Award-winning actresses Jane Lynch and Catherine O’Hara light up the screen in Stu Zicherman’s entertaining comedy A.C.O.D. directed from a screenplay co-written with Ben Karlin. Carter (Adam Scott), a successful, happily-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce, suddenly finds himself in crisis mode reliving his dysfunctional childhood all over again when his younger brother Trey (Clark Duke) announces he’s getting married. Carter’s attempts to reunite his bitterly divorced parents (Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara) and their new spouses (Amy Poehler and Ken Howard) for the wedding and his ill-conceived visit to his kooky former therapist (Jane Lynch) have unintended consequences.
At the film’s recent press day, Lynch revealed the fun she had upstaging Neil Patrick Harris at the Emmy Awards, her fascination with therapy, and why it’s always run parallel to the characters she plays. O’Hara talked about working with first-time director Zicherman, the collaborative atmosphere on set, and her funny scenes opposite Jenkins including wild sex on the kitchen counter. They also discussed why there are better roles now for older actresses, their thoughts on directing, and what’s next, including Lynch’s 5th season of Glee and hosting more episodes of Hollywood Game Night, and O’Hara’s new rom com, The Right Kind of Wrong, that just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Hit the jump to read the full interview.
JANE LYNCH: Thank you.
That was hysterical.
LYNCH: I thought it was pretty funny, too. I was very honored to be in their company.
What was it you were going to do to Lynch Mr. Harris?
LYNCH: I was going to throw him down and show him what kind of a woman I can be. But you know that’s something he would not enjoy unless I said I would enjoy it less.
How fun is that for you?
LYNCH: Oh, it’s great. And to see the company I keep. I get to be one of the guys with Jimmy (Kimmel), Jimmy (Fallon), and Neil (Patrick Harris) and Conan (O’Brien). I was just out of my body going, “Wow, this is pretty amazing.”
I was surprised they didn’t have you do a song and dance number given your Broadway experience.
LYNCH: Given my Broadway experience. Yes, exactly. Well, I’m kind of glad it was confined to what it was. (laughs)
Can you talk about what attracted you to this role? You’ve played a therapist before.
LYNCH: Many times. I was playing one on Saturday, too, in a little spot for a friend of mine. But I think I’m fascinated with therapy and I’m fascinated with my own therapist. (laughs) I have a terrific therapist who I’ve seen over the years and I would say we’re probably friends now. We’ve come to the point where we’re friends. I always take a little bit of her and blow it up because she’s a very interesting person.
Has she ever been offended by any of this?
LYNCH: No! She’s like, “Ha, ha ha!” She loves it.
And then, when you finally get an award for playing one of these therapists, you’ll be able to publicly thank her.
LYNCH: I can thank her. Yes.
So she can get great referrals.
And make lots of money because of you.
LYNCH: Well, let’s hope.
And then you can get a ten percent kickback.
LYNCH: That would be nice. I’ll be sure to make sure you’re my agent.
It’s interesting that many actors do go for years and years of therapy. Why is that?
LYNCH: I don’t know that that’s absolutely true, but I wouldn’t be surprised. What we do is we examine ourselves because we’re interested in all aspects of humanity. And the place you have to start to be any good at this, at acting, is with yourself. Everything is inside of you, all of it – the murderer, the great mother, the therapist, the husband. Everything is inside of us. Because we’re human beings, we can relate to almost every emotion. That kind of exploration that you do in therapy makes you more open and more creative and more empathetic. You’re able to see a character from the point of view of the inside out, as opposed to, “Oh, I’m playing a bad guy.” Let’s get deep inside this person so we know what makes a sociopath tick. What in me is sociopathic? And we all have it. So that’s why, for me, my therapy has always run parallel with the characters that I play. If I find something that I’m dealing with, it’ll come up in a character.
With A.C.O.D., you’ve got an interesting pair leading, Stu Zicherman and Ben Karlin, both great writers, and Stu comes in as a first-time director. You two have worked with almost everybody at this point. How did he do as director and how was the atmosphere on set?
CATHERINE O’HARA: I wasn’t aware of him being first time while we were working, because he wrote it for one thing. He and Ben wrote it, and they’re great friends. Ben was there all the time. So he had a good support system. He just seems like a level-headed, clear, confident guy, and he’s funny. And when people are smart and good at what they’re doing like that and have a sense of humor about everything outside themselves and even themselves, they’re not threatened by anyone giving ideas or working collaboratively, and it is a collaborative venture. You can’t lose by being open to the people you’ve hired. And not in a way that was like a free for all. You just knew that there was a chance to discuss everything there. He’s so open, and he’s a great writer, so I just felt like I was in good hands.
LYNCH: Me too.
Now we have to know, in the final wedding scene with the boys, were you and Richard’s characters getting remarried? Or was it all three of them? Or was it none of them?
They were. We couldn’t figure it out.
O’HARA: I never asked and no one told me. Isn’t it great? And then there’s that odd story. I love that it’s not Hugh’s (Richard Jenkins) wedding and he’s telling this odd story. Or it is his wedding? It’s just that I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I like to imagine that it was me, that Richard and my characters were getting married.
You and Richard have some really funny scenes in this film. The sex on the kitchen counter, I did not see that one coming.
O’HARA: (laughs) Neither did our child, hence the poster. I don’t know what my feeling was. But, to see somebody so repulsed by the thought of me with my legs spread making love.
Well you looked lovely. It was the whole idea of seeing Richard standing there with no pants on that was just…
O’HARA: (laughs) I know. And if you look closely, my underwear is handing off my shoes.
That was a nice touch.
O’HARA: That was pretty scary.
The thing I really liked about this movie is that you don’t know where it’s going. Most comedies you get a sense of the formula, but this one had surprise after surprise. Have you read a lot of scripts that are like that recently?
O’HARA: No. You’d have seen me in them. Well, I mean if I was reading them, hopefully I’d have a chance for them. No, there aren’t enough. They took their time writing this, and it’s based on their lives, and they’ve been friends since they were 6 or 7. They know all their extended families and their stepparents and all of that. They did a great job and they really thought it out. Every character is taken care of, and that’s what I love. It’s not just one or two leads and everyone else is just barely there, like “Where you going now on your movie?”
O’HARA: It is. Far too many. This one was really well thought out.
LYNCH: Yeah, there’s not an extraneous character or extraneous moment. In fact, they got rid of some moments. We’re going to see a different cut tonight, too.
O’HARA: Oh really?
LYNCH: Yeah, there are some things that they decided to get rid of, which is probably a good thing because it makes it move.
O’HARA: How does it end? With the wedding?
LYNCH: The wedding.
O’HARA: There’s nothing after that?
It’s just the three guys dressed for the wedding and they turn to go into the church.
O’HARA: There’s nothing during the credits?
LYNCH: We don’t know what wedding they’re going to.
During the credits, it’s just outtakes of talking to crew members and various other people.
O’HARA: About their divorces.
It’s like, “Oh, I’m an A.C.O.D. child.”
O’HARA: It is that! That was in.
LYNCH: Yeah. I love that.
O’HARA: I do, too. It’s almost sad though.
I kept waiting until the very end thinking we’re going to get an Easter egg and see who got married because you just love all the characters.
You’re so invested with every character in this movie. That’s one of the great things about it. Everybody gets a chance to shine and you’re all integrated so well. Maybe it’s all three.
O’HARA: It does look like a triple.
LYNCH: You want Carter to be happy.
O’HARA: Yes, most of all.
As an actor, does it make you feel more secure to work with SAG President Ken Howard on set and having the union there?
LYNCH: Yeah. Right. We knew we were going to get lunch on time.
O’HARA: You know, there’s that whole [SAG-AFTRA] merger thing that was coming up. I personally was against it, but he was absolutely for it.
LYNCH: Did you have talks about it?
O’HARA: I did. I asked him, “Why is it good, please?” He seems like a good, smart man. “Why are you saying this?” because I just didn’t get it. From his explanation, you could tell he really cared. He cares about the unions and wanted the best for everyone. So that was nice to hear.
LYNCH: You still don’t agree with him, right?
O’HARA: No. (laughs) I don’t know. I’m so not involved in the union in any way, and so, I had to trust him. He’s actually very involved and knows what he’s talking about. So I thought, “Okay.”
I feel that the bigger the membership is when you put these two groups together, the more power you might have.
O’HARA: That’s why they do it. (to Lynch) Has it happened? Has it been true so far? Is there more power?
LYNCH: I don’t know. I hope so.
O’HARA: I just like to work and get paid.
LYNCH: Me too. That’s all I want, and I love the health care, too. That’s really good, too.
O’HARA: I’m thankful for that, too.
Speaking of working and getting paid, have you seen a change? For the longest time, there was this great void of any good substantive roles for women over forty and especially women over fifty.
LYNCH: Women of any age.
Do you see that the tide is now turning?
O’HARA: Well, there are more and more women writing. And there are more and more good male writers who are writing and who learned and decided it’s worth writing for women. I guess the more women are present and out there in life, the more their stories will be told. I don’t know. Their stories have always been told on Lifetime.
LYNCH: Right. Exactly. I don’t know if you’ll be able to point to a moment in time where the tide has turned, but I think it definitely has. A lot of it has to do with this new generation of girls coming up that I love. I sound so old when I say that, but there’s an entitlement to people like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey where they just expect to have a seat at the table. And so, they have a seat at the table. And I’m riding on their coattails.
O’HARA: That’s great. Yeah. I know. God bless them. Good for them.
Will the two of you be stepping behind the camera at some point?
LYNCH: I don’t know.
O’HARA: I only want to write. I don’t care about directing really. I’ve tried it and it was fun, but it’s not like I have to.
LYNCH: Yeah. I don’t feel that I have to either, but I have a feeling that I will at some point, and it’ll come out of something where I feel like, “Oh I’ll do that.” But I don’t think I can sit here and say, “I would like to direct one day. (laughs) I would like to direct me!”
O’HARA: Yes! Starring me!
Can you see yourself directing yourself?
O’HARA: Really? Just that?
LYNCH: I will have the ideas. Thank you.
O’HARA: (laughs) I have an idea!
LYNCH: I think a great director sees what you bring to the table, and they go, “Okay” and maybe they build on that. But to take you in a completely different direction, “Why don’t we…?” Uh-uh. They should direct it out of what you were doing.
O’HARA: If I really like them and think they’re smart and funny, then I’ll go, “Yeah.”
LYNCH: Oh yeah! Well if Chris Guest does or something, yeah.
O’HARA: See, it depends on the person.
LYNCH: But not like Beau Schmoe.
LYNCH: Oh, your husband’s name is Beau! I don’t mean to say that. Not Beau! No. I would listen to anything Beau has to tell me.
O’HARA: (laughs) It’s when they have no ideas, too, that’s pretty scary. I hate losing trust in a director. That’s awful.
LYNCH: Yeah. Me too. I just turn on them.
What are each of you working on next?
LYNCH: Glee and Hollywood Game Night. I’m doing ten more of those.
LYNCH: How about you?
O’HARA: I had a movie at the Toronto Film Festival which hopefully will come out soon. It’s called The Right Kind of Wrong, and I think I’m reshooting a pilot that didn’t get picked up.
LYNCH: So they’re going to reshoot it and give it another chance?
LYNCH: Well, at least it’s not dead. That’s nice, isn’t it?
That’s always good.
O’HARA: And it’s a good script.
And they’ll pay you to do it.
LYNCH: There you go. Work and pay.
O’HARA: Work and get paid. It’s good on Ken Howard for taking care of us.
Maybe next time you might vote for him?
O’HARA: Oh no, I voted for him. I like him. I respect him. It’s this whole merger thing I’m not so sure about. I hope it all works out.
A.C.O.D. opens October 4th.