Patricia Heaton says she sometimes wonders if being a conservative in Hollywood hurts her career.
A “wave” will pass over the Emmy-winner from time to time where she thinks, “Am I being passed over?” Heaton told a group of reporters while shooting the new comedy Mom’s Night Out.
The star of The Middle and Everybody Loves Raymond has no concrete evidence of any industry bias against her, but she is certain of one steadying factor in her professional life.
God has her back.
“I came to L.A. when I was 32. For a woman, that was like 100,000 in dog years. I had no agent or manager,” she says. “The fact that I’m sitting here talking to you all, and I’ve had a couple of great shows … God had a hand in opening these doors. It just doesn’t happen [otherwise].”
Heaton plays Sondra in Mom’s Night Out, the seemingly grounded parent who joins her friends on a rare evening adventure. Their plans hardly go as expected, and suddenly Sondra must bring some stability to one chaotic night. A run-in with a taser-wielding cop shows she doesn’t have it all under control.
The actress is more successful stabilizing her new film’s shoot. She gamely goes through a physically demanding scene again … and again … while a gaggle of reporters wait to quiz her.
Heaton’s calendar is full enough with her ongoing work on The Middle, but she says she couldn’t pass the chance to shoot a movie with the wholesome qualities Mom’s Night Out has in spades.
“I normally don’t work doing my hiatus, but I love the fact that it’s a family activity, everyone can come and see it,” she says of a film with a subtle faith-based spirit.
Despite Heaton’s formidable small screen resume she’s rarely seen in movie theaters. Good thing production on The Middle echoes the way many movies are created. The show is a single-camera production which shoots each episode out of order in true filmmaking style.
Heaton brings a personal perspective to Mom’s Night Out. Her husband of 23 years, David Hunt, has a supporting role in the film as an exasperated cab driver. She’s well aware of how stressful marriage can be, even if you love your spouse deeply. She shares how Hunt will put every television in their house on to some real estate show or soccer match. Heaton relishes those rare moments of silence.
“I’ll be so angry at my husband, and then 15 minutes later, I’ll say, ‘I’m running out to the dry cleaners. Is there anything you need?’ It’s just men and women … that was a bad idea whoever came up with that,” she jokes.
No matter how well Mom’s Night Out fares at the box office, Heaton remembers her approach to an entertainment career during those first few weeks in L.A. She had recently relocated to the city when she performed a short mission trip to a Mexican orphanage along with her church.
“When I came back from there I had this spiritual epiphany,” she says. “I don’t need to be an actor. I could work at that orphanage for the rest of my life … whichever direction [God] is going to take me, I’ll go. From that point on it just started flowing.”