Sadie Calvano has the fortune -- or misfortune -- of starring in the CBS comedy "Mom" with two of the best comic actors working today: Emmy-winner Allison Janney and Anna Faris. The young Southern California native is on one of the biggest hit comedies from last year, but her work often gets overshadowed by her co-stars.
Calvano plays Violet on the series, which moves from its Monday night time slot of the first season to a new home on Thursdays. Violet is Christy's (Faris) daughter and Bonnie's (Janney) granddaughter. The first season dealt with Violet's pregnancy and the decision she makes after giving birth.
The actress only looks at the positives, saying working with two such powerful comic co-stars is a blessing.
"We got really lucky with 'Mom' having such an amazing group of people who are so grounded and so smart," Calvano tells me during a CBS party. "The chemistry on our stage is indescribable."
The feeling is mutual. While we are talking, Janney walks by and points out how terrific Calvano is on the show. The high praise seems to embarrass Calvano a little bit.
Calvano went into the half-hour comedy as such a fan of Faris and Janney, it took all her will power not to become a fanboy the first time she read with them. After the initial shock, "Mom" became a learning experience.
Before signing on to "Mom," Calvano had only made guest appearances on TV shows like "Melissa & Joey" and the film "J. Edgar." The biggest thing she's learned from her co-stars is that it's OK to ask for help.
"I have wonderful people to ask," Calvano says.
It was a particularly demanding first year as her character went from confused teen to teenage mom. And, it all had to be played without distracting from the show's comic roots.
The season finale was one of the toughest for the cast and crew to produce because the baby was given up for adoption.
"I never expected the final episode to be as emotional as it was. I think it took all of us by surprise. Violet did one of the hardest things anyone her age could come to terms with. At the end of the day, she wasn't ready, or able, to be a parent right now," Calvano says. "When we were shooting the finale episode, even the cameramen were crying."
She's proud the series faced the serious issue. During the year, Calvano heard from people who have either been adopted or who have had adoption in their homes expressing their appreciation at the way the show dealt with the topic.
Season two of "Mom" launches Thursday.
If everyone aged as beautifully as Rene Russo, getting older wouldn't be such a bad thing -- the 60-year-old actress looks exactly like she did in the 1990s when she was starring in "Get Shorty," "Lethal Weapon 3" and "The Thomas Crown Affair."
After taking a break from acting, Russo returned to the big screen in 2013 in "Thor: The Dark World." Her next movie, "Nightcrawler," was written and directed by her husband, Dan Gilroy.
In the film, Russo's character is in charge of the late-night newsroom crew at a low-rated Los Angeles TV station. She deals with a lot of "nightcrawlers," freelance photographers who bring her footage of wrecks, arrests and other disasters that can be covered by the station's normal news crews.
During an interview to talk about "Nightcrawler," Russo starts telling me about an intense scene where her character gets into a verbal battle with the character played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
He already had told me that the scene was difficult because he had all of the great lines and it was obvious that Russo's character was not going to win the war of words.
"But, she's such a great actress, Rene figured out a way to at least win a few battles," Gyllenhaal tells me.
Russo starts explaining what she did to try and throw Gyllenhaal off his game. As she begins to explain how under the table she was running her hand up his leg, Russo starts running her hand up my leg. It's easy to see how this is the kind of action that would throw even the most seasoned professional off their game.
"It was so much fun to look at his face and see how hard he was trying to keep it together," Russo says. "It was a very interesting, twisty scene."
She had to be seeing the same look on my face. When she stopped, there was really only one question left to ask.
"Could you show me what you did in that scene one more time?" I ask.