Patricia Heaton ready for act 3 with ‘Carol’s Second Act’
Patricia Heaton is going for the three-peat. The Ohio native has already starred in two massively popular network situation comedies with “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle.” Now, Heaton’s looking to find the same success with her new comedy, “Carol’s Second Act,” which debuts Sept. 26 on CBS.
The project Heaton has selected for her latest quest for comedy gold has her playing a woman who, after raising her children, getting divorced and retiring from teaching, realizes there is still more life to be lived. Instead of sitting back, she decides at age 50, to chase her dream of becoming a doctor and that means being an intern with fellow medical hopefuls who are more than half her age.
While Heaton plays a woman who is 50, she’s actually 61 years old. It would have been easy for her to just sit back and rest on the laurels she accumulated through her past TV successes that includes three Emmy awards. That was just never a consideration for Heaton though, who says that between jobs her life comes down to making sure she was home to watch “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
“I’ve been working since I was about 16. I started at a department store in high school, because I never wanted to have to ask anybody for money. I wanted to be able to make my own decisions about what I want. And I value that independence,” Heaton says. “So I’ve been used to working for a really long time. So that’s part of it.
“I was in Montana for three weeks. I can only take so much leisure before I start getting really antsy and I have to get back to work. There are some people who just revel in travel and I love that too, but it has to be bookended by work. I can only enjoy it if I have just come off a job or getting ready to start a job. I think it’s an internal thing that you’re born with. You want to go out and challenge yourself and put yourself in scary positions to see if you can do it. I just think it’s my nature.”
Heaton began her acting career after graduating from Ohio State University by moving to New York. After several years working on the stage, including shows on Broadway, she landed a recurring role in 1989 on the ABC drama “Thirtysomething.” Her TV work since then has also included “Room for Two,” “Women of the House,” “Back to You” and “Easy to Assemble.”
There’s one difference between all of her previous jobs and this one. Heaton believes that because she’s now in her 60s, she feels like she has a broader knowledge of the world and, in general, there are few things that upset her. She also credits working with the World Vision International organization and traveling around Africa to refugee camps for giving her a greater appreciation of how blessed her life has been.
As for what could be considered the second act of her own life, Heaton would like to do more theater productions and learn to speak Spanish. She stresses that it goes without saying working on political and charitable causes will continue.
There was a lot of time for Heaton to ponder retirement over continuing to work because the offer to star in “Carol’s Second Act” came a year after the end of “The Middle.” The timing was right because her four children were all out of the house.
“I was feeling a bit at sea not knowing what I was doing. I’m no longer a full-time mom and I don’t have a job as an actress. I very much felt the things that a person like Carol would feel of ‘who am I without these things?’ So this idea was so perfect,” Heaton says. “It was a while after ‘The Middle’ had finished and so I had time to feel those feelings that Carol was feeling.
“It’s been interesting to go on this journey with everyone and with Carol and explore that. And it’s interesting because I think it’s important at any time in your life to keep challenging yourself.”
Heaton had no trouble jumping back into the situation comedy format, but she did want to get some coaching about the medical profession before putting on the white coat. Because she has had such a positive relationship with her own doctors, Heaton was able to quiz them about the profession.
Heaton smiles and says, “I have to admit. I do watch ‘Dr. Pimple Popper.’ I don’t know if I would want to do that but I can’t stop watching.”