Christine Taylor says her 'High Desert' character is swept into her sister's chaos

Keir O’Donnell and Christine Taylor star in "High Desert." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.
1 of 5 | Keir O’Donnell and Christine Taylor star in "High Desert." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.

NEW YORK, May 17 (UPI) -- Search Party and Arrested Development actress Christine Taylor says she thinks viewers will relate to her High Desert character Diane, a practical woman with an outrageous sister, who just can't seem to get out of her own way.

Directed by Emmy-winner Jay Roach and executive produced by Taylor's husband Ben Stiller, the half-hour comedy premieres Wednesday on Apple TV+.


It follows Peggy (Patricia Arquette), a drug addict with a larger-than-life personality who works at the western theme park Pioneer Town and decides to become a private investigator after the death of her mother Rosalyn (Bernadette Peters), with whom she lived in the small desert town of Yucca Valley, Calif.

"Diane is caught between Stewart (Keir O'Donnell), who has a game plan and has everything settled and organized, and Peggy, who is flying by the seat of her pants and wants to start a new career and wants us to be onboard," Taylor told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.


"Diane just loves her big sister and wants her to succeed and [Diane] just is the classic middle child," she added. "At the core of it, there is just a lot of love in the family, even though it is dysfunctional. Peggy is just seeking our approval."

O'Donnell described youngest child Stewart as "very straight-laced and kind of stuck in his ways."

"Obviously, Peggy is sort of the wild child, free spirit of the family," he said. "We are constantly trying to keep her in check and bring her down to Earth, although I think there is a lot we could learn from her, as well."

Audacious and eternally optimistic, Peggy bulldozes her way into a private detective job for which she has no qualifications. Brad Garrett plays Bruce, her hapless employer.

Stewart and Diane aren't sure Peggy can pull it off, but they are tired of paying her bills, so they try to be supportive.

"The show deals with some of Peggy's addiction. We deal with just sibling rivalry and the ups and downs of the family connection and people having second chances and reinventing yourself and finding new avenues. I think it is very relatable stuff," O'Donnell said.


"Our storylines are the more grounded parts, whereas [Peggy] gets to explore really wild wacky worlds within her private investigating."

One of Taylor's favorite scenes to film was when Diane and Stewart go to visit Peggy at Pioneer Town where she is dressed as a 19th century can-can girl.

"It was so, so much fun and that was really our first day of shooting -- the big saloon [scene] with her coming in on a chandelier and waving to us," Taylor recalled.

"We are in the action and all we did was come here to have a tough conversation. It really set the tone for what the series is. We are being swept into Peggy's chaos."

"All you had to do was react," O'Donnell said.

The show also depicts how Rosalyn's children variously cope with their grief over her death.

"A big part of the show, too, is how people deal with grief," O'Donnell said. "We've lost our mother, so how each sibling is dealing with it is, obviously, very different."

Peggy, especially, is trying to navigate where she is after losing the person most important to her.

"That's part of the love that we have for Peggy, as well -- the bond we will always have, the common denominator," O'Donnell said. "We can't just cut her off."


Peggy's siblings seem to envy her ability to express her feelings.

"Peggy hints a little bit at the fact that Stewart is all tightly wound. She's like, 'I know you can feel things sometimes, Stewart!' And with Diane, she's like, 'You don't always have to say what Stewart's telling you to say,'" Taylor said.

"You can see that they are very similar, but as their lives took different paths, they disconnected in a way. Rosalyn was the glue that held them together and probably managed them really well."

Adding to the tension is Peggy's husband Denny (Matt Dillon), who is all of a sudden released after serving a prison term for drug charges.

"There's so much history, which sort of starts the series. You see this big drug bust," Taylor laughed.

"We have some issues with Denny and the chaos. It was, obviously, an embarrassment for our family when that happened so publicly. It's re-navigating what that relationship is and also, I think, a fun thing for the viewers to see as crazy and dysfunctional as she is, people love her. People adore her. She is this charismatic personality people just want to be with."


O'Donnell acknowledged that Stewart and Diane benefited from Peggy and Denny's exploits.

"There were a lot of perks that came with Denny -- the house with the swimming pool. You'll notice we're not complaining when we are there at Thanksgiving," the actor said.

"But we know the drill when the SWAT team comes. It's like, 'Here we go again!' That duality was really fun to play with."

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