She’s fun. She’s funny. She’s Good Luck Charlie’s mom. She’s Leigh-Allyn Baker! And she’s bigger than life in her tiny little self. We had the most fun interview with her after the screening of the Bad Hair Day movie that’s coming out on Friday 2/13. We were so blessed to watch the Bad Hair Day movie with her and then get to interview her after! She was excited to watch the movie with us and listen to our laughter and opinions on her movie.
In the Bad Hair Day movie she both acted and directed. She loved that she got to let her hair down and wear barely any make up at all on this movie. Here’s some q and a with Leigh Allyn-Baker.
What was the inspiration behind the movie?
A different script was taken to Disney that was different then this. If there’s an adult that we’d like to feature in a Disney movie let’s try Leigh. So first and foremost we wanted to make people laugh and pull at their heartstrings with a deep and empowering message. One that adults can enjoy as well as kids with a great message. Disney was brave enough to do that.
What was the funnest part of shooting this?
The film was made in 22 days with a legit car chase. Most people have to hurry up and wait but with this film it was hurry up and hurry up. The most fun was when Laura and I were adlibing. Oh and when we almost ran over 3 people in the bike chase scene.
You do producing, acting, and voice over. Which one do you like most?
My favorite was this to executive produce and act. I got to pick everything down to the dresses. Down to editing it and sitting in on the final mix.
How did you decide to go with Laura as the lead?
Laura has a certain maturity and skillset that was necessary. We needed a girl who could pull off prom queen and pull off being smart. She had that. It’s not easy to go toe to toe with an adult. She did a great job.
Did you have to rewrite the script when you got it?
I didn’t rewrite it we have writers that did a great job at that. I had joke punching sessions and we’d brainstorm there. The movie took a different turn after we got the original script.
Do you like acting or executive producing better?
I like both. I can’t see one without the other. I got to do both in this film and loved it.
What’s your worst ever bad hair day?
The day we shot the promos. I honestly looked at the mirror and thought, “Oh, look at the irony!”
Did Laura really cut your hair?
She did not. Just a cute stunt for the movie. Nor did I cut hers. But it was my idea that my character cuts hers.
How much creative liberty did you have when creating this movie?
After working with Disney for 5 years I trust them and they trust me and I have quite a bit of liberty and freedom to do this movie. There were times when I was scared to push the envelope and they (Disney) would want me to go further with it. I was so proud of how it turned out.
Are you turning down other roles to stay in the Disney format?
I have turned down other roles. I’ve become a prude working with Disney. There’s a lot on tv that’s murder and sex and it makes up primetime tv. There’s been parts like on a crime series that wanted me and I turned them down. It just didn’t seem right. You can get too busy and it’s not worth it. As soon as I finished Good Luck Charlie there were talks about Bad Hair Day. My whole heart and focus was on this and my kids.
I’d like to develop my own series. I’m working with a gentleman that’s my age who’s been on the Disney channel before and I’d like to develop a show with him.
Would you want to stick with comedy or go another direction?
I love comedy. I was going into a screening test for a tv show crime based and I kept trying to make it funny. Their family was supposed to die and I kept trying to make it funny. I just wanna have fun. If I’m going to be away from my kids working then I wanna have fun. Comedy just fills up my bucket. Why go to work and cry? I want to go to work and laugh.
Do you think you put a lot of yourself into your characters?
Absolutely. I’m a little embarrassed to say that about Amy Duncan’s behavior. Amy is my feminine side and Liz is me at home. I have two boys and it was just really fun for me to show I am an actress. Let’s wash the make up off change the hair and put frumpy clothes on me.
How do you balance work and home with kids?
I learned that in season 1 of Good Luck Charlie. I had just had a baby and I remember just missing him terribly all day. I was rocking him to sleep at night. I missed it at work. I’m not 100% there or here. So when I’m at work I work when I’m at home I’m home. I love doing sitcoms. There’s no better mom job than 30 minute sitcom work. There’s a regular schedule, you get 3 weeks on and 1 week off and 5 months hiatus.
What’s the one message for young girls to take away?
Your identity who you are comes from the inside. It doesn’t come from out here. Believe in yourself, it’s more than believing in yourself it’s knowing yourself and being okay with who you are and not looking for approval in others. And knowing when to call for back up. These ladies start out as polar opposites in this film. Liz and Laura’s character learn from this day and each other how to fill in their weak spots. They help each other grow immensely. Liz learns to ask for help and be giddy and a girl and not just a one woman show.
Will there be a sequel?
It’s pitched and as far as I’m concerned it’s in the works.
Did playing this change you?
Executive producing this helped me grow as a person. Acting in this helped me grow as an actress. You guys saw my bag of tricks I use them at home on my 5 year old. Then there’s the scene where you are outside that warehouse and I’m feeling like I’m playing her mom. You give yourself over to the process and surprise yourself. You trust yourself enough to go there.
Have your boys expressed any interest in acting?
My 5 year old wants to be like Mia. He wants to know why Mia’s on the red carpet with me all the time. Then he says “I want to be Charlie” and I said, “you can’t Mia’s Charlie.” Then he says, “he wants to be Good luck” and I’m like, “honey you are!” He’s great at pretending and make believe. When he’s old enough to drive himself he can go to the auditions.
Has he seen the movie yet?
He thinks anything I’m in is the most boring thing ever. He said, “You being the good luck charlie girl is the worst thing that ever happened to me. ” He doesn’t want to share me with the world. But then I explained we don’t have to wait in line at Disnseyland and he loves me being the Good Luck Charlie mom. What was your ? He’s seen the dailies as I’m going through them and what he took away was don’t touch the red button.
Does having kids affect you choosing roles?
Yes. Before GLC I had a series on HBO where I was on the wrong side of the tracks from Texas and there was racy scenes and it was a great show. Then HBO cancelled me and I cancelled them and decided to create life. Then I got a call about auditioning for a crime show where this family is going to be tortured. So I politely tell them it’s my child’s birthday and they understood. I should have told them no I passed because they called me back with an appointment for the next day. I don’t want to know what criminals think about. I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to go there in my mind where I had to envision my children being endangered like that. It’s not something I want to think about and I feel horrible for parents going through this. It guides me in that way for sure. I don’t want my kids turning the channel and see “Oh there’s my mom’s boob and she’s on that guy.” I don’t want that for my kids. So, yes I choose roles based on my kids.
What drove you to want to do a film about girls when you have boys?
Good question. We know our audience, right? It is girl power but there’s something in this for boys to love. It’s got a car chase and a suave debonair bad guy. I just think there’s something in this for everyone in the family. I originally passed on GLC. I waddle into the room and I see Eric Cramer there who’s such a seasoned actor. They explained to me that they want a family sitcom for the whole family. Then I signed up and did it and didn’t regret it.
Who was your role model growing up?
My grandmother, my mom’s mother was always 100% there for me, salt of the earth. I’m always shocked when someone notices me. I’m always looking behind me to see who they’re looking at. Madeline Kahn is a role model for comedy. She’s so hysterical. Diane Keaton is hilarious. I think she hung the moon. That freak out on the sidewalk waiting for the cab to come is a total Diane Keaton moment.
Did you grow up wanting to do this?
Yes, I always knew I wanted to do this. I put this out there and I remember watching comedy and thinking I want to do that. There’s a comedy that came out called Nuts 2 with Steve Martin. There’s this one elevator scene that stuck with me. Madeline was making me laugh and I thought I want to do what Madeline does. I also want to help kids. I want to do comedy and I want to help kids. I’m doing that. I’m making kids laugh. I’m an adult in a teenage world and I’m doing what I wanted.
How did you make the trek from Kentucky to California to achieve your goal?
When I was a little girl I wrote down the universities I wanted to go to and USC was number 1. My plan as a 7 year old was I could go be a stage actress and get lots of acclaim and make no money or go to California and make good money. That was a no brainer. Transition from college to living here was essentially my plan. I grew up in a tiny town. I knew their first middle and last name of everyone there. I wanted a safe haven to bridge me from small town to big city. New York scared me. So I knew USC was where I wanted to go and they only accepted 10 boys and 10 girls for their conservatory program. I just knew that’s where I’m supposed to go and where I was getting into. My mom showed me that paper last year and I was astounded.
Did they have a fine arts program in your small town school?
They did. They had a great program at Murray High School. We had a speech and debate team. I did oratory, duet acting and dramatic interpretation (which was my strong point.) When I went to USC I took a summer and went to Oxford in England to study Shakespeare. I was all into Shakespeare. Now I’m doing kids comedy. But there’s not that much difference in comedy and Shakespeare. It’s all rhythm and iambic pentameter. You learn this rhythm of doing things. When editing I got into an argument because they didn’t want to wait a beat and I was like no you need to pan back to her and wait for the next joke. And listening to us during the movie proved her right. Because we wouldn’t have heard the next joke because of our laughter had she not put that pause in there. You hear the rhythm of it. There was space in between to laugh. Shakespeare helped my comedy immensely.
What do you want to do next to reach higher?
This was a step. It takes guts to say “no, I think it should be this way.” Knowing full well anyone could look at you and go first time executive producer, she’s an actress, gave her a title wah wah… But I was like no I think it needs to be this way and if it doesn’t work it’s on me! Right? And so the next step is to step outside of children’s programming and do things for the whole family but maybe branch out to network television and see how I might do there. When I first moved out here I was in a pilot right away and it was on the same night as this little show called Friends. Maybe you heard of it? My mom was like, “Leigh, why didn’t you do friends”. Me: “Well they called me and asked and I was like I’m too busy and I don’t want to be on your silly show.” Haha. It doesn’t really work that way in this town. I’ve learned that families, parents, children have a real respect for what I do. But I’ve learned that this town doesn’t. I’m a mom on a kids network to them. That’s when you take the reigns and develop your own show.
Thank you Leigh Allyn-Baker for sharing your movie and spending time with us.