Ana Gasteyer Q&A: ‘Lady Dynamite’ and ‘Grease Live’
During our recent webcam chat (watch above), Ana Gasteyer candidly describes her “Lady Dynamite” character, talent agent Karen Grisham, as “the most horrendous woman in the world.” This Netflix comedy series was created by Mitchell Hurwitz (“Arrested Development”) and Pam Brady (“South Park”) and stars Maria Bamford as a fictionalized version of herself struggling with bipolar disorder and attempting to restart her career after suffering a breakdown.
Gasteyer describes each episode as happening in “three different states at the same time: mania, depression, and present day stasis.” The show often breaks the fourth wall to convey Bamford’s fragile mental state. “It’s such an incredible little microcosm of reality,” praises Gasteyer, “which is what you experience in mental illness,” adding, “Maria’s a beautiful communicator on that subject, and a very empathic and extremely relatable and likable face for mental illness.”
This contrasts greatly with Karen, “such an unconscionably dispassionate human being.” The actress admits, “You had to make this conscious choice to ignore the humanity in the scene to the best of the abilities,” adding, “the less this woman takes the time and care and consideration to worry about anything other than herself and her Faustian agenda, the more we see how Maria, or anyone, is chewed up and spat out of the Hollywood machine.”
Gasteyer also talked about her role as Principal McGee in “Grease: Live!,” which drew upon her years on “Saturday Night Live.” Despite that experience, she nevertheless found this undertaking intimidating. “The thing about ‘Saturday Night Live’ is, as you know, it’s this incredibly well-oiled, 40-year-old machine,” whereas, “this was so ambitious.” With several unpredictable variables, including a monster rainstorm that threatened to shut down the production, she reveals, “I was really terrified,” yet, “the second it started, some steel-nerve moment kicked in. I thought, you know what? This is ridiculous. I have a choice for it to be a nightmare or for it to be really fun.” In the end, she says, “It was intoxicating.”