Pauley Perrette on Why She Chose ‘Broke’ Over Retirement After ‘NCIS’

Broke Pauley Perrette TV Return
Sonja Flemming/CBS
Broke with Pauley Perrette

After 15 years in the NCIS lab, Pauley Perrette was ready to laugh. “I wanted to do a comedy. Either that or retire,” says the actress, who played the CBS procedural’s Abby Sciuto until 2018. Thankfully, she chose the former.

As Broke‘s Jackie, she’s a struggling single mom whose idea of a morning time-saver is blowtorching oatmeal for son Sammy (Antonio Corbo). When her estranged sister, Elizabeth (Natasha Leggero), and brother-in-law, Javier (Jaime Camil), go from riches to rags, Jackie reluctantly lets them crash, along with Javier’s assistant (Izzy Diaz) and a dog.

Perrette invites us in.

What caused the rift between Jackie and her sister?

Pauley Perrette: Their dad’s in prison, and mom died. Elizabeth married a rich guy and disappeared. So Jackie’s pissed — she could have used their help raising a child. When they show up, there’s a lot of history. Not all of it’s good.

What’s the major conflict?

Mostly it’s cultural. Jackie wouldn’t know a Louis Vuitton suitcase. Elizabeth and Javier are cocktails and caviar. But Javier’s not the arrogant-jerk rich guy. He’s lived in a bubble and is naive. His father’s cut him off. Every character is played a little differently than [you’d expect].

Pauley Perrette Broke CBS Comedy Jackie Bartender

(Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Jackie’s a bartender, and so were you. How else are you alike?

She’s also a mechanic and a tool freak. I’m kind of a tool freak. I’m from Alabama, so they raised us like that — and my dad didn’t have any boys, so me and my sister are like dudes.

Did you really consider retiring?

I was going to drink beer with my three dogs and watch television. [Laughs] My family, friends and pastor didn’t think it was the best idea. I didn’t even want to play a mom, but now Antonio is the center of my universe. He brightens my life!

Broke, Series Premiere, April 2, 9:30/8:30c, CBS