Sundance Interview With Mary Lynn Rajskub

By Steve West 2008-01-20 09:23:54discussion comments
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Fine, so Iím 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. Sheís nothing like the self involved Elizabeth in Punch Drunk Love or 24ís Chloe OíBrien. But theyíre in there, and you can see where those characters come from when she talks to you.

Keeping herself busy during the writerís strike with a stand up routine, Rajskub talks with us about her new movie Sunshine Cleaning where she forms a relationship with Emily Bluntís Norah. The bond between the two is apparent in the room as they harass and joke with one another. It isnít 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. Itís 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.

Yeah.

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).

Yes.

Is that something new for you, to play a part like that?

Yeah. Iím trying to think if Iíve 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 isÖitís got a little bit of everything. Thereís sort of humor throughout, even though itís a dark subject matter and itís emotional. The characters are interesting and complex, but itís not an over the top drama by any means. The biggest thing for me was playing a pretty straight character thatís not weird, or troubled. Or rude, you know?

It was refreshing.

Yeah.

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 donít think they have any plans. Iíve heard all sorts of things; itís dependent on the strike. If it ends soon, weíll try to get back in there and finish them. Get on the air for sure. Itís definitely my hope that weíll be able to go on time for next year. Maybe weíll 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 theyíll do that?

Iíd 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 youíre looking at?

Itís hard for me to do stuff because Iím under contract for 24, so I canít make any elaborate plans. But during the strike Iíve been doing a lot of comedy shows, and filming a documentary style film of the comedy show Iím doing.

Whatís the comedy show about?

Itís standup. Itís me doing an hour of standup, mostly personal stories, insecurities, observations and anecdotes.

Sounds interesting.

Yeah.

Where are you playing at?

I have been playing at the Steve Allen theater in Hollywood, but Iím taking a break from there. Now Iím going to San Francisco, then Iím going to go to Vancouver. Iíll 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.

Mine too.

Really? I like it. Itís really beautiful here, and everyone talks about film all day.

Film and cold. One of the two. Have you seen anything yet?

No, Iím not going to have a chance to see anything. Iím just in, working, and then Iím out.

Anything you were interested in, or looking forward to?

I donít really know much of anything thatís here, except the two things my friends have told me about. Thereís Hamlet 2, and thereís also a documentary about high school students in Indiana that Iím interested in.

What about Emilyís other movie?

I donít really know much about it, whatís it about?

Um, itís about aÖnot a magician, what do you call them? Like a sleight of hand guy.

I donít like magic. (deadpan)

You donít like magic? Whatís wrong with magic, does it scare you? Or is it lame?

I just think itís stupid.

So you donít sit around watching Criss Angel?

No!

You look so offended.

I have very strong opinions. And thatís one of them.
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