If there's one actress who knows how to improvise, it's Cheryl Hines.
The "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star, who earned two Emmy nominations for her role as the exasperated wife of Larry David on the script-free series, has taken on another improv challenge, this time working alongside a cat (both real and CGI) in her new film "Nine Lives," which also stars Kevin Spacey and opens August 5.
"Jennifer Garner and I had to do a scene with a tennis ball on a stick," Hines tells mom.me about filming scenes with her co-star and fellow mom. "Sometimes, we have stuffed animals—cats—that we used. Then, sometimes, we had real cats. So there was a little bit of everything."
Hines plays the ex-wife of Spacey's character, Tom, who gets turned into a cat and then is adopted by his actual family. Garner stars as Tom's current wife.
The actress also talks to mom.me about girl power (something she knows something about as the mom of a 12-year-old daughter), how her career has evolved since "Curb" and what it's like living in a blended family, having married Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 2014. (We want to sit in on their dinner-table discussions!)
"Nine Lives" is about a dad who can't seem to fit his family into his life. What do you do as a mom to make sure you’re present with your own family?
I think it’s good to unplug as much as possible when you’re with your family, which sometimes feels impossible. I’d like to think that when I’m working, I’m 100 percent, and then when I’m not working I’m 100 percent with my daughter. I think you have to prioritize.
As a working mom, how do you show your daughter Catherine (pictured, right) examples of girl power?
I talk about work with her a lot, and I tell her what I’m working on, especially when I am in a leadership role like directing or producing. I think it’s good to talk about it with her so she can see that women can hold jobs where people are listening, where they are leading. And we’re following Hillary’s campaign closely, which is great. My daughter is a huge fan of politics, and she’s 12! So we talk about it all. We talk about the inequality of pay for men and women, and she gets very passionate about that. And we talk about things we can do to make changes to level the playing field with men and women, so it’s good.
You’re married to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose family is so tied to politics. Do you guys have lots of political discussions at home?
We do, yes. [laughs] It’s good because my family is so big, we have lots of different views and opinions, so we learn how to listen before we start shouting our own ideas.
I tell (my daughter) what I’m working on, especially when I am in a leadership role like directing or producing.
Being in a blended family yourself — both you and your husband brought kids to your marriage — what would you like parents to know about blended families, and how can they make it a positive experience for everyone?
It’s important to keep an open mind and to understand that relationships often have to be redefined—so ,especially with kids as they grow up, your child is not the same person that she was when she was 10, if she’s 13 now. And as a parent, it’s hard to do that sometimes, because we still see our kids as the little guy who doesn’t want to eat lima beans. And now he wants to go to a fancy restaurant on a date, and you feel like, “You don’t even like lima beans. Why am I going to give you money to go on a fancy date?” So you have to always stop and take a step back and see who they are now and what they can handle as far as responsibility and try to give them a little freedom. It’s not easy.
How would you say your career has evolved since you starred on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”?
When I started “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” I was an "unknown actress," and actually that was one of the reasons I was cast in that role because Larry wanted an unknown actress—so people would think that we were married in real life. It was one of the few times it was a benefit to being an unknown actress. Since “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” my professional life has been completely different because people could see my work as an actor, and they offer me parts now, which is every actor’s dream. Auditioning is a nightmare, and it’s hard, and it’s a lot of pressure, and you have to hope that you’re having a good day. But since “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” I’ve been so fortunate to work with unbelievable people on amazing projects.
What do you want families to get out of "Nine Lives"?
I think families are going to have fun watching the movie together, and then it also is a moment to look at each other and say, “Oh yeah, we should really pay attention to each other a little more because you only get this one time around." You can’t always keep looking to the next thing. You have to really pay attention to what’s happening now.