Debra Winger is learning new things at 61

By Francine Brokaw

Although she appeared on TV’s “Wonder Woman” as Wonder Girl (1976-1977), Debra Winger probably first caught viewers’ attention in the 1980 feature film “Urban Cowboy” opposite John Travolta. She then went on to costar with Richard Gere in the 1982 box office smash “An Officer and a Gentleman,” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. The following year she was nominated for another Oscar for her performance in the film “Terms of Endearment.”

Today Winger costars along with Sam Elliott, Ashton Kutcher, and Danny Masterson in the Netflix original series “The Ranch.” Winger and Elliott play Maggie and Beau Bennett, a couple who have had their problems in their marriage and are currently living apart, but when the mood strikes them, they get together. They still love each other, but find living together full time is a challenge. Their son Rooster lives in the family home with his father, and their other son Colt has just moved back home. Returning home to live with parents is becoming popular for many families. With the economy the way it is and the difficulty in the job market, many people ultimately return home to fill the nest again, thereby changing the lives of their empty-nester parents.

“It's really exciting,” Winger told gathered media at the Television Critics Association. “I see so many families that I know in this story. And, you know, more and more I think in this time, children are coming home to live with their parents for different reasons. And so, as a mother, it's really interesting to remember that, in fact, that [person is] a grown man, even though it's your son, he's now living with you [again].

For Winger, learning the process of a TV sitcom is a new experience. She is enjoying every moment of this new adventure. For this mother of two, she admitted raising her kids was a priority but when she looks at projects for her career, the story and the people involved are what are important to her.

This was a completely new venture for her, yet the veteran actress stepped right in and inhabited the role. “The first 10 episodes were like school, you know. I was taking notes. They were laughing at me. I was writing down all of these terms. It was like they were speaking a foreign language,” Winger said with a chuckle.

“But, also, it's been incredible because you can learn something at my age,” she admitted. “It's fun to learn something new. And I really have no point of reference on it except, when the live audience comes in - I get [that aspect] from doing theater.” She also stated she loves the collaboration on the show. “We are really all involved.”

Season one is available to view on Netflix. “The Ranch” has been picked up for a second season.

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