Pop Culture

From ‘Saturday Night Live’ to ‘Loot,’ Maya Rudolph Never Takes the Easy Route

There’s a scene in this week’s Loot, Apple TV+’s sharp comedy series, that feels strangely out of time. If you were just stumbling upon the show for the first time, you’d find Maya Rudolph and Ana Gasteyer in a mode near-identical to their work together two decades ago on Saturday Night Live. They’re both embodying larger-than-life characters—in this case, out-of-touch billionaires gleefully acting out their new jobs as “business women”—as if there’s no camera or audience before them.

For consistent viewers of the show, there’s a lot more to the bit—particularly when it comes to Rudolph’s work. For two seasons, she’s traced the journey of ridiculously wealthy divorcée Molly Wells, who has billions of dollars and an existential crisis on her hands—ultimately deciding to find purpose by reengaging with her charitable foundation. The role has allowed Rudolph to play the character’s most ridiculous and humane facets side-by-side, imbuing the show’s clever 1% satire with a surprisingly empathic streak. This goes especially for the second season, which has solidified Loot’s structure as a workplace comedy, and built toward Rudolph finding an ideal foil in Gasteyer—a fellow newly single billionaire who approaches her next act in, well, more radical fashion.

The shades Rudolph gets to play as Molly speaks to what she’s shown onscreen since her SNL breakout. She’s shined in independent films like Sam Mendes’s Away We Go, won Emmys for her voice work on Big Mouth and her triumphant SNL return as Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live. But in Loot, Rudolph gets a role to savor, one that allows her to go as broad and as nuanced as she likes, fine-tuning that balance with each episode. It platforms a pro in her prime. In conversation on this week’s Little Gold Men (read or listen below), such a showcase naturally prods some career reflection too.

Vanity Fair: This show feels like a prime example of what good sitcom-making is, by which I mean growing in its second season: the ensemble feels gelled, the sensibility feels more refined. Did you notice that too?

Maya Rudolph: Absolutely. There’s nothing more fun in the creation of a show than the second season, because you’re really ticking a lot of boxes, especially in the pilot, to introduce everyone. But in the same way that my character Molly is getting a chance to really invest in her relationships now and understand and know the people that make up the Wells Foundation, so is the audience. We get to take everybody and play and make all the fun combinations. I love nothing more than a workplace comedy because it’s just knowing people’s voices.

I would imagine that there’s a lot of calibration that comes with that too, and figuring out the exact right tone. You were starting with a pretty high concept. How did that impact your own performance going into the second season?

I think it was just a matter of finding the right tone for Molly. I knew where her heart was coming from. I knew she was a good person and had a good head on her shoulders, but was also capable of [being] completely out of touch. Those are really the places that I wanted to lean into the most, and I find them to be terribly fun to find a way to play together. But it’s hard. It’s hard to lean into that really arch comedy of being this woman who’s just truly been living in her own hemisphere with somebody who really cares about other people. But the combination of those two things is what gives the show the ability to be relatable. Selfishly, I just tried to find the fun in that balance because I love playing both things.

In some scenes you are the most ridiculous person in the room, and we love that. Then in others, you’re with Adam Scott playing your unhinged tech-billionaire ex-husband.

Well, I say this to his face and he knows that I feel this way—he is the best douchebag there is. He’s fantastic at it. God dammit. He’s so good. And I mean, I think we quote “Dane Cook, pay-per-view, 20 minutes” [from Step Brothers] constantly in my house. He’s the greatest.

As this airs, we are in the midst of your fabulous interplay with Ana Gasteyer, who is new to the show this season. You guys seem to be having a ton of fun together.

Originally Published Here.

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