Disclosure: Disney provided me with an all-expense paid media trip to L.A. All opinions are completely my own.
Hopefully you caught my Baby Daddy Set Visit post last week (if not, read it here). We had such a great time hanging out on the set and watching the cast film an upcoming show. Oh, did I mention I’ve already seen the winter premiere that airs tomorrow night? I did, and if you want to see a wet, shirtless Derek Theler, you’ll tune in! See, that got your attention. 😉
About Baby Daddy
Baby Daddy is a half-hour comedy that follows Ben, a young man in his early 20s living the life of a bachelor in New York City with his buddy, Tucker, and his brother, Danny. Their lives are turned upside down when they come home one day to find a baby girl left on the doorstep by an ex-girlfriend of Ben’s. After much deliberation, Ben decides to raise the baby with the help of his friends and his protective and sometimes over-bearing mother, Bonnie, and his close female friend, Riley.
The series stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau as Ben, Derek Theler as Danny, Tahj Mowry as Tucker, Melissa Peterman as Bonnie, and Chelsea Kane as Riley.
We had just a few minutes with each actor, because they were filming the day we stopped by for a visit. Luckily for us, Melissa Peterman wasn’t scheduled that day but decided to come join us for a little chat. You’ll notice that some of the cast’s interviews are a bit longer than others. That’s because we were interviewing in between filming, so we’d be in the middle of a question or the actor would be in the middle of and answer and we’d hear the bell and quiet on the set. It definitely kept us on our toes, sometimes literally. We’d walk down to the set (from the audience bleachers) and grab a quick picture with the actor or snap some shots for the set visit post, then quickly get back up in our seats before the next bell for quiet.
Melissa Peterman portrays Bonnie Wheeler, Ben and Danny’s protective and sometimes over-bearing mother.
Since she was there to visit with us, Melissa Peterman was happy to sit down and talk with us for a bit. She told us that she originally auditioned and was going to be a guest star, but that they loved her. She loved the role and wanted to do it.
After graduating from Minnesota State University, Melissa says that she worked in theater and improv. I think she’s just naturally funny. Wait until you see the locker room scene in the winter premiere tomorrow night. I had tears in my eyes because I was laughing so hard.
You know what? Melissa is like the rest of us. She wants to stay home at night like all of us homebodies.
“I don’t want to wear pants after 8 o’clock at night. We just make it so anyone can come to our house to hang but I just don’t want to go and we end up hanging out with friends usually. I rarely go out. If I do, ti’s because I have to but I like to hang out at my house. I like my house and I like my husband…I still like him. I like to be at home. I’m a little bit of a homebody.”
And the follow up question to that answer should be obvious, right? But when your friends come over, you wear pants, right? (honest question!)
There are some people, I won’t lie, that are on the A-Team. They’re on the A-Team because they know I just might not be. I’m not talking sweat pants…I’m talking pants with actual zippers. I think they can make a better pajama jean that looks…let’s put that out there. They need to make that look more like a jean. Because it doesn’t.
She speaks the truth about pajama jeans, right? I don’t own a pair, but I’ve seen the infomercials (you know, when I’m up at three in the morning and that’s all that’s on TV. don’t judge).
If you weren’t acting, what would you do?
I think I would be doing something with kids. I like teaching. I hope I would be doing something with kids or animals. When i was a kid, I wanted to be a veternarian or teach or a lawyer. I think I aslo said astronaut, but that one, I never pursued. But, I think something with kids. I really like kids. I like them before they care what other people think and they get an editor. I think that’s the age group I’d like to be around. Try to keep that as long as possible, where they don’t worry if people are looking at them. I think we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back to that point where we didn’t care if people saw or heard what we did. I think that’s why I like improv with kids, too, because to get a teenager to just let go and not worry about [what others think]. That’s the best thing, if you can make that happen in a class because we lose it too fast now.
How does your role as a mom of a boy in real life influence your life as a mom of boys on the show?
They would say too much, because I tend to mother them – all of them. I say ‘Is that what you’re wearing? Do you have socks?’ Jean-Luc will go to Canada to visit home, ‘Do you have warm enough clothes?’ I’m friends with Derek and Jean-Luc’s mothers and Tahj’s mom on Facebook.
I’m more like Chelsea’s older sister. I’m more like the kinda fun aunt. I think it’s been very helpful. I tell them stories about my son. My son is also like Derek. They think he’s going to be 6’5″…again, I’m not a sample size. He’s 9 years old and he’s almost 5 feet tall, so it’s fun to picture. It’s fun for me.
Do you have a favorite episode?
I have a couple favorites. I loved Ranger Roos episode where Tahj and I were auditioning for the mascot for the Rangers and that was physical and very fun. There was one we just shot that I really like, that hasn’t aired yet and it gave me one of those heartwarming scenes that earns the big broad funny. You can get away with that if you have those moments of real heart ad humanity and I had a really great episode with Danny where I lied about a birthday. It was basically how I just wanted time with my son and it was a really sweet moment and I really do cry at those moments like it’s hard for me because you do think of those. But, I love those moments so that’s from this season…and any one with ‘Brad The Pad’ cause, I don’t know if you’ve seen him but Peter Porte who plays my boyfriend on- and off-again. He’s ridiculously beautiful and also just very fun so , we enjoy those weeks when he’s around
About ad libbing
We try an idea and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, and by Season 4, we’re starting to the point where after I’ve gotten the last line out, my goal…I can add another one [before he yells cut] and see what he does. I know if we finish, he won’t cut, and I can try something.
Derek Theler portrays Danny Wheeler, Ben’s brother, a professional hockey player. Danny recently relocated to New York and has moved in with Ben and Tucker.
This is Derek’s first real acting role. Did you know that he graduated from Colorado State University with a pre-med degree? Yep! Oh, and if you look at all the pictures you can see just how tall he is. 6’5″. Yep, he towered over all of us, but when taking selfies, he offered to hold the phones because his arms were so much longer than ours. Go, ahead, take a peek. He’s even got dimples. But, that’s not all. He can act! Take a look at what he had to say during the interview.
About acting on Baby Daddy
I’ve never done anything like it before. As we grew into the characters, as the seasons went on, now it’s just pure fun. All week we lead up to our big Friday show when we’re ready, we know our lines, the audience is here and they’re totally involved with it and it brings a whole different energy to the show. The laugh track is real, the fans that come here regularly are real and it’s a really cool thing to be a part of.
How is it to work with the babies?
It’s amazing. They’re a set of twins playing one character. As the seasons go on, every finale to one season and premiere of the next is supposed to be one week, so we have to change twins. Otherwise, our original babies are 4 1/2 years old, so we change them.
The ones we’re using now, they’re beautiful and they’re amazing. They hit all their cues and know all their lines better than we do.
It’s funny, this episode [that they were filming], they have tricks that they have to do, like they have to burp on command and put her arms up in the air like “bring me a basket of french fries” so it’s been a little bit longer than normal waiting for the babies to hit all their cues, so we’re a little bit behind schedule.
It’s fun to work [with] the babies because the audience knows they’re babies. They don’t know what they’re doing yet. They don’t know exactly what’s happening. When the live audience is here and when the babies are down there [on the set stage], they seem to feed off of it just as much as we do. Everyone has a good time.
Today is all about getting all of the baby coverage, getting all the babies’ scenes finished and in the can so that when the audience is here tomorrow night, they can watch them on the screens.
Do you stick to the script, or do you do a love of improve yourself?
It depends, the improv moments are ususally when the audience is here and they’ve seen the same scene a couple of times. If we get it a couple of times and if we do it right, we have permission to say whatever we want or pitch new ideas. The writers are really great about working with us on that. We usually do a take that’s just for the audience; we’ll have different characters come in and out of doors and surprise the actors who are on stage. It’s a fun atmosphere to come and see because there’s a lot of unique things that happen during the show that don’t happen on the show that you see on television.
Which of the scenes are your favorite?
I love the big sets, stunts, and the costumes. One of my favorite scenes I got to beat up a guy who was mugging these two [referring to Jean-Luc and Chelsea’s characters] this season and I came up in a back alley and had to fight him. He was padded up and I was throwing him up agains the wall…it was really fun. That’s my favorite stuff. I had a scene where I got to kick a door down..and also with the costumes, I got to wear a full-blown centaur costume, I had a horse body. I’m bare chested and I have horse legs and a horse bottom and I had to walk around the whole set…
Melissa [Peterman] who plays my mother, we had this whole thing going on when she’s eating an apple and we had all these horse jokes that never made the show. She’s feeding me an apple, so I’m wandering around, whinnying like a horse. It’s funny.
Is there a learning curve to doing this?
Absolutely! At this point, I feel a lot more comfortable than I did before. But, it’s kind of nerve-wracking getting up onthe set for the first time, for the first few weeks and performing in front of a packed place that’s come to laugh. To see comedy, and sometimes the jokes don’t hit and if nobody laughs, then it’s time to re-write the joke. To try something else. So, that happens, too. If something doesn’t hit as we think it will, or it’s not as funny as we think it is, or the audience just doesn’t ‘get it’, we have to change the joke quick and bring them something else as soon as we can.
…we have to tell a story every week so it’s not a whole lot of time, so things get cut because of time issues and then everything gets rearranged a little bit.
Jean-Luc Bilodeau portrays Ben Wheeler, a young man in his early 20’s living the life of a bachelor as a bartender in New York City with his buddy Tucker and his brother Danny. His life is turned upside down when he comes home one day to find a baby girl left on his doorstep by an ex-girlfriend.
What do you love most about working on Baby Daddy?
I think it’s because it’s a multi cam. It’s my first sitcom experience. i predominately have just a single cam background, so it’s a lot of drama stuff, longer set hours and everything. Here, everyone’s super cool, you get to hear laughter – that’s something you don’t get on any other set that’s not a sitcom. The audience every Friday is really fun. That makes it really enjoyable and the cast is awesome, too, and the food is great.
Has the show changed what you know or how you feel about kids?
Oh yeah! I already liked kids to begin with, I’ve just never picked up an infant. Doing the show, I think that it’s warmed me up to the idea of having a bigger family than I originally planned. I’m really good at holding the kids now and playing with them. So, I wanted a family, it’s good practice. Although, I’ve never changed a diaper, though, so that might just change the whole thing.
Instead of family handing off their kids to you, saying you need practice for your own family, do you find that you’re being handed kids as ‘practice’ for your TV role?
Honestly, I think it’s weird because I have a huge family. Aside from my immediate family, we have like 40 cousins or so and they’re all having kids so they’re not giving the kids off as practice, they’re giving them to me because they want photos…they want the Baby Daddy pose. At all the family events, I always get the responsibility of hanging out with the kids. It’s not for practice, it’s for the whole Baby Daddy.
Did you always want to be an actor?
My mom got me an agent when I was nine so I started in this business before I even knew what it was or before it was even a career option for me. I was just doing commercials so it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I decided that was an option for a lifelong career. I don’t even know what I wanted to become…I love cars, I’m always working on cars so I think I wanted to become a mechanic for a while. My mom’s like ‘Stay in acting’. It wasn’t until I was about 15 that I actually decided that acting was my jam.
I want to direct…I’d probably stay in the film industry [if I wasn’t acting], so I’d probably just do directing or something, but that’s something I want to tackle in the next couple of years. It’s one of my goals for the next few years. I would love to [direct an episode of Baby Daddy]; I’m not ready, but I would love to, maybe the season after.
I would love to go to school for a while, just do a course. I’ve been on set since I was 9 years old; I have a pretty good understanding of how things work, and lighting and all, but just that extra step – I just really need to get the lingo and all the little intricate stuff going one.
This is actually, it’s interesting, because Lem’s job – he’s got to operate four cameras, right? So, when he does all his camera coordinating, it’s like geometry. There’s so much, it looks like trigonometry. It’s crazy. That’s a whole new level of directive for sitcoms because a single cam just has one camera facing one direction. It’s a lot easier. It’s different, but it’s fun.
What do you do in your downtime?
I play hockey. That and just chill out. We work three weeks on, one week off so I try to go back home at least every second hiatus. So, back home a lot. And…work on my car.
Tahj Mowry portrays Tucker Dobbs, Ben’s buddy and roommate. Tucker is always making us laugh. But don’t touch his food, or he’ll probably make you cry!
There’s really good chemistry on-set, are you guys really close off-set, as well?
Oh, yeah. Derek and I like going to the movies – we like action movies, superhero type movies. Chelsea and I are like, brother and sister…Melissa lives two minutes away from me. She’d beep the horm and I’d be like ‘Melissa’s here’.
Yeah, so we’re all super close.
If you weren’t acting what would you be doing?
A lot of people don’t know, I was a lot heaver and bigger, like muscle, 40 pounds heavier so I got a football scholarship right out of high school so I probably would still be playing football…naw, I’m just kidding. It just wasn’t as fun anymore.
Directory Michael Lembeck came over during our interview to let us know that Tahj had been sick all week and this was his first day back. Michael said that Tahj ‘shot out of a cannon today’. Oh, and don’t kiss him. It seemed like they had a very good rapport and that they enjoyed bantering.
Tahj grew up in the spotlight. What would he do if his kids wanted to follow in his footsteps?
Just to make sure that it’s something that they actually want to do and not get into it for the glitz and the glamour and the fame of it all because it doesn’t matter. All that can change very quickly and this business is very up and down sometimes and so you have to have a tough skin. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not a good actor if you don’t get this part, you have to prepare to be told ‘no’ and do it because you like it and because you’re passionate about it, not just because you watch your favorite television show and you want to be that person.
What’s your biggest challenge that you’ve come across working on Baby Daddy?
On this show we have to make sure we just stay in each scene because there’s a baby in all of them and sometimes we only get one shot for her to do what she needs to do in the script and if you don’t know your line, and she did her part, but you messed up, she might not do it again. So you just make sure you’re on all the time. But it’s cool because it keeps the set very calm and cool and, you know, everybody likes babies. But that’s probably the most difficult part.
What do you love most?
Probably just the people. We have the best crew. I have the best co-stars ever, I hang out with the crew members also off the set…it’s jsut a good environment, a good energy, everybody’s fun and loving.
Director Michael Lembeck: “And I’m here to tell you having done 400 of these, it’s like that rarely and uniquely. It just doesn’t happen that people have the same kind of affinity for one another like these guys do – cast and crew – it just doesn’t happen. It’s really rare and quite wonderful to come to work every day knowing everybody wants to be here, everybody roots for everybody and it’s really not like that.
Director Michael Lembeck talked about directing Friends. Here’s the conversation that took place:
On Friends, we loved coming to work, everyone loved seeing each other every day and it is delightful like that. That group of six was tight like this group of five. They really counted on each other.
Tahj: He directed me on Friends.
Director: When you were how old?
Tahj: I think I was like, 6 maybe.
About his first job
My first job was Who’s The Boss. I did one episode of Who’s The Boss…I did a lot of commercials. I did a lot of McDonald’s commercials…a whole lot of commercials.
Your whole family seems really driven. What do you think it was that your parents did that just clicked with all of you?
They made sure that we were very grounded. They were both in the military, also, so they kept us in check; we’re all very clean, neat, OCD. So it’s good in the long road.
Are you working on any other projects right now?
I’m putting the finishing touches on my album, actually, because I’ve been wanting to do an album for a long time, I just haven’t had time. The single comes out in February and I’m releasing some free stuff online before the actual single in February on iTunes. The free stuff you’ll see, it will be on blog sites. When the single comes out you’ll be able to get that on iTunes and Amazon. It’s a kinda Prince-y vibe, I love Prince, I love Lenny Kravitz. So it’s sort of a mix of those two. Very funky. Kind of electronic. Very different. The first single is called ‘Walker’.
Do you think acting has changed since you were little?
I think so. I think with social media now, it’s very different. Also kind of scarey, too. You have to be careful what you post now and what you share. Sometimes you can’t say where you are…Foursquare, it freaks me out. I don’t want people to know where I am. But on the good side of social media you get to reach out to fans and they can speak to you directly, which is really cool.
Chelsea Kane portrays Riley Perrin, Ben’s closest female friend. Riley used to be the overweight girl next door, but she has now blossomed into a beautiful young woman in law school. Riley’s hopeful that Ben will finally take notice.
How did you get involved with this project?
I’m very, very lucky. I was doing a movie of the week for ABC Family called ‘Lovestruck’. It was a musical and I was on-set and I could hear the execs talking about this new comedy they were doing called Baby Daddy. I said ‘I’d really love to read that, it sounds really interesting,’ and luckily we had such a good time working together on Lovestruck, actually, that I was able to walk right into this. It makes me believe that someone else has a plan for me because it really did fall into my lap. I fell so incredibly lucky that it’s turned into what it has. It’s been the biggest blessing.
So which one [Ben or Danny] do you want to end up with?
Oh, it’s so hard! I go back and forth, even, because I love them on the show and off the show, I love those boys so much. I think the writers have done such an amazing job giving them each qualities that are so lovable and so different. I mean, on paper it’s like ‘professional hockey player, 6’5″, super hot’ or, ‘single dad, bartender’. No, but I think the fact that ‘Ben’ has really taken the reigns with being a single dad…I love that about him, and I really do understand why Riley’s kinda torn.
I think I finally have an idea this season where it’s going so the viewers that have stuck with us -thank you for 70 episodes of who will she chose – they will get a little closure, I think, at the end of the season.
I feel really bad for you – it’s just a hideous cast. How do you deal with it everyday?
Actually, now with the new edition of Eddie [Cibrian]. It’s just painful. I hate the clothes and everything about it is just awful. [She’s laughing as she says this] One of my favorite…anything that Derek walks out without his shirt on, Melissa will…’I’m sorry,’ like, ‘God! You’re supposed to be my son!’ But yeah, it can be a little distracting and sometimes I’ve been like a schoolgirl with Eddie here this week.
No, it doesn’t suck. It’s really great.
Are there any ways in which you’re like your character?
I think we’re a lot alike in which we’re a Type A personality, a real go-getter, almost to the point of getting a little crazy at times. I think I’m kind of a guy’s-girl, too, a little more drama-free. Especially with this show, I honestly do like hanging out with these boys a lot after work. We have a really good time together. But outside of that, I’m definitely not a lawyer.
What do you do in your downtime?
I love to be at home. I’m a real homebody. I love to visit family. I grew up in Arizona. I grew up in Phoenix, I went to Saguaro High School. I love to go home and hang with family. The best part about this show is that we actually do get a lot of downtime, because we get three weeks on and one week off so the writers can catch up with scripts, so I do get a chance to see my parents.
I make candles – I know that sounds really weird – but that’s one of my biggest hobbies. I recycle wine bottles, and glass, and make my own scents and wax and everything! Right now with the holidays I’m doing this sort of Sugar Cookie…so, that’s what I’m handing out to the cast and crew tomorrow.
What has being on the show changed about parenting in your perspective?
A lot! First of all, it’s probably the most unfair introduction to child care. There’s a huge closet of tutus and anytime they’re upset, you pass them off and never have to change a diaper. I know that when I have one of my own, I’m going to be like, ‘Wait a minute, this is way harder than I thought it would be’. At the same time, when we started the show, I had never held a baby, ever, in my life. I don’t have any siblings, and in the very first episode of the very first season, I’m supposed to be the confident girl who knows what she’s doing and it was just the opposite. Tahj has nephews and Derek’s good with… he worked in a daycare, so everyone was really good with the kids except me. I was just terrified, plus you’re holding someone’s newborn baby with them right there…it was so much pressure.
It’s funny, the first couple of seasons I was like, ‘Please do not write scenes where I have to hold the baby,” because I would just lock up and you could see how uncomfortable I was but now after being around them…Dan [Berendsen, creator] always jokes, ‘I can hear your ovaries kicking in’ [she laughs], so now when the babies are on set, I’m just like, ‘Gimme, gimme, gimme.’
Their clothes and their baby smell.. I’m just like, ‘Oh, no.’ It’s like, ‘Gotta wait until we finish the show.’
It’s just amazing and we’ve been so lucky to have such cool parents to lend us their children. They’ve been really, really great. I feel a little ready to have kids at some point.
What’s next for you?
A lot more Baby Daddy, which is always really nice and my favorite thing in the world. Who knows, every hiatus I try to do something but we finish the season in February and anytime they call ‘That’s a wrap’ I’m like ‘Oh gosh, what do I do now?’
We had such a great time interviewing the Baby Daddy cast on set. Did I mention Eddie Cibrian was on set? (YES!) He was nice enough to pose for pictures with us, as well.
Watch full episodes of Baby Daddy on ABC Family.
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Watch the winter premiere on Wednesday, January 14th at 8:30/7:30c.