Topher Grace on the ‘Home Economics’ Finale and ‘Really Special’ Cast Connection
Now that ABC has wisely invested in Home Economics for a second season, fans can sit back and soak in the glory of its first season finale tonight. Entitled “Opus Cabernet, 2015, $500,” the episode finds the Hayworths—unemployed social worker Sarah (Caitlin McGee), her wife Denise (Sasheer Zamata), struggling author Tom (Topher Grace) and his wife Marina (Karla Souza) and mogul Connor (Jimmy Tatro)—all trapped in Connor’s wine cellar (Matt Damon’s old panic room, natch) and at each other’s throats after Tom accidentally emails a draft of his secret novel based on them to the entire family. Turns out, none of them are too keen on their fictionalized versions and, as we have come to expect from the Hayworths, they have a lot to say about it.
Off camera, however, this is one TV brood that that probably wouldn’t mind being stuck together for a lot longer. During our recent chat with Topher Grace, who also serves as an executive producer on the comedy, it became very clear that the hilarious cast of Home is where his heart is.
Congratulations on the Season 2 renewal! This is such great news because people really love this show.
Well, you know, we do too. [Laughs]. I don’t want to sound like a suck up, but the truth is the people who work with us on the show at ABC are really great partners. We’re all big fans of it, the actors, and luckily the, the network is, too.
Clearly, giving you the Million Little Things lead-in slot next year.
Yeah, it’s a real show of confidence and I love the feeling that we have making the show is, I think, the same feeling people are having watching the show. We just love doing it so much. The act of acting is faking it, right? Every actor has done that, but when there’s this kind of chemistry…you can’t really fake it. And I was fan of all these actors, but something happened that first week or so working on set, where it was “Oh my gosh, the chemistry here.” No one can plan that kind of thing.
As central as the Hayworth siblings are, I love how the writers have built in the in-laws. They are just as important to the storyline…especially in this season finale, when we find out that Marina and Denise have their own little club.
Oh yeah! [Laughs] Yes. And you know, based on a true story. I mean, literally it is based on [show co-creator] Michael Colton’s life, so it’s coming from a real place. And it’s also very meta in the season finale episode because my character is introducing the idea to his family that he’s writing about them. And truly, that’s kind of how it is for Mike…his family, I think they knew it was happening, but his family is watching the show and kind of the same thing is happening [to them].
That was kind of a surprise, that Tom’s secret comes out. But in revealing it in this way, you do kind of open it up to the family being aware of it, so how this will affect their behavior? Will they start changing the way they interact because they know they’re being watched?
Oh, everyone was talking about that on set. Like, what would episode eight look like if we were so lucky to be renewed? I mean, seven episodes is a really short amount of time to try and make an impact. And I’m so glad that it’s been received the way it has because by the time we’re finished filming it, the show still wasn’t on the air and everyone on set was kind of saying what you’re talking about, which is: What would the implications of this be and what would this be like in real life?
How has Mike Colton’s real family responded?
You know, he tells us little stories. I think his brother, who Connor is based on, said something like “That scene in the gym, in the pilot…um, I have that same massage gun that Sasheer’s character is using.”And Mike said, “I know, that’s why it’s in there. It’s not like a coincidence!”
So now that you have been renewed, you will get to shoot next season with less COVID protocols in place—fingers crossed. That should let the show go a little bit bigger, right?
Oh, sure. That, and also this kind of chemistry with the cast, it grows as it goes. It only gets better as it goes. I was kinda nervous because I hadn’t done a network television show since That ’70s Show so when I was driving there the first day, I was like, it’s been a minute and it’s kind of interesting to go back into that space again. But I wasn’t nervous even 48 hours later. I was borderline overconfident because I could just tell how talented everyone was. You kinda sit back and you go, “Oh, I’m part of a great ensemble.” Next season will be like taking out a car on the highway, you know what I mean? I just can’t wait to see what we can do with this thing on the open road.
Also, I remember on That ’70s Show, it got better after every hiatus. Everyone kind of goes home, thinks about how great it is, [maybe] watches it honestly, and then you come back with all this new information. And there’s just a real love between this cast. I know everyone’s like, “Yeah, yeah, sure, everyone says that on all their shows,” and it’s such a cliche about a family show to say, “It feels like a family.” But something really special is happening between the cast here.
That is a cliche, but…
You can kind of tell when you’re watching it, right? When it’s working, you see it?
Exactly. It’s one of those shows where it’s clear that these people are having so much fun working with each other.
Yeah. You can’t fake that. I think my favorite example is episode 106, when we were at this party at Connor’s house. We were just having a blast. It was like going to a party with your friends and it just bled into the show.
Now you also have done some very cool editing and seem to have a skill for cutting things together. Do you want to direct?
For an amateur, it’s an OK skill. [Laughs] Years ago, I produced a movie and you know, as an actor, you don’t understand what’s going on in editing. When you see a film, it’s like “What took you six months to put this together? It’s basically what we shot.” And then once I was a producer on something and I went in the editing room, I saw how one little frame can make a difference. It’s such an art.
So no, to tell you the truth, I don’t have a skill for [directing]. A lot of times, even on our show, I’ll read the script and I’ll have an image in my head of how it should be shot. And then when I get on set, I go, “Oh no, that’s how it should be shot” when I see how the director is setting it up. I would be a terrible director. I just like overseeing stuff but I wouldn’t be a good guy to be in charge.
Fair enough! The finale also introduces Nicole Byer as Tom’s editor. Has it been mentioned that we’ll see more of her going forward?
That’s our hope. She is hilarious, just hilarious. She’s a great actress and we were very lucky that she wanted to do it. She brings just the right level of humor and is also kind of an antagonist in the episode…she’s great. So we do want to have her back and I’m so psyched because I’ll have all the scenes with her and I think she’s incredible.
'Home Economics' Star Karla Souza on Tom & Marina's 'Relatable' Marriage, Sibling Dynamics, and More
Well I’m super happy for you and the show. It’s so re-watchable and so quotable, and the characters are actually fun to spend time with.
That is really nice of you to say, man. And I feel the same as you, no joke. We all actually feel the same way. There’s a thing that happens in Hollywood—no one would know this outside of Hollywood and I was surprised by it when I started working—where people are a little bit not into what they’re doing. You know what I mean? They spend so much time doing it and yet they’re kind of like, “I really wish I was doing was this other thing,” you know? Like if they’re doing a comedy, it’s something dramatic. If they’re in something dramatic, they wish they were in more of a comedy, whatever. But with this show, there is both a great chemistry with the cast and also with the writers and the people making [the show], if that makes sense? Because of COVID, we don’t watch it together but I think we would. Everyone’s really enjoying it, feels grateful and now, we’re all excited.
Good. You should take pride in what you’re making. Especially something we kind of need these days, you know?
Oh yeah. That’s our real feeling. What I was feeling on set, that kind of joy, that kind of familial bond that we’re all creating. And you know, there are people who haven’t talked to their parents or their grandparents in person for a year or longer. So I thought, “Oh man, if we’re having this feeling here, could this be the feeling that people have watching it?” I signed on before the pandemic, but I feel like it’s way more relevant now.
Home Economics, Season finale, Wednesday, 8:30/7:30c, ABC