Jane Lynch Interview

Chris Pizzello / AP

Setoodeh: Are you all set to host the Emmys?

Lynch: I’m set. We are still working on it. We’ve done one pre-shoot. We’re in the process of creating some Emmy gold.

Are you going to be singing?

I think so. I think that’s what it’s looking like right now.

But you can’t tell me what song?
I can’t, no. It’s a big secret.

Did you take singing lessons as a child?
No. I’ve just always loved singing, and I come from a family that loves singing around the kitchen table.

Were you like the Partridge Family?
No! Not like the Partridge Family. We’re not as talented.

I didn’t realize how many TV shows you’ve acted in over your career.
I have. I have somewhat of a sense, because I said yes to everything in terms of auditions and jobs. I got to Los Angeles in 1993, so I imagine it’s probably been plentiful. Even before that, if IMDB included everything I’ve done, when I was in Chicago I did plays, and always doing little sketch-comedy things. I was busy all the time doing something.

What TV shows did you watch growing up?
The Brady Bunch. The Carol Burnett Show. The Partridge Family. Charlie’s Angels, like a good little lesbian. Those are probably my favorites. I stopped watching television like a fiend once I got into college.

You played Carol Brady onstage, right?
Yes. We did a show called The Real Life Brady Bunch in Chicago. My friends Jill and Jason Soloway came up with the idea of taking episodes of The Brady Bunch and acting it out onstage. It was a huge cult hit! It took us to New York, where we performed at the Village Gate. It took us to the David Geffen Playhouse, which was at the time the Westwood Playhouse. It brought us all out here to Los Angeles. Andy Richter played Mr. Brady. We all ended up staying in Los Angeles after that.

How did you play Carol Brady?
I really tried to interpret what I thought saw Florence Henderson doing, which was extremely maternal and fair and kind of a corny sense of a humor. She was very understanding and in a way very perfect. So I kind of went with that.

Do you have a favorite Brady Bunch episode?
My favorite one is the one where Marcia does Romeo and Juliet, and she gets kicked out of the play for being a diva.

Out of all the TV shows you’ve done over the years, do you have a favorite memory?
When I was on Frasier. I had a very small part. Everybody had dressing rooms, but the cast all hung out in the greenroom and shared theater stories. I felt like I was part of something so special. They are so smart actors; most of them had gotten their start on the stage. I really felt honored to be part of it.

Were you ever on a show that you were a huge fan of?
I got to play a part on Friends. I was a huge Friends fan. I had a very small part. I played a real-estate agent in the very last season. It was four or five lines, if that.

Was it fun to meet the cast?
It was great. They are friends in real life. They hung out at the kitchen table in Monica’s apartment. They would just hang out there in between setups.

You were on Dawson’s Creek, too?
Yeah. I had to travel to North Carolina for that. I didn’t watch Dawson’s Creek so much, so I wasn’t as over the moon over that one.

You said when you were growing up, you told your parents you had a crush on Ron Howard from Happy Days.
Yeah. I did. I had a huge crush on him. I wanted to marry him. I think it was that kind of a crush on a boy who is so safe and asexual; I think a lot of lesbians would have an equivalent.

When did you come out to your parents?
When I was 31. I was out to myself and had relationships, but I didn’t tell them until I was 31.

What were their reactions? Were they sad?
They were. They were sad I held it in for so long and felt badly about it. I do think if I told them when I was 18, it would have been a different story. There were no gay people where I grew up, in the suburbs of Chicago. It wasn’t something that would have been easily accepted. It would have freaked them out. Who knows? They might have sent me to reparative therapy.

Did you ever think growing up you could get married?
No. It never entered my mind. So as far as Laura was concerned, she wanted to get married. I had to examine my own prejudice and my own resistance to it. I didn’t think I was entitled to it as a gay person. I piggybacked on her entitlement, and now we’re married and I’m very happy.

How is a gay wedding different from a straight wedding?
Two brides. That’s it.

Do you both wear dresses?
I wore a pant outfit, but a very girly shirt. I’m not much for dresses. But I didn’t look like a boy.

Are you wearing a dress at the Emmys?
Yes. A gown is a different thing than a dress. Gowns are long, and I look better in a long dress. In a short dress, I just look ridiculous.

What do you watch on TV now?
Roseanne’s Nuts is our favorite obsession right now. I really loved Episodes, the Matt LeBlanc show, and Mad Men. And then I watch my political shows, like Bill Maher, Hardball, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell. I’m an MSNBC person.

Do you watch Glee?
Yeah, we watch it together as a family.

Are you watching live or DVRing?
I DVR everything.

The title of your book is Happy Accidents. If you had to pick one, what would it be?
The happiest accident I had was going to the Newsroom Café for breakfast, where I ran into Christopher Guest, and by the end of the day I was in Best in Show.

How did you impress him so quickly?
I had done a commercial with him about six months before. He happened to be in the Newsroom getting a muffin. I happened to have chosen the Newsroom from a plethora of restaurants I usually go to. I decided to get the pancakes at the Newsroom. After he said, "Come to my office," I thought to myself, what if I had gone to the Earth Café today?!

Do you prefer doing movies or TV?
I don’t prefer one or the other. I like it all. I have no plans. I have no ambitions. I’m just flowing with life. I’m just very happy in the moment.

Where do you keep your Emmy?
I have it on the mantel over the fireplace.

Do people come and pick it up?
No. We’re in a rental right now and we don’t entertain here, so people aren’t coming over to look at my Emmy.

Do your kids play with it?
No. It’s sharp. It’s very sharp.

What do you mean?
The wings are so sharp, they are dangerous. But it’s heavy and beautiful and I love having it.

What can we expect in Glee this season?
I don’t know. It’s always news to me. The first three episodes are basically about a rival glee club at the school. I know they are going to do a big school musical. They are keeping it very local, right in the school and the relationships that were established over time, as graduation looms for some of the characters, how they are dealing with that.

Do you have any favorite Emmy moments?
I think doing the opening number was so much fun. Doing “Born to Run.” That was last year. That was fantastic. I enjoyed that so much.

Did you meet anyone that you idolized?
I probably did, but I can’t even think. I got to work with Jon Hamm. I adore him.

Editor's Note: This is an expanded version of what appears in Newsweek magazine.

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