Michaela Watkins is brilliant in The Unicorn, and told Hidden Remote what attracted her to the CBS series and what’s in store for Delia.
The Unicorn is a phenomenal comedy, and a major reason why is the comedic talent of Michaela Watkins. As Delia, one of Wade’s (Walton Goggins) circle of friends, she’s both warm and just the perfect amount of deadpan—while being unafraid to tell it like it is when she needs to.
Hidden Remote spoke to Michaela about what interested her about the series, stepping into her first sitcom role since the end of Hulu‘s Casual, and what’s coming up for Delia in the remaining episodes this season.
Learn more about Michaela Watkins in our interview below, then check out a new episode of The Unicorn on CBS tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. And if you’ve missed any of the season so far, you can catch up on CBS All Access or on-demand.
Hidden Remote: What appealed to you about The Unicorn? What made it stand out to you?
Michaela Watkins: I’ll be honest, it’s the cast. I got a call from Walton Goggins, quite honestly, before I even read the script. And he was so enthusiastic about it that it was pretty infectious.
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And so I read the script with fresh eyes, because I don’t know what I was looking to do after Casual. The bed wasn’t quite cold yet, I would say, so I was kind of open but not ready to attach myself to anything yet.
And then, by the time I read the script and then got on the phone again with Walton, he kind of won me over after that call. And he just really said look, this is not going to be a typical network half-hour sitcom. We’re really going to try to say something. We’re really going to try to show what’s funny about what happens when there’s a loss, but also not shy away from some of those deeper and sadder moments that sometimes comedies gloss over a little bit, because they don’t want to go there.
So I just felt like, that’s a show I could really use right now. Something that’s very sweet and funny.
HR: In Casual, your character Valerie was dealing with a variety of personal issues. So is it different to do The Unicorn where Delia is the one helping with someone else’s challenges?
MW: That is a little refreshing. Although as you’ll see as the season continues, we start to find Delia pretty quirky herself. (laughs) No, you’re right, it’s really nice not to have to go and figure out all the ways in which my character’s broken every day. Because Delia’s not perfect, but she’s fine with it. She’s pretty happy with herself.
HR: What have been your favorite episodes of The Unicorn so far?
MW: There’s just one episode that I loved so much, and it’s the episode about helping people separate from the belongings that we build. Delia’s really been there to help the girls understand that it’s not about stuff. Jill, their mom, isn’t in stuff; she’s in their hearts. But then Delia gets a big wake-up call for herself and has to reconcile her own feelings of loss. I really loved that episode a lot.
There’s also the Thanksgiving episode with Annie Mumolo from Bridesmaids, and she’s so wonderful. She plays Jill’s sister, the late wife’s sister, and Delia and her have an ongoing rivalry so it’s a really fun episode too. That’s the Thanksgiving episode, which by the way, and made all of us cry all day long.
Walton just, there’s something about him. He’s a marvelous actor who really can move you and you don’t see it coming. And, oh my gosh, there’s so much good stuff coming up in the season. There’s a love interest, really legitimate love interest—a really wonderful actress who comes to work with us for a few episodes. There’s just some really good stuff.
HR: The whole cast of The Unicorn works so well together. How did you generate the chemistry to make it really feel like these are close friends?
MW: I have worked with Rob [Corddry, who plays Delia’s husband Forrest] before. I’ve actually played his wife before in a movie called In A World that was written and directed by Lake Bell. It’s a Sundance winner. And then he and I did a movie last year where we weren’t married, but where I kind of tried to kill him, called Judy Small, which isn’t out yet.
Walton and I have never worked together, but I think his wife was maybe a fan, I’m not sure. I need to get the skinny from Walton. But he called me and said, you need to do this part. I’m just getting to know Omar [Benson Miller] and Maya Lynne [Robinson]; they’re just so wonderful, and these kids are so great.
I think when you get a bunch of good actors together, and you understand that our job is to be the best of friends, we’d better get there, emotionally, quickly because you’ve got to hit the ground running. We don’t have time to figure out how these people met or anything. We’ve got to get in there and go. Especially because Rob and I come from a sketch comedy, improv background, he knows if you pitch me something, I’m ready for it—but the whole cast is game to play.
HR: You’re a sitcom veteran, having done so many of them in your career including Casual and Trophy Wife. Is there something that you’ve noticed great sitcoms like The Unicorn have? What makes a good sitcom?
MW: I think chemistry is a huge one. I think character development. What always works is the whole character, not just a caricature of one character attribute; if you have somebody who can embody the whole person and can just be them.
HR: You’ve also done some writing and producing in your career, so any chance that you’d end up writing an installment of The Unicorn?
MW: My hope is to someday direct an episode. I don’t need to write it because I think the writers got it totally handled. I really love the writers. They’re doing such great work. And I felt that way on Casual too. Casual was kind of a surprise. They just asked Tommy Dewey, my co-star, and me to do it. But I think for my next move, I’m going to want to direct for sure.
HR: What else is in store for Michaela Watkins?
MW: I’m in the third season of Search Party, and it’s going to be out on HBO MAX this spring. It was some of the most satisfying work I’ve done post-Casual. It’s fun, too. And then I joined the third season of Get Shorty. These are such great shows; I think they’re such well-made shows.
Two films are out now that I’m very proud of. One is called Brittany Runs A Marathon with Jillian Bell, and the other film is also with Jillian and Marc Maron called Sword of Trust. My film with Ben Affleck called The Way Back will be out in March.
The Unicorn airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.