Long before she was navigating the Upper East Side in Odd Mom Out, actress Joanna Cassidy starred alongside Christina Applegate in 1991's unforgettable Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead—which, believe it or not, at the time was not exactly the beloved comedy it is today, much to Joanna's dismay.
"We didn't get great reviews and I couldn't figure out why not," she tells Buzzfeed News. "It was adorable. This movie should have been huge."
Eventually, others caught on. "And now it is!" she says.
She's probably not wrong given its heartwarming and wacky premise. Christina plays a teen who fakes her way into the fashion industry after the elderly babysitter hired to care for her and her family dies (as the title might tell you). To prevent her mom from finding out—and rushing home from her lengthy vacation abroad—she takes the job, with Joanna playing her boss at General Apparel West, Rose Lindsey. The cast also included David Duchovny and The Good Wife star Josh Charles.
"I just read the script and thought it was funny. I could visualize it, I could see this boss," Joanna says. "She was a woman that fell in love with everything. She fell in love with her people, she fell in love with the fabric, she fell in love with everything. That is just the kind of woman she was. It was all gorgeous, it was all beautiful, and she wanted it all to work. She really did. Unless I'm doing really, really serious things, I don't ever want to go to the hard side of something. Because I feel that what's very important is you have to love these characters; as wicked as they are, there's gotta be something that makes them lovable."
Of course the role also meant she got to work up close and personal with Christina, who was already a household name thanks to Married... With Children.
"We're all watching over her, clicking over her like mother hens, 'Are you OK, honey? You OK?' And I'm taking her under my wing," Joanna recalled of working with the then 18-year-old star. "When we did the M&M scene, she didn't know what to do, she didn't know what to make of it, she didn't know what to make of me. I started throwing M&Ms at her to have her lighten up a little bit. It was just hilarious; she did not know what to do. But she was brilliant, brilliant in it."
In addition to all the killer performances, the film also includes some memorable lines, which quickly became catchphrases thanks to VHS rentals after the film failed to cause a stir at the box office. "Yes, the repetition starts to set it in people's minds, and that has been wonderful, but you also have to consider that a movie has to be likable in order for that to happen," she says.
"Oh my god, there are a thousand times every year that someone asks me to say, 'Right on top of that, Rose,'" Joanna continues. "I was shooting a movie in Turks and Caicos about 10 years ago and this little girl comes running over to me and says, 'Oh my god! I'm... I'm... I'm right on top of that, Rose.' She was hysterical. I was in Spain and this little girl did the same thing. Even when I have blonde hair, like I do now. Someone just came up to me the other day and said, 'Are you Rose?' It's the most amazing thing."