“I’ve never been part of a series from the genesis, so this is very cool to make the leap from the first season to the second season and see how much deeper you go,” admits Ellie Kemper as we chat via webcam (watch above) about the recently-released sophomore season of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix. As she explains, “This picked up right where the last season left off. I think what was so cool about this season was that each character gets so much story to explore and learn so much about individual character.”
Kemper plays the title character, a woman held captive for 15 years in Indiana by a lunatic reverend (Jon Hamm). Freed at the start of the first season, she moved to New York, made friends with a struggling actor (Tituss Burgess), her street-smart landlady (Carol Kane), and a self-absorbed wealthy woman (Jane Krakowski). At the end of the first season , she had to return to Indiana for a trial that saw her captor sent to prison.
In season two (click here for our reactions to the new season), she has left her job as a nanny and is trying several different lines of work, including a stint as an elf in a Christmas shop and an Uber driver. The season features guest appearances by Amy Sedaris, Anna Camp, David Cross, Jeff Goldblum, Lisa Kudrow, and Tina Fey (the show’s co-creator, who was nominated at last year’s Emmys for a different role).
On working again with Fey who now plays Kimmy’s therapist Andrea, Kemper says, “My initial reaction to everything is to panic, so at first I panicked like ‘You better bring it, Ellie!’ But then my second reaction was that it was a total thrill because she’s been a hero of mine for a very long time. I think that dynamic of night Andrea vs. day Andrea is perfect because you get to have the comedy of her drunkenness and then during the day it’s actually gritty, hard, meaty stuff they are tackling.”
While the show was nominated for Best Comedy Series at last year’s Emmys (it lost to “Veep”), Kemper was snubbed. She did reap a bid at the recent SAG Awards and is a strong contender for Best Comedy Actress at this year’s Emmys, which has three open slots with Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”), Lisa Kudrow (“The Comeback”) and Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”) no longer eligible.