Jane Lynch is known for lending her unique comedic voice to many projects, pushing them the creatively and raising them to the next level. Such is the case with her latest role in Jill Soloway’s directorial debut with “Afternoon Delight.” Featuring an all-star cast, the film focuses on Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), a quick-witted and lovable, yet tightly coiled, thirty-something steeped in the creative class of Los Angeles’s bohemian, affluent Silver Lake neighborhood. Everything looks just right—chic modernist home, successful husband, adorable child, and a hipster wardrobe. So why is she going out of her gourd with ennui? Deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, a lackluster sex life, and career that’s gone kaput, Rachel visits a strip club to spice up her marriage and meets McKenna (Juno Temple), a stripper whom she becomes obsessed with saving. She decides to adopt McKenna as her live-in nanny, and this bold move unleashes unimagined and colorful waves of change into her life and community. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Jane Lynch to discuss the work that went into the character, the challenges of the role, her inspirations as an actress and much more!
You have had a very successful career in the entertainment industry. Where do you find yourself looking to for inspiration these days creatively?
Doing this movie, “Afternoon Delight,” with Jill [Soloway], who is a really good friend of mine, is a great example. I have known her for a really long time and she always inspires me to go to the next level. We really did that in this movie. We showed up every day in a state of allowing and acceptance in a very feminine and open way. I think it shows on screen that I went to places I haven’t gone in a very long time, maybe ever. I think that is really what inspires me now — staying true to myself and staying true to what I love doing but pushing myself the extra mile.
You mentioned having known director Jill Soloway for many years. What are your memories of first meeting her?
We were going to do “The Real Live Brady Bunch”. He sister, Faith, and I toured with Second City many years ago. Jill and Faith were going to create this show called “The Real Live Brady Bunch,” where we were going to take the episodes of “The Brady Bunch” right off the television and do them on stage. It turned out to be this big cult hit. That is when we first started hanging out. Jill was our producer at the tender age of twenty-three. We were making nine hundred dollars a week. She got us this great deal in New York and is one of those people who are so can-do! She had so much confidence and such a good heart! She had no problem picking up the phone and saying “Let’s do this…” or “Let’s try that.” She was dealing with hard-hitters in New York and a big New York producing agency. She got us a run in New York at the Westwood Playhouse back then and is now The Geffen. Those are my first memories of her. Also, she is creatively fearless! We tended to find the same kind of obscure things hilarious like “The Brady Bunch,” along with a whole bunch of other stuff. Were where very much of a mind. When you meet someone who you are of a mind with, especially comically, you have found a special person.
Your character in “Afternoon Delight” is one that Jill Soloway and yourself had been had been kicking around for many years.
Yeah, we were. Lenore had an incarnation as a woman named Sandra Ragsdale at one point, back in 1988. We didn’t have the internet back then, so we set up a video camera and took these hilarious, what we thought were hilarious, videos of me playing this very precious, very serious woman who has had a “nervous break-through, as she likes to call it. She has discovered her very deep feminine. At the time, even though we were poking fun at it, we were doing those ourselves. I was way into goddesses and myths, going to the baths and doing rituals! [laughs] I was reading “The Chalice and The Blade” and was really into the feminist goddess stuff and so was Jill. We would talk about it, laugh and make fun of ourselves or the make fun of the seriousness of some of the people who have no sense of the irony. That is where were started with Lenore and who she became in this film.
This is film marks Jill Soloway’s feature film debut. Having known her for so long, what do you think she brings to the table in a directorial capacity?
She has the unique ability to shot from the inside of the people out, so you really get the point of view of Rachel (played by Kathryn Hahn). It is almost like the camera is moving inside of her. She showed up every day for this film completely prepared and was also able to let it all go. You had no goal like “I’ve got to get this shot. We have to make sure we create this by the end of the day.” She showed up in allowance and accepting in a very emotionally empathetic place with all of the characters in the film, down to every character and actor in the film. It was an amazingly wonderful experience working with her in that capacity.
Do you feel you were able to bring even more life to Lenore with that creative freedom?
Yeah. We did this thing at the end of the film where I was supposed to tell Rachel that I was a bit of a fraud. My partner left me as I was waxing rhapsodic about my own relationship, it was really falling apart. That last scene, I did fall apart and I went to Rachel for comfort. That wouldn’t have happened if Jill hadn’t been completely allowing, open and encouraging all of those feelings to come up. In fact, she was crying while we were doing that scene. She burst into tears audibly! [laughs] Once I heard her cry, I was in it! She was right there with us. I think going to that place was challenging. If I knew when I showed up that day that I had to get to that place, I would have been like “Oh my God!” But I didn’t and it came out naturally and organically. It was a delight to do the character and what really informed it, what was different this time around from when we had done it before, is that the character was inspired to do this character by her own therapist, who she loves and respects. Her therapist has this way about her that just tickles Jill to death. It is a kind of serious, precociousness about all of this stuff. The therapist actually allowed us to shoot in her chair. I am in her therapists chair using the little footrest her therapist uses and the same light. Jill is the one who said “I want you to have this severe hair and these hard mahogany looking glasses.” That is exactly what I ended up looking like, so she was very specific about how she wanted me to be, along with bringing some of the Sandra Ragsdale into it.
You got to work with a very talented cast on this film. Is there anything you picked up from your time working alongside this Kathryn Hahn?
Kathryn is extremely empathetic, as is her character. She is one of the most empathetic, we use that word a lot, it is a very feminine film, and even Josh Radnor is an extremely empathetic guy! It was a joy bouncing stuff off of her and, hopefully, she would say vice versa. It was the first thing we shot in the movie. She was able to just settle into the character in those scenes where she is sitting on the couch. I was very; very impressed with how she was so allowing, available and accepting of everything I would give her and what she would do with it. We had a really good chemistry and I walked away going “Man, she is something!”
When it comes to this film, what is the biggest thing people can take away from it, be it from your character or the film as a whole?
It is about a woman who has given into the social mean that she is a mom and a wife. She finds herself unsatisfied, without ambition, fearful of stepping out and kind of holding on to the notions from the past of what she wanted to do with herself, such as being a war correspondent or something ridiculous that no longer resonates with her anymore. Her life is in a place where she doesn’t need to make any money, as her husband is doing just fine and they have everything they need but she is now at a loss because she is up against herself and doesn’t know who she is.
We have talked a lot about the evolution of this character. How do you feel you have evolved as an actor through the years?
I think, in this film, even though I have a very small part, a teacher once told me “There are small parts and you had one of them!” [laughs] If I can talk about it like it is a huge deal, I think in this film, I think I took what it is that I do and took it deeper. That will always be my driving force of staying in this business — taking the material, take it deeper, try it a little bit to the left, a little to the right, try to explore new things and try to reveal new things within me. I always find my own personal growth coincides with my growth as an actor. I think it is something a lot of women can relate to that — What is really going to satisfy me? She goes out on this journey and risks her marriage and relationship with her child in the process.
You have done it all from television to film to stage. Is there still a role out there you are searching for and anxious to sink your teeth into?
No, not at all. I don’t have any goals or ambitions, other than what I just told ya! [laughs]
For those who look to you for inspiration, what is the best piece of advice you can pass along from your journey as an actor?
You are going to have your own journey. People think there are shortcuts and there aren’t. The journey is the reward, the obstacles themselves. I find that my greatest enemy, if there is such a thing out there, is myself. Standing up against the part of you that says you can’t, you shouldn’t even look at doing something or you will never amount to anything, were the crucibles for me. There is never a person or event out there that affected me more in a negative way than my own self. I think it is the ultimate hero’s journey.
What is the best part of being Jane Lynch these days?
You know, I am a relationship person, so it is the people I get to work with. That is the stuff for me, along with the friends I have in my life. It is the one-on-ones. That is the stuff that jazzes me up and where I feel I get empowered and enlisted. I love working with Matt Morris and I love seeing him every day at work. I love my friends and people like Jill. That is what inspires me, situations where you get down and dirty with somebody and have conversations that really matter! That is the stuff that lifts me!
Absolutely! We should all be so lucky! Thank you for your time, Jane! I wish you continued success and we will talk to you again soon!
Thank you, Jason! It’s been a pleasure!
Directed by Jill Soloway, ‘Afternoon Delight,’ stars Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor and Jane Lynch. The film hits theaters on August 30th, 2013. Visit the official site for the film at this location – Click Here!