So Help Me Todd's Madeline Wise on New Role & Joining Star Trek FranchiseWhitney Evans at .
Madeline Wise has quite the resume.
Currently starring in the CBS hit So Help Me Todd, Madeline has also appeared in Single Drunk Female, Star Trek: Picard, and Crashing, among others. Those are some lofty series to be attached to, and Madeline's star is only rising.
Madeline was kind enough to take some time out of her day to talk to me about everything So Help Me Todd, including what it's like to work alongside the brilliant Marcia Gay Harden, what it was like joining the iconic Star Trek franchise, and what she's currently watching on television.
This was a lovely conversation, and Madeline was insightful and nothing short of fantastic to speak with. Enjoy!
Could you tell me a little about So Help Me Todd and your character, Allison?
Sure. It's a fun series. So Help Me Todd is sort of a wacky hybrid of a legal procedural and a family drama. So it follows Margaret Wright, this supertype, a sort of uptight, highly accomplished lawyer who somewhat unintentionally gets stuck working with and collaborating with her son Todd, who is a disgraced former private investigator.
And along the way, they attempt to rehabilitate their relationships. I play Allison, Margaret's middle child, Todd's older sister, an ER doctor, and the super achiever of the family who has done everything that her mother wanted her to do and then started to crack a little bit under pressure.
But I think it's a really fun combination of a couple of genres in a way that I haven't seen before, and I think it'll be fun. I'm excited for people to see it.
What attracted you to this role?
I read the script, and I just thought it was smart and funny, and I saw myself in Allison. I could identify a little bit with the position she often finds herself in. She's a little bit everyone in her family's confidant, which is a role I think she's well suited for.
But again, it starts to be a little challenging and difficult, and she's not sure she wants to be in that position. But I just love the character. She's smart, she's really dry and very funny, but very practical, and I appreciate that she's sort of the cool-head and level-headed person that kind of brings people back to reality every once in a while.
Yeah, that was my next question for you, actually. I was going to say, in what ways do you find yourself being similar to Allison or even different from Allison, as you're getting to play her through this first season?
Yeah, I mean, I like to think that I have had slightly more agency in my life necessarily than Allison has. She's definitely gone down a path, but I think she's starting to realize she's not entirely sure of how she got where she's ended up.
But I do see a lot of myself in her, or maybe it's just that in playing her, I've brought a lot of myself to her, which is just this slightly ironic perspective on life, but I like to think a fairly clear-eyed, reasonable approach to things.
She sees the humor in things. She's not a humorless Debbie Downer. She enjoys the antics of her wacky younger brother.
Marcia Gay Harden plays your mother, and she's an acting legend. What has it been acting alongside her?
It's incredible. It's incredible. And I tell her this often; it just feels like such a privilege to get to watch her work. And she's lovely. She is, just on top of being a brilliant actress, just a lovely human being.
And I particularly love her in this role because Marcia herself is funny and quick with a dirty joke, and she's playing this really buttoned-up kind of prissy woman.
She's intelligent, and she's capable. She's also an impressive person, but she's very different from who Marcia is, and Marcia is really having a lot of fun with the character. I'm really, really excited for people to see her in this role. And I just feel so lucky that I get to watch her work from two feet away. It's awesome.
Yeah, definitely. What is something you hope people can take away from the show?
Something that I hope people are able to take away from the show? What a good question. I think I am excited.
Obviously, I think we've had shows on CBS or network television shows that might be slightly familiar to have a case of the week, but I think what this show has that's special and different is this sort of notion of being supported by your family.
And I don't even necessarily just mean a biological family, but there's characters who work at Margaret's firm with her and with Todd. We've got Lyle, who's the extremely capable investigator foil to Todd.
We've got Susan, who's Todd's ex-girlfriend and a junior partner at the firm. There's Francey, who is Margaret's executive assistant and is a longtime family friend.
And it's just about all of these people navigating their evolving relationships with the people they were born into a family with and people who they start to allow to become closer to them and learning how to be supported by other people and learning how to support other people in ways that are unexpected and that are surprising to themselves.
I think that the real special part of the show is all of the interpersonal dynamics. The beating heart of the show is just seeing how these people come together and work together.
Great. I love that. Switching gears a little bit. I know that you were in Star Trek: Picard, and I was curious about what it was like stepping into a role in one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic, franchises.
It was daunting, for sure. In a way, I felt sort of relieved that I personally was never a Trekkie., so in a way, it felt like I didn't have as much pressure on myself because I don't personally have the full depth of knowledge.
Although, then once I was cast, obviously, I got in there. And my sister is a huge Trekkie, and she was extremely helpful in getting me up to speed on everything I needed to know.
I would text her and be like, "Okay, what's a Romulan? What's a Borg?" And she was like, "I've been waiting my whole life to tell you this stuff." It was very sweet. And I had watched the movies with her when I was younger, but it was really sweet.
And again, it's like a huge franchise, but everybody there was so lovely.
Patrick Stewart is, to me, one of the most intimidating concepts of a person that could exist, but he was so lovely and welcoming, and that was the case on that show just all around. It was such a lovely group of people that you sort of forget it's a scary notion stepping into that part.
I feel like being honored is such a tried cliche, but I was very honored to be cast in that role because I know how important Jean-Luc Picard is to a lot of people.
And it was really beautiful to me to consider, "Okay, what sort of person parents a person that is inspiring to so, so many people? Who's the person who has led that guy to being who he is?" which was sort of definitely scary but also pleasure of a task to undertake.
Looking at the different roles that you've been in, what draws you to certain roles? You've done comedies, drama, and sci-fi now with Star Trek. What kind of draws you in?
If I feel connected to the character, if I feel like there's something in there that I recognize about myself, but then also a lot of the time I feel like, with Crashing, the character that I played in that show, there's a lot of that character that it's so dissimilar to me.
And I think, in that case, I was sort of excited to try to investigate a person who was, in many ways, very different from me to find where we overlapped and then flesh out someone who is pretty far from me in certain ways.
But it's often like I'll read a script, and if I love the story and I love the world that is being built, and I love the characters who exist there, I feel like that's usually what hooks me, and I will often pick stuff because of the collaborators.
It's like if I know the work of the person who's written it or who's directing it or producing it or whatever, it's like that will often get me because it is such a collaboration.
You spend so much time with these people, and so a lot of the time, it's just been a case of I want to spend 14 hours a day in the company of that person and in conversation with them in some way or another.
And piggybacking off that, what would be your dream role if a role could be perfectly crafted for you? What would be at the absolute top of your list?
This is always such a hard question because there's a part of me that's like, I'm not sure that it's been written yet. There's always some part of me that's like, I would love to play a bad guy. I think "The Bad Guy" is such fun to play because it's more challenging to figure out what makes that person tick.
I don't know. Yeah, I think I am so grateful that the roles I've gotten to play so far have been, in general, intelligent, multifaceted, interesting, funny, smart people. And as long as I get to continue to do that, I am happy as a clam.
You know what I recently saw? I saw Top Gun Maverick recently, and I was like, "That looks so hard." And there was a little part of me that was like, "Maybe I want to do an action thing. Maybe... "
I really don't know. It's like I will eat those words, I'm sure because it's so hard. It's just like little pieces where you have to, suddenly you're flying through space or whatever, and you have to really sell it. It's really hard. I think Tom Cruise is amazing for being able to do all that stuff.
I work for TV Fanatics, so as the name implies, we're big into TV. So I was wondering, what are some of the shows you are currently enjoying or some of your all-time favorite shows? What is on your TV hit list?
Oh, amazing. The shows that I'm currently enjoying. I'm loving what We Do in the Shadows. I just actually finished season two of Only Murderers in the Building. I have finally gotten around to watching Abbott Elementary, and I think it is so deeply wonderful and charming.
I recently rewatched a couple of episodes of Severance because it's just such a good, smart, wonderful show. I can't wait for Succession to come back. I feel like that covers the bases of my contemporary, my relatively current, current TV watching.
There's always a point, like, "I should go back and rewatch the Sopranos. I want to rewatch the Sopranos." But it always makes me really hungry to watch. I feel like I have to watch it with a plate of lasagna in front of me, or I can't watch that show.
Same with I watched The Bear, and I was like, "This rocks, but I'm so hungry." It's like I can't watch certain food shows anymore.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.