Comedy fans will instantly recognize Erinn Hayes as a series regular opposite Rob Cordry, Megan Mullully and Lake Bell in the hit Adult Swim series “Children’s Hospital”. Her latest on-screen effort is an exceptionally funny independent film called “It’s A Disaster” from director Todd Berger. In this doomsday comedy, four couples who meet for Sunday brunch find themselves stranded in a house together as the world may be about to end. When Tracy Scott (Julia Stiles) decides to introduce her new beau Glenn (David Cross) to her three friends Hedy (America Ferrera), Emma, and Lexi and their significant others, her biggest fear is whether or not her friends will approve of her new relationship, little does she realize that’s the least of her worries. Before long the couples find themselves in the midst of an apocalyptic disaster, catching them all off guard. One thing is clear; these four couples aren’t going to let the potential end of the world get in the way of the relationship issues they all need to work out. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Erinn Hayes to discuss her career, her roles in “It’s A Disaster” and “Children’s Hospital” and where you can catch her in the months come!
We want to give everyone a little background on you. Where did you grow up and how did you get started on your journey into the entertainment industry?
Whoa, my journey! Let’s talk about it! [laughs] I was always kind of a nerdy theater kid. I went to school and I ended up at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where I really got into acting. Being from San Francisco, you are supposed to hate Los Angeles, so after college I moved to San Francisco, because it gives you more integrity. [laughs] I was miserable, so I moved down to Los Angeles in 2000. That was 12 years ago! I started working pretty steadily since then, so I am very fortunate. However, my very first role was in “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” as the little kid who says “But Santa! Why are you stealing our Christmas tree?!”
We are used to seeing you in a lot of humorous roles. You said you were a theater kid growing up but were you always a funny kid as well?
I think yes and no. I have always liked that kind of attention more than “girl” kind of attention. I would rather be thought of as smart or funny than super girly. I think it is something I had more control over than obsessing over something like, “Oh, I am not skinny enough!” Or, “He doesn’t like me because I am not pretty enough!” So yeah, in a way I guess I was always a funny kid just to get the type of attention I was more interested in.
What about your influences? What were some of the things that helped to shape the actress we see today?
There was a certain summer where I just watched “Stripes” over and over again! All those guys were amazing, like Bill Murray, John Candy, the whole Mel Brooks clan, Gilda Radner and Madeline Kahn, man that lady was funny! Why was the world so non-crushed when she died? Why wasn’t there some crazy parade in the streets? It didn’t make any sense because I thought she was so amazing and wonderful. Then, strangely, I watched a lot of “Kids Incorporated!” [laughs] Which I am not proud of! I watched “Kids Incorporated” and “The Monkees.” One of the summers was wasted watching “Just One of The Guys” over and over! [laughs]
I had a couple of summers like that! Those were the days, huh?[laughs] Yeah, those were the days! I don’t know if those are really influences but they are in there, they are in there for sure!
Your latest project is a film called “It’s A Disaster.” We got to check it out earlier this week and really enjoyed it. For those who might be unfamiliar with the film, what can you tell us about it and your character?
In the film, I play Emma, who is part of Pete and Emma. We are a couple who is throwing a couple’s brunch. It is going to be our last couple’s brunch because we are announcing to our friends that we are getting a divorce. As soon as we announce that, we get into a fight and I try to storm out and we learn that there is a larger disaster, not on a personal scale but out in the world. At that point, we are trapped in the house for what turns out to possibly be everyone’s last couple’s brunch, our last day on Earth. So, it is about a group of friends, stuck together who are dealing more with their interpersonal relationships than they are with this huge event going on outside their house.
What attracted you to this project initially?
I thought it was really interesting and funny. It is a disaster movie in the way that disaster movies typically are — a lot of running around, falling and escaping. This film is more like an anti-disaster disaster movie! My character, I would her really interesting because of what her and her husband go through over the course of the day. They are people who can’t see each other for who they are anymore as they have been in a long relationship. They just see what they think is wrong with the other person and they can’t get to a place where they enjoy each other anymore. I think that is even larger with this group of friends. It is a situation where, if an outsider came in, which happens with David Cross’s character, the reaction would be, “Why are you guys friends again?” They are friends that have been together so long that they know each other too well and maybe aren’t that nice to each other as a result. All of those elements were very interesting to me and I was really excited to be part of it.
You are no stranger to being part of an ensemble cast like you have on this film. Is it difficult to find your place in the mix when starting out and was that the biggest challenge for you?
In terms of a project like this, it is very similar to what I was talking about with a group that has been friends for so long, you really have a distinct relationship with each person. Each relationship is different person to person and inside the whole group dynamic. It was interesting because we get thrust into the action or non-action so quickly, to come in with strong, separate, distinctive relationships or friendships with each person, their annoyances or patterns are in each situation was the biggest challenge and one of the more interesting ones.
What did director Todd Berger bring to the table for this film?
He was awesome! It was so great because he has in mind exactly what he wants but he is also very open and easy to work with. You could tell him an idea about how something could possibly go in a certain direction and he was willing to let us explore that possibility. We had a lot of conversations like that and he has a sort of ease about him. Also having him, as the writer, right there on set was terrific. If something wasn’t up to speed or not clicking, he was right there to fix it. It was great.
A lot of our readers will recognize you from your role on “Children’s Hospital.” What has been the most exciting part of that project for you as an actress?
The whole thing is so much fun! To be honest, it is one of my most favorite things I have ever done as an actress. It is another group of people, much like the cast of “It’s A Disaster,” that I feel honored to be a part of. It was a case of me lucking into doing a crappy sitcom with Rob Corddry and this is what I have gotten from it. We hit it off right away and when he had this, he asked me to come on and do it. At first, I was like, “Yeah, a web series? Whatever. Sure!” But then it became so fun! More people became involved and it eventually made its way to TV. Every year the scripts get more ambitious and exciting. It’s just an amazing project to work on and the people involved are fantastic. Seriously, every time I watch a new episode, I have a new favorite cast member! Everyone on the show is so solid and brings so much to the table. We film for about six weeks a year, which makes it very fast and frenzied.
You are a busy lady these days. What should we be on the lookout for in the months to come?
Yeah! August 9th is our season premiere date for “Children’s Hospital.” We are on Season Four. That is the biggest thing. The next thing doesn’t air until November but I am in an episode of “The Wedding Band” on TBS. I have a really big guest star on one of their episodes. This summer I am off to film some scenes for the new David Wain movie called “They Came Together” with Paul Rudd (Halloween 6, Role Models) and Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation). That will be a lot of fun as well!
Thank you very much for your time today!
Thank you! Take care!