When Chloe O'Brian was introduced during the third season of "24," fans instantly hated her. So did CTU's employees. And so did the woman playing her. But over five seasons, the audience -- and actress Mary Lynn Rajskub -- not only came to love Chloe, but hold her in the same patriotic esteem as Jack Bauer.
So it was only fitting that when "24" ended its eight season run this May, the one time supporting player not only became Director of CTU, but officially logged more screentime than anyone else (save for Jack Bauer) in the show's history.
Now that she's saved the world for the last time (on the small screen!), Mary Lynn is focusing on a new stressor: mama drama. For her new one-woman show titled Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs, the stand-up comedian answers the question, what happens when you hate your baby?
Thankfully the answer is talk about it. In addition to getting the inside scoop on her new show, Mary Lynn opened up about her CTU-free life, her favorite "24" moment and the one scene fans still ask about.
PopWrap: How has life been in this post-"24" world?
Mary Lynn Rajskub: It’s been very strange. It started out really sad, but I’m ok – it’s kind of scary because it was definitely a comfort to have that for eight years. I ran into a guy at Starbucks – “weren’t you on that show ’24?’ That was a great show!" It’s like, "It’s done, I get it. Thanks for shoving it in my face."
PW: Right, like, let's not eulogize the show just yet!
Mary Lynn: Yea! [laughs] It’s only been a little more than one month!
PW: Well to me it was, is and always will be an amazing show . And Chloe is a big reason for that. Looking back, what were your expectations in the beginning?
Mary Lynn: Geez, thank you. At first, not only did the audience dislike her, but I didn’t either. I also thought I was going to be fired. That changed though when she started to become an ally for Jack.
PW: I was forever in Chloe's corner after she unlocked and unloaded that AK-47 in season four.
Mary Lynn: [laughs] Endeared to your heart by force. That was definitely a turning point for a lot of people – it’s pretty much my favorite moment.
PW: What did you think of the finale?
Mary Lynn: I thought it was pretty strong. I don’t think they copped out. A lot was wrapped up – they did a great job of addressing a lot in the last two episode -- but it left so much open – perhaps for a movie!
PW: Any idea if Chloe will be in the "24" movie?
Mary Lynn: I hope so. I haven’t heard anything. I have no idea what’s going on with it. I don’t see why they wouldn’t have Chloe in the movie. That would feel really bad if I paid to see the "24" movie and I wasn’t in it.
PW: Well, I'm sure they could hook you up with a free screening.
Mary Lynn: [laughs] That’s funny. Yes. I at least hope to go to the screening.
PW: Did you have any discussions with the writers before the finale about how you'd like to send Chloe out?
Mary Lynn: No. Through the years I’ve kind of been a person who doesn’t do that. I know other actors have and they don’t encourage it, but are open to it. The only thing I talked to the producers about was when Chloe took over CTU – I just wanted it to be a believable transition. I didn’t want to get railroaded in the writing because the head of CTU has to do a lot of exposition.
PW: Do you think your lack of input is why Chloe stayed around while other actors died?
Mary Lynn: [laughs] No, I don’t think so. There were a couple of years where Chloe scenes were light. Which was great because I got paid anyway, but you want to work. You want to be in there.
PW: Why do you think Chloe made it to the final scene?
Mary Lynn: I filled a position within the world of "24." Yea, they could have killed me off at any time, but I became a go-to person for Jack. It became more work, or less believable, for them to make me bad. Like they got so much crap for killing Edgar. I still hear about that.
PW: And you were amazing in that scene -- after all this heavy work are you looking forward to doing more comedy?
Mary Lynn: Yes, absolutely. I’m doing a one woman show called Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs. So I am getting back into comedy, but it’s more grounded and exposed in terms of the characters that I’ve do in this show. There are as many dark or real parts as there are funny parts.
PW: What was the genesis of the show?
Mary Lynn: I was doing stand-up about not liking my baby – I took these notes during his first three months about things a lot of people don’t talk about. Everyone’s all “it’s wonderful, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me” and it was like, "this is a nightmare." I love him, of course – he’s amazing. But it's ridiculous and all the cliches – you’re doing it on no sleep, your body is a mess and everything is upside down in every way. So I started taking some notes.
PW: Like what?
Mary Lynn: One time I woke up in the middle of the night so angry. I thought, in earnest, I’m going to call the police on him. And I started to laugh out loud – and I don’t really ever make myself laugh. So it was things like that I put in this stand-up show.
PW: Was it harder than you expected?
Mary Lynn: Yes, and I was very resistant because I tend to not want to rehearse my stand up. Amit [Edelman, the show's director] kept saying it’s going to be a lot of work. And there were rehearsals where I kept trying to leave – go to lunch, get a drink, go to Starbucks. Then times were emotional where I wouldn’t want to discuss stuff and we’re both very sensitive about not making it overdramatic. But we’re really proud of it. I think it’s a good story and it’s fun for me to do comedy. We have yet to discuss where we’re going with it though
PW: As in, transplanting it to New York City?
Mary Lynn: Yea, absolutely. I was just in New York to do a guest spot on "Royal Pains" and I was definitely walking the streets picturing my show there. I have to bring it to NYC.
PW: Is there a segment that you're particularly fond of?
Mary Lynn: There’s a sequence – and I should probably call my mother to explain after I hang up with you – but while there’s a kernel of truth in everything, we really blew out the mom character. So there’s this section where she talks about imagining ways to hurt your baby in order to relieve stress. She talks about how our Aunt Shirley threw baby Michael off a ledge and that’s why he didn’t do well on his SAT’s. Maybe that’s a little too dark to tease. People are gunna read that and think, “I will not be going to see that show!” [laughs]
"Mary Lynn Spreads Her Legs" plays at The Steve Allen Theater in LA every Friday and Saturday at 8pm.
Photo: Fox; WireImage