Carrie Brownstein is a multi-hyphenate talent. The actress-writer-producer-musician currently divides her time between her band Wild Flag and her IFC sketch comedy series “Portlandia,” which she created with Fred Armisen and Jonathan Krisel. “I would say performing is my first love,” she says of her various creative outlets. “I’d say the common thread is that I just have this fearless quality that can kind of be dangerous. It’s not necessarily good to just dive head-first into things, but it’s paid off most of the time.”
One of the biggest payoffs came on April 4, when it was announced that “Portlandia” had won a Peabody Award alongside such diverse media content as “Game of Thrones,” “Jeopardy!,” “The Colbert Report,” and CNN’s coverage of the Arab Spring. “It was a big surprise, and it was quite an honor … But you definitely can’t go into a creative endeavor with those kinds of things in mind. Those are wonderful byproducts of good work, but then there’s a lot of people that toil away in obscurity for many years that are never honored. So you kind of have to be grateful for it, but keep persevering whether that’s happening or not.”
“Portlandia” was described by the Peabody Awards as “a fun-house mirror reflection of Portland, Oregon, a city that takes its progressivism – and its diet – very seriously. The satire is fresh, organic and cage-free.” But it’s a loving satire, insists Brownstein, who says, “I think even some of the more outlandish characters … both Fred and I feel like we possess some of those traits … It’s not a crass or cynical show. It’s a little bit of a love letter to Portland and then a love letter from Portland to the rest of the world, in case people were wondering.”
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In its first two seasons, the series has attracted an impressive array of guest stars who “get to come in and create a world with us,” says Brownstein of their game celebrity visitors, including Kyle MacLachlan as Portland’s fictional mayor, Penny Marshall, Heather Graham, and Tim Robbins, who “flew with his own wig.”
The “Portlandia” creators’ wish list of possible future guests ranges from unexpected names like director Werner Herzog and “Amadeus” star Tom Hulce to A-list talent like Cate Blanchett – “actors that occupied this unique space back in the ’80s or ’90s, or people whose sensibilities we share … but it’s hopefully not people you’re necessarily expecting.” And who might the versatile Blanchett play if she were cast on the show? Jokes Brownstein, “She’s already played men and women, so we’ll have her play an animal … Really? Can you really act? Can you play a cat?”
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