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CONTENDER Q&A

She's Riding High

'Weeds' star Mary-Louise Parker is up for two Emmys. But don't offer her a celebratory spliff.

September 12, 2007|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

MARY-LOUISE PARKER has a crowded mantel at home -- there's an Emmy, a Tony and a couple of Golden Globes. She may need to make room now with two more lead-actress Emmy nominations, one for the Showtime series "Weeds" and the other for the Oxygen movie "The Robber Bride." As Nancy Botwin, the frazzled single mom and pot grower on "Weeds," Parker has critics and fans raving, and she cheerily describes the show as "totally perverse." But, no, that doesn't mean she wants you to hand her a joint if you see her on the street.

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There's been a flurry of suburban pot-house raids in Southern California this year. Do you think "Weeds" is inspiring a surge in grow houses?

Wow, no, I didn't hear about that. I never get to watch the news. I have a 3-year-old. You know, I knew one guy who had a grow house. I didn't know it at the time. I found out years after the fact. But it made sense when I did find out. I always wondered why he had nice cars but never seemed to be going to work.

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The show has some truly subversive moments and plenty of drug and sex humor. Have you been confronted by anyone who thinks it goes too far?

I really haven't. And I'm surprised more people haven't come at it. I expected more criticism but it just hasn't happened. I actually had more people come up to me and say negative things when I was on "The West Wing." I think that was because people like to pick on and find fault with things that are idealistic. "Weeds" takes a lot of chances and there are moments when we're reading the scripts and we say, "No way, we're really going to do that?" and that's even more so this season.

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You've spent a lot of time with this character now -- more than 23 episodes. Is that a challenge or a comfort as an actor?

It's a luxury and a curse. Sometimes you find yourself wondering if you're contradicting something the character has done before or you worry you're maybe being redundant. I'm always trying to find stuff to give her, trying to work even when I'm not working, observe and remember things. I'm always trying to find ways to give her more depth.

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What can we expect from this season? Nancy's last boyfriend, a DEA agent, got snuffed -- will there be a new beau for her?

Nancy is going to some darker neighborhoods and deeper into the 'hood. A lot of it is the relationship between Nancy and her oldest son. It's her trying to hold the reins on him and it doesn't go well. That gets pretty dark.

U-turn is back; there's a big story line with him. Nancy is kind of indebted to him and that takes her to some bad situations. As for the relationship, so far the writers just have Nancy hooking up with some kind of one-nighter. I'm hoping there's more than that down the line.

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You're reaching Cheech and Chong status with pot-smoking fans. Do strangers now walk up to you and offer you drugs?

I live in New York, and in the Village you get the random joint offered to you. The thing is, I usually have a toddler with me, so that's a little strange -- so, really, it just makes me cranky.

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geoff.boucher@latimes.com

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