Fine, so I’m not the most professional journalist on the planet. Sitting down with Mary Lynn Rajskub was a surreal experience for this 24 geek. The comedienne, who should have come to your attention during Mr. Show, has taken the art form of sarcasm and wit to a new level. She’s nothing like the self involved Elizabeth in Punch Drunk Love or 24’s Chloe O’Brien. But they’re in there, and you can see where those characters come from when she talks to you.
Keeping herself busy during the writer’s strike with a stand up routine, Rajskub talks with us about her new movie Sunshine Cleaning where she forms a relationship with Emily Blunt’s Norah. The bond between the two is apparent in the room as they harass and joke with one another. It isn’t every day you sit next to Emily Blunt and Mary Lynn Rajskub as they discuss hot chocolate, keeping each other warm, and the possibility of skiing. It’s certainly not every day, but for me it was yesterday. And that experience makes all of the frozen toes of the night before worthwhile.
Your character Elizabeth in Punch Drunk Love was very intense, sort of into her own world a little bit.
With Chloe you took that to a more dramatic level, but there was still that lightness to the character. Going into this movie, which is a dark comedy, do you bring a lot of that to it?
Well, the cool thing about this film is that my character is sort of straight laced and responsible, and sweet and upstanding.
In the movie you form a relationship with Norah (Emily Blunt).
Is that something new for you, to play a part like that?
Yeah. I’m trying to think if I’ve done something like that before. Yeah, it was new for me to play a gay character. But working with Emily we just had a great time immediately, it was very comfortable.
This is a comedy, but a bit darker. You do have a comedic background. Do you enjoy the switchover to the more dramatic stuff?
Well, I mean this movie is…it’s got a little bit of everything. There’s sort of humor throughout, even though it’s a dark subject matter and it’s emotional. The characters are interesting and complex, but it’s not an over the top drama by any means. The biggest thing for me was playing a pretty straight character that’s not weird, or troubled. Or rude, you know?
It was refreshing.
Refreshing to not have to do that again. I want to know, do you know anything about the future of 24? Is it coming back this year?
I don’t think they have any plans. I’ve heard all sorts of things; it’s dependent on the strike. If it ends soon, we’ll try to get back in there and finish them. Get on the air for sure. It’s definitely my hope that we’ll be able to go on time for next year. Maybe we’ll start earlier than January, or something. Then we can have our whole season seven. I guess we could air in the summer, do you think they’ll do that?
I’d love for them to air tomorrow if they could. How much of the season have you done?
We have eight episodes.
What else do you have going on in the future, any film or TV roles you’re looking at?
It’s hard for me to do stuff because I’m under contract for 24, so I can’t make any elaborate plans. But during the strike I’ve been doing a lot of comedy shows, and filming a documentary style film of the comedy show I’m doing.
What’s the comedy show about?
It’s standup. It’s me doing an hour of standup, mostly personal stories, insecurities, observations and anecdotes.
Where are you playing at?
I have been playing at the Steve Allen theater in Hollywood, but I’m taking a break from there. Now I’m going to San Francisco, then I’m going to go to Vancouver. I’ll probably be back in LA at some point.
Sounds fun. Is this your first time here at Sundance?
This is my first time at Sundance.
Really? I like it. It’s really beautiful here, and everyone talks about film all day.
Film and cold. One of the two. Have you seen anything yet?
No, I’m not going to have a chance to see anything. I’m just in, working, and then I’m out.
Anything you were interested in, or looking forward to?
I don’t really know much of anything that’s here, except the two things my friends have told me about. There’s Hamlet 2, and there’s also a documentary about high school students in Indiana that I’m interested in.
What about Emily’s other movie?
I don’t really know much about it, what’s it about?
Um, it’s about a…not a magician, what do you call them? Like a sleight of hand guy.
I don’t like magic. (deadpan)
You don’t like magic? What’s wrong with magic, does it scare you? Or is it lame?
I just think it’s stupid.
So you don’t sit around watching Criss Angel?
You look so offended.
I have very strong opinions. And that’s one of them.