Carrie Brownstein Interview: ‘Portlandia’

“Our main goal was to make a funny and interesting season,” reveals Carrie Brownstein about wrapping up “Portlandia” after eight years this past season. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above), she adds, “We didn’t want everyone to die, or get married or have a bunch of children. We were like ‘let’s just give each person a little bit of send off, without being too on the nose about it.’”

The sketch comedy series set in Portland, with most of the characters being played by Brownstein and Fred Armisen. Over the show’s eight years on IFC, it received 22 Emmy nominations with four wins. They have been nominated all four seasons of the Best Variety Sketch Series category, including for the upcoming 2018 ceremony. Brownstein is also nominated for directing the season premiere, “Riot Spray.”

Brownstein recalls the mundanity of the final scene filmed: “You think it’s going to be one grandiose scene that speaks to your entire experience. But it never is. It was an insert shot of Fred typing on a computer as a character he had never played before. It lacked any sense of sentimentality. The thing that was beautiful about it was that our entire crew, even the people in the production office, had started to gather around. We looked up and could see all these people we had worked with, some of them for eight years. That was very special. But the scene itself was so arbitrary it was almost ridiculous.”

The ‘Riot Spray’ episode gave Brownstein a chance to direct some of her musical heroes. She reflects “how surreal it was to bring people who had been influential in my life up to this small city in Oregon. I had three heroes of mine: Krist Novoselic, who’s the bass player from Nirvana, Henry Rollins from Black Flag and the Rollins Band and Brendan Canty who’s a drummer in a punk band called Fugazi. They created this band with one of Fred’s characters. I could not believe I was directing these three men, who were so important to me. They had a sense of humor about their legacy.”

Looking back on her time on the show, Brownstein says, “I took for granted that I would have an opportunity year after year to get in a writers room with smart funny people to process, rant and direct the ways of the world. Ideally it was more than catharsis. Ideally, it was coming to some comprehension of what things meant for me as a person, director, writer or actor. Thinking ‘how could we put that character through a situation that’s relatable and come to some greater awareness of what it means?’ That was a thing I really missed this year. You read the newspaper and you want to go into a room and go, ‘how can we put a couple through this stress or trauma and actually make it absurd?’ Because sometimes I think “absurdity is the only way to make sense of anything that’s happening right now.”

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UPLOADED Aug 13, 2018 12:58 pm