Why Leslie Jordan Can Finally Watch Himself in ‘Call Me Kat’: ‘I’m always the scene stealer’!

The star-studded cast of Call Me Kat revealed how their characters develop in season three, behind-the-scenes info, and more in their exclusive interview with AfterBuzz TV!   

After a few months of traveling the world, Kat is back to work in Louisville on Call Me Kat! Going into season three, Mayim Bialik’s Kat is returning to a new business with new ventures on the horizon: relationships, potential motherhood and more!

Life may be changing for Kat, but the series’ lovable cast remains the same. Stars Mayim Bialik, Kyla Pratt, Leslie Jordan, Cheyenne Jackson and Swoosie Kurtz chatted with AfterBuzz TV about developing their characters in season three, behind-the-scenes relationships and more in their exclusive interview below:

Character Development


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AFTERBUZZ: Leslie, I love all the wonderful things you bring to Phil and how you so easily switch between being funny and sassy to being a shoulder to lean for the other characters, but you were originally cast to play Julian Gant’s character. How did you pivot to preparing to play Phil and is there anything you were going to bring to Julian’s character that you ended up bringing to Phil?

LESLIE: It was so short lived. They hired me to play the bartender in the piano bar, and I was gonna be the piano player, so it was sort of a mix-up of Cheyenne’s character. That only lasted a day because our creator Darlene Hunt called me and said, “We’re trying to cast Phyllis,” and there were gonna be three girls that commiserate on everything. It would’ve been the Kyla Pratt character, the Mayim Bialik character and then Phyllis, and I knew exactly where she was going. Because when I read the script I thought, “I wanna play Phyllis! Phyllis is getting the laughs. I want the laughs.”

And she said, “Would you, on your cell phone, just do kind of an audition?” And I said, “I’ll come in. I’ll come in and audition.” So I went in and auditioned for a show that I already had, and that afternoon she called and she said, “Well, he’s now Phil.” And so there wasn’t a lot of time to play the other character, but I sure am glad it worked out this way because I think it’s more fun to have two girls and a gay guy commiserate; three girls, then it’s like a hen festival or something, but you throw a gay guy in there and all kinds of fun stuff can happen.

AFTERBUZZ: One of the most powerful scenes from the show was when Kat and Sheila were in therapy, and Kat basically says, “I lost the wrong parent.” It was like, how can you come back from this? But your characters have come so far to the point that you’re going on dinners every month, and Sheila is speaking highly of Kat on television, and all of these things you wouldn’t expect. What has it been like for the both of you as actors navigating getting out of such a low point in the characters’ relationship to getting to where you are now?

SWOOSIE: I think that that was a very painful dynamic for Sheila. She’s known all of Kat’s life that daddy is the favorite. And I think we all as human beings feel, in some way or some situation, left out. We always feel like we’re not included in that group or whatever, and it’s a very painful feeling, and I think that Sheila has endured it all these years. Kat wasn’t the little girly girl that Sheila wanted. She wanted this little pageant girl to be like her with all of the girly stuff, and Kat just wasn’t. And I think they’ve always been at odds in some way or other, but we’re finding our way.

MAYIM: I know from Swoosie’s beautiful memoir that she wrote about the rich and complicated relationship she had with her beloved mother, and I think that there’s a universality to that kind of conflict even if it’s not mother-daughter. Sometimes hard and really painful things come up and you can’t keep sitting in it the same way, and you have to just do what’s next, and I think that’s sort of how this relationship is going, too. That is a huge moment that my own mother in my life actually came to express after my father passed. And also we still need to go to the grocery store, and we still need to have her see the kids and arrange who’s gonna take her to yoga today or whatever. So I think there’s also some of that, and I think part of it is on a sitcom, you’re getting these little kinds of tidbits every week. But for us, there are other stories that we as actors get to hold about what happens in between, if that makes sense.

KYLA: I think it’s beautiful that they show this type of relationship on the show because in real life, a lot of parents and children go through this type of thing. And I think once they’re allowed to open up the conversation and see these two characters come from a low point, parents have to start to understand, you weren’t the perfect parent and it’s okay to hear from your child and understand where they’re coming from. But then as a kid, it’s okay to understand from the parents’ perspective. And I think it just shows a way of not always having to agree, but still working with each other because the love is still there.


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AFTERBUZZ: You’ve both talked about how it takes a little while for a show to get its legs, and I know part of that was starting out during the pandemic, which I’m sure also affected how much you could see each other and socialize on and off set during that early time of filming. How have the off-camera relationships and dynamic shifted from the beginning of filming to now?

CHEYENNE: We’re starting to finally be able to see each other outside of our little bubbles in our rooms. It still is pretty locked down, I’m not gonna lie. Once we get out of our room, it’s masks on down the hallway. We share a hallway with Abbott Elementary, so everybody has to be super respectful. But in terms of our interactions, unfortunately, it’s still pretty limited to the sound stage. That’s why when we see each other it’s just an immediate, “Oh my gosh, our family!” I can’t wait until the day the cast can all come to my house and be with my kids. My kids are constantly saying, “When is Leslie coming over? Where’s Kyla?” My husband came for the first time three weeks ago to the show and we’re in our third season, but that’s just the way it is, and he got to see a run through and he got to finally meet my work wife and then my other work wife, Leslie.

LESLIE: It’s so strange because we are allowed now to take our mask off if we’re at the table doing a reading when it’s your scene; we’re allowed to take our mask off on the set if it’s just actors because we’ve all been tested and retested. But the minute you step on set, you have to be masked up. So it’s just crazy. And I’m the worst. I’m the one they yell at constantly, “Put your mask on!” Because I just don’t think in those terms, and how can you act when you can’t see somebody? When all we’ve seen are eyebrows, it’s just crazy.

CHEYENNE: I will say this, though. When starting this, we did start our whole relationship over Zoom, everybody. It was like we were dating on these apps and we were just seeing each other’s faces, and so we all kind of fell in love on Zoom. Then when we finally got to see each other in person, it’s a deeper connection because it’s very intimate over Zoom; I can see behind you, I can see what’s on your shelf. We’re in each other’s homes. So it’s been really, really nice to slowly open that up a little.
Lessons Learned


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AFTERBUZZ: I love that this show tackles so many life lessons in a comedic and lighthearted way. For both of you, what is one thing that you’ve learned since you started working on the show?

LESLIE: I’ve learned to be more giving as an actor. I’m always the scene-stealer. I’m the funny guy that comes in with a zinger and I’m always showing out, but on this, I can’t do that. I have to give. To be a worker among workers has turned into a wonderful thing, and I watch myself now–I didn’t like to watch myself at all, but I can watch myself now because there I am just being normal.

CHEYENNE: I actually really appreciate this question, because I don’t know if I’m emotional today or what’s happening, but I’ve never done a multicam comedy before. I come from the theater world and I take my work very, very seriously. Tina Fey always told me, “Comedy is serious business.” And so I take it all very seriously. And when I got on this show they were always telling me, “Cheyenne, you’re in the way of the camera.” I wasn’t aware of all the different things, and I had a judgment about what situation comedy was. I thought it was silly and kind of maybe just not as serious as Succession or something. I had a judgment about it. And what I’ve learned from being on this show is that this work is important. This work matters. There is an audience for this work, and we put our heart and our soul into these stories. And yes, we are not tackling the biggest pantheum of socioeconomic things happening in the world or political upheaval, but what we’re doing is providing joy. We’re providing escape.

And our reach is far. Speaking of Succession, at the Emmy party the other night, the actress who plays Jerry, she wanted a picture with me. Me! From this show! And I was like, people watch this show and people love this show. And so I want to thank all of you guys for asking thoughtful questions and allowing Leslie and I to really make a case for our show. We talk about it all the time on the show, but we feel like we didn’t really get our fair shake the first season, and I get why, but now we’re there. So I’ve learned that what we’re doing is important and it makes people really happy, and what could be better than that?

KYLA: I tend to go on sets where I don’t expect to learn anything from anyone. I’m always looking for something to learn, but usually I’m just like, “Oh, okay, whatever.” But me being able to work with these people that I’m working with, I’m constantly learning every single day. To be on a show with Mayim Bialik and Swoosie Kurtz and the men in our cast has been an amazing learning experience for me, and that’s the type of environment that I thrive in. When I’m around people who I know know more than me–and I know a lot!–when I know that other people know different parts of this business, different energies combining, it’s just been an amazing experience to be paired up with this little family that we’ve created.

SWOOSIE: I learn something every single day. I have to say I learn so much from my Mayim Bialik about real life and about being on camera. She is not only a great comedian and a great actress, she’s a great born producer, and thank God we have her as a producer because she always has her eyes on everything. She does not miss a thing. But the important human part of that is that she has her eyes on other people and what they need at that moment. She’s always picking up something for someone and handing it to them. She’s always picking me up from the floor, which by the way I don’t need, I can get up by myself, but she’s always like, “Here, let me help you.” She just has 360 eyes and a huge heart that’s 360 as well.

MAYIM: Some people might say it’s not good that I’m always looking at everything and I have an opinion about everything, but it sounded really good the way you said it! I will echo what Kyla and Swoosie said. I’ve honestly learned a lot more about acting than I thought I would at this stage of life. I came from Big Bang Theory where I was there for almost a decade, and we were in a really smooth, awesome, fun rhythm, but sometimes being in a new situation allows you to learn new things. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about Kyla on a personal level and I’ve learned so much about what makes her the comedian that she is and the woman that she is, and that’s been really phenomenal. I ask her ridiculous questions and she answers them about her life and how she grew up and her hair and all the things.

And in terms of Swooz, to work with someone who has such a stellar resume and stellar career who still is learning, meaning I get to see her trying things out. We have an exceptional dialogue coach, Ren Bell, on our show since the first season–he’s actually going to be directing for the first time this year. But just to see how we get to interact with him, I see him teaching us things–like Kyla said, I think we all came in like, “We’re good. Just give us the words.” And it’s got so many other layers when you still want to work. It sounds so cheesy but when you want to work at your craft and you want to make it better, that’s what it looks like. And honestly, people always talk about my timing and, “How do you know?” But I have never, ever witnessed and gotten to see in real time the way Kyla’s brain knows exactly how to time a joke. It’s really incredible.

Season three of Call Me Kat premieres Sept 29 at 9:30 pm ET/PT on FOX and streams on Hulu.

About the Author

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Meagan Lynn

Meagan Lynn is a host and writer at AfterBuzz TV, actress, and social media manager. Outside of AfterBuzz, you can find her hosting and producing Ten Minute Talks. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and consuming copious amounts of movies and television shows.