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Jenna Elfman at 50: ‘I Feel Younger Than I’ve Ever Been’

When I interviewed Dharma & Greg co-creator Chuck Lorre recently, he talked about wanting to create a character like Dharma who was full of love and unconditionally kind compared to some of the more edgy and hardened characters he had previously written. Tell me about your experience on the show, which is now streaming on Hulu.

He told me that [he had come off some] challenging experiences [on previous shows] and that it was just fun creating Dharma and working backwards to figure out where she came from. I loved his writing for the show. I loved what he and Dottie Dartland created. It was genuinely a lot of fun and that whole cast was spectacular. It was sincerely a blast.

What would fans say when they would meet you?

Still to this day if I’m walking through an airport or in the grocery store or whatever, people’s faces light up with joy and then they say, “I love Dharma. I wanted to be her. I wanted to know her. I wanted to be friends with her.” And then they say, “I hope you’re like her because she was really cool.” How amazing is that? It just takes me back to the fun I had making it. A lot of them are now watching it with their daughters or granddaughters and forwarding it on.

I also got letters that said, “I was going to kill myself, but [thanks to] watching Dharma & Greg I’ve decided not to because I realized it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be myself.”


I got a lot of those, frankly. So it just feels like, on many levels, it was a special experience.

Do you think you were or are like Dharma?

Well, I do genuinely love people. I love talking with people, hearing people’s stories. I think it’s an innate human inclination to share stories with each other and in your own persona make people feel safe to express themselves, to tell you their story. I think that’s probably what I share. I love people and I do really enjoy life. I actually really enjoy my life. 

You had such an iconic haircut on the show. Was that for the character or did you have that look prior?

No, I had it. My friend Caroline Wiseman had been my stylist for a while, and that’s what I went in with. And then I kept changing it because I’m kind of hair obsessed and couldn’t stick with one look.

Did you have to ask for permission back then? Or could you do what you wanted?

I kind of did what I wanted until I wanted to cut it super short. Then I called and asked if that would be okay. And they said yeah. It was kind of a transition for Dharma and it made sense, I guess.

You had a memorable cameo in the 1998 film, Can’t Hardly Wait, where you played a stripper angel. Tell me about that. 

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