Pauley Perrette trades retirement for laughs in new CBS comedy ‘Broke’

Kate Hahn
Pauley Perrette.

After 15 years in the NCIS lab, Pauley Perrette was ready to laugh. “I wanted to do a comedy. Either that or retire,” says the actress, who played the CBS procedural’s Abby Sciuto until 2018. Thankfully, she chose the former. As Jackie on “Broke” (Thursdays, beginning April 2), she’s a struggling single mom whose idea of a morning time-saver is blowtorching oatmeal for son Sammy (Antonio Corbo). When her estranged sister, Elizabeth (Natasha Leggero), and brother-in-law, Javier (Jaime Camil), go from riches to rags, Jackie reluctantly lets them crash, along with Javier’s assistant (Izzy Diaz) and a dog. Here, Perrette invites us in.

What caused the rift between Jackie and her sister?

Pauley Perrette: Their dad’s in prison, and mom died. Elizabeth married a rich guy and disappeared. So Jackie’s pissed — she could have used their help raising a child. When they show up, there’s a lot of history. Not all of it’s good. What’s the major conflict? Mostly it’s cultural. Jackie wouldn’t know a Louis Vuitton suitcase. Elizabeth and Javier are cocktails and caviar. But Javier’s not the arrogant-jerk rich guy. He’s lived in a bubble and is naive. His father’s cut him off. Every character is played a little differently than [you’d expect].

Jackie’s a bartender, and so were you. How else are you alike?

She’s also a mechanic and a tool freak. I’m kind of a tool freak. I’m from Alabama, so they raised us like that — and my dad didn’t have any boys, so me and my sister are like dudes.

Did you really consider retiring?

I was going to drink beer with my three dogs and watch television. [Laughs] My family, friends and pastor didn’t think it was the best idea. I didn’t even want to play a mom, but now Antonio is the center of my universe. He brightens my life!

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