Louie Anderson Dies at 68: Remembering His Moving 2019 Interview Talking About ‘Baskets’ and His Mom

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Before his passing, Louie Anderson was one of the best standup comedians to ever pick up a microphone. He spent decades bringing joy and laughter to countless people. Anderson was more than a comic, though. He was also a best-selling author and an actor. Over the years, he appeared in several movies and television shows. Some fans learned of his comedic talents as children by watching the animated series Life with Louie. Others found him on Grace Under Fire or Nash Bridges or in films like Coming to America. More recently, he played family matriarch Christine Baskets on the hit FX dramedy Baskets.

Those who haven’t watched Baskets might believe that there was some joke behind Louie Anderson portraying a middle-aged woman. That would be fair. After all, we’ve seen comedians take on similar roles for comedic effect. Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire comes immediately to mind. However, that wasn’t the case with Anderson’s role in Baskets.

Back in 2019, Louie Anderson sat down with Salon Magazine to talk about the show. Yesterday, Erin Keane, the publication’s Editor in Chief, posted a brief clip from that interview. In the caption, Keane recalled that Anderson was always “so generous and thoughtful in interviews.” The clip below will show just how true that is. Likewise, it reveals how he approached his character on Baskets.

Louie Anderson on Christine Baskets

In the opening seconds of the clip, Louie Anderson explained how he saw his role on Baskets. “You know, I don’t play it cartoony and I don’t play a man playing a woman. I play a woman,” he explained. He went on to discuss how he got into character for the show. “I don’t know how to explain that other than I just know something happens to me and I’m completely connected to that character.”

Louie Anderson went on to say that it almost felt supernatural. “I don’t know. It’s like those old movies where the ghost used to inhabit the character. I feel like that happens to me.” He went on to say that as he sat through hair and makeup for the show, he felt his identity slip away.

By the time he was ready to shoot the show, Louie Anderson was gone. Christine Baskets took over. In fact, Anderson asked that people on set call him Christine.

Anderson “Channeled” His Mother

Louie Anderson said he always thought he would play a character like his father, but that wasn’t the case. He said Christine Baskets was a lot like his mother. “I Feel like there’s a channel going on, or there’s some sort of portal that opens up and allows me to have the complete sunshine of my mom or of all my sisters, or whatever it is.”

Anderson reflected on how much he learned from his role on Baskets. He said it taught him about what women went through on a daily basis. This, of course, circled back to his mother. “I didn’t know she went through so much, I didn’t know how much she did for me. I wish I would’ve had the chance to ask my mom, ‘What is it that you wanted to be?”