Catching Up With “Finding Carter” star Meredith Baxter

 
 

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Meredith Baxter has been a TV star since 1972 when she starred in a CBS series called Bridget Loves Birney. She went on to become beloved sitcom Mom Elyse Keaton in the long running Family Tiesand then followed that by starring in (and sometimes producing) a string of successful TV movies. (My Breast, A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story and many more.)

Baxter’s successful career belied a sometimes turbulent personal life. She battled through breast cancer, domestic violence and alcoholism and even navigated a late-in-life realization that she was a lesbian.

We caught up with the actress to discuss her life today as well as her highly anticipated new series, MTV’s Finding Carter, which premieres tonight at 10/9c

TheBacklot: You came out in 2009 and married your longtime partner last year. Any reactions from your family, your friends or your fans either to the marriage or coming out that surprised you?

Meredith Baxter: I think probably what surprised me was the degree of delight and acceptance that I have encountered.

Do you think that coming out has had much of an impact on your career? Are you getting offers for different types of roles as a result?

MB: No not really. I do have a recent role on an MTV series, Finding Carter, but I haven’t worked very much lately. That could very well be ageism. I gauge how many offers come through and not an awful lot do these days. I can’t say it’s because of coming out– I can’t really point the finger at that, though I’m very aware of it.

But, you know, I’m 67 and you don’t see a lot women out there my age anyway because—I don’t know—people are embarrassed of people getting older maybe. You know, they’re so used to seeing those young tight faces. Or those old tight faces. (Laughs) And I have neither of those so…

Patty Duke & Meredith Baxter on "Glee"

Patty Duke & Meredith Baxter on “Glee”

You had a guest appearance on Glee last year with you and Patty Duke playing a lesbian couple. I was wondering how that came about, and what it was like working with Ryan Murphy and the Glee cast.

MB: It was supposed to be a recurring role, but I think Cory Monteith died just after that and I think everyone was sort of paralyzed and didn’t know how to proceed with the show, so nothing ever happened from that. But it was delightful doing the show. I only worked with a couple members of the cast, Chris [Colfer] and Darren [Criss].

Let’s talk about Finding Carter. I saw the pilot and was really impressed with the cast, you, Cynthia Watrous, Alexis Denisoff, Kathryn Prescott and Robert Pine. All of you guys have really memorable TV credits—I was wondering how you came on board for this particular show.

MB: I wish it was a more interesting story but I got a call, it was an offer and I didn’t have to read or audition – which is always refreshing — so I just came on board.

Had you worked with any of these folks before?

MB: Not one of them, but Robert Pine [former ChiPs actor and Chris Pine’s father] is adorable! He is the cutest guy. He’s so sweet and such a good actor. It’s really fun watching everybody in the cast interact and come together as a family. As a recurring character that means I just come back periodically, and I can see the growth in the weeks I’ve been absent. I come back and see “Oh they’re even tighter together.” It’s lovely to see.

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(l to r) Alexis Denisof, Kathryn Prescott, Meredith Baxter and Robert Pine in Finding Carter

How many episodes have been filmed so far?

MB: I don’t know how many total, but I’ve only been in two.

You play a grandmother to the lead character. I was wondering if you could describe the part a little bit. How does she differ from you in real life?

MB: As I first interpreted her on the page, I saw her as a bit of a softie – with not a lot of a voice. Now that’s just the way I saw it on the page – no one abused me of that idea. Since then I’ve come to see that this is a woman who is controlling. She uses her money to control her family. She manipulates. She’s opinionated. She does not like her son-in-law. She’s even told her daughter [played by Cynthia Watrous] that if she wanted to have an affair– she said, “You go ahead I’ll cover for you.”

So that’s a lot more fun to play than milquetoast. (Laughs)

Baxter with daughter Molly Birney

I came across a photo of you with your daughter Molly Birney, and I was struck by how much she looks like you from your Bridget Loves Birney days.

MB:  I know!

Are any of your kids in the entertainment industry?

MB:  No, my kids all went to college and have degrees – and they’re much smarter than I am. They didn’t have to resort to that.

Any projects or charitable causes you’re involved with these days that you’d like to tell us about?

MB:  I’m on the board of the CLARE Foundation. That’s a drug and alcohol rehab organization, and have been a board member for about 10 years. Their mission statement is about offering compassionate recovery opportunities for people who want to get off any kind of addiction. They have a wonderful track record and they’re one of the few places that offers women with children a place to come and get sober. So often you have single Moms out there and if they’re gonna get sober they have to put their kids in foster care. And this is a place says “bring your kids – we will take care of you.” So people don’t have to choose between their kids and sobriety. That’s just heinous.

I’m a sober girl. I’ve been sober for a bit and had gone to one of the fundraising dinners and I was so impressed hearing the stories of people who had gone through the ClARE Foundation and came out the other side and changed their lives – it was stunning. I said “I want to get involved here somehow.”

Meredith Baxter can be seen in the new series Finding Carter which premieres Tuesday, July 8 at 10/9c on MTV.

 
 

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