LOS ANGELES -- Kathy Baker has appeared in a long list of TV shows and movies over the past two decades, but the Lifetime series "Against the Wall" is her first full-time series since "Picket Fences" in the early '90s.
For her return to TV, Baker plays the matriarch of a family of Chicago cops that's torn apart when the daughter (Rachael Carpani) joins Internal Affairs.
"The writing was just so good, I had to do this. The characters are so beautifully drawn and they care so much about each other," Baker says. "I just thought that the relationship between the mother and daughter was just so wonderful. I don't have daughters. I have two sons. And I think I really wanted to explore that."
Series creator Annie Brunner wants to explore that relationship so much that each episode will end with mother and daughter talking.
The return to TV means Baker, an Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner, gets a new TV husband. She finds her "Against the Wall" hubby, played by Treat Williams, a completely different actor than her "Picket Fences" spouse, played by Tom Skerritt.
"Tom was wonderful, but he was more of a gentler, quieter soul. With Tom it was like trying to wake up the sleepy bear. I would say to him that we should fight more. But, Treat loves to get in there and mix it up," Baker says.
Williams calls working with Baker a joy.
"It's what I dreamt of doing as a young actor. Of working with actors of stature who have the kind of experience and knowledge and humor that she has," Williams says.
Baker's built that knowledge through a long list of acting jobs like the films "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Cider House Rules," plus TV movies like "Jesse Stone."
Along with being a wife and mother, Baker's character also runs a catering service. She feels right at home in the kitchen. Before she started professional acting with the 1983 film "The Right Stuff," Baker studied cooking while living in Bakersfield.
Baker actually gave the prop department a two-page list of kitchen utensils and hardware she wanted so that she could make the cooking scenes look authentic.
During the filming of one cooking scene, the director of photography suggested Baker leave a bottle of milk sitting on the counter after she had used it. Her husband, Steven Robman, who happened to be directing that episode, explained that because of his wife's cooking training, she would never leave milk sitting out even if it was for a scene.
"My props have to be right," Baker says with a smile.