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October 9, 2015

Megan Mullally Talks 'Party Down' and Returning to 'Parks & Recreation'

by Kim Potts, posted Apr 22nd 2010 7:00PM
Yes, Jane Lynch has gone off to more 'Glee'-ful pastures, but thanks to new star Megan Mullally, the second season of Starz' buzzworthy comedy 'Party Down' (premieres April 23, 10PM ET), isn't missing a single drop of the funny.

Mullally, the two-time 'Will & Grace' Emmy winner, joins the Party Down catering crew -- as Lydia Dunfree, a recently-divorced mom who has moved to Los Angeles so her daughter, Escapade, can become the next big kid star. Yes, that's right, Escapade ... sounds like something Mullally's Karen Walker would name her kid.

And speaking of the scene-stealing 'Will & Grace' character, Mullally will also soon bring her iconic TV alter ego to theater stages. 'Karen: The Musical' is currently in development, and Mullally talked to AOL TV about Karen's return to pop culture (and the Karen spin-off series that could have been), her 'Party' days, her gig as the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spokeswoman, guest-starring with hilarious hubby Nick Offerman on 'Parks and Recreation' and which 'Saturday Night Live' star she helped discover.

Congratulations on the 'Party Down' role ... you fit so perfectly into the cast. How did your role come about?
Thanks! I'm so excited about it. They just called me out of the blue. Jane Lynch, who I've known for a million years, did the first season, as you know, and then got 'Glee,' and it never occurred to me that they would come to me and offer me a role, to kind of fill that same ... function that she did, although it's a different character. They just offered it to me, and I was like, "Yeah, yes, yes!" [Laughing] You know? Could not have accepted any more quickly. And it was blast. The cast is just so much fun to work with. They're all so good at their jobs and so fun off camera. And the writing is amazing, and it was just really fun. They just bang it out 10 weeks in a row, 10 episodes, straight through.

You've already shot the whole season?
Yeah, yeah, we did them all. And it was really fun to do. Since the whole conceit of the show is that it's a catering company, every week is so fun, because they come up with such funny ideas for the events that we're catering ... we're catering backstage at a death metal rock show. We're catering an orgy. We're catering Steve Guttenberg's 50th birthday party. We're catering Jane Lynch's New Age wedding. It's just like they have the best ideas, and so then it also is great, because you get great guest stars to come on.

So Jane Lynch is playing herself in the wedding episode?
No, Jane Lynch is going to come back as her character from the first season, and she's marrying this brilliant old guy, this much older man, and they're having a very new age wedding. So she's wearing these flowing garments, and there's a lot of beads and a lot of scarves, and she's really chill, and it's really funny.

We get to know your character in bits and pieces throughout the first few episodes ... the name of her daughter, Escapade, is hilarious. It sounds like something that Karen Walker would have named her daughter.

I know! [Laughing] Totally, that is a very good point. Oh, my God, it's hilarious, although I don't think Karen Walker would be [around] Lydia ... I don't think Karen Walker would even hire Lydia or allow her in her home. Escapade is going to become the next Hannah Montana. And she actually is, as we find out a little bit later, she actually really is talented, and Lydia is never a pushy stage mother. She just wants the best for her child, and so a lot of Lydia's focus in the 10 episodes is that she's trying to find a man. She wants a man who makes a good living and has a nice home, so that she can get set up with Escapade in that house and then just get going driving Escapade to all her auditions ... Lydia is looking for a man, and she's not very particular. She basically likes any man who has a house.

You mentioned 'Glee' earlier ... that seems like a perfect show for you to be a part of, too. Would you guest star?
Yeah! I mean, they never offered me [a guest star role], but if they did, I'm sure I would do it. It seems like it would be a blast to do. I know that there's two ways to go, because they're probably aware that I sing. So that's one way to go, and then the other way to go is to do something with Jane, just play some crazy like, you know, nemesis of hers or something. I love her, and I love working with her, too. She's awesome.

Your husband, Nick Offerman is one of the funniest guys on TV right now. You two had such great chemistry when he guest starred on 'Will & Grace,' and then this season when you played Tammy, the ex-wife of his Ron Swanson on 'Parks and Recreation.' Any chance that you'll be returning to the show?
I am returning! I am. And yes, how great is Nick Offerman on that show? I mean, he's amazing. He is just so happy right now, and there's no actor that's ever been any happier or more grateful to have a job, I'm telling you. And yes, Tammy is coming back, and she's coming back, I think, at the beginning of next season, and it's not going to be pretty. [Laughing] It's going to be like the other [episode]. It's going to be really pretty, and then not so pretty.

So this might become a recurring thing throughout the series?
I think it's an ongoing thing because she's the head of the library department, and the library department is the absolute arch nemesis of the parks and recreation department. So there's all kinds of fodder there for lots of throwdowns between the two departments, as well as between Ron and Tammy.

Where is 'Karen: The Musical' at this point? Is it definitely still happening?
Yeah, it is! It's in development. We have a producer, we have a composer, we have a director. The only thing is, we're just trying to finalize who the book writers are going to be, and that's getting really close now, and as soon as that's done, then we can start writing. So that's getting really exciting. And it's going to be a touring show. We're going to start in Los Angeles, and then we're just going to do it wherever 'Will & Grace' is popular, which is kind of cool, because we can do it all over the States, but then we can also go to other countries, because 'Will & Grace' is very popular in the U.K., Australia, South America ...

And do you have any specifics in mind, plot-wise? Is Leslie Jordan, as Karen's frenemy Beverley Leslie, still involved?
It's a traditional book musical ... and it's going to involve a fight to the death between Karen Walker and Beverley Leslie. While we're singing. [Leslie] was kind of the obvious choice [to co-star], because he's got so much theater experience. He's done a lot of theater, but he's also done about five really hilarious one-man shows. And so he knows the stage. He's a stage guy, and he's so fun to work with. His timing is amazing, and he's super-funny.

Karen really was the breakout character of the show; was there ever any talk of doing a Karen spin-off?
There was, actually. There was a Karen spin-off that was supposed to happen, and then [NBC] launched 'Joey.' And then they started to think maybe that wasn't such a great idea, after all, and they decided that they wanted me to do that talk show. So that's how it all played out, and it's fine that it worked out the way it did. I think that they might have approached Sean [Hayes], but I don't think Sean wanted to do it. I don't know for sure, but I do know that there was definitely a Karen thing, and it was all kind of mapped out. It was going to be sort of like an 'Upstairs, Downstairs' show, with Karen and all of her servants. And I had pitched it to Martin Short and Alec Baldwin -- and this is pre-Alec Baldwin even being on 'Will & Grace,' much less '30 Rock.' And they were both interested. Martin Short was going to play the butler, who was secretly in love with [Karen], but she didn't really know, and then Alec Baldwin was going to be my jet-set playboy love interest.

Ah, so you recognized Alec Baldwin's comedic genius before anyone?
[Laughing] Well, I don't want to brag, but what can I say?

I also read something about you helping Bill Hader land his spot on 'Saturday Night Live' ... how did that happen?
Yeah! That is just the funniest story. I just saw him the other night, because we went to see the show, the one that Tina Fey hosted. And I saw him, and he's always so sweet every time I see him. What happened was -- it is kind of a crazy thing -- my husband and I live in Los Angeles, and my husband's brother was taking an improv comedy class at the Improv, and he was in a little group that would do little shows every now and again as part of their class.

So we went to one of the shows one night, and there was this guy in the show ... I was like, "OK, the guy is a superstar!" He didn't even have an agent. He was like 23. No agent, nothing, never done anything. So [after class], we had all gone out for a bite to eat, and I met him, and I talked to him for a total of maybe 60 seconds, and I said, "Hi, I'm Megan." He's like, "Oh, yeah, I know." And I was like, "This is a really weird thing to just say right off the switch, I don't even know you, but would it be weird if I called Lorne Michaels about you?" And he was like, "Uh, no!'" And so, like a week or two later, I called Lorne Michaels. And it's not like I'm best friends with Lorne Michaels ... I don't really know him that well. I mean, he's kind of intimidating. I had only hosted 'SNL' once. [But] I called him, and I said, "Blah blah blah, here's the story, I think this guy is a superstar, I think he's totally perfect for your show," and there was a pause ... and Lorne said, "OK, well, we'll fly him out. He better be good!"

[Laughing] And I'm thinking, "Oh, sh**!" Yeah, OK. I never thought of that angle, you know? Like, what if this guy, who is so talented, gets to New York and totally clams up and has a bad day, and then Lorne Michaels is billing me for plane fare or something? Fortunately, it all worked out so great, and Bill has just done incredibly well, as you know, and is the nicest guy in the world. And, I'm from Oklahoma City and he's from Tulsa, and his wife, Maggie, wrote for 'In the Motherhood,' which I was on ... there are so many weird things where we've all, like, circled around and around each other.

I love your I Can't Believe It's Not Butter commercial, and I just noticed the contest they're running on their website: the winner gets to meet you and spend the day with you in Los Angeles. What will you do? And is the thought of having to entertain this stranger who probably will know a lot about you weird or scary?
You know, I don't know, because they didn't really tell me. I just said, "OK, I'll spend a day with ..." I mean, I think I basically kind of spend an afternoon with somebody, maybe go to lunch or go to the mall. I don't know. Whatever they want to do probably is what we'll do. And I think it will be fun. I mean, believe me, I've met so many fans over the years, and I'd say 99.99 percent of the time, everybody is so cool and nice and really great. And only very, very rarely do you run into somebody who you think, "I'm not so sure about this one!"

Do they usually feel like they know you, because of Karen?
Yeah! You know, because it's comedy. So it's not like they're a fan of me because I played Hitler in something. They're a fan of comedy, and so it's nice. It's nice to be known for comedy, I think, because sometimes I think if you're a dramatic actor, and you're known for playing Jeffrey Dahmer, that's a bummer!

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