Kathy Bates’ “Harry” Role: Love at First Toke

Matthias Clamer/NBC

For Kathy Bates and her curmudgeonly “Harry’s Law” character Harriet Korn, it was love at first toke.

“I loved it because she had her feet up on the desk, she was smoking pot, and watching Bugs Bunny. After that, I was in,” chuckled Bates. “What attracted me in the beginning was finding this terrific character that just jumped off the page. And I really didn't care at that point whether it was the little screen or the big screen.”

Since her breakout, Oscar-winning turn in 1990’s “Misery,” Bates has excelled at playing women walking on the edge, and now that she’s moved to a full-time TV role, the gun-toting, pot-smoking lawyer Harry (whom creator David E. Kelley morphed from a man into a woman - "Harriet" - to snare Bates) is no exception. And that’s just how Bates likes it.

“If somebody asked me to play someone who was really bright and optimistic, I think I'd freak out,” she admits. “I just never, ever wanted to play that kind of bubbly, up, happy person. If you look back through my IMDb, there's a lot of dark characters in there. And I guess I'm just more comfortable on the dark side. I just identify where she is in life. One of the big reasons why I wanted to come and play the character was that has lived a certain amount of her life. She is a bit disillusioned. She's a bit crabby. She's had it with people, and I can identify with some of that.”

“I come naturally to that, actually,” she adds. “Not to be flip, but I can be a naturally grumpy person. And adjusting to the long hours on the set helped that right along.”

Bates became quite protective of Harry and what kind of woman she represents early on. “When we first started, there was talk about what color my hair should be. I was in a costume fitting and I had actually tried on a red wig – we just assumed that she would dye her hair like all women do. And when I put the clothes on, I just said, ‘You know, this doesn't look right. This doesn't just doesn't look like Harry. Harry wouldn’t give a rat’s ass for what color her hair is.’ I want her to be who she is and I don't think there should be a mark on the wall about how old somebody gets to be and reflect our society.”

Contact Us