If you read the name Conchata Ferrell, you probably wouldn’t know the face behind the name. Chances are, however, that if you read the name Berta, your mind would go straight to the ballsy maid in Two and a Half Men. You know the one, the red-haired, blue-eyed older woman who cracked you up on 12 seasons of the hit show.
Two and a Half Menis one of the most successful comedies of all time. The show was viewed by 16 million viewers per episode. Fans of the show watched and followed Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen’s dysfunctional relationships with women, with their mother, and with each other.
Even the 2011 controversy didn’t hurt the show that much. You know the one, where Charlie Sheen had ‘a moment’ and ended up leaving the show. Ashton Kutcher took Sheen’s place and the show went on to have a few more seasons.
One character who was a constant presence on the show was Berta. Ferrell played the maid on a show dominated by men, a show where women come and go like penny candy. Berta is an unforgettable character and for Ferrell, it was the character that would take her acting career to the next level.
Berta wasn’t Ferrell’s first acting role. The actress’s career is a long one, starting in the late 70s with her breakout role in Heartland. Funnily enough, her first performance was that of playing a maid too!
Even before her first appearance on that film, the actress was already an accomplished stage actress. Ferrell has worked on Broadway, in The Hot L Baltimore and The Sea Horse. The actress was even nominated for an Emmy for her role on L.A. Law.
Ferrell has even acted in some unforgettable movies. She was Helen in Edward Scissorhands and she played Brenda in Erin Brockovich. You might want to watch these two movies once again just to spot her (any excuse to watch these two over again!)
Despite landing roles in major movies, the actress still failed to make a name for herself with a wide audience. At least, not until Two and a Half Men. But as with any good thing, she was unsure whether she would get the role when she was first asked to audition.
Ferrell recalled the time she was first asked to audition for the role. She told The AV Club, “They asked me to come with an Eastern European accent. I liked the material very much. I love playing women who have the nerve to do things that I don’t have the nerve to do, and Berta is certainly one of those.”
“So I worked it like they wanted, but I also worked it in my own voice, and I thought to myself, 'You know, this really works better for me in my own voice, so what I ought to do is ask them if I can do it both ways.' So I planned on that.’” And then I got there, and there were 32 women auditioning for this role.”
Ferrell explained that Berta was supposed to be a short-lived character on the show. “It was supposed to be a two-part arc, and my character was going to quit because Alan and the boy were moving in.” But Ferrell’s performance was too good to be short-lived and as she impressed the producers, Ferrell finally got the opportunity to captivate a wider audience.
And how could the producers not be impressed? Ferrell plays Berta amazingly well. She is a no-nonsense kind of woman, bossing Charlie and giving him shit as if he is the one working for her. The woman was a wise voice for the show — albeit loud and sometimes inappropriate — Berta brought a motherly balance when the protagonists’ own mother failed to do so.
It’s not just us who love Berta. Ferrell has also spoken about the reasons why she loves playing Berta so much. “[Berta] is that person I wish I could be, and someone I think all of us kind of wish we could be: someone who can just say what’s on her mind and not worry about it.”
We haven’t gotten a dose of Ferrell in a while since the show ended but look at her now, the actress still looks amazing at 73 years of age. Ferrell has given us an unforgettable character who will always crack us up. More than that, she is an example of someone who is persistent — an example of why we should never give up on our dreams, no matter how old we are.