The new comedy series 2 Broke Girls, premiering on September 19th, is about two young women who waitress at a greasy spoon diner and strike up an unlikely friendship in the hopes of launching a successful business, if they can ever raise enough cash. Sassy and streetwise, Max Black (Kat Dennings) works two jobs just to get by, while uptown trust fund princess Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs) is having such a run of bad luck that she finds herself picking up shifts at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. At first, Max sees Caroline as yet another in a long line of inept servers that she must cover for, but she’s surprised to find that Caroline has as much substance as she does style, and the two girls from entirely different worlds become friends.
During a recent interview, actress Kat Dennings talked about what led her to make a weekly series commitment, that she loves how real her character is, how lucky they are to have such strong comedic forces behind the show, and how being in a business as risky as acting had often led her to wonder where her next paycheck was coming from. She also talked about playing a bi-polar girl in the indie drama Renee, and how her TV contract will allow for her to go do the sequel, if she ends up in Thor 2. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What led you to make a weekly series commitment?
KAT DENNINGS: To be honest, things were actually picking up. I was getting really exciting things, and Thor was just coming out, and I was doing really interesting projects, but I got to a point where I have done so many small films, and I’ve worked really, really hard, and then they just disappear. Four months of your life never get seen, and you start to feel tired. This came at the right time for me because I had just finished the most intense shoot of my life, in a really amazing way. It was an intense, complete physical transformation, and I was really drained.
And then, this literally fell into my lap. I was feeling like, “What do I do now? I can’t do another one of these films for a really long time. I want to do something where people will definitely see it because I’m a hard worker, and I want people to appreciate it. Not because I want people to look at me, but because I’ve been doing this since I was 10 years old.” TV wasn’t something I had intended to do, but when this came, and it was Whitney [Cummings] and Michael [Patrick King], with Michael giving me my first big job, it almost seemed like a gift, at just the right time. I was like, “God, this is exactly the answer to everything I’ve been wanting.” I’m just really lucky that this came along.
With so many films going on, both indie and blockbuster, were you hesitant about doing a TV show?
DENNINGS: I’m just in a really lucky place where I’ve gotten to work with amazing film people and amazing directors, like Kenneth Branagh, and amazing casts. This is just something different. It’s something cool and new, that I haven’t gotten to do before. If this goes for eight years, I’ll be thrilled. I love who I’m working with. I love this show because it’s real. It’s more like a half-hour movie than a half-hour sitcom. It’s very fresh.
DENNINGS: I just love how real Max is. I’m from Pennsylvania, so I was in New York a lot and my brother lives in New York. I’m very familiar with New York girls, and I just love how gutsy and real they are. Max is so hard working. All she has to think about are her jobs and her rent. She’s never really had a moment to relax. It’s nice to watch that journey unfold.
What is your line for when sarcasm becomes too mean?
DENNINGS: I think it’s a personality thing. I have friends who are so sarcastic, but I never view it as mean. It’s just an intention thing. Hopefully, as the show goes on, Max’s soul will start to come out and you will know her as a person. What’s so great about a show that’s on every week is that you really get to know these people. As people get to know Max more, if she says something that could seem mean, they’ll know that it’s not because she is a good person.
You’ve got two strong comedic forces behind this show, with Whitney Cummings and Michael Patrick King. Were you familiar with their work before this?
DENNINGS: Yes, I was heavily immersed, as a matter of fact. I’ve always been a huge fan of Whitney’s. She’s so funny. And, I was actually on an episode of Sex and the City when I was 14. I played Jenny Brier, the blowjob, Bar Mitzvah girl, in the episode called “Hot Child in the City.” It changed my life. Really, it did. I was a home-schooled kid, living in the forest, and I didn’t even have cable. I’m serious. We had to get cable to watch that episode, and all my little home-schooled friends and their moms saw Kyle MacLachlan’s ass. It was pretty incredible.
DENNINGS: Well, things have been going well, as of late, but acting is one of the most risky businesses you could ever be in. You literally do not know where your next paycheck will come from, and there have been moments where I haven’t worked for a year. I’m a very safe spender. I save everything. I save all my money. My parents raised me like that. It’s never been an emergency, but there have definitely been times where I’ve been worried.
Do you have any regrets over having started in the business so young?
DENNINGS: No. I asked my parents, from the time I was 4 years old, if I could be an actress and they were like, “Absolutely not! You’re going to college and you’re going to be a normal person.” But, I wouldn’t stop. I wouldn’t let up, and I was very passionate. I was a smart kid. I wasn’t a rebel. I wasn’t difficult. I was just really passionate about this one thing. When I was 10, they were finally like, “Okay, you can try it for a month. If you don’t like it, we’ll stop. If you like it, we’ll go for another month.” To have their support was something that not a lot of actors get to have. I’m so lucky they have been amazing.
What do they think of your success?
DENNINGS: They’re very happy.
Did you study comedy at all?
DENNINGS: I haven’t actually studied acting at all. As a required thing, when I was 10 and I signed with this manager, she made me take her husband’s acting class once, which was enough. Acting is something that I couldn’t recommend to anyone because the odds of it working out are so insane. I don’t know how it worked out for me. I had no connections to this industry. I had no ins anywhere. I was just a normal kid. It’s amazing that it’s come this far. I’m so thrilled.
What was it like to play a bi-polar character in Renee?
DENNINGS: It’s based on the true story of this girl, Renee Yohe, and the organization To Write Love on Her Arms. It’s an amazing organization with a lot of cool young people behind it, and it was started for her. It’s about her journey and how she gets to that point of recovery. It’s an indie film, but I think there is distribution. They’re still editing it.
Will you be able to be in Thor 2?
DENNINGS: Marvel is so secretive; we never know anything until the last minute. But, one of the things that happened when I signed for this show was to make sure that I could still do films on my hiatus, so they would absolutely work that out. I did Thor before I did this show, so they would find a way to work everything out, if I was in Thor 2.
What do you like to do for fun?
DENNINGS: I don’t know. The time I had behind shooting the pilot and our first week of shooting was the only vacation I’ve ever had, since I was 10 years old. I’ve been working this whole time. I’ve never had that much space between jobs. This was the first time I’ve had space to do anything, or to take any kind of vacation. I had all these ideas, but I ended up just staying home, reading books, watching movies and seeing friends, which was the best vacation. My mom calls it a stay-cation.
What was your life like, growing up?
DENNINGS: Part of the reason why I relate to this show so much is because we didn’t have any money when I was growing up, and I used to get all of my films from the library. My mom would get me classic movies. I actually wasn’t allowed to watch TV, as a kid, except for PBS and Sesame Street.
How did you become an actress?
DENNINGS: I grew up in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and my dad is a scientist and my mom is a speech therapist. It came out of nowhere. I would watch these films, and I just took that little kid wanting to be a movie star thing way too far, and actually ended up doing it. My brother’s friend from karate was on Pete & Pete sometimes, and I met his manager. She sent me on auditions in Philly and then in New York, and then I started getting commercials. When I got Sex and the City, it just changed the things I was able to get. And then, I eventually moved out to L.A. and somehow wound up on 2 Broke Girls.
Why were you home-schooled?
DENNINGS: At that time, my parents were disenchanted with the school system, and rightfully so. I was also a weirdo. I didn’t always look like this. I’m an actor now, and all that weirdness growing up has just somehow worked.