'Call Me Kat' Star Mayim Bialik Reflects on Ensuring Leslie Jordan Would 'Live Forever' With Tribute Episode

Call Me Kat paid tribute to the late Leslie Jordan on Thursday's episode of the program, which is titled, "Philliam," after his character Phil. In advance of its premiere, star Mayim Bialik opened up to Entertainment Weekly about the show's sendoff for the character and the actor who portrayed him. It was reported in October that Jordan died at the age of 67 after experiencing a suspected medical emergency that led to a car crash in Hollywood.

After Jordan's death, Call Me Kat paused production for two weeks. When they returned, they knew that they wanted to send Jordan's character Phil off in the right way. However, it was a delicate situation since the cast and crew were still in the thick of the grieving process. Bialik explained, "The cast felt very strongly and completely unanimously that the thought of doing a funeral episode while we are actively grieving our friend — it felt like a hurdle we weren't sure we all wanted to jump together." Since Jordan was such a unique and beloved personality, Bialik wanted his tribute episode to reflect that. 

"I think Leslie Jordan was known so much for being Leslie, and while we also love him and know him as Phil, he's such a beloved personality, truly larger than life," she said. "To try to encapsulate that felt challenging in ways that I don't know would've been healthy for us as a cast or a production. So, we found a way for him to live forever. His character will live forever, and he can have whatever adventures we all imagine."

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Jordan's last episode of Call Me Kat aired in December. In his tribute episode, the cast and crew will say goodbye to his character, Phil, who served as the baker of the cat cafe that Bialik's character owns. The episode will also feature a guest appearance from Vicki Lawrence as Phil's mother. During an interview with TV Insider, Bialik stressed that Lawrence's character would never be a replacement for Jordan's. But, she wanted someone special who would bring a little bit of their own magic to the table to help honor Jordan. She explained that they "wanted someone who had enough of the feel-good aspects of Leslie's character and enough of that sharpness and fun Leslie brought to his character."