There was not doubt they’d be partners in crime.
Before filming NBC’s new dramedy Good Girls, Retta, Mae Whitman and Christina Hendricks “met for a night that never ended,” recalls Hendricks. “First, it was drinks, then dinner and then I was like, ‘Do you guys want to come over and hang out?’”
The fun was, um, bottomless. Adds Whitman, “I left my pants on Christina’s dining room table. I had something on down there. I just didn’t know what it was. That set the tone for the relationship. No pants, no apologies!”
That “natural trust,” as Hendricks puts it, is evident on screen: The trio play overworked, under appreciated moms. Hendricks’ Beth learns her husband is cheating; Retta’s Ruby struggles to pay for her sick daughter’s medical bills and Whitman’s single mom Annie is battling for custody of her daughter.
To make ends meet, they decide to rob a grocery store, of course. Except their haul — and the aftermath — is way more than they banked on.
Now, Retta, 47, Hendricks, 42, and Whitman, 29, do some time with Us.
Us Weekly: The show kicks off with an epic robbery. What could possibly be next?
Christina Hendricks: So many people are like, “Well, where do you go from here?” Obviously, when you mess up a robbery, it’s just going to unfold into chaos.
Mae Whitman: The twists are phenomenal. Every time we got the script, we would be like, “Whoa! Where could this go?” These are good people, but their choices are questionable. They have to justify it as the situation gets more extreme.
Us: What part of yourself do you see in your character?
Retta: My character, Ruby, is like, “No! We shouldn’t do this. Are you serious?” I’m not a ruler breaker, either. I’m like, “We need to stand in line. We cannot cut.”
CH: On paper, Beth and I are quite different. She’s a stay-at-home mother, but she has a determination I have. When she sets her mind to something, she has to achieve it. Really, I respond a lot to the best friend and sisterly bonding.
MW: I usually play the pragmatic, wise-beyond-her-years teen. It was fun to be someone who leaps before she looks. Also, playing a mom for the first time, when I’ve been a child actor my whole life, was really special.
Us: Did you pull inspiration from moms in your life?
MW: Of course. I totally based my character on Lauren Graham, who is one of my best friends and played my mom on Parenthood. It was a similar situation. Her character had me young and we helped each other grow up.
R: Growing up, my mother was very touchy-feely. She’d rub my face and play with my earlobes. I brought that to Ruby, to the point where the kids are like, “Alright, Mom!”
Us: How does this show women in a different light?
CH: Oftentimes, we see women in competitive roles. With this, they fight and disagree but they love each other. It’s refreshing to watch women being good to each other.
MW: This doesn’t make a meal out of the fact that the leads are women. It’s a fact of life. We have flaws and aren’t apologetic about it. We’re three interesting, strong, funny, weird people. We’re normalizing that. And, for me, working with two of my closets friends all the time and being allowed to be who we are and make jokes is so important.
Us: The plot dovetails with the Time’s Up movement. Was that an important choice?
R: The script was written before the movement, but we’re very aware of it on set. In between takes, we’re on our phones like, “Ugh, did you hear what this person did today?”
CH: It’s universal, timeless stuff we’re talking bout. It does feel more poignant now because it’s a conversation that, thank goodness, is on everyone’s lips. This is about taking control and making decisions for yourself, as stupid as those decisions may be.
MW: It’s doubly exciting that the show is about women finding their voice and that’s what’s happening in the real world right now.
Us: Your offscreen dynamic comes off so well on screen. Was it an instant connection?
CH: Immediately! I was so nervous. I wanted them to like me. But, everything was very easy. I trust them and that’s so important when you’re being vulnerable as an actor.
R: We were all in from the start. We just get each other.
MW: It’s true. I know Retta’s palette like the back of my hand!
R: That first time, it was wine on wine on wine.
MW: There were so many bottles of wine!
R: Way into the night, Mae disappeared.
MW: Apparently I stood up and was like, “I’m going to the bathroom!” and walked out of Christina’s house and got into a cab. I didn’t tell anyone. What was I thinking?
Us: Do you have a hard time keeping a straight face while filming together?
MW: Oh, yeah! [Laughs]
R: And it’s usually in serious scenes!
CH: Sometimes I have to intentionally not look at them because I know I’ll immediately start laughing.
MW: There’s a scene where Retta and I are having a serious conversation. She snaps and is staring at me upset. Every single time I was hysterically laughing with tears.
Us: If you pulled off a robbery, who would you call for backup?
R: My friend Rosa. She’s sneaky, smart and has my back. She’d have the escape route, too.
MW: My best friends Jane Levy and Miles Heizer. I’d make Miles charm the people in front with his good looks and Jane and I would do the dirty work in back.
CH: I’m trying to think: How many people do I get? Who runs fastest? Who’s scrappy? I have a core group of girlfriend who would be handy.
Us: And your first splurge?
CH: I’d rent a home in Italy for a month with a private chef. I’d invite me friends to relax, eat and drink wine. You’re invited, too!
MW: I’m like 700 years old. I’d like a plot of land by a lake because it seems like a good investment.
R: I’d go buck wild online shopping!
MW: Chanel dude. It would be f–king Chanel head to toe.
Us: Ok, be honest: Ever stolen anything?
CH: Totally! I stole a lipstick and a pair of $5 sunglasses from a beach boardwalk. It was all in one weekend, too. I decided to be a bad kid. I blame my friends.
R: I stole crossword puzzle when I was, like, 10. My godmother took me back to the store and made me pay for it.
MW: I’ve never shoplifted anything in my life. Never. Not once. My grandmother will be so proud when she reads this!
Good Girls airs on NBC Mondays at 10 p.m. ET
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