Sometimes, it's hard to be the only woman in a sea of dudes, especially if you're an actress in a film and the glue that essentially holds all of the characters' important relationships together. But if you're actress Lake Bell, you do it with honesty, laughs - and a little bit of improv with your buddy, Jon Hamm.
I interviewed Lake for the [Million Dollar Arm](movie:397703) screening, and she was exactly as you'd expect her to be: Real, funny, and candid in a way that kind of made me want to be her best friend, or at least grab a beer - maybe two.
Oh, and by the way, Children's Hospital fans, it's coming back for Season 6!
I think a lot of people who are familiar with you know you have a comedic background but might be surprised at how funny Jon Hamm is. Do you think that is something, now that he is branching outside of Mad Men, that people may see more and more of?
I know Jon quite well from over the years and he IS really funny. Obviously! He’s hilarious! I know that he was attracted to this role because it is so vastly different than Don Draper. Which makes a lot of sense. I was interested in it for similar reasons. It’s unlike any project that I’ve ever done and I like that my character - in a sea of male characters is kind of a badass. She doesn’t give a crap whether this jerk likes her or not, when I think often the girl characters are doting on “will he like me” and trying to win the guy. It’s very much honest, because it’s based on a true situation between JB [Bernstein] and his wife Brenda when they met. The only kind of woman that would attract the attention of a man like JB is someone who would call him out on his shit and punch him in the proverbial gut. You know sort of be like, “What’s wrong with you?”
Were those scenes made easier on you by the fact that you’ve worked together on Children’s Hospital? Which is criminally underrated by the way.
We’re coming back for season 6! We’re shooting that in July!
So was it more improv between you two for the film than anything?
Well, I think Tom McCarthy wrote fantastic script. The depth from my character really comes from Tom, kind of, giving it that way. And I am ever grateful to him for that. On top of it I just think that our [Jon’s and I’s] natural rapport made the words feel very natural, but we didn’t digress too much from the script. Especially because it’s not like a raucous comedy and our scenes have weight to them. You want to adhere to the purpose of each scene instead of letting it get too loose. But, I am glad that is feels like improv! That means we did our job well!
It does! Going back to why you chose your character, because she was a kick-ass, strong female in this film - that seems to be a common thread in the roles that you choose. Would you say that is your thing?
You sort of find yourself in the roles that are right for you, and I feel like I have been very lucky to be in the right role. But, you know, I feel like I have a plethora of neurotic characters as well, that don’t have the strength so for me, certainly this movie was an opportunity for me to do something that I hadn’t done in terms of the world. What I enjoy so much about my job is existing in different genres and under the direction of different directors that have a vision for what they want to do. That’s where I learn how to make movies, how to make movies. It was observing directors that I loved. Being a quiet, respectful observer and being a student, and sponge to all of that. Someone like Craig [Gillespie] who did Lars and the Real Girl, so interesting choice for him to do this movie and how beautifully it turned out because it was not obvious. I think that’s a really cool choice on Disney’s part to take Tom McCarthy and someone like Craig Gillespie.
They seem to have a pretty good track record at picking surprising choices. They seem to be brave enough and willing to take risks that others might not want to do.
You’re right. I do think that Disney is pretty cool like that. If they’ve got a great story then they’ll let the right people for the job and take some risks.
If you could have your choice to have a big studio film like this again or going back to the indie realm - what do you prefer as an actress? Or director?
I’m an actor first and foremost so it’s more about an opportunity that perhaps I haven’t been offered yet… and same with directing as well. I think if it’s a super cool studio movie then why not take part? It doesn’t really matter, just that it’s a good part rather. It’s all about the next move. First of all, the next move is Children’s Hospital Season 6 [cheering] but I am so excited for this movie to come out. It’s the first of three movies that I’ve done that I’m really proud of. This one is so sweet and finally a movie where truly anybody in my friends and family can see it, like everyone can see it and the message is solid that I’m proud of.
[Million Dollar Arm](movie:397703) is currently in theaters.