Over the six seasons Rules of Engagement has been on CBS, the characters played by Megyn Price and Patrick Warburton have emerged as the show’s most relatable couple. Their Audrey and Jeff have been married for more than 10 years and consistently go through issues that viewers can relate to, be it buying a chair that only she wants or fighting over going to a game.
When Spinoff caught up with Warburton and Price at the syndication press day for Rules of Engagement (it begins airing today; check your local listings), the two actors teased a big change coming up in their characters’ lives: a baby. Jeff and Audrey decided in the fifth season to use a surrogate to have their first child, and now that surrogate is due to burst. We asked Price and Warburton how they think the baby will change the show, and some of the perks of reaching their 100th episode.
Spinoff: The baby storyline will lend some drama to your show, which is so focused on comedy, so what are some of the issues that you think will be brought up?
Megyn Price: It depends when we have the baby. We might never have to deal with it. They’re trying to sort of insert them now with a pre-baby prepping for it. I don’t know. I have no idea what they’re going to do.
At the end of last season we saw Audrey having some issues coping with the fact she wasn’t giving birth to this baby —
Price: I think we’re passed that.
Patrick Warburton: I’m going to be perfectly honest, I hope the focus isn’t that big because I think it becomes a trap. I think Jeff and Audrey are really fun people the way they treat and deal with each other, and it’s always funnier when they have a conflict going on with each other, not when it’s always focused on one thing.
Price: It’s true. And I also think that one really funny part of their relationship is how incredibly selfish they both are, and I think if you put that in the context of a baby they both look like jerks. But if you keep it in context of something outside of a baby … I’d rather have them have their issues and they’re having a baby rather then have all their issues about the baby, because I think you lose the identifiable part of them. I think that couples see themselves in Jeff and Audrey.
I think that’s the part that I would like to focus on, is them still as the couple when they’re not focused on the baby. You can have both, because you certainly do in real life.
Since today’s the first day of filming, what’s it like being back on set?
Price: We’ve been gone for so long that it’s weird. It’s almost like going back in time to walk back in here. It’s sort of surreal, but it’s nice to be with people that you love.
Warburton: It feels a little odd because in certain ways time flies by, it really does, and the life of this show has been strange because we’ve been here for a long time but yet we’ve have had some short seasons and yet here we are; we’ll have done a hundred episodes. It does seem like yesterday that we were doing this pilot. We can think back to our original cast — this is not the original cast.
Price: It’s been a long road, and I had a baby and your kids have gone from like little kids to grown-up people. It’s been a long time.
Warburton: It’s been about eight years. At least eight years because the first time we did the pilot, then we were gone for a year, they decided if they wanted to do it, then they said they do, then they decided they wanted to recast certain members and that takes more time.
Price: We’re still trucking!
Warburton: We hung in there. We made the cut.
Price: “We love it! Fire everyone except us two.”
I’ve also heard that they’re bringing Wendi McLendon-Covey back, and you guys will have some scenes with her. Are you looking forward to working with her again?
Price: I did a fashion show with her over the hiatus, which was the craziest — yeah, it was so insane. Tommy Hilfiger decided he wanted to have funny girls in his fashion show. So I’m thinking it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever done. So they’re prepping me, da da da, and it was like a Top Model set-up where they have real models who are 10 feet tall and drinking champagne and haven’t eaten since 1974 —
Warburton: That’s hot, by the way.
Price: Yeah, it’s really hot. It’s really fun. So through the little crack in the mirror to the other side of the vanity I’m like, “Wendi?” And she’s like, “Oh, come on.” So they dress us in these insane outfits and we have to go like work the runway, not as models but as “funny models.” They just wanted people who would entertain, so they gave me this tiger print dress so I growled and did the whole thing. And Wendi did this whole crazy-I’m-a-very-serious-model move. It was fun.
Warburton: I remember when you did that, I think. I remember I was talking to you and you were telling me what you were doing or something.
How different are the actual characters on the show from the people who play them, like Wendi?
Price: Wendi, I think Liz is definitely a side of her.
Like the crazy cat lady?
Price: Oh, yeah, she can embody that thing like nothing. She kind of likes, I think, to be a little bit of an isolationist a little bit, but she’s not like that in real life.
Does she have cats?
Price: She does have a lot of cats. And then she does this weird thing where she looks like a cute, normal person and then she can put on this Liz face where then she’s hideous. I don’t know how she does it. Don’t you think it’s bizarre?
Warburton: And she’s not afraid to do that.
Price: No. Her posture and everything — it’s like instant.
Warburton: I’m excited she’s coming back because I love her. I think she definitely brings a whole other character. She really does help build the show.
Price: Yeah, she’s fun. I like being in scenes with her where I don’t have to talk much, and I can just watch her because it’s harder for me to squeak my lines out when I’m supposed to be acting like she’s crazy and meanwhile I’m like, “I love watching this.”
How has working in front of a live audience changed your acting experience?
Price: I love it. It’s my favorite thing because I feel like it’s doing a play every week, and our fans have totally changed. It used to be we’d drag in the people still detoxing from rehab just to fill seats. It was awful. And now it’s all people who totally want to be here and they go crazy and they stay until the end and it’s fun.
Warburton: I love that there’s a pretty large Aussie contingency each week, and that’s exciting for me.
Price: I didn’t tell you, I got tackled by a whole bunch of Aussies at the Natural History Museum. They’re like, “Oh, my God!” They went crazy. Rules is huge in Australia. Huge. It’s like their No. 1 comedy, I think.
This is what they want to see in Americans, I guess.
Price: Yeah. Or we remind them of Australians.
Rules of Engagement begins airing in syndication starting today. You can check here for where it’s airing in your local area. The show will also return to CBS later this year.