Andrew Rannells on ‘Girls’ and How He Would Say “No” to Lena Dunham

     July 9, 2020

Andrew Rannells recently told Collider that his first real on-screen TV appearance was playing a headless stripper in a 2002 episode of Sex and the City. But while it wasn’t a pleasant experience for the Black Monday star, it came with a bit of karmic justice: 10 years later, Rannells shot his first real TV role on the exact same soundstage in Long Island City, also for an HBO show — the breakout character of Elijah Krantz in Girls.

In the above excerpt from an upcoming video interview, Rannells talks about how proud he was to have been a part of the Lena Dunham series. “It was such a zeitgeist-y show… it was a lightning rod for a lot of conversation, and there was some controversy occasionally,” he says. But part of that, he believes, came down to how “not quite 10 years ago, there wasn’t quite as much content. So that show was was allowed to sort of hold a spot for a long time, which I’m very proud of.”

One aspect of working with Dunham, Rannells says, was that as a leader on set as well as the star of the show, “she was game to do everything, so I think that as a result, she was never going to ask us to do something that she wasn’t willing to do. But she was also very collaborative… If there was anything we needed to push back on, she was always open to having that conversation.”


Image via HBO

Girls never used an intimacy coordinator (as the role was not required for HBO series until 2018), but Rannells says that “I always felt very safe and seen and protected on that set.” And Dunham’s openness to discussion led to a bit of shorthand between Rannells and Dunham that came in handy during production, beginning in Season 4.

As Rannells recollects, when Elijah comes to visit Hannah (Dunham) while she’s attending a writers’ workshop in Iowa, one scene required him to be exiting the shower in a towel. “She initially asked me to put [the towel] up here,” he says, referring to his chest. “And I said, ‘Why?’ And she said, ‘Because it’s funnier.’ And I said, ‘But men don’t do that.’ And she was like, Oh, yeah, yeah, sorry. Sorry. I mean, it’s not that I don’t get the sight gag, but I was like, it seems a little… I don’t know.”

Thus from then on, he says, “if there was an issue she would be like, is this is ‘a towel situation’? Just like no, not doing it.”

Towel situations aside, In the end Rannells is “proud of the work that we all did on that show. I’ll always be very grateful that that was my first real TV job. Aside from being a headless stripper.”

Look forward to more from Rannells about his career, including some jaw-dropping twists that are coming up on Showtime’s Black Monday, coming up soon. And in the meantime check out the rest of our Collider Connected video series, featuring Giancarlo Esposito, Dan Stevens, Jane Levy, Nathan Lane, and more.