Soon after he began playing Christine Baskets on FX’s comedy “Baskets,” comedian Louie Anderson felt an overwhelming need to reach out to his mother. In playing Christine, Anderson was actually channeling his mom, Ora Zella Anderson, who died in 1990, and the role was offering him a chance to come to terms with that relationship.
“I took my phone out and wrote her a letter and got a whole bunch of stuff out,” he said. “My manager read it and people in my life and said, ‘this is beautiful, this could be a book.’ I needed to say some stuff to my mom and didn’t know it. Because once I started playing Christine, I realized I had not been the son I should have. I didn’t appreciate her like I should have.”
That letter turned into a book, “Hey Mom,” which will be released later this year. Anderson said he hoped the book would highlight who is mom was, and where Christine came from.
“My mom really worked hard, and protected us from my dad, who was a monster in a lot of ways,” Anderson said. “He was sick, he was an alcoholic, and alcoholics are dangerous people. They can be cruel. I didn’t realize she defiantly stood between us and him. She drew the line.”
“Baskets” may be the role of Anderson’s career. The actor won an Emmy, and has been nominated twice, for playing Christine, mother to Dale and Chip Baskets — the mismatched twins played by Zach Galifianakis. IndieWire’s TURN IT ON podcast recently sat down with Anderson to discuss the show and his career. We began by talking about his early goals after arriving in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. Listen below!
In Season 3, Chip and Dale have come together to help Christine chase her dream of owning a family business — in this case, a rodeo.
In the show’s early seasons, it was a bit of a novelty to see Anderson, in wig, playing a mother — but by Season 3, Anderson effortlessly slides into the role.
“Playing Christine Baskets is almost a spiritual experience,” he said. “I don’t really know where it all comes from. When I watch that show, I don’t see Louie Anderson at all. When I watch it I don’t connect that’s me in a dress playing that. Something happens.”
“Baskets” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.