Chatting on Purpose with Jenna Elfman

If you still think of Jenna Elfman as hippie-dippie Dharma, you're stuck in the past, man! Elfman's new (and underrated) show, Accidentally on Purpose, shows off a more mature and equally hilarious side to this talented actress. She stars as Billie Chase, the film critic with an apparent eye for younger men and a very believable bun in the oven. The show returns tonight with new episodes and in a new time slot (Wednesdays at 8:30pm)—and come the season finale, Billie and Zack (Jon Foster) will have a new baby, much like Elfman does in real life. I spoke to Elfman about her favorite characters, upcoming guest stars, and her conveniently-timed real-life pregnancy.

How’s it going with your new baby, Easton?
Phenomenal, he’s a dream child.

Do you get to bring him to the set at all?
Well, I finished filming before I had him, so I’m just off right now being a mom, which is fantastic. I brought my first child to the set though.

Will Easton play Billie and Zack’s baby?
No. [laughs] I doubt it—and usually you need twins anyway when you’re filming, because the time you have to film is very short.

Oh, I never knew that! How do you think the dynamic of the show will change once the baby arrives?
You could almost start a brand new show right at this point, because you have two people who really don’t know each other engaging in a very huge life change together, from two completely different viewpoints, trying to raise a kid. It’s almost like the first [part of the first] season would be the prequel... And hopefully we get a second season and a third and a fourth and a fifth and a sixth and a seventh! But the second season would be starting this journey with these two characters and their child.

What do you think Billie and Zack's parenting styles will be?
Oh, gosh, I can only imagine! I can’t wait to see what the writers come up with. You know, Billie is such a contradiction in terms, because she is more experienced in life than Zack. She is so much more fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants and, at the same time, completely doubtful of herself. I love Billie, she’s an anomaly... You never know where the confidence is going to squeak out and where the doubt is going to squeak out. I think she’s also confident in her self-doubt. She’s like, “Hey, I have no idea, and that’s okay, because this is exciting, because I have no idea how life is going to go!” Zack is actually much more grounded. When it comes down to the wire, he’s very dependable and very stable and very reasonable [while] she’ll be flying off the handle. I think they make an interesting couple.

Have you ever suggested storylines based on your own parenting experiences?
You know, I haven’t had to because a lot of the writers have kids, so we all share similar experiences [as] parents. So it hasn’t really had to come up yet, but what I did contribute was the fact that I was really pregnant that whole time. That was my very organic contribution.

Will Billie and Zack encounter any more potential love interests?
This is what the season finale is going to reveal and it’s very exciting and I can’t wait for everybody to see it! But this week’s episode, with Olivia Munn, is pretty damn funny. She’s extremely hot, and the men will really like this episode.

I have a feeling that Davis (Nicholas Wright) will probably enjoy her.
Yes, he will. [laughs] Or he’ll attempt to, shall we say.

I have to say that Davis and Abby (Lennon Parham) are my favorite characters. I always laugh!
I know, they’re hilarious. They’re my favorites, too!

Will they have more screen time in the upcoming episodes?
I think we started finding our niche, like, halfway through [the season]. I think it’s really good when we just stick with our core group... because there’s so much talent there. Raising a kid takes a village, and we have a crazy village to raise a kid. And so I think that there’ll definitely be a lot of interaction and contribution with our cast.

Which of the characters would make the best baby-sitter?
The funniest or the best?

How about both?
I think Abby would probably be the best babysitter. I think Davis would be the worst.

How will James (Grant Show) will fit into the show now?
I have no idea. That’s unknown at this time.

Do you think Michael Rapaport and David Sutcliffe will come back at all?
It depends on how many episodes we do at the workplace! Because Billie might be getting laid off. It’s an unknown. That’s a pending decision.

Are there any other guest stars coming up?
Steve Agee from The Sarah Silverman Program. He’s in the next episode, and he’s damn funny.

Will the show be exploring Davis and Olivia's (Ashley Jensen) love lives at all?
Yes, we will, I think next week or the week after.

What do you think Billie’s favorite movie is?
Oh, golly! I think it’s probably a tie between Born Yesterday and Philadelphia Story. You can’t beat Judy Holliday, but then you can’t beat that threesome in Philadelphia Story with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Jimmy Stewart.

If those are hers, then what are yours?

Follow writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

Comments (2)
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Apr 08, 2010
I love Jenna Elfman, ever since Dharma, she is the cutest thing.
Apr 07, 2010
I have to say, I did not know Jenna Elfman played Dharma.