It did, and we were so thrilled. We didn’t know if we were going to have him. Like everybody, I had just been so bowled over by his tour de force performance in The White Lotus, and we couldn’t believe it. And then he came and he’s such a dream boat. And he did disrupt and he did do all those things. He sort of sets this bar for Sheila to try to achieve in his part mentor, part rival, mystery and intrigue kind of surrounding him. We get another really great episode later in the season, which is even more—it breaks all the rules of conventional television.
The way Sheila moves, finds herself through movement, it’s a really fascinating way to unlock a character, I think both for viewers and for the actor. Physicality always comes with the job, to an extent, but what has that process been like for you, getting that kind of acting challenge, which does not come around too often?
No. And the thing is, I’m deeply uncoordinated. I am not a natural dancer. I’ve two left feet. So the training started early, and luckily, Sheila starts out not confident, but she has a dance background. So all those things that inform how somebody presents like a dancer is such a specific kind of character. You know immediately someone who used to be a dancer or was a dancer. I enjoy physicality so much personally as an actress—it’s such a fun and challenging thing. This is not just physically about the aerobics, but how she sits in her physical body herself and how disconnected she is to it. There are many layers. I feel spoiled for the fun of it all.
It makes me think of other roles that you’ve played where just the way the character carries herself might be a really big contributing factor. Bridesmaids feels like an obvious example in a way, because she’s so—
Not a piece of hair out of place.
It was fun doing Gloria Steinem because that was so specific, the way she walked and spoke. And it’s funny with those historical pieces when you’re playing real people, it’s like some people just show up and you go, “This is it. This is who I am,” and other people perform in a very immersive way. It’s that thing of how every actor calibrates that when you’re playing a real person. I’d never really had that specific challenge before.
Which side did you lean toward? I feel like in that show, between the actors, you had a mix of the two approaches.
Yes. She’s so striking and specific in her silhouette, from her voice to her body to her hair, everything, I just leaned in as much as I could.
We are talking on the day that Roe v Wade has been officially overturned.
Yeah, we are. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a crushing, crushing blow. Listen, for every woman around the world, when America, the kind of the leader of—well, are we going to go down that road? Because it’s so sad. It’s just so much.