The eternally optimistic Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch, “The Big Bang Theory”) follows in the footsteps of her revered late father, Judge Harry Stone, as she takes on the challenge of overseeing the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court. Abby always sees the best in people and her passion for justice is undeniable. In her quest to bring order and dignity to the court and reign in its colorful crew of oddballs, she enlists former night court district attorney Dan Fielding (John Larroquette, “Night Court” 1984-1992) to serve as the court’s public defender. Still exceedingly self-confident, Fielding must adjust to a new boss and a new job – defending the downtrodden. And, beneath his arrogant demeanor, there is an empathetic side to Fielding that Abby is determined to unearth.
While most remember her for her character, Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory she has also been involved in projects like voicing Francine in Ice Age: Collision Course, Harley Quin in Batman and Harley Quinn and starred in The Bronze. In addition to working several hats for The Secret Lunches of Chelsea & Ivanka at the New York Public Theater.
I had the opportunity to connect with the bright actress, Melissa Rauch via phone to discuss the ongoing season of Night Court. Rauch shared how Night Court was in her childhood, the process of bringing the revival back and with John Larroquette as part of the package plus much more!
Nancy Tapia: Congratulations on the revival or should I say more like “newboot” of Night Court?
Melissa Rauch: Thank you so much.
Nancy Tapia: You’re welcome. How much are you enjoying the success of the series so far?
Melissa Rauch: Oh, I’m having just the time of my life and just so grateful. I honestly can’t believe that I get to go to work on this set of a show that I loved so much growing up.
Nancy Tapia: Now you mentioned during the TCA growing up and assuming that Night Court was actually taking place in New York and how you wanted to go to it, but yet you were bummed out that it was in LA and now there you are on a Night Court set! How surreal is that?
Melissa Rauch: It’s very surreal. I wish I could go back and tell the little girl version of myself that I’m getting to do it. Yeah. The closest thing was I found out that there was an actual night court, an hour from my house in New York City, and I kept on trying to get my parents to take me there. That’s not what you see on TV. We’re not going to go there at midnight so that you could go and watch people being brought in after being arrested.
Nancy Tapia: That’s hilarious. So tell me about the coming together and bringing John Larroquette back. You’ve shared how you kept asking him. Until finally you’re like, “I’m going to play Abby.” And his words were, “oh fuck.” Which must have been music to your ears at that moment.
Melissa Rauch: That is very true. Yeah, when we originally approached him about it, we presented him with the idea and Dan Rubin, our executive producer, had a wonderful take on the show that we were bringing him. But John very understandably just said that he wasn’t feeling like he wanted to revisit this role at this point in his life, which totally understood, just wasn’t something he was interested in. then we had several… But he left the door open and we just had several conversations after that and he was just so wonderful and kind.
We just spoke to him about it over several… I guess it was several months at that point, and then said, “You know what? I’ll pitch it with you and we’ll see.” He was very involved in the development process. It was during the pandemic, so we pitched it over Zoom. Then, towards the end of the development process, he was asking me throughout if I was going to come on board to play the role of Abby. I was at that point just really feeling like I would produce. And I was like, “It’s not in the cards.” Then towards the end of the process, right before we were finding out about the pilot, I told him I was going to play Abby. And yes, those were his words and I was very grateful that he was ready and willing to do it.
Nancy Tapia: What are you taking away from working with such a high caliber actor like John?
Melissa Rauch: He is just a true masterclass in every sense of the word. He’s so skilled and so gifted as an actor and it’s such a joy to get to watch him work. Even if nothing happened after the pilot, it would’ve been truly worth it to get to sit and have that front row seat to see such brilliance at play in this format.
Nancy Tapia: Now let’s talk about Abby, I love her. I love how she’s this sunshine while most seems to be a cloud to her sunshine rays. Can you talk a little bit about portraying that happiness and the dynamic with the other characters?
Melissa Rauch: Yeah, absolutely. I think something that we were excited about with Abby is that she has a lot of her father in her, in her philosophy of the courtroom and how she likes to make sure that she is guided by the fact that she is seeing people for more than their crime and really trying to figure out how she can help them. That really is her due north in how she looks at her job.
But we also wanted to make sure that her optimism and this desire to help people also wasn’t rooted in naivete or this pollyanna view on life. We’re really excited about giving her these layers and this history in addition to the grief of losing her father, in that she’s had her own demons and her own struggles, and she’s been through really dark times in her life. Her optimism is this active choice that when she’s helping others, she’s not only doing it with the theme of benevolence, but she’s also doing it because it helps her and it helps how she views life and how she gets through the world on a daily basis.
Nancy Tapia: For the episodes coming up, I did have a chance to speak to India Beaufort and she said that one of her favorite episodes is one involving wedding dresses. What about you? What’s your favorite episode coming up? And if it’s the one with the wedding dress, what can you share?
Melissa Rauch: I have a lot of favorites. I love that one. I have… Oh my goodness, I think I have special moments or special favorites, I think every episode there’s something that really will remain a special place in my heart. They’re all little babies. I think one of the memories that will always remain so dear to my heart was when we got to be on set for the first time together because everything had been virtual. The first scene we shot was the scene with John and I in the apartment where I met him for the first time. It was just really special because it was my first day, my first scene that I ever got to shoot with him. So that was really special.
And then I love all the cafeteria scenes where the whole cast gets to be together. I remember watching the original Night Court and loving this workplace family that was created. At the time I was a kid, I didn’t really even know what that was, but being greeted by it and feeling like I was friends with these people because they were all friends and enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes I sit there in those cafeteria scenes and I have to pinch myself because I’m so thrilled about the fact that I get to have this workplace family both on and off camera, whom they all mean so much to me.
Nancy Tapia: That’s great. Well, I appreciate your time and I look forward to attending one of your tapings of season two. I’ve already been like, “Can I attend?” So I’m just waiting to hear back.
Melissa Rauch: Oh my gosh. Yes. We’d absolutely love that. Our tape nights are really fun and we’d absolutely love to have you. Are you in LA?
Nancy Tapia: Yes, yes. I’m here. Here in the Valley area.
Melissa Rauch: Oh, perfect. Awesome. Well, I would absolutely love for that to happen. I look forward to it.
Nancy Tapia: Me too. Thank you. And thank you for bringing such a fun show. i look forward to every Tuesday, going to bed happy knowing I will have a laugh and go to sleep happy.
Melissa Rauch: Oh, that is the nicest compliment. That means the world to me and truly was our hope when we started pitching this show. So the fact that you said that it means the world and beyond. So thank you. And I really appreciate that. I look forward to meeting you in person.
Nancy Tapia: Me too. Thank you so much. And look forward to the new episode.
Melissa Rauch: Yeah, thank you. And that’s one of my favorites as well. That’s the one that India was mentioning, the wedding dress episode.
Nancy Tapia: Ah, how exciting.!
Melissa Rauch: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Nancy Tapia: You’re welcome. Thank you. Take care.
Melissa Rauch: Take care. You too. Thanks. Bye.
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Don’t miss the new episode of Night Court March 14, 2023 on NBC. Followed by the next day on Peacock.
Source: LRMExclusive, NBC