Judith Light Promises Shining Vale Will be Unlike Anything You've Seen: "It's Going to be a surprise at Every Turn."

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We were thrilled that we had the opportunity to chat with Judith Light on Shining Vale's virtual press day.

Somehow, she conveys so many emotions that result from being in and watching Shining Vale. She stars as Joan, the mother of Courteney Cox's character, Pat. She's a million things at once, and Light portrays her perfectly.

The discussion below reveals how she came to be a part of this show and why she thinks it will spark conversation and entertain audiences worldwide.

Judith Light as Joan on Shining Vale

Hi, Judith. How are you?

I'm good. How are you?

I'm good. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Appreciate it.

Of course. I'm delighted. This is fabulous.

Judith Light Plays with the Camera

So with so many people out there clamoring to work with you these days, how did you decide on Shining Vale?

I read the script. It's just a character I've never played before. It's a kind of... the issues that we're dealing with, like women and sexuality, women as they age, women and mental illness, women and their artistry.

The humor with which it is done, the tenderness and fragility of who human beings are and the way that they relate, and what does it mean to deal with spousal relationships.

What does it mean to deal with children and parenting, and you have all of that and women and mental illness. And you have all of that done within the context of this geniusly written, produced, and created show that is comedy, drama, horror, and paranormal.

I don't even know how to talk about it. I don't even know how to think about it. But I think, not I think. I know people are going to be really compelled by the show and what the story is and the issues that it's dealing with under the guise of all of those other things that I spoke about.

Judith Light on the Red Carpet

Exactly. I think it's interesting that the story itself is unfolding in spite of, or despite, all of the supernatural things that are happening. It's really...

...brilliant. Yes, that's perfectly articulated. That's absolutely right. It's like all of a sudden, you'll be watching a scene between a husband and a wife, and then all of a sudden, some paranormal thing will happen, and you don't know where you are. I believe that human beings, whether they know it or not, love to be surprised.


Something changes. Something shocks you. Something compels you in another way. You become curious, in a way, and curiosity is really the thing that leads you into creativity. And that's what I think has happened in the creation of this show, that people were curious about this idea and all of a sudden, it became this amazing creation.

And you have amazing people. You have Jeff Astrof. You've got Starz. You've got Lionsgate. You got Warner Brothers. I mean, all of these pieces have come together to make this magic.

Jeff Astrof and Judith Light for Shining Vale

And how familiar were you with Sharon Horgan's female characters in the past? She's done some characters that stand up next to these.

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I knew a bit. I mean, I know her, but I knew that she had written these very compelling characters. And Jeff and I talked about that also, so I also knew it wasn't just Jeff.

I knew it was going to be Sharon, too, who was going to be doing this together. And then they put together this women's writer's room, and I knew it was going to be pretty special.

I'm very hopeful about season two. I think there could be some very interesting things, so I'm looking forward to talking to Sharon and Jeff about that.

Portrait of Judith Light

So your character doesn't even come on until episode five. And the information that we get from Pat before that is not very flattering.

[laughs] Thank you.

Not very flattering for Joan.

I know. Yes, I know.

And then she comes bounding on the scene, and it kind of...

[laughs] But that's just because she doesn't really know me.

Judith Light for Shining Vale

Right. And that's what I was wondering. How much of what viewers know of Joan do you think will surprise them whenever they actually meet the character?

I think they'll be surprised that she has been so accurate. That she's been so accurate about her mother.

She knows her mother intimately and well and deeply, and they are both connected at a very profound level. And they understand each other, and her fear that she might turn into her mother is a fear that many of us as women understand.


Oh my God. I just said that, and I sound like my mother. Do you know what I mean? Anyway, go ahead.

Full Shot of Judith Light

How would you explain Joan? How do you view her?

Deeply complex and pained at a very deep level. Unfulfilled, narcissistic, deeply wanting to survive and be on top of her mental illness, wanting very much to be connected to her granddaughter and her daughter.

And you know how when you see someone striving so hard to survive? As viewers, we're compelled by that. We wish for victory for that person, and that's how I feel about Joan. I want to see her victorious.

Now, I have said all of those things that sound incredibly difficult and complex and challenging and depressing. That's not how I view her. That's all of the substance that they have created that's underneath.

What I see on top is a survivor, somebody who uses her humor to get herself through, who uses her sense of and centeredness about herself to try to get through life.

And isn't that what we're all trying to do? And she's really the iconic, mythic character that you see, and her daughter has picked that up from her. So I would say that there's a lot of humor wrapped up in all of that.

Judith Light Rocks a Pinstriped Pantsuit

Oh, absolutely.

That you see someone trying to survive, and I know that's a long-winded way of explaining her or talking about her, but also remember they're also putting more together about her. So I think we're going to see more intricacies of this character.

What would you say to people if they don't really know what they're getting into to watch? Why should they tune in?

Oh, because it's probably going to be one of the best shows on television ever, number one. I mean, I have no compunction about saying that. I mean, I've done two episodes of this show. What can I tell you?

I just think that with Courtney and Greg and the rest of the cast and this producing team, I mean, you're talking about Sharon Horgan, and you're talking about Jeff Astrof. You're talking about Starz. You're talking about Lionsgate Television, Warner Brothers Television. You're talking about generous, epic creators of series that have longevity to them.

Judith Light on Shining Vale's Red Carpet

I'll tell you what else I think. I think that internationally, this show is going to be a huge hit because I think people are going to see something.

It's like what I said before, and I don't want to repeat myself, but it's really to underline that this is not just a comedy. This is not just a drama. This is not just horror. This is not just paranormal. It is all of those things distinctly, beautifully filmed. It looks like a feature film.

I saw the first episode. They sent me the pilot. I was like, "So it's a sitcom." So I'm going to sit down, and I turned to my husband, and I said, "Oh, this is a surprise. I've never seen anything like this." So what I would say is that I don't think anybody's ever seen anything like this.

And I think... Not I think. I know it's going to be a surprise, and it's going to be a surprise at every turn. You're going to think it's one thing, and then you're going to find out that it's something else. And don't you think people love to be surprised?

Shining Vale Premieres on Starz, March 6, 2022, with two back-to-back episodes beginning at 10/9c.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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