Jane Lynch (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’) on playing ‘smug’ Sophie Lennon: ‘She’s not satisfied unless people are inconvenienced’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Deep down inside, she thinks she’s much too good for the comedy world,” reveals Jane Lynch of her character Sophie Lennon on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” After guest appearances in the first two seasons of Amazon’s acclaimed comedy, Lynch returned as a series regular for Season 3. That meant more time with comedian Sophie as she stubbornly pursues dreams of becoming a lauded legitimate actress. Watch the exclusive video interview above. 

Lynch essentially has the opportunity to play two characters in one with Sophie: her boisterous “Sophie from Queens” stage persona (complete with fat suit), and the more elite and entitled presence she embodies in her personal life. Lynch has fun playing the “very smug and self satisfied” erudite version of Sophie, but suggests that this too is a character to hide behind. “That is one insecure person,” notes Lynch, “putting on all of these masks, basically to survive.”

SEE Luke Kirby interview: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’

Survival for a woman comic in the late 1950s and early 1960s was brutal. “They had to have a gimmick” of self deprecation, describes Lynch. “Because it was for the pleasure of men… a woman couldn’t go up there and do observational jokes.” Naturally then, Sophie develops intense jealousy over Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) as the fledgling comedian unintentionally breaks the mold in ways Sophie couldn’t.

The “threat” of newcomer Midge ensures Sophie does all that she can to horde more power and stature. That’s evidenced by the ways in which Lynch interrupts the zippy flow of Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. “Sophie’s tempo is much slower,” says Lynch, “she’s not satisfied unless people are inconvenienced… she forces you to slow down and pay attention to her.”

SEE Wanda Sykes interview: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’

Sophie’s power play comes to a heartbreaking end however, when manager Susie (Alex Borstein) arranges her Broadway debut in a production of “Miss Julie.” “It turns out she is a very good actress,” describes Lynch, but “she does not have any confidence.” When she accidentally knocks over a table on stage, Sophie is completely thrown. In a turn simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, she whips out the Sophie from Queens persona and finishes the performance as a standup act. “When you act very smug and satisfied, and then are put to the test, you can be revealed,” notes Lynch, “and that’s what happened.”

Lynch has received a whopping 12 Emmy nominations during her career. Of those she has won five times: Comedy Supporting Actress for “Glee” in 2010, Reality Host for “Hollywood Game Night” in 2014 & 2015, Short Form Actress for “Dropping the Soap” in 2017, and Comedy Guest Actress for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” in 2019. Gold Derby users also awarded her Comedy Supporting Actress of the Decade for her performance in “Glee.” How does the busy performer feel about the recognition for so many varied projects? “I love what I do,” gushes Lynch. “I don’t seek out variety, but it certainly seems to come to me!”

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