Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Only On AOL: Tea Leoni on what matters most to her - March 2016

Let's face it: Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord is the politician we all want, especially in these rather colorful and confounding times. She's upstanding, dignified, loyal, honest, and always tries to do the right thing on "Madam Secretary"; new episodes return on Sunday, March 6, on CBS. (See an interview with her cast above).

The show is led by TV veteran and mom of two Tea Leoni, who's in the midst of time away from her Brooklyn location, where the show shoots.

"If you look at me, you'd think I had more than two kids or I just put in the finger in the socket. I don't look the part of someone who is punctual. I don't know what to do with myself," she says, adding that her day is the antithesis of glam. "It's filled with cavities and mammograms and talking to the plumber. At the end of these days, I just want to get me back to the safety of my set."

She loves playing Elizabeth, in no small part because she deals with topical problems, in an idealized setting -- one in which no one compares the sizes of their phalluses during a debate. Elizabeth has deep knowledge of the Middle East and at one point helps restore relations with Cuba.

"Elizabeth is secure in her office, being a television secretary of state. She doesn't have to run. Things get wackadoodle when you have to run. You campaign. You run for office. And then you make these plans and have these grand ideas," she says. "And I'm dying to be a fly on the wall the first day in office when you sit down with everybody and they tell you, 'Here's why you can't do anything you promised you're going to do.'"

Best of all, she says, "We're not politicians and we're not in the business of fear-mongering, we're following the way likely things will unfold. We don't have an agenda."

So if Elizabeth was somehow, in a fictional parallel universe, elected our actual president, she'd embark on a series of reforms. "Elizabeth would be great. You know why? The first thing she would do, she'd arrest everyone who drives in the left hand lane. If people would use it for passing only, as the law states, we wouldn't have traffic. People would have less road rage," she says, adding that in general, it would lead to more civilized discourse and less instances of people cutting the proverbial line to get what they wanted.

She has no plans to leave the show. "I hope that we can make years and seasons distinguish and not meld together. I'd like for her to stay in office for a while and not have to get thrown out. Part of the fun of the show is not watching a political career trajectory but the day in and day out of being a woman. Day in and day out. I think we're fascinating enough," she says.

True, that. Leoni shares custody of her two children, a son and daughter, with ex-husband David Duchovny. Things, she says, don't quite get easier as the kids get older.

"When they're little, you throw them in a backpack and take them with you. When I worked when the kids were younger, I had them on set. Now my kids, their social lives, their school lives, their schedules read like something off a senator's desk," says Leoni. "That's very hard. Between my schedule and theirs, we have to fight for the right to have meals together. And we do. That's hugely important."

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