If Beth Hall looks familiar, you may have seen her as Caroline, Roger Sterling’s secretary on Mad Men. But recently, she’s been playing a recovering alcoholic on the CBS series Mom.
Hall plays Wendy, a nurse and former addict who first appeared in Mom Season 2. Now a series regular, Hall can be seen often as the character who started out as “Weeping Wendy” and has grown to be a well-rounded and funny character.
I recently spoke with Hall about her role on Mom, her poker skills, and more.
As it turns out, Wendy wasn’t the role Hall was originally supposed to play.
“I was submitted earlier in the season of Season 2 for the role of Janice, and I booked that. It was a small role in the alcoholics anonymous group where I would stand up and say, ‘Hi, my name is Janice and I’m an alcoh-‘ and then I’d get off. They decided at the last minute that it wasn’t working and so they cut that,” Hall remembered.
The producers promised to have her back and eventually cast her in the role of Wendy.
“They had me come back as Wendy, and she was this crying character, and eventually they made me a series regular,” Hall said.
The Mom Season 5 title sequence changed this year. Instead of being a mantle of photos of just Bonnie (Allison Janney) and Christie (Anna Farris), it now includes a homeless Marjorie (Mimi Kennedy) and Hall’s character, Wendy, in handcuffs.
The change is sudden, but not unexpected, as the show has moved from a family drama to focusing more on the women in the rooms at Alcoholics Anonymous, but Hall isn’t sure if Wendy’s back story will be revealed in its entirety.
“I don’t know — that’s a possibility. A lot of people have said that they want to know what the story is behind all those pictures,” she noted.
Hall is known for her comedic roles in Mom and as Caroline in Mad Men, but she has been interested in comedy for a long time.
“I always was drawn to comedy. My father was actually a standup comedian,” she said.
“I used to do Lily Tomlin monologues in my school, and I loved making people laugh. What I would always say is, ‘With a face like mine, you have to do comedy,'” Hall joked.
Hall’s career started in New York doing sketch comedy, improv, and theatre in New York City. She moved out to Los Angeles to try to get on a sitcom so that she could move back and do Off-Broadway work, which is what several other comedians were doing at the time.
“It only took me twenty-five years,” she laughed.
When it comes to advice for aspiring actors and comediennes, Hall says it’s all a matter of persistence.
“Persistence. If it’s something that you really want to do. Especially in comedy, there is no timeline. I always say that someday I will do a remake of Driving Miss Daisy, and the headline will be ‘Introducing Beth Hall as Miss Daisy.’”
Hall got her start in the theater, and there is one musical she’s dying to see.
“I feel like I’m the only person who hasn’t seen Hamilton,” Hall laughed. “I would like to see Hamilton, and see what it’s all about. I have an eight-year-old child, so I don’t get to adult movies and plays very often anymore.”
Before she became an actor, Hall was also an antiques dealer.
“I did dabble in that a little bit. I really enjoyed going to auctions and buying stuff. It was a lot of fun, sort of a side thing that I did.”
Outside of acting, Hall regularly competes in poker tournaments, which she prefers over cash games because they have a beginning, middle, and end.
“I’ve been playing poker since I was a little kid. My family was into cards a lot,” explained Hall. “I played five-card draw and seven-card stud. When the poker boom started, I got hooked, and my husband loved to play.”
For anyone who loves to play poker, Hall has some tips on how to keep a good poker face as well.
“Breathe, but not too hard, because if you’re breathing heavily that could give something away,” she explained. “Being an actor probably helps your poker game; you just have to not show any emotion in regards to your cards. It takes practice.”
Hall is currently hard at work on Mom Season 5, but she is looking for something to do on her break. In the past, she’s made guest appearances on Jane the Virgin, House, and About a Boy. She also made an appearance in the 2014 Reese Witherspoon movie Wild.
“We’re working on getting something for the next hiatus, but I don’t have anything else coming out right now. I am hoping to do something interesting soon,” Hall said.
She does have plenty of reality TV on her DVR though. She’s also catching up on This is Us and Ten Days in the Valley, and of course, Mom is on her list of fall television to watch. She also loves reality television.
“Right now, a lot of Real Housewives…, that’s my late night, everyone’s gone to bed viewing.”
You can catch Beth Hall on Mom, airing Thursdays at 9/8c on CBS.
*Featured image credit: Jeremy Lee
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