Miami native Natalie Morales would never quit her day job. Her role as lawyer Claire on Fox’s The Grinder (9:30 p.m. Tuesday) is just way too much fun. Much of her gig involves lobbing insults at Rob Lowe, her old Parks & Recreation costar and potential love interest. Lowe plays a washed-up actor, who, because he was once a lawyer on TV, feels confident that he can work with his brother, a real lawyer, played by Fred Savage. Morales, 31, a fellow lawyer, wants nothing to do with the Lowe character or his conceited posturing. We spoke to the former Girls star from her Los Angeles home.
What is the chemistry like on set?
We kind of just laugh all the time. They assembled this group of writers that are unreal, but once in a while we get to ad-lib. I do most of my scenes with Fred and Rob. I do a lot of rejecting of Rob, so that’s kind of great. It’s like a little family.
How is it acting alongside Rob Lowe?
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I’m a little young to have the crush on him during his big era, when he was doing movies [in the 1980s and ’90s]. My first exposure to him was probably The West Wing. He’s very funny and really is that good looking up close. I see him every day at 6 in the morning and I’m like, ‘What blood of babies are you drinking?’ I don’t understand. It’s kind of crazy.
What about Fred Savage? Were you a fan of his growing up?
Sometimes it’s odd. He kind of has the same voice he did when he was little, so you immediately picture him in The Wonder Years. But he’s been doing [show business] for such a long time and is a pro, through and through. What’s inspiring to me is that with comedy, you can get kind of lazy, like ‘Let’s just goof off and say the funny lines.’ But Fred has this concentration, this plan. It’s interesting to watch him work.
You’re a 305 girl. Can you can talk about growing up in Miami?
Yes! I was born at Mercy Hospital and grew up in the Westchester-Kendall area. I went to St. Agatha Catholic School, Southwest Miami Senior High then SAS [School for Advanced Studies]. I come back as often as I can, definitely the holidays. I usually spend as much time as I can with my family. We don’t leave the house. Though my mom really, really likes Dadeland Mall, so somehow we always end up there. I also hang out with one of my best friends who works at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale.
You have a pretty funny Instagram account, called “Natalie Morales Loves Free Stuff.” How did that start?
I realized that a lot of celebrities had accounts to sort of plug swag. And I thought, ‘Why not blatantly do that?’ Eighty percent of it was a joke, 20 percent was to help small businesses. Companies starting sending me things. Some of the stuff was weird — like educational manuals and games. But I got a Dyson vacuum out of it. That was my main goal.