Friday, September 21, 2012

5Qs on Friday: Reno Wilson

Mike & Molly's Reno Wilson Talks Season Three and Holly Robinson Peete

CBS's hit Monday sitcom Mike & Molly from producer Chuck Lorre centers on Mike (Billy Gardell) and Molly (Melissa McCarthy). But it's more than that. M&M is an ensemble show where co-stars like Swoosie Kurtz and Reno Wilson play fully realized characters with story lines and relatable lives that are funnier than ours.

On M&M, Reno is Carl, a cop buddy of Mike's. Carl is goofy, funny and falling hard for Holly Robinson Peete's Christina. Last season, after relationship highs and lows, Christina told Carl that she loves him. Aww.

Reno spoke with TVFirstLook about Mike & Molly (CBS - Monday, 9:30pm), working with Chuck Lorre and a career that improbably stretches all the way back to The Cosby Show.

TVFirstLook: OK, so Mike & Molly ended its second season with Mike and Molly getting hitched and your character, Carl, getting serious with Christina (Holly Robinson Peete). What's going on in season three?

Reno Wilson: Last season ended with Christina saying she loves Carl. That was big. This season, there are some changes happening. That's all I can say or I'll ruin everything.

And now, Mike has that wedding ring on his finger. To me, the first two seasons were the setup. They met, they dated, they got engaged and now they're married. I think Carl is excited about having been the best man and, hopefully, soon he can be Uncle Carl.

TVFirstLook: So, the show is going into its third season and it has already been sold into syndication, meaning reruns will live on for years. Is that type of thing important to you?

Reno: Mike & Molly was my 17th pilot - 17th! Out of those, 13 went to series. Of those, only one went a full season. So, going into my third season and into syndication is huge. That's why I came to Los Angeles, to get a TV series and to keep progressing in my career.

TVFirstLook: So, on the show you are working with Chuck Lorre, who's obviously a TV legend. What is it like to work with him?

Reno: He has three top-15 shows (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly). And he his hand in every one of them. He is at every reading and every taping. He sees everything, from the scenery to the lighting to the arc of the story. And the thing I admire most about him is that he loves TV.

I also got to work with James Burrows the first two seasons. And (creator) Mark Roberts is this crazy, genius storyteller. He's an incredible playwright. I saw him in a play over the summer that he wrote and starred in. He's astonishing.

This is the top of the sitcom game right here.

TVFirstLook: You work closely with Holly Robinson Peete, who has a recurring role as Carl's girlfriend. Did you two know each other before Mike & Molly?

Reno: She's a force of nature. I call her HRP Industries. The funny thing is that I followed her on Twitter. She made a quick comment like, "Carl needs a slightly older love interest." I tweeted back, "No. Carl needs an age-appropriate love interest."

Sure enough, one day I went to a table reading and she was there. It was the first time I met her, but it's like we've known each other forever. Our families spend time together when we're not on the set.

She's phenomenal. And she's back this season. So, like I said, things are happening.

TVFirstLook: OK, last thing. Is it true that your first acting job was on The Cosby Show? That's pretty amazing.

Reno: Yeah, that was a pretty auspicious beginning. I went to SUNY Purchase College Conservatory for Acting. I got that job when I was still in school. It was like a master's class in sitcom. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from Bill Cosby that I didn't even understand until years later. He's incredible.

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