. That was part of it too, people thinking they don’t want to see that much political insider stuff. John was a conservative aide to a senator who was kind of a buffoon and I was a liberal journalist and down on my luck because my father had to go to jail and I had to bail him out. I was with Fidel Castro and I was with all these people, it was so fun. Honestly, if that show had taken off more, it was on three seasons but it was everywhere, my whole trajectory of who people see me as would have been different. Tom Shales reviewed it and this is not me blowing my own horn, but he said, "Where has Markie Post been all these years?" It was like another thing. It just felt like ah, this is where I want to be, but you know, life’s been great. I have been so lucky.
PATCH: You’ve come so far now, what did you originally visualize for yourself and how much have you passed or met those expectations?
POST: Interesting. I was not a big visualizer. I was sort of a leap in and see what happens kind of person. Really honestly I used to characterize myself in terms of my career as being like Wile E. Coyote, running out on a cliff and everything’s groovy until you look down and then you fall. So I just was not going to look down and just keep working, trying to take things as they came. And in the beginning, I would do everything. I would do Love Boat and Barnaby Jones. I would be grateful for it. Buck Rogers, all the Aaron Spelling stuff, everything and just be so happy. And then I began to be the sort of go-to person, the girl who was on the episodic TV and then got offered a series, my first one. Then I’d narrow this stuff down and began to do that. And then it gets to be where you sort of have to be more selective and less stuff is coming at you but more quality stuff is coming at you. So I think that was unconscious, I think it was maybe good representation. I’m a person who loves to work so I think sort of naturally in a way it happens if you get traction in the beginning which I did. I was so lucky. I honestly would not tell my daughters, one of whom wants to be an actress, to do anything I did because I was just lucky. I remember getting cast in my first series and the casting director told me that part of the reason they cast me was because I had my hands in my pockets and I looked like I was totally on top of it and they want that. They want somebody who just knows what they’re doing. I was scared to death. My hands were shaking so I had them in my pocket. That is a true story. It’s sort of like when Lauren Bacall says she did this look where she has her chin down because she was shy. I’m not trying to be that but that was true.
PATCH: Isn’t it still what you put out? You happened to be someone who put her hands in her pocket at the right time.
POST: Right, you’re right about that. You’re serving yourself, you’re trying to be yourself, you’re trying to make yourself as comfortable as you can in that situation and look like it’s easy, look like it’s that. That I was able to do. I could go in and look like I knew what I was doing. I’m an actress.
PATCH: What would we find you doing at home?
POST: I am an extreme crafter. Oh my gosh, I sew a lot of my own clothes. I do cake decorating that is really amazing. I’m the best cake decorator that’s not professional that I know. I have to have a project all the time so that’s what I do. If I can be buried in a project that either has to do with my kids or my friends, something I’m making for them, something I’m doing for them, something I’m doing for myself sometimes, then I’m happy. I’m just waiting for the phone to ring and that’s fine, so I am an extreme - - crafting isn’t exactly the word but I make things with my hands. It’s just a desire. I have sort of this mountain moving kind of epic. Sort of like if you can do it, you must do it and you must do it fully. I can look at stuff and go, "I can make that" and I can make it, but I’m copying it. It’s not like coming out of my hand like I’m so creative. I’m just good with my hands.
PATCH: What causes do you involve yourself in?
POST: First of all I’ll tell you my philosophy on that. I didn’t involve myself a lot in my name, my persona. I didn’t do a lot of that because I had this philosophy, right or wrong, that we’re getting to be a society that will only look at things if they glitter, will only look at the things that catch our little eye, our short attention span and I did not want to contribute to that. I thought why, because I’m an actress, would I be any more, in fact I’m much less, qualified to explain things. But the fact is, it does help to have and I know. So I will go to things that will call attention to MS. Friends of mine, we gave a huge fundraiser for a friend who had breast cancer. It metastasized everywhere. Her insurance would not pay for her stem cell transplant. They would for other cancers but not for that one and my friends and I at the House of Blues gave this amazing fundraiser that went to cancer and to her. It had to be split up but it went to stop cancer. We had Bruce Springsteen, we had John Fogerty coming out of retirement to do it. It was just an unbelievable event and those are the kinds of things, personal stuff. It was in People Magazine and that’s the kind of thing I think I can do because I can do good but we didn’t get up and thank anybody. We didn’t do any of that. We made a thing, we’re not going to thank anybody. Everybody knows who they are. We don’t need to thank ourselves. We don’t need to thank anybody. We’ll send them a gift but nobody wants to hear that. They want to have a party. We talked about Jaime, the woman who subsequently died. It was too late for her but it was the kind of thing that I do what’s in front of me. If Haiti’s in front of me, I’ll send money to Haiti. There are people like George Clooney who really do good because they know what they’re talking about. He will do his research. He is not wrong very often or wrong on the facts very often. I really respect that. I think it’s getting better but there was a time, and I was friends with the Clintons and I would’ve even gone out and campaigned for them. If anybody asked me, absolutely I would say what it was but I wouldn’t go out and say, "Listen to me." I think it almost hurts the overall view of the world, that we only listen to people because we know who they are, we think we know who they are. We think we know who they are.
PATCH: Who was Jaime?
POST: She wasn’t in the business at all. Her husband was a plumber. She was in somebody’s Mommy and Me class. She didn’t have the money to do what she needed to do. We did a lot of research into the insurance companies who would for certain other cancers be doing this. Women’s medicine, breast cancer was so prevalent that they just couldn’t afford to do that so we paid for it. We got it paid for. Our kids were making the centerpieces. It was amazing. I love people who when something like that happens to a family member, to a child, that becomes what their life is about because it’s in front of them. I really believe that you can’t help every single thing. You can but what are you going to do, send $10 to every single thing? Or what comes in your path, you take care of it. If everybody takes care of or contributes to whatever comes into their path, a lot can get done. So I’m constantly getting this input, you want to give to everything but you say, "What’s in my path right now that I can fully do?" That’s what you do.
PATCH: You still look great. What are you doing to look like this?
POST: Well, how do I even respond? That’s my favorite question ever. Thank you, first of all. My mom. My mom, she still looks great and I’m just really lucky so if I look great, it’s my mom. It’s got nothing to do with me. Healthy, clean living. That’s all.
PATCH: You don’t work out?
POST: Oh yeah, yeah, oh, please. All my life. I actually stopped for about two years. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t get on another treadmill and I really didn’t look so great. So I’m back. What I do is two days a week I do pilates. Three days a week I walk Runyon Canyon with my girlfriends. It’s like ¾ of a mile up hill and then the fun part going downhill. And we take our dogs and I just do it every week. That’s what I do. It’s really all I do. Also, there is a program and I’m not a spokesman, I’m not advocating it other than my own experience, a man named Alejandro Junger, a doctor, he’s developed a thing called the Clean Program. It’s basically eating clean, eating stuff that isn’t processed, taking out gluten. I did this cleanse and I’m not a faddist. I’m really not a person who does fads. This book made sense to me. I’m a scientist’s daughter and I read it, the whole thing and it made sense to me. I honestly believe that if everybody would read that book and do what he says, your eyes would be brighter, your head would be clearer, your waist would be smaller. You can’t keep it up forever but you know what’s right and you know how to eat right. I guess at this stage in my life, the best thing I can do for myself is give myself good food.
PATCH: How have you remained so successful in marriage?
POST: I think that’s how I was raised. My parents were still together. My husband had parents who were divorced but he always wanted a stable family. I came from a stable family. We just decided that no matter what, dead or alive, we’re getting to the end of our lives together. You have that as your goal, you know that it’s going to be boring sometimes. You know it’s going to be hard. You can get on each other’s nerves. All that stuff is sort of a given. It is. You can’t be spoiled and think that life is always going to be wonderful all the time, but if it’s wonderful 80 percent of the time, you’re really lucky.
PATCH: You’ve got 25 years together now, right?
POST: We’re past that, yes. We’re almost 30. You’ve got to have a sense of humor. That’s another thing. What we do that we just hate about each other and ourselves together, we keep score and we know when we’re doing it. We go, "Ah, you’re keeping score again, aren’t you? You’ve got a little tally in your head of I said this so you said that so who started this so who started that?" You do that and if you’re aware of it, then you can laugh about it or you can say, "Oh, shut up. Okay, I kept score."