The Heart, She Holler – Cast Interview
A long time ago, way back in the month of October. At a magical place in New York City called New York Comic Con, I got to talk to the cast and producers of Adult Swim’s The Heart, She Holler, which premiers tonight at 12:30, as part of a round-table interview. This is the cast (minus Patton oswalt) portion of those interviews. The cast members included: Kristen Schaal (The Flight of the Conchords), Heather Lawless (Be Kind Rewind), Leo Fitzpatrick (El Camino), and Joseph Sikora (Shutter Island).
Never Not a Nerd: I’ve seen the sizzle reel, and it blew my mind. What is The Heart, She Holler?
Kristen Schaal: It’s sort of a soap opera, a reinvention of a soap opera that takes place in a really magical place, a holler. The characters involved are ambitious, and I would say you’ll never see anything like it on television. You’re going to love it, I think it’s really addictive. I, myself, have seen all of them…and I was sad when it was over, but I am in it.
NNAN: It’s six episodes?
Schaal: Yeah, it’s six episodes. 15 minutes long. 12:30 on Adult Swim starting November 6th.
(rest of cast applauds her)
Schaal: Those shows are consecutively too.
Heather Lawless: It’s a mini-series.
Schaal: Yeah, I think they’re going to air it all that way, so everyday at 12:30 you’re going to see the next episode.
Q: You had a very positive spin on the characters, and everything that goes on in this soap opera. What is this world like? Is it just a twisted version of the south?
Joseph Sikora: A magical version of the south.
Schaal: This south comes from the brains of John Lee and Vernon Chatman. It’s not something you can take and layer on any specific geography in America. It is almost like a Grimm’s fairy tale, a gothic-horror Grimm.
Leo Fitzpatrick: I feel like if you gave them any location, or any kind of story, it would be a fun game to play with them to see what they come up with. It’s from their brains, it’s their world, so I don’t think it matters where you really put it. They could come up with some brilliant stuff. (The South) just happens to be the location.
Schaal: Well, the thing that’s special about the location is it’s a holler. I think the definition of a holler is that it’s hidden away…
Sikora: It’s an area between two mountains.
Schaal: It’s an isolated place that families go.
Lawless: It’s also some place you wouldn’t want to be in after dark. It’s very very backwoods, and off the grid.
Schaal: And I think because of that it can be a lot of fun.
Lawless: A lot of demonic behavior.
Sikora: It’s like Springfield in The Simpsons, it just is. It’s not in this state, or that state.
Schaal: I bet when you get John Lee and Alyson Levy over here, they can explain that better.
Sikora: I wouldn’t believe them, but they’ll say something.
Q: So how did you guys get involved in the project?
Fitzpatrick: I’ve always been a fan of these guys. I usually do really bizarre independent films and stuff. There used to be a Ken’s (?) video on St Marks, and I saw Vernon in there. I think he has a Brussels Griffon, a dog, and I have a Brussels Griffon. So we started talking, and we were eyeing each others movie selections, and I said ‘If you ever need help with ANYTHING. I’ll do catering. I love your projects.’ I’ve kind of just always asked, and hinted. I think what they do is so great, Adult Swim in general is so great to be a part of. It’s just my kind of humor.
Lawless: I first met those guys doing Wonder Showzen. I think they first saw me do stand up, then called me in a year later for Wonder Showzen. And from that I became friends with them, and Xavier, did some voices for that, and now everyone’s just in the fold. It’s a small tight community.
Sikora: I auditioned, time and time again, for Delocated. And then from auditioning for that I just became a fan of the show, and started getting into their crazy world. My little brother was a huge fan of Wonder Showzen. Huge, huge fan of Wonder Showzen, so he had all the seasons, so I got to check out everything. See Vernon with his hand up a puppet all the time, blowing old dudes. And from blowing old dudes , I think I really understood where I fit in with them. So, I just auditioned for this. I think any time when you make a mistake is when people try to be funny, because the stuff is just funny, So you just say it, and be truthful about it. Heather does this all the time, you’re so good in this show (to Heather Lawless). I mean everybody was. So yeah, just auditioning,
Schaal: I friended them from this community. They saw my stand-up and stuff. We all lived in Park Slope for a while. I’d just run into John Lee at the coffee shop and stuff.
Q: Is the show more direct than it seems, with everything having a purpose?
Lawless: It’s very, very specific. There’s no improv. It’s word-for-word.
Fitzpatrick: The writing is really, incredible.
Lawless: You think you can come in say ‘ok, well maybe I’ll just add a little’ and then it just becomes…from working with them earlier I knew that’d be the case. Which is awesome, because then you can just immerse yourself in their world, and their language. You don’t have to think about what you’re adding to it. You just have to give yourself over to it. You commit fully, and neat things can happen.
Fitzpatrick:I think, obviously, the straighter you do it, the funnier it is. You don’t need to be over-the-top, because everything is already so over-the-top. The writing, it was actually, some of it was harder to remember than normal dialogue, because the writing is so specific, and badly written in a specific way that you kind of have to reprogram your brain to speak like they want you to speak. But, it’s a fun challenge.
Sikora: (to Fitzpatrick) Remember that speech you had, with the…damn wolf.
Fitzpatrick: That was all cut out. The opening speech.
Lawless: It was also done out of sequence, when we shot it. For me, you really had to trust them. We did it in such a short amount of time, that you would do something from episode 6, and then you would shoot for 2, and then 1, and then back to 4. So it was just a mind scramble, which I ended up really liking. There’s nothing to really center you, other than just your commitment to their world.
Q: Seeing as how insanely weird this looks, was there any moment where you were acting this out, and in your head you were thinking ‘what the f**k am I doing’?
Fitzpatrick: There was a bunch for me, where you just go with it. You’re like ‘this is even creeping me out, this is so wrong.’ But, you really gotta just trust these guys and go for it, and I think that’s what makes it exciting. Yeah, there were a few moments where I found myself going, ‘this is so uncomfortable and awkward, but it’ll pay off in the end.’ There’s a scene where I have to talk to someone this close (nose to nose), and I don’t even like looking people in the eye. But, you know the gag’s going to work. And I think that whole weird uncomfortableness is obvious, so it works for what they’re trying to get. I’m sure everyone had one of those.
Sikora: I thought it became a lot darker. When I initially read it, and when we were doing it, because we were having such a good time, it was like ‘oh, this is going to be so funny.’ And it’s funny, but it’s funny right before a laugh. It’s darker than I thought.
Schaal: The thing I love about working with PFFR is that they are always pushing the envelope and crossing boundaries, and to me that’s where comedy should always be. And they’re just at the head of the pack with doing that in every project. So, it was thrilling to get to be a part of this, and there were parts where ‘whoa, personally I don’t know about this’. First day of shooting I hung myself, second scene I F’d you(points to cast member), and the third scene I made out with a man-sized fetus through my womb. And that was the day. I remember playing her, and being so big and gross everyday. The main note I got would be ‘be bigger’, which I loved. And Then I’d look disgusting, and I would go and home and be sitting on the L train remembering all these incredible grotesque things I just did. It was very satisfying.
Q: So, you guys filmed in the city(NYC) then? Was it on location, or a studio?
Schaal: Yeah, we filmed in Williamsburg. They used a studio, and the reason I had to film all of that in what day is because they were filming all in my character’s room. Not to pull back the curtain of magic. No, it was on location in a holler.
Lawless: It was in this really bizarre and grungy studio, so that within itself was like entering another world too. Because there was no real point of reference, and there was some kind og garbage on the corner,
Sikora: Oh, that was so disgusting.
Lawless: And it was massively hot. So there was a stench that came from it.
Schaal: There was a restaurant by it called Roberta’s that I walked to. It was amazing. I don’t know where there’s restaurants next to where they’re burying dead bodies, but…it was really good.
Sikora: Also everything was so specific on the sets. The guys were amazing. The truck stop store, every item, they had Fluffernutter that was called ‘Fluffer’s Body Nut’.
Fitzpatrick: Yeah, they get overly into detail . They don’t need to be that detail oriented, but they are.
Lawless: It’s the art department too. Their posse of people.
Sikora: But, John and Vernon made up every single label of that.
Schaal: If you look at in the products of the general store, it has Heartshe on everything. You won’t get to read all the labels.
Sikora: You won’t, but if you look really close there’s Heartshe sperm.
Q: So, this weekend, the movie everyone is talking about is The Avengers. I know you guys have nothing to do with this, but can you guys just make up some spoilers for us to put in the headline.
Sikora: Loki takes over The Avengers. He kills them be deceiving all of them, and actually takes over so Loki is the lone Avenger.
Schaal: And the Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, she’s an actual spider hidden in all the scenes. So, if you look, you’re like ‘where is she, she hasn’t been in any scenes, it’s been like 5 scenes.’ She’s in EVERY scene as a tiny little spider and you have to find it.
Lawless: If she’s a spider, then she can get under your skin. Because if a spider gets under your skin then it can lay eggs and have more spiders.
Schaal: You spoil away girl, I wasn’t going to say it.
NNAN: What do you guys have coming up after this?
Sikora: I have a couple movies coming up.
Schaal: You do?!
Schaal: I’m sorry, I didnt’ mean to sound so surprised, I mean to be encouraging.
Sikora: I play a Russian gangster in a new Jason Statham film, an action film that’s coming out.
Schaal: Let’s here your Russian accent!
Sikora: bery bery good
Q: Is that line from the movie?
Sikora: (Speaks fake Russian gibberish)
Schaal: So you just mumble?
Sikora: Yeah, exactly. That was all gibberish. I’m filming the new Tom Cruise movie right now.
Schaal: What?! Really?!
Schaal: This guy works! I’m so surprised, you play it so cool, like you don’t have a job, and then you’re in blockbuster movies.
Sikora: And then I’m also a barista in the Starbucks around the corner. No, i got to quit that job.
Schaal: Because of your Tom Cruise gig!
Sikora: I haven’t been a barista for a while.
Schaal: I would like to say for the record that Joe does a lot of drama, but he should do more comedy.
(They’re told they have to move to the next table)
NNAN: Thanks for your time!
Come back later for the interview with Patton Oswalt and producers John Lee and Alyson Levy.