Interview with Kathryn Hahn for "Afternoon Delight"
Kathryn Hahn has had roles in what some people may consider some of the funniest movies of their generation. These films include “Step Brothers”, “Anchorman”, “Our Idiot Brother”, and most recently “We’re the Millers”. Kathryn takes on the lead roll in the new comedy/drama film “Afternoon Delight” which comes out on August 30. Kathryn was so gracious to talk with us here at Movie Room Reviews about her new film, her career, and her future.
Nick Leyland from Movie Room Reviews: Kathryn Hahn, I'm so glad to talk to you because you are the funniest person ever in the history of cinema.
Kathryn Hahn: Oh, geez Louise, that's ridiculous.
MRR: You are really funny though.
KH: It's Ohio man, I'm telling you.
MRR: Now that I know you're from Ohio, you're even funnier.
KH: That's even cooler, I feel like that's even cooler than anything. Oh my God, this is the best way to end this day, talking to someone from Ohio.
MRR: This new movie that you're in is pretty funny. It's called "Afternoon Delight" and you play Rachel in it. And I didn't get the title at first. I was like, "Wow, I wonder what that means?" And I watched it I was like, "Ah, I got it".
KH: No one is singing that song from the Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight".
MRR: Yeah, I know. I didn't hear it in the movie.
KH: There's no "Anchorman" montage at the end with all of us singing in the chorus. That did not happen in this film.
MRR: Tell me about your character a little bit.
KH: I play Rachel who is a stay-at-home mom and she's at an amazing crossroads in her life where everything that she was able to state on the surface for most of her life is coming to the surface. She is in a marriage that is just stalled, it's just on cruise control. They're just co-existing. They have a little boy who's now in school, so her days are empty, emptier even than they were. She's incredibly privileged. She has, from the outside, an incredibly enviable life that looks totally perfect, but it's like a shell because in the inside, she has nothing. She just does not know who she is or what her purpose is or what she wants and they decide to blow off a school auction and go to a strip club with some other friends.
She meets a young stripper played by the glorious Juno Temple and see, something happens in that moment, and she's captured by something in this young girl that she wants to rescue and mother, and save and screw. All those things at the same time happened for her and she, all of a sudden, feels like she has this purpose. From the outside, you could sit back and think, "Oh, it's so self-absorbed of you to think that you could change this person or that it's best, or does this person even need saving?" But she feels like she does. And so, she brings a bomb home, basically, brings a bomb into her marriage and into her life, a ticking time bomb that explodes.
MRR: Of course it explodes. You know what? This may sound funny, but I actually found the character in the story kind of realistic. Really, actually, really realistic. It's almost like one of those stories that someone would tell you and you'd be like, "What?"
KH: Yes I know. Jill (Soloway) handled it so incredibly well and so deftly. It's such a fragile tone that I think that we found together because it is not hilarious, uproarious comedy. The idea of it could be very funny and could be really broad, but we really found a tone that is, I think, much more raw and true. And yeah, that's all Jill Soloway, helping to get to those places and finding those avenues that we necessarily didn't think we were gonna go down, when we started it.
MRR: She won the award at Sundance for that, didn't she, this year?
KH: Yeah. She won Best Director. Incredible, incredible and so deserved. She's amazing, I can't believe this is her first feature. She was so incredibly confident and it moved so fast, I mean we shot it in like three and a half weeks.
KH: Yeah, six-day weeks. I was actually doing "We're the Millers" at the same time. It was the most surreal summer because I was like shooting this huge big hilarious comedy on either side, like I'd go Wilmington, and shoot that, Wilmington, North Carolina then go back to LA to shoot and shot this movie, and then had to go back to Wilmington like right after, which is very surreal but so fun. Like what you dream about as an actor.
MRR: Yeah, you're in high demand.
KH: Oh, no. Well, when it rains, it pours.
MRR: That's one of the questions I had was because people have seen you in all of the films, like "Step Brothers" and all those films, you play great roles. And this one, this is like all you, you know what I mean? This is a big role for you, I think, in terms of on-screen time.
KH: Oh, it one was huge. I mean, I'll never be able to thank Jill enough for seeing me, seeing something in me that was Rachel and giving me this opportunity because these are the things you dream about. I've been able to be in comedy mostly which has been the dreamiest and I love it and I'm forever grateful. But this business, this is a big one and unexpected, and... Yeah, I feel like we all walked out of it, feeling changed in some way.
MRR: Well, in the film, I'm sure you guys probably had a lot of fun on the set. Even though your character kind of looks like she's gonna like breakdown and cry like every 10 minutes.
KH: Right. She's right at the tipping point. I mean, that's why I think one of my favorite scenes is when McKenna gives her the foot rub and you can see she hasn't been touched in years. I think that all of a sudden, the role shifts and she just becomes a little girl, and that scene to me, it kills me. It just kills me, kills me. But yeah, but Rachel definitely needs a good cry.
MRR: I'm sure you've been asked this a lot now, but one thing about the film, the film is pretty promiscuous, how were you with that?
KH: What about it? I'm awesome! I was so comfortable. All I ever wanna do is just be nude doing sex scenes from now on, especially after having two children. (laughs) I mean, it was as surreal and awkward as you could possibly imagine. Also Jill just created such a crazy, safe environment and Josh (Radnor) is so awesome and he was really, I'm so proud of the history we created. I'm so proud of him as an actor in this movie. We really were able to create a space that was like, you know we're pros. Actually, it was so easy. It actually moved so fast that there wasn't a lot time to stand around and think about it or worry about it. We just had to get it done, which is helpful. But it also more vulnerable, like the intimate parts of the scenes. The rawness was harder than the nudity, to me, like the intimacy of it than like the actual sex.
KH: Having to be that close to somebody, that was the hardest.
MRR: I feel like the more intimate I would have to play, the more I would laugh embarrassingly laugh at myself.
KH: Exactly. That scene, there was not a lot of laughter but there's certainly, there's the scene in which I just had like pantyhose on and we could not stop laughing during that. Me, sitting on the toilet, this was like that. We, of course, was like slap happy, hilarious, ridiculous, could not stop giggling.
MRR: And there's also that drunk scene that makes me laugh really hard and I almost got those chills you get when someone is making a fool of themselves in public.
KH: Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. Exactly!
MRR: How do you play that drunk?
KH: Oh my God, I know. And you know what's brilliant about it? That scene where we actually are like the ladies sitting around, like women and the wine scene, all of us were so proud of it 'cause we didn't have one sip of alcohol the whole day, lwe were sober as the day is long, which was hilarious. We were like a bunch of ladies being like, if we even had a sip of real alcohol, we would be so tired, [chuckle] So, we were as sober as we possibly could be. And I think we were so loopy, we were stuck in one room for, it was like a 10-hour day, we would sit in the room, with blacked out curtains, started like nine in the morning and kind of emerged into the sunlight at six, like what just happened in that room? But it was heaven and Jill set it up, there was three cameras and we just set it up and we did like 20-minute long takes and it was just heaven, heaven.
MRR: Was that just basically all improv?
KH: No. A lot of that scene in particular was on the page.
KH: A lot of it was, yeah, yeah. But we were just so in the groove of these people that it just came out so naturally that its a testament to Jill's scripts.
MRR: I felt so bad for you. Your character, at least.
KH: She started to lose it, I know. Just like, you just put a little wine in her and that's all she needs.
KH: We also talked a lot about that scene. Do you remember in ET, how ET gets drunk on beer at home and then at school, Elliott starts to get drunk and lets all the frogs out? We kept thinking, like that was Rachel's experience on that particular day. She was so connected to McKenna and what McKenna was going through in that poker scene...
MRR: Oh man.
KH: She just started to feel exactly what McKenna was feeling, and it just all came out. She just got drunker and drunker.
MRR: That's so funny!
KH: It's just a mess.
MRR: I think, If someone asked me what that film's about, I'd be like, "Well, it's kinda like this soccer mom who gets kinda bored and goes a little nutty and, like, invites a stripper to live with her."
KH: Yeah, that's exactly what it is on the page! I mean, exactly. That's exactly! That would be exactly how you would coin that, but it just does not feel like that when you watch it...
MRR: No, it doesn't.
KH: In any way. It's so much, much richer, and deeper, and it's such a testament to Jill. Her script is so complicated and even to think about it, like Jane Lynch as being in there as the therapist, she's like the dreamiest. Are you kidding me? Just to sit across from Jane Lynch for a day was heaven. [chuckle] And, yeah it really goes there. The ensemble itself was so extraordinary, but Juno kills me in that movie. And like I said before, Josh Radnor is so good and everybody really upped their game and went to these really amazing unexpected places. And we all just put so much of our faith into Jill, and to our amazing VP, Jim Frohna, who was just instrumental. He was like a character in a scene with us, he was such an impasse. And he felt everything we were feeling, just alongside of us.
MRR: My question for you is, one of my last questions is, what kind of comedy are you into and who are some comedy heroes for you?
KH: Oh my God, I have so many comedy heroes. Kathryn O'Hara is just so up there. I just love her, I worship her. Because it's always sort of this kernel of truth, and like a little bit of pain underneath it, and there's just always a little bit of something unhinged and unpredictable. She's up there. Amy Poehler kills me, Tina Fey... I mean, there's so many amazing women right now, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy... The women just are killing it right now. So I have a lot of incredible people to get inspired by. There's so many women.
MRR: Do you feel that it's harder to be a woman in comedy than a man?
KH: I have not felt that. I feel like, especially now, there seems to be more of an acceptance that a woman doesn't have to be the pretty one standing next to big the male comedy star, you know, kind of trying to right him or make him look funnier. I think that there's so much, so much more room for that. Even Jennifer Aniston, she's always been able to do that, she's always been able to stand next to the big male star and be incredibly funny herself and then make them even somehow look better than they are. Like she's an extraordinary person and performer. I think there's so many. There's so many. Even people like Cate Blanchett kills me. I haven't seen "Blue Jasmine" yet, but that seems like right up my alley.
I've been able to come in and support these amazing, unbelievable, incredible actors. But I've never felt there to be a difference myself.
MRR: Well, you've had such a great career, I mean, it's ridiculous. [chuckle] It's gonna continue because obviously you just did the huge film "We're the Millers" now, and I can't wait to see your other movie that, I think you're filming it now, the "Squirrels to the Nuts" movie?
KH: Yeah, with Peter Bogdanovich, like it's old, awesome school. I remember seeing "What's Up, Doc" and being, like, "What?" It's so good!" And it's just off. So, this, it feels like in the same vein, and he's a peach, he's just fantastic.
MRR: It's gonna be a great movie.
KH: And Jennifer's in that as well and she's extraordinary.
MRR: That's gonna be a big movie, that's coming out in, what, like two years or so?
KH: Yeah. I think so, yeah. Probably. It's really, really good though. And like the cameos he's getting are amazing.
MRR: Well, I can't wait to see all your movies. Now that I know that you're from Ohio, I'm gonna watch everything you have.
KH: I am so psyched that you're from Ohio!
MRR: Yeah, and it's been a great! I hope that we can talk to you again when you come out with the other movies.
KH: Please! I really hope we can. This was a pleasure.
MRR: Yeah, you're telling me!
* "Afternoon Delight" is out August 30.