The show takes place in the year 1991 and sees Harris and Meloni as a husband and wife undergoing a role reversal — she heading to law school and he, a longtime doctor, becoming the primary parent. Of course, the chance to stare at Christopher Meloni all day long was hard to turn down, but that isn't the only thing the role boasted for Harris.
"What attracted me to Surviving Jack was the relationship between Jack [Meloni] and Joanne [Harris]," she told us during a recent phone call. "Jack and his wife are crazy about each other and genuinely like each other — also the fact that Jack is so supportive of her decision to go back to law school is great." This might seem like the makings of a family drama, but the show actually brings the laughs.
There's a lot of slapstick to the way that Jack fumbles through fatherhood, and the show is set in 1991. In other words, the jokes kind of write themselves. "A lot of the slang really cracks me up," said Harris. "We used the word 'doy' the other day. I also love the boys and their fashion — it's ridiculous. They're all in huge shirts and wide-leg jeans. Nowadays, kids are into fashion, they'll dress like One Direction with the skinny pants...but no, no, in the '90s it wasn't like that."
Meloni piles on the funny, too. Yes, Elliot Stabler is a bona fide comedian and a work-husband catch, according to Rachael. "Working with Chris is so great, because he's so committed to the show and making it work," she said. "He will not rest until we have found the funniest thing, and I love that about him. He's also very sociable; he loves talking to the crew and the writers and realizes we're nothing without them."
Harris has practically won the leading-man lottery this year. On top of spending her days with Meloni, she also appears in just-out Jason Bateman vehicle Bad Words. The flick follows Bateman's character who's a down-and-out caustic case trying to take over a children's spelling bee and corrupting the 10-year-old crowd favorite as he goes. Funny and heartwarming as the film may be, it had Rachel at Jason Bateman. "How I came onto this film is very simple — my reps called and said, 'Jason Bateman would like you to do something on his next film.' and I said yes. I didn't even know what it was but I knew I would love to work with him."
That risk certainly proved rewarding. "I loved my part and how I got to be outraged with Jason and just direct all my rage towards him," she said. "But, even though you think this is going to be a really raunchy film with Jason just being naughty the whole time, you realize that there's a reason for someone behaving badly. It's because someone's feelings are hurt and they don't know how to say it...and that's just like how it is in life." Spoken like a true (industry) veteran.
You can catch Bad Words in theaters now, and Surviving Jack Thursdays on FOX.