“You show up, you do it to the max. Whatever you’re doing, you do it to the max.”
Wendi McLendon-Covey could be talking about any aspect of acting, life, or both, but she is actually talking about her approach to the mother to end all smotherers, Beverly Goldberg on ABC’s “The Goldbergs.”
Based on creator Adam F. Goldberg’s real family, “The Goldbergs” finds the lovable clan of misfits and geeks battling one another and the world at large in the 1980s—but all united by the unconditional, legally blind love of Beverly.
“I just love playing her, and if I had kids I would be the exact same way,” McLendon-Covey, on big screens in “Blended” and the upcoming “Think Like a Man Too,” says. “I was raised that way and I understand the instinct. And when you have a woman who is CEO of the house and takes her job very seriously, she’s gonna get her way.”
That way includes inventing vocabulary words so that her daughter Erica doesn’t do well enough on the SATs to attend college across the country; impersonating a teenager at a Halloween party to talk up her oldest son’s attractiveness; and terrifying her youngest son into giving her hugs on a regular basis. And through it all, McLendon-Covey manages to avoid caricature, creating a fully dimensional character whose extremes are rooted in a very honest, emotional place.
“She’s crazy in that she is crazy in love with her family and will do anything to protect them or get her own way,” she says. And as someone raised by an overprotective mother, is there some of McLendon-Covey’s own mom in Bev?
“There’s a couple of things,” she admits. “This was a small thing, but we did a little scene where Beverly was listening to Erica’s conversations through the heating vent. My mom did that, but she was watching, through the grate in the heater, me watching ‘Saturday Night Live’ in my bedroom with my boyfriend and she fell asleep and I tripped on her going to the bathroom. She has not mentioned it to me, but she knows she did it. And I’m sure she fell asleep because there was nothing going on! And what was she going to do if something started happening? She’s just going to leap out, covered in an afghan, in her pajamas? Just turn the hose on us?”
And though she doesn’t have children of her own, McLendon-Covey finds that Beverly is bleeding into her off-camera life, as well. “If I hear my TV children talking about things, just personal things, I want to get involved and say things like, ‘You’re not going to do that.’ Or, ‘You’re going out tonight? I don’t think so. It’s a work night!’ ” She laughs. “I put on those shoulder pads and I instantly become nosy!”
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