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'Brockmire' star Reina Hardesty says humor helps bring sunlight

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'Brockmire' star Reina Hardesty says humor helps bring sunlight
Reina Hardesty can now be seen in the fourth and final season of "Brockmire." Photo courtesy of IFC

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- Greenhouse Academy and The Flash alumnus Reina Hardesty said she hopes her IFC comedy, Brockmire, cheers up people stuck at home because of coronavirus-related social distancing.

"Art is about making people feel less alone," the actress told UPI in a phone interview this week.

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"You see through these characters that life is still going on," she said of the show's oddballs, who have struggled to find happiness over a span of years that lasts into a dystopian future.

Hardesty joined the show in its time-hopping fourth and final season, now airing on Wednesdays.

She plays Beth, the college-age daughter of actor Hank Azaria's Jim Brockmire, a fast-talking, alcoholic, baseball announcer who claws his way back into the spotlight after a humiliating fall from grace.

The actress said she connected to Beth immediately because she, too, lived with her single dad when she was a teenager.

"It's a relationship that I am very familiar with, and my dad is wonderful and he loves me very much," she said. "I could really just relate to this young woman so desperately wanting to be her own person and hungry for life."

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Hardesty watched the show's three previous seasons so she could imagine what it would be like growing up as the daughter of an outrageous man with no filter.

"I feel like being around that, as a child, I'm sure, you get the strength to say what you need to say and stand up for yourself," she said.

Beth brings out the best in the formerly debauched celebrity.

This season, Jim is seen as a sober and devoted dad, as well as the commissioner -- and last hope -- of Major League Baseball in the 2030s.

"I love seeing the soft, mushy side of him," Hardesty said, noting that before Beth showed up, the only thing Jim nurtured was his pet tortoise.

Unlike Beth, who lost her mom when she was a little girl, Hardesty said she has, thankfully, not experienced the death of a loved one in real life.

"That was just something I had to journal about and really sit on," she said about preparing to play the motherless aspect of her character.

The actress said she appreciates how the show stays darkly comedic as it addresses serious topics, including family, addiction, aging, illness, sex, money, politics and the environment.

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"I love it because it doesn't feel like it's ever trying to fit into a box or a brand," Hardesty said. "Every single season is so different, and that's because Jim changes. It's just so fluid like life is."

Beth evolves quite a bit, as well, and Hardesty said playing her from the ages of 18 to 23 was "extremely exciting."

"She's not just one thing. She is going through this whole journey," the actress said. "That is a crazy point in anyone's life. To go through so much personal growth and change and to be able to live through that was beautiful."

She admitted she was surprised by how much time the show spans in its final season.

Beth is briefly introduced as a child, so Season 4 covers most of her life, largely focusing on her college years.

"It was so ambitious," Hardesty said. "I remember reading the full season for the first time. I was like: 'Really? We're doing this? OK. I guess we're just going to dive in and hope it works out...' It's heartbreaking, in a beautiful way, the passage of time."

Becoming part of an ensemble for a show's last eight episodes wasn't as nerve-wracking as one might expect, Hardesty said.

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"They welcomed me with open arms," she recalled. "Everyone was just so kind and encouraging, and Hank is such an amazing human and so supportive."

Since the series was in its proverbial home stretch, the cast and crew worked together well, and the production ran smoothly and on schedule.

"It was such a healthy, thriving environment," Hardesty said. "Everyone was just extra grateful and committed, and it really felt like a family."

Next up for Hardesty is playing a fictional president's daughter in The CW drama, Maverick. Filming has been put on hold -- along with most TV and movie projects -- amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I was actually in the middle of a [costume] fitting when we got the official news that we were shutting down. But, at this point, I think it was the wise decision for everyone, and I've been doing my own work on the script and talking to some cast-mates and staying excited," she said. "Other than that, we are just patiently waiting."

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