7 Questions With Hap and Leonard: Mucho Mojo‘s Irma P. Hall (MeMaw)
As the mystery on HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO heats up, we get to meet some members of Leonard’s family. Some of the most memorable moments so far have come courtesy of Irma P. Hall, who plays Leonard’s beloved “MeMaw.”
Before you catch the latest episode of HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO, check out our chat with Hall about the similarities between herself and MeMaw, her favorite moments of the season and her desire to represent the kind of older person she admires.
Q: How was it joining the cast of HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO this season?
A: It was a fun set to work on because everyone was really like family. It was so close. On set I would sit outside my trailer and watch and everybody was very kind to me.
Q: MeMaw has had some difficulties in her life. What experiences did you draw from for the character?
A: I had experience with wayward boys. I taught high school from 1962 to 1984. I had mainly boys in my class. I understood MeMaw. People probably wonder why she was living alone in that kind of neighborhood. I understood because I experienced that. When I lived in Chicago doing a play, walking five blocks to my little bungalow house like the one MeMaw has, there was this group of young men who said, “We’re waiting for you, because we know you get home late at night and we want to walk you home.” And these were drug dealers! They were nice to me.
Q: Your scenes with Ivan were a lot of fun. Did you enjoy working with Olaniyan Thurmon?
A: Oh yeah. He’s a sweetheart. [Laughs]
Q: MeMaw is known for making a tasty pie. Do you have any dishes you like to cook?
A: I like to cook some Creole dishes and Mexican food. Sometimes I’d bring something to school for my kids.
Q: MeMaw has a lot of funny moments this season. Any favorite lines or scenes?
A: I enjoyed, after I got over the shock of it, the scene where Leonard urinates on the [drug dealer's] head. That was a funny scene. They were all very realistic. I wanted to be the voice and face of the older women who are so important in our lives. I was always very close to my grandparents. I always liked older women. When I was a kid growing up — the first seven years of my life were spent either in Beaumont, TX or Tyler, TX or Shreveport, LA — whenever they couldn’t find me, I’d be in some older person’s house. I just liked to be around them. I’ve played about 50 different older women…more than that. I’ve played about every type. It was fun to do that [on HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO].
Q: This season’s themes of racial tension between police and African-Americans are more topical than ever. Have things improved at all since the ’80s when HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO is set?
A: When I taught school in Texas, I knew Hap. I taught at a school where there were only two black kids in the whole school. I had lots of boys who were either white or Mexican. I went to my last two years of college in Tyler, TX and then got married and stayed in Greenville, TX. I know East Texas. I was very familiar with the setting. There was a lot that was familiar to me, the way the houses looked, the neighborhood. Since I’ve been here so long I can see changes for the better.
Q: What do you think about the “mojo” part of HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO?
A: [Laughs] That was interesting to me. I have family in Louisiana, so I was familiar with mojo. I was right at home.
See how MeMaw figures into the mystery on HAP AND LEONARD: MUCHO MOJO, Wednesdays at 10/9c on SundanceTV.