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Abigail Spencer Talks ‘Extended Family,’ ‘All My Children’ and ‘Suits: LA’

For ‘All My Children’ alum Abigail Spencer, being on a sitcom feels like coming home

Since getting her start on All My Children, Abigail Spencer has enjoyed adventures on Timeless, Rectify, Mad Men, Suits and Grey’s Anatomy to name a few! After decades of bringing the drama, Spencer is starring on the sitcom Extended Family, and she tells FIRST for Women that hamming it up with Jon Cryer and Donald Faison feels like coming home.

MUST-READ: ‘Mad Men’ Cast Then and Now: Where Are They Today?

While hanging out at a posh NBC party, the Extended Family star dishes on her new series, reflects on her career and considers the Suits: LA spinoff and a possible Timeless movie.

Plus, Spencer’s got a question for Mad Men star Jon Hamm!

Suits star Abigail Spencer talks Extended Family

Extended Family cast, 2023
Extended Family cast, 2023Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Abigail Spencer is having a blast at her new job, which finds her playing a working mom who’s “nesting” with her ex-husband and her new fiancé – which means the exes take turns staying with the kids, instead of making the kids bounce between two homes.

“When I was going through my divorce, my son’s father and I did a little bit of that, but I’d never seen a sitcom in this world,” says Spencer. “I love bringing it more to the forefront because I think it is very healthy for the children. I feel like more people might consider it.”

That said, nesting is not easy – which is where Extended Family finds its laughs.

Spencer and Cryer’s Julia and Jim had found a rhythm as divorced and slightly co-dependent co-parents, but that’s been thrown off by the addition of Faison’s Trey – Julia’s new fiancé, who is slowly finding his place in their dysfunctional yet loveable family. 

“They’re actually quite grown up when it comes to the kids,” Spencer says. “They’re able to put their egos aside. But when the kids leave, they’re not – at all! We get to go off the rails. And sometimes, the children are the adults. What’s sweet about the show is we love each other, so we always come back to center.”

Suits star Abigail Spencer is at home on Extended Family

Abigail Spencer, 2024
Abigail Spencer, 2024Mark Von Holden/NBC

While there have been laughs over the course of Spencer’s career, Extended Family marks her first time starring on a sitcom.

The Slow Road to Sitcom: The Abigail Spencer Story,” cracks the actress, who also appeared in movies like Cowboys & Aliens and Chasing Mavericks. “It’s challenging and I’m enjoying it. The other pieces I’ve done before, it was 16-hour days. Now, I just get to laugh all day.”

“And I’m known for being a real clown,” she adds. “I was shooting something with Michael Vartan and he said, ‘It’s like working with a 12-year-old!’ I was like, ‘Thank you for noticing.’ So a lot of my co-stars have been like, ‘You finally get to do what you do best.’”

Spencer is also finding the job familiar, on a technical level.

“I’ve been thinking about my time on All My Children a lot because I haven’t been on a studio stage with multiple cameras since then,” she says. “There’s a similarity, and it feels like I get to do some repair – because I was so young when I was on that show!”

Suits star Abigail Spencer talks All My Children

Growing up, Spencer was a singer, dancer and performer who dreamt of landing on Broadway…and maybe Saturday Night Live! Instead, she landed on All My Children, playing Pine Valley good girl Becca Tyree from 1999-2001.

“It was before social media and I was truly discovered in a way that doesn’t happen anymore,” Spencer recounts. “I was 17 and in high school. I flew home (to Florida) for my prom and instead of going to Carnegie Mellon, I deferred my enrollment and went to The School of All My Children. I learned on the job.”

25 years later, Spencer’s still pals with former costars Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos and is always delighted to run into soap icon Susan Lucci – but her career has taken her a long way from Pine Valley, and even further from the theater.

MUST-READ: Susan Lucci: “Paying Attention to This Weird Pain Saved My Life!”

Extended Family is actually more me than anything that I’ve done,” she says, noting that this also marks her first time working in front of a live studio audience. “I feel like this has all been some long curveball Yellow Brick Road to get back to what I really love – which is theater. This is one step closer.

“At the same time, I’m 42, and it feels like something new,” she adds. “It was a big shift, and the fact that I get to have a career that keeps expanding is amazing.”

The Mad Men alum has a question for leading man Jon Hamm

From her first soap love triangle to today, Spencer has gotten romantic with some serious leading men – which means she’s fielded more than her share of questions about Jon Hamm, Daniel Craig, Gerard Butler, Gabriel Macht and the other lucky blokes who’ve courted her onscreen.

“When I was doing Mad Men, people were like, ‘Oh my god, what is it like to make out with Jon Hamm?’” Spencer recalls. “And I was like, ‘Ask Jon Hamm what it’s like to make our with Abigail Spencer!’ That’s the question. I always flip it, and I hope they’re getting as many questions about me.”

All joking aside, Spencer has nothing but raves for her leading men.

“They’re great scene partners, and I love great actors,” she says. “For me, it’s about energetically being able to hold space in the scene and go toe to toe with people who are very strong in their work – and whether it’s a man or a woman, I’m down!”

Extended Family star Abigail Spencer talks The Actor and Timeless

As Spencer re-explores her comic chops on Extended Family, she also has her hands in several other pots. With a love of fashion, travel and dancing on social media, she also owns a flower company. She’s also been working with her Innerlight Films producing partner Duke Johnson to finally bring The Actor to the screen.

“It’s been eight years in the making,” Spencer says. “We optioned the book (Memory by Donald E. Westlake), we developed it and Neon is releasing it later this year. I really enjoy producing, and I’m excited to get more behind the scenes. That’s where I’m headed.”

That said, Spencer wouldn’t mind taking another adventure with the Timeless crew.

“I’d love to do another Timeless movie, and maybe direct it,” she says. “Now that there’s Peacock, I feel like we could do them occasionally. You never know! I mean, who knew about Suits?”

The actress talks the Suits renaissance and reboot

Spencer is, of course, referring to Suits breaking records when it was re-released on Netflix last June – which has since led to a reboot that’s currently in production.

“Years later, we’re having this renaissance moment,” marvels Spencer, who learned about the show going viral via a Suits group text. “It brought us all closer together because it’s like, ‘Wow, we really did something special.’”

With Suits: LA given a pilot order by NBC, Arrow star Stephen Amell will lead the offshoot. It’s unlikely Suits stars Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle will return but it turns out, Spencer is game to bring her character Scottie to Los Angeles if she gets the call!

“I don’t see why not,” she says with a grin.  

In the meantime? Spencer’s getting her Extended Family laugh on with Jon Cryer and Donald Faison, looking forward to seeing The Actor hit theaters, and keeping her eye out for more stories to tell – from both in front and behind the camera.

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