Conchata Ferrell hails from West Virginia, but her story is, in many ways, classic Hollywood.
Girl moves to New York. Does well on stage, in movies and on TV. Fast-forward through three decades of TV credits, Ms. Ferrell doing what she does best-getting laughs by speaking the truth. One day, she gets a role on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” the now 2-year-old hit comedy that next season inherits the time slot and ratings mantle of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Next thing you know, she’s an overnight success.
“I came in the first year as a guest star,” Ms. Ferrell said. “I came home after the first show and said to my husband, ‘I hope they like me as much as I like them, because I think this is my show.’
“Then they added me to the cast this year, and I was a nervous wreck for the first four or five shows, because I thought they’d change their mind. But there has been a wonderful kind of ease on the set. Nobody’s really worried about losing their job.
“For me it’s a very different experience because I’ve been on shows that struggled along for a couple of years,” Ms. Ferrell said.
“Hot L Baltimore,” which was canceled after 13 shows in 1975, hurt the most, she said. Norman Lear had adapted it from Lanford Wilson’s award-winning play.
“I had done the play in New York. I had created the character. The character was mine. I just hated to put her away,” said Ms. Ferrell, who won an Obie for her performance in “The Sea Horse” in 1973. “But probably, for the sake of my ego, it probably was better that it didn’t make it, because I was young and I was riding a wave of success, and I really thought I was awfully good.”
She was. She is.
Chuck Lorre, the creator and one of the executive producers of “Two and a Half Men,” tailored the character of Berta, the show’s gravel-voiced housekeeper, for Ms. Ferrell, she said.
“Chuck says my character is the voice of the audience,” she said. “It’s like me and all these silly rich people.
“I haven’t felt so at home on any show as this one,” Ms. Ferrell said. “Nothing could be better than just going to work and doing this show.”
Others to Consider
2004 Comedy Supporting Actress Contenders
Winner: Cynthia Nixon, Sex and the City (HBO)
Other nominees: Doris Roberts, Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS); Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City (HBO); Kristin Davis, Sex and the City (HBO); Megan Mullally, Will & Grace (NBC)