Joel McHale is back on the E! network, but this time he isn’t talking soup—he’s hosting and executive producing Celebrity Beef. The cooking show brings celebrity friends to the kitchen, where they’ll make food and maybe even hash out a disagreement or two. First up is Rachael Harris, who’ll compete in a cupcake bakeoff against bestie Cheryl Hines.
The premiere pits them against each other in a series of challenges, with McHale throwing a few unexpected forks in the road where he’ll decide the ultimate winner. The victor walks away with $10,000 for their charity, a snazzy trophy, bragging rights, and the opportunity to craft a tweet their opponent must send out. Harris and Hines are playing for the same good cause, making it a win-win for the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida.
Here, Harris previews the episode and talks about friendship with Hines and what else is cooking in her career post-Lucifer.
When was the first time you met Cheryl?
We met around 1993, 1994 in the Groundlings. I was really excited to meet her. She was a couple of years ahead of me because she is older. We bonded over being in the Sunday Company of the Groundlings. I trust her with my life. She is my absolute best friend. We’ve had husbands together, ex-husbands, all of it. We’ve been through it all.
Did you know what you were getting into before you signed up to do Celebrity Beef?
I knew we would be cooking something. I knew there would be some type of beef we would try to settle, but really for us it was about telling Joel what drives us crazy about the other one. We just wanted to do it together. We thought it would be funny, and the fact we could do it for charity was amazing. We didn’t realize how fun it was going to be. And also how distracting Joel would be as we are trying to make our dishes. He kept adding commentary and coming up to us. I don’t cook. Cheryl is a really good cook. She is also a really good baker. I am not. Then we got very competitive.
So making cupcakes, you’re definitely going in the underdog.
I was totally the underdog. Cheryl was also playing dirty. She stole sugar from me and the colorful cupcake cups. We were judged on presentation and taste. So she stole all these things to make the cupcakes. It was so down and dirty. She couldn’t just commit to totally annihilating me. It was very fun.
You were both playing for the same charity. What is your connection to the cause?
Cheryl’s nephew Michael, who is 18, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he was born. Cheryl’s family is from Florida. It is a very personal cause. She wanted to do everything she could do to help. About 10 years ago, she began doing this gala and then each year since to raise money for the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida. The thing I love about the organization is that it’s not just for children with cerebral palsy. It’s for any child with any type of living challenge or disability. They swoop in and help these families that can’t afford things like even a wheelchair or a wheelchair-accessible car. They change lives. There is something really special when you see these kids light up.
Do you feel like your friendship is stronger having gone through Celebrity Beef?
We’ve already known the things that bug us. We joyfully tease each other about it and give each other s***. I like to see my options when I’m traveling. I like to review the rooms. She is like, “Take what you get.” I change my mind a lot. Cheryl is the type of person who doesn’t say no to anyone. I tell her “No” is a complete sentence. But no matter what we support one another.
It’s been almost a year since Lucifer’s final season dropped. How have you been adjusting to that?
At first, it’s very sad because you are in this routine. You come to work every day and become family. Then you are wondering what you are going to do next. I’m involved in a couple of projects I’m excited about. There is the film Old Dads and then I’m playing Jerry Seinfeld’s wife in his directorial debut Unfrosted. Pretty amazing. It has been a busy summer.
Keeping with the food theme. Isn’t that the story of Pop-Tarts?
It was a joke in his standup, and [he] was like, “Let’s make a movie about it.” It’s the rivalry between Post and Kelloggs. It’s absolutely bonkers and genius.
When you look at the impact of Lucifer, what have you taken from that experience into the next phase of your career?
I loved the character of Dr. Linda in Lucifer when I read it. Many people told me not to do it. Even the review was it was the dumbest script. That was the worst idea for a show ever. That it will bomb. The pilot got picked up. I will never take for granted when I like something. I’m so glad I said, “You know what? I like this and know what I can do with this character.”
The show certainly has a passionate fan base—one that helped extend its life.
Lucifer goes through the struggle of being the devil but seeking redemption, and fans connect with that so much. People can identify and feel like there is hope. And [the show is] funny but also real and dramatic. It doesn’t matter what critics say. Everyone wants to be in a critically acclaimed show, but at the end of the day, it’s about moving people. I just bought water at the state fair I’m at from this woman who is in her 70s and practically jumped over the counter. She said, “I know you. They took that show off the air. Why did they cancel it?” I’m sitting here in a rural part of Ohio, and people I come in contact with here to the UK to Brazil love the show. It’s pretty amazing. What I will take from it is you never know. Just say yes.
Except when it comes to traveling with Cheryl and hotel rooms.
Well, yes. If they look at other hotel rooms, too, then I’ll do it. But if it’s the only room, then maybe I’ll get that, too.
Celebrity Beef, Series premiere, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 10/9c, E!