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Night Court Stars Lacretta and India de Beaufort Discuss the NBC Reboot

Jan 25, 2023


News of a Night Court reboot was a bit of an odd surprise for many people. While the show was certainly acclaimed during its run, earning more than 30 Emmy Award nominations from 1984 to 1992, it hardly had the cultural currency seen in the litany of other reboots (insert 400 titles here). It’s also a workplace comedy in which the place of work is America’s justice system, which hasn’t exactly been a laugh riot recently and has been subject to many calls for judicial and policing reform.

Nonetheless, Night Court is back, and it hasn’t caved to the times. The series retains the same freewheeling spirit of the original, standing out in the television landscape as a much more traditional sitcom than usually seen in these modern times. In that classical, pre-’90s sense, the reboot is funny, zippy, and colorful. A lot of that is because of Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) and her husband Winston, who executive produce the Night Court reboot and know how to make a classic multi-cam sitcom. Combined with showrunner Dan Rubin (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Happy Endings), Night Court has the right stuff.
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The series’ success lives or dies on its cast, though, but it fortunately delivers a delightful, diverse ensemble. Led by Rauch (playing the daughter of the original show’s judge) and John Larroquette (reprising his role as Dan Fielding from 30 years ago), Night Court stars India de Beaufort, Lacretta, and Kapil Talwalkar. Lacretta and de Beaufort spoke with MovieWeb about the series, their characters, and the future.

Lacretta Goes from Broadway to Bailiff in the Night Court Reboot

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Night Court is set in the titular after-hours courtroom, where Judge Stone, a public defender, and a prosecutor try to clear the docket of cases each night. However, this is hardly Law & Order, with Night Court much more focused on quick one-liners, wacky subplots, and character-based comedy. The characters( and the actors themselves) are delightfully diverse. Lacretta, known for her performances on stage in Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, and Disaster!, plays the bailiff with a Pynchonian name, Donna “Gurgs” Gurganous. She’s a hilarious highlight in Night Court, and Lacretta found her performance to be not so different from Broadway.

“It was so much the same thing, down to having that immediate response of laughter or surprise,” said Lacretta, “which was great for me. I remember the first guest star that I did. I was so nervous, and I knew because it’s being filmed, I can’t play to the back of the house, because it would just be too big. So I found myself being very stiff and very barely moving my mouth, and they were like, no, no, no, you can relax, you don’t have to be that still!”

Related: Night Court Review: A Classic Sitcom Comes Back but Stays the Same

“I’ve learned many things since then,” continued Lacretta. “Now it just felt like coming full circle getting to do Night Court, coming from the stage, because I was able to play to the back of the house, as it were.” It’s true — there’s a broadness and bigness to the classic, traditional sitcom structure which does allow for those kinds of performances, something largely absent from modern sitcoms, be they ironically detached, more emotional dramedies, or mockumentary-style TV shows. This allows Night Court to be funny, but it doesn’t sacrifice character development and interesting performances.

India de Beaufort on Balancing Depth and Comedy as Olivia

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De Beaufort’s character Olivia, the night court prosecutor, exemplifies this. She’s funny, in the way that everyone’s funny in a sitcom, but she’s actually a somewhat sad, heavily neurotic character. There are hints of emotional abuse and bad parenting, and she has anxiety and difficulty maintaining friendships which makes her vulnerable, something hiding beneath the artifice of your average sitcom cast.

“Olivia is vulnerable, and I knew that coming into it,” said de Beaufort. “One of my first audition pieces was a conversation with Judge Stone, whereby Olivia had set the precedent that she didn’t make friends at work, but she might just break that precedent this one time if she wanted to have a drink or something. Because actually, she’s really lonely, and she just doesn’t know how to function with people. But when it comes down to it, through the story of Olivia, I think we’ll find out a lot more about why she is that way and who she really is under this shield that she has thrown up.”

Regardless of this depth of character, de Beaufort still makes Olivia funny and credits the writers. “In terms of trying to make her funny, I guess I just read the amazing lines from our writers, but always tried to keep in the back of my brain that she was always putting up a front. There was an idea in the foreground, but there was a truth in the background, and as long as I was playing both at the same time, hopefully you get to see the cracks. And instead of her being somebody cold and standoffish, which can often be unlikeable, maybe you might just forgive her a little bit if you can relate to the part of her that is struggling to keep up with society.”

Night Court’s Ensemble Cast Works Together

Warner Bros. Television

Many of Night Court’s best moments come from when individual characters get paired up in interesting ways, allowing the audience to see certain facets of their personalities which wouldn’t otherwise be prevalent. Lacretta and de Beaufort’s characters do this in the third episode, and it’s a funny, charming display of insecurities, awkwardness, and vulnerability followed by compassion and mutual understanding. These character interactions were a highlight for Lacretta and de Beaufort.

“I have a ton of fun with everybody,” said de Beaufort. “I loved all my scenes with Gurgs [Lacretta’s character]. Our dynamic is really interesting because we’re two polar opposites with some similarities and crossover. And some of my favorite episodes are actually between the two of us, [when] we spent a little bit more time together and some more fun stuff happens.”

Related: These Are The Best Lawyer Movies Of All Time

“We have tried to shake up the show so that there is a blend of different people getting to spend time with each other, so that you can see how everybody changes in each scenario,” continued de Beaufort. “Also, the times when we come together are always important to see with an ensemble cast. As far as ensembles go, every day I was looking around and going, ‘Well, sh*t, I better step up my game, because I’m battling with the all-star team.”

Lacretta on Watching Night Court

Warner Bros. Television

When she watched the original series, Lacretta recognized the potential for Night Court to find interesting, funny, and empathetic little moments when certain characters come together. “I especially loved the relationship between Dan Fielding and Roz [a previous bailiff on Night Court]. There was one episode in particular where Roz taught Dan how to ballroom dance. It was a lovely episode, and I just kind of stumbled across it arbitrarily and wasn’t looking for that episode in particular.” Lacretta continued:

But to see that dynamic, that camaraderie and deep love and affection for each other, was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s really nice.” And that’s what I love about the show, is that you have these tender moments. You’ve got your hysterical, raucous moments, and then you have these very dramatic, poignant moments, and it’s just sandwiched with more comedy. That’s life, basically.

Night Court Is Coming Back, and Maybe Traditional Sitcoms Too

Warner Bros. Television

The new Night Court hearkens back not just to the original but to a time of multi-cam comedies like The Odd Couple, The Golden Girls, and the Norman Lear series so many people love. That style began to die out as the ’90s gave way to a new millennium, but with Chuck Lorre programs and reboots like this one, it’s slowly making a comeback. It’s something that both de Beaufort and Lacretta are grateful for.

“My husband’s an actor, and he’d been on One Day at a Time, the Norman Lear reboot for four years, and I played his love interest on that show,” explained de Beaufort. “So I had already gotten to see how a revival works when it’s done well, and especially something from that time period. The Norman Lear way of making multi-cam is just the Holy Grail […] So I was really happy to kind of lean back into that. I think our goal was to make a show that felt as if it was true to the original, because if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

If Night Court remains unbroken, Lacretta and de Beaufort plan to stay with it for as long as it runs. “Yeah, I want to keep going with this,” said Lacretta, who views it as a kind of natural evolution of her career thus far. “For me, this is the dream, and it’s a 12-minute drive from my house,” laughed de Beaufort. “I can’t even explain how lucky I feel. If this show goes for 10 years, I will be on it for as long as they’ll have me.” Fans of Night Court and classic sitcoms should be feeling pretty lucky, too.

From After January Productions and in association with Warner Bros. Television and Universal Television, Night Court will premiere on NBC with two episodes on Tuesday, Jan. 17 (8-9 p.m. ET/PT), with individual episodes airing in that time slot on subsequent Tuesdays.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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