With her Emmy-nominated turns on modern classics like “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Jane Krakowski is used to getting big laughs on television comedies. But Season 2 of the Apple TV+ series “Dickinson” afforded her with the opportunity to do something more than just land a perfect punchline: flesh out a character’s deep inner fears and insecurity.
“What I think is lovely is the leaps the characters have made in between each season. I think sometimes when you sign on for a character, the character tends to stay the same. The core beliefs stay the same — and they have in this too — but almost by the third season of the show you can predict what your character would say or what their reactions would be or what their storyline would be for that year,” Krakowski tells Gold Derby. “What has been completely surprising is that [showrunner] Alena Smith comes in and says, ‘The world’s changed, people change.’ Season 2 was so absolutely different tonally and each character grew quite a bit from Season 1. Initially, that was a bit like, ‘Can you explain why they made these changes?’ She had answers for every bit of it and guided our characters where they were going to start Season 2. I think Season 2 is better than Season 1 because of it.”
Krakowski, a five-time Emmy nominee, plays Mrs. Dickinson, mother to poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) on the show. Throughout the second season, as Mrs. Dickinson accepts and encourages her daughter’s obvious talent, she also grapples with partner intimacy issues with her husband, Edward (Toby Huss). During the season’s fourth episode, their relationship is further contextualized as Mrs. Dickinson confronts Edward about their lack of physical intimacy. The scene takes place in a literal hole in the ground and perfectly illustrates how “Dickinson” toes the line between broad humor and deep pathos.
“Initially, that scene was just a joke. It was the physical joke of us getting in this hole,” Krakowski says. “That’s where the scene ended. But I kept saying she’s saying, ‘I have something to tell you, I need to ask you something, over and over. That obviously seems important but we never got to what the question was.’ So I sat down with Alena and I said, ‘What does she really want to ask? I think this is what she wants to ask and what she’s feeling. Can we film it? Can we ask those questions?’ She then wrote me one of the best scenes that Mrs. D has had up to that point and I thought it opened the character entirely. I think the character became much more fully rounded, became a human with deep emotions, fears, insecurities, vulnerability — a lot of stuff we didn’t get to see in Season 1.”
In addition to being an acclaimed television actress, Krakowski is also a Tony Award-winning stage star and musical theater favorite. Just last week, she headlined the Roundabout Theater’s 2021 gala to jump start the return of Broadway productions this fall. She’s one of a number of “Dickinson” stars with musical talent, including but not limited to Steinfeld, Huss and co-star Ella Hunt. Does that mean the show might attempt a musical episode in future seasons?
“Everybody on our show has a musical background of some sort. We are the team that’s screaming for it,” she says, before revealing that an episode in Season 3 — which wraps production this week — will have some musical moments. “There is more singing in it, which is a teaser and one of the most fun ones to film, which is like a show-and-tell day. All public domain songs which were not only affordable but fit the time period of the show.”
“Dickinson” Season 2 is streaming now on Apple TV+.
Make your predictions at Gold Derby now. Download our free and easy app for Apple/iPhone devices or Android (Google Play) to compete against legions of other fans plus our experts and editors for best prediction accuracy scores. See our latest prediction champs. Can you top our esteemed leaderboards next? Always remember to keep your predictions updated because they impact our latest racetrack odds, which terrify Hollywood chiefs and stars. Don’t miss the fun. Speak up and share your huffy opinions in our famous forums where 5,000 showbiz leaders lurk every day to track latest awards buzz. Everybody wants to know: What do you think? Who do you predict and why?