THE LONG ROAD BACK TO SERIES TELEVISION WELL WORTH
THE JOURNEY FOR ACTRESS MACKENZIE PHILLIPS
Phillips has seen it all. She’s
been on top of the world, and she’s been down
and out. Now, she’s
returning to weekly television for the first time in nearly 20
will star in Disney Channel’s newest series, So Weird, a
half-hour family drama which explores the
world of paranormal phenomena through the eyes of a
14-year-old computer wiz with an
obsession for all things strange.
In the series, which TV Guide has named one of the
“top 10 new
kids’ shows,” Phillips plays Molly Phillips, a 1970s rock
singer traveling the country on a comeback
tour – with her two kids in tow.
The role is a far cry from anything Phillips has done in
but one she relishes with great enthusiasm.
Born into musical
royalty, Phillips is the daughter of legendary musician John
whose Mamas and the Papas took the world by storm in the 1960s
with chart-topping hit after hit.
To say the least, her childhood was anything but
normal. As she
recalls, “I spent half of the time
with my strict, Eastern seaboard mother.
Then when I was with my dad, I’d hang out with the
Stones and the Beatles. It was really a trip for a young girl.” Mackenzie clearly idolized her father,
and wanted to be a rock star from an early age. That desire
is actually what landed her her first
movie role – in American Graffiti, George Lucas’
blockbuster big-screen homage to life in the
“I was really
into rock ‘n’ roll, and I attended school with a lot of the
music industry kids.
When I was twelve, some of us formed a band and went to perform at
an open mike night at
Hollywood’s famous Troubadour, just off the Sunset Strip.
Fred Roos saw me there, and asked
me to audition for the movie.
I never expected to get the role, but a few days later they
say they wanted me for the part.
It was pretty heady stuff for a twelve-year-old.”
Her role in the
hit film led her to other movie roles as when she was 15, Phillips
as Julie Cooper in Norman Lear’s new comedy series One Day At A
Time. The show about
single mom struggling to raise two kids alone became a hit and
went on to run for nine seasons.
However, Phillips departed the show after five seasons to seek
help for a widely publicized battle
with drug addiction. She
subsequently returned for two more seasons, but left again, unable
remain sober. “ I
lost a lot of credibility when I was fired from One Day At A Time
– the second
time,” she reflects.
“ I had wanted to be like my dad, and thought that living
in the fast lane was
the way to do it. I was wrong.”
The actress took
some time off before her next big venture, which united her with
the next ten years, the father-daughter team, accompanied by the
Dennis Doherty and singer Spanky McFarlane, toured the world as
the newest incarnation of The
Mamas and the Papas, playing some 200 concerts a year.
The experience brought Phillips and her
dad closer than ever, and refueled her love of singing.
Asked how her won
touring experience compares to that of the character she plays
So Weird, Phillips says it was quite different, admitting, “we
trashed hotel rooms, and did the
whole rock star thing. Molly is much more grounded then I was at
that time in my life.”
Ha she learned
from her experiences? “You bet.” She proudly offers. “I’ve
matured a lot
since those days. I have a son who depends on me, and that is more
important than anything.”
Getting sober in 1992 has made all the difference for Phillips,
who counts the experience among
the most difficult and rewarding of her life. Since then, the actress has taken what she calls a
of “baby steps,” getting her priorities in order and setting a
good example for her son. She
performed the role of Rizzo in Grease on Broadway, and has
appeared in episodes of Caroline
in the City, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Chicago Hope,
particular joy in being selected to play a mom in a Disney Channel
“I went in to audition for this role and saw a room full of
actresses some ten years older than me.
I thought ‘I’ll never get this. They want someone
much older.’ But
then they called me back to
sing. I performed Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time, and got the part.
I just couldn’t believe that
Disney Cannel wanted me to play somebody’s mom.”
How does it feel
to be back in the series television? “Just great,” Phillips says.
“We film in
Vancouver, so we have formed our own family unit up there.
Being this farm from home makes for
a tight group.” It’s
been a long road for the actress who came to national prominence
twelve years old, but she wouldn’t change a thing. “I never
liked the word ‘comeback,’
it seems to imply some big, flashy return, and that’s just not
me. I appreciate the extremes I’ve
lived, because they have made me who I am today, the sum total of
my life experience.” When
asked what her life is like today, Phillips says, without
hesitation, “I wake up grateful nearly ever
day, happy to be on this planet.
I love being a mom and I love playing one on TV.”
Want to know more about
Mackenzie Phillips? Check out the Lifetime feature here!