After seven celebrated seasons and countless killer punch lines, 30 Rock, the showbiz sitcom brilliantly peppered with meta comedy came to a close a few weeks ago. But thankfully, for those of us already craving a fix of its creator and star Tina Fey, she's got a new movie coming out this weekend, in which she once again plays a professional woman trying to find a balance between her work and her personal life with hilarious results.
Directed by About a Boy helmer Paul Weitz, Admission stars Fey as Portia Nathan, a college admissions officer for the esteemed Princeton University. Gunning for a big promotion, Portia strives to keep her interactions with prospective students and their parents/teachers on a strictly professional level. But she can't seem to shake a particularly pushy and charming high school teacher, played by Paul Rudd, who has a quirky but genius applicant under his wing.
In the film, Rudd and Fey share such a dynamic comedic chemistry that it's shocking they haven't been teamed up before. And the witty back-and-forth I witnessed on screen played out in real life when the two participated in a round table interview, stuffed with eager interviewers, a few weeks back. The pair shared a jovial ease and exchanged jokes while talking about their new movie as well as their own college days. And when the time was right, Tina made a public plea for Paul to get her into Anchorman 2! (Please let that happen. I want to go to there.)
For each of you what did you see as the biggest challenge of these characters?
Tina: For me, it was just trying to do a good job on what I felt was the dramatic arc of the movie. There were certainly scenes that were more emotional than anything I had to ever do before. So I was trying to prepare for that correctly and have that be believable.
Paul: Just do it was the challenge. Yeah, and hope that you buy it, that you buy me in the part, that it works in the context of the story, that the conflict seems legit, that the character is not one-dimensional. You know, all those things that I think kind of existed in the script, and the challenge is just bringing the material to life. Oh god, did I just say that? (Tina laughs.)
Tina: You did!
Paul: Forgive me.
Tina: I respect it.
You both went to pretty good schools. Could you relate to the application process as we see it in Admission?
Tina: Well, I wasn't growing up in some private school world where it was expected to try to get into an ivy league school or something. I mean, I tried a little bit. But I think people who grow up—either because of what their family is into or where they grow up—it's like if you don't get into Harvard, Yale or Princeton, you're done. And I think that's craziness.
Paul: I never grew up with that at all. I didn't apply to any of those schools, mainly because I knew I wouldn't have gotten in. But I was just kind of out to lunch when it came to all that kind of stuff, and my parents never went through it. They're European. I got out of school I was maybe going to go to art school, and I couldn't afford it. So, I went to the University, Kansas University because I lived in Kansas City. Then I decided I was going to study theatre. Then I went to an actual acting school. But I never went through that whole crazy process.
What was it liked coming from Kansas City to New York?
Paul: I wasn't born in Kansas City; I was born here. Then I lived in Kansas, then California, then back to Kansas. My parents were British and nobody in my family did this. But it felt normal to me because I was pursuing what I wanted to do. And I had, you know, as much false confidence as I could possibly muster because my parents told me as a young kid that I could be anything that I wanted to be and I actually believed them!
You waited tables and all that?
Paul: Yeah, I did that. I waited tables when I was in school for a while. I worked at a Bennigans. I was working in the kitchen in a Benigans, I didn't even get to wait tables.
Tina: You weren't even front of house!
Paul: I was in the back expediting and making salads.