As fans of Lisa Kudrow's The Comeback prepare for the finale of this eight-episode arc, which airs Sunday, Dec. 28 on HBO, we know it will certainly be something to make our toes curl. So far, we've seen Valerie Cherish with her head between Seth Rogen's legs simulating a blowjob, spar with her husband Mark in a restaurant parking lot (as TMZ captured it all), and deal with quite a bit of unexpected nudity. Through it all, her hairdresser Mickey has been there by her side. Almost. As 74-year-old actor Robert Michael Morris (who also went by the nickname Mickey until he was 19) explains, Mickey has known Valerie longer than her husband Mark--and he understands her better than anyone.
"After the first season, a friend of mine said, 'You dummy, you're not her brother, you're her mother.' That made me stop and think about my whole way of relating to Valerie," Morris says by phone while visiting a friend in Pittsburgh this month. "It's unconditional love. Even when something is going wrong, he thinks she's being brave."
Although The Comeback ratings have reportedly been low -- even for HBO -- Morris says he admires people who can stick with it. "It's almost like a play. There's a well-constructed story and arc to it," he says, explaining that he's a playwright himself. "How many people sit through Mary Tyrone's lapse into morphine in Long Day's Journey Into Night without cringing? No matter what, Valerie Cherish will succeed. She will survive."
Although Morris says he considered the first 13 episodes of the original series a closed chapter, he was happy to join again -- and that these eight are even better than the original. As we learn more about Mickey's personal life (and his naked body!), including a cancer scare that freaks Valerie out, we also discover Valerie's depth. "I think [the cancer] shows what Mickey has known all along: She really is a caring, sweet person," he explains. "When she finds out that Mickey is dealing with this situation, she gets very very concerned. It's really always on her mind from then on. She really loves Mickey. They have been together over 25 years."
The rivalry between the two main gay men in her life -- Mickey and her publicist Billy (played by Dan Bucatinsky) -- has also been highlighted. "I'm glad that tension shows. I think that's important. God knows, that's real: Anybody in the business knows that you want to get yourself right up close to the star and you want the most influence," he says. "I think Billy is jealous. He comes on late in the game. Mickey's Wilt Chamberlain, and Billy is Kobe Bryant -- late to the game."
Morris says his favorite moment so far was seeing Valerie between the two naked women while filming a dream sequence for Seeing Red. "Just the look on Lisa's face, standing between those two naked ladies... Just give her the Emmy now," he says emphatically. "I can't imagine anybody -- not Claire Danes, not Julia Louis-Dreyfus, nobody -- can have as much going on inside them that shows on their face as that moment than Lisa."
But no matter what happens on Sunday, Morris tempts us by saying that we haven't seen the end of Valerie Cherish. "Keep your fingers crossed," he says. "One never knows: In this fast-paced world, this is not necessarily the end of The Comeback. I would hope. Sinatra had a ton of them. So did Judy Garland."
So maybe that means the old saying should be revised: When the world ends, all that will be left will be cockroaches, Cher, and -- Valerie Cherish?
Watch a clip of the season finale below: