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Up All Night Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Maya Rudolph

This is an interview with Maya Rudolph and Emily Spivey on September 20, 2011 about the show Up All Night.

Question:
Maya, can you talk about Ava and how she represents people you may have met in the entertainment industry?

Maya Rudolph:
I've never met anyone like Ava. Ava is a Spivy-Rudolph creation, for sure. And I say it that way because Emily and I have been creating characters together for a really long time, for like 15 years. So it's just very much something that is funny to our tiny universe that we find funny. We don't know if anybody else says, but I tried to give her a lot of the presence that a daytime talk show would have. Somebody who's commanding. And give her some of the flavor of what people are doing right now on all the daytime talk shows. I haven't met anyone like Ava. And if I had I would definitely remember. She's an amalgam. She's probably an amalgam of some people we've met but also of our universe of characters.

Emily Spivey:
I think so, yes, for sure.

Question:
Maya, after tackling the challenges of live TV with SNL, what type of challenges does a regular series character present to you?

Maya Rudolph:
It actually really is more challenging to give a character a real life and longevity. And when you're doing sketch comedy, you may only do a character once. I think we both found that when a sketch and a character became recurring on SNL.

It became more and more difficult. It's wonderful because you know the character's world but it also becomes more and more difficult to continue to find new and fresh things for the character to do. It's sort a bit of both, actually. It's sort of wonderful and difficult at the same time. But it's actually a kind of a luxury to have a character that you can start from scratch on, and then really create their world, because there's, I mean, as you see in a lot of shows, I mean once they really build momentum in their second and third seasons you see these characters' entire worlds come to life. You know their family members, their significant others, the their households, their pets, whatever it is, the way that they look at the world that you don't have time for in a half an hour. You want to say something about that, Emily?

Emily Spivey:
You are writing a character's life and so it is more difficult to keep it varied and funny and to discover more and more about the character as you go. But it's fun and they're both challenging but just in different ways.

Question:
Emily, can you tell us a little about did all of this sort of come from your life or stories you've heard?

Emily Spivey:
Yes, the home stuff especially is at least initially was definitely straight out of my baby journal. After my son was born and facing having to go back to work at SNL with a newborn, and just the challenges and the funny situations that came from that.

Question:
Do you think, as the show progresses, is it going to continue to focus a lot on sort of the adjusting to being a parent? Or is it going to branch off into more situations?

Emily Spivey:
I think we're going to try to stick to adjusting. What it's like to be a new parent. As the baby grows there's new sets of problems. And yes, I mean they have a kid and that's going to be our focus I think.

Question:
Maya, what you've witnessed on the show rings true to you from what you've seen raising kids and stuff or you are to the point in the opposite?

Maya Rudolph:
Yes I definitely recognize what Christine and more characters are going through, so much so that it's kind of embarrassing. Although I will say it's like the third time parent. It's like getting to, like a higher level of Angry Birds. I'm a little bit of a pro the stuff that I used to fear and used to worry about is so different, like the first time I brought the baby home from the hospital. You know, I think I was in the backseat, like putting my finger under her nose, making sure she was breathing and asking my husband to drive, like three miles per hour.

And by the third child, we didn't even have a car seat anymore. It was harder to get one. And then when he got one, like we didn't' even install it properly because we were just like running out of the hospital because. we just wanted to get home. And I ended up just switching seats with him and I ended up driving home from the hospital.

It's just so funny how you adapt to your to children. And it's you and your wife and the things that I was grateful to have the experience again because I could actually enjoy it. Because I was so nervous the first time. But I do see a lot of that. And also I'm also relating still to all those things, because being a later in life parent and trying to have a working life and a family life. Yes.

Emily Spivey:
Yes, Maya's an amazing mom. It's funny that she plays a character that chose not to have children because Maya's a great mom.

Question:
I'm curious how you guys think it's gone so far in terms of kind of finding your footing with that workplace and if you've figured things out from the pilot receives to now?

Emily Spivey:
With Maya's help, Maya's worked really hard on the character of Ava and I think we have found our footing and it's really fun to write for that workplace. And it's been really fun to watch it come alive, you know. So I have to give a major what-what to Maya on that one.

Maya Rudolph:
I agree. When I first heard about it I felt this sigh of relief in that I know enough about that world not just as someone that worked in television but somebody working and tell they're in production and also someone who bashes talk shows. It's a familiar playing ground. And I was excited, I think, to play something that I think we all know really well and we knew that here were so many possibilities and there would be so many variables that it would just be a lot of fun to play around in.

So its actually been really great and really exciting and I feel no shortage of material and I feel like it can really go anywhere. It's not just confined to oh, the studio and we've got to get a new guest. It could really be anything. Yes and Ava really has a life beyond the show it's been really fun to create that.

Question:
Where do you think the line is in terms of making her too big versus someone that Christina's character can still be friends with and tolerate on day-to-day basis?

Emily Spivey:
It's a fine line. The characters have known each other for a long time and she is a big personality but she has a lot of heart and they have a lot of love for each other. So it hasn't been that hard to balance. And I think Maya has worked really hard to make her come from a real place, you know? So, yes, we're enjoying it.

Question:
Maya, what is it like working with Christina and Will and then Emily, did you have particular people in mind when you were writing, creating the show?

Maya Rudolph:
I love working with them. They're seasoned vets. They're amazing. I'm actually really in awe of not only what they individually do, but what they're doing together on the shows. I think they've created a great couple that you instantly love and you want to see them continue to be in love. And you want to go through the journey with.

And they're both just really funny and in the straightest delivery possible with stuff, and I'm kind of amazed by what both of them are doing on the show and what's nice about it is that is feels so relatable, but they're actually so deft about how skilled they are and how funny they make just a little simple and mundane things in life. And I think it's just incredible. I just feel lucky because I get to laugh all the time at work.

Emily Spivey:
Yes and I've been so blessed throughout my career to get to work with the best people on earth, and write for literally the best actors on earth. And so it just continues with it. Like I can't believe the cast that I have for this show. It's amazing. And Maya you're the same way. It's like when I watch the dailies and everything I'm just blown away by how good these three actors are. And I'm super excited to get to write for them.

Question:
Maya, tell us bit about the balancing act in your career between working on films and doing television?

Maya Rudolph:
I've had really different experiences in all of them because I think you know, for me the most familiar place is SNL and it's live variety show. And that really isn't comparable to anything else. The first film I did after I left SNL was Away We Go. And I remember I'd made films before but think this having been on the show for so long and having it be such a part of my life, I remember feeling like, wow, this is really slow, which it's so quiet.

You know, you're used to getting that laugh or you used to have any areas to playing to an audience. And also the exhilaration of performing live, which for me is something that I hope to always keep in my life because I mean Emily and I both started our performing at the Graumann's Theater here in LA and it's something that feels like home for me and I feel like I need a fix every once in a while.

Emily Spivey:
You're such a creature that was almost like you were put on this earth to be on SNL because you're so good at it. You know, like you have all the skill sets, it's crazy.

Maya Rudolph:
It's a fun drug. Like it's action that should be a legal drug it's that fantastic. Because I'm totally addicted to it more now. That's why you always called me the, like, we need an Obama to watch Iraq on the show. So yes, I mean now that's been really different but one of the main reasons why I knew that I had to do this show was that I'm working with people that I not only have worked with for a long time, but share the same skill sets, which is actually a very rare one.

And I working on that show for me was kind of like the outfits kind of like being the comedy army a little bit. And we were all in it together and it's the bond that Emily I will always have and you know we have an even deeper bond being working together in previous to that. So it's nice to know that you're working with people that sort of know that world too but to be honest I think that I learned something from each experience that I bring to the next one, you know. Because I think that a lot of acting in front of the camera is something that you kind of learn on the job. It's not really something that you're taught and you have to sort of take care of yourself and figure it out for yourself. So each time I work I feel like I bring something with me. You know, I'm the same person and I don't see any experience is different. I just try to like to learn front the last one.

Question:
You both have your Saturday Night Live backgrounds and I was wondering if we're going to see any other SNL alums stopping by for guests spots?

Maya Rudolph:
We probably are.

Question:
Do you think there will positive implications for women in entertainment and women in comedy?

Maya Rudolph:
I would hope that they're already in place. But I'm having people say that out loud certainly doesn't hurt. It's just kind of surmising to me because if I knew people felt that way I think I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago I've been doing it blindly thinking that everyone was on board my entire career. So I don't think positive responses hurt at all but I think that you have to take them with a grain of salt when I hear stuff like that beaus I feel like well, I'm just going to keep my heed down and keep doing what I'm doing. because shouldn't matter because that's not what I'm doing it for. But if it allows people like me and my friends more work and more jobs it's great. But I'm not going to lie. It's surprising to hear the people are really that behind the times.

Emily Spivey:
Right, like perplexed that girls are funny because girls are really funny.

Maya Rudolph:
The champions of comedy go to causes then yes.

Question:
Maya, when you about crating this new character do you two get together in a room and kind of like workshop it or do you start off with ideas and kind of add them on like clothes? How does that work?

Maya Rudolph:
We actually got together in a restaurant to talk ablaut her because I think food is an integral part to creating a character. And Emily presented to me the new idea of where Ava was going and we did kind of throw around some of her backstory. And I think once I was familiar with her from the pilot she definitely from the beginning said here's this character that I'm creating and I want your input and we know each others; voices really well and sometimes there the same until I think it was important for Emily to bring in. She knows the way I write, too so we said it was really important for her to hear me say I want her to have this kind of voice or that or whatever it is so that I think she knows that once I'm familiarly with the character and once know her voice then I can actually really bring her to life.

Emily Spivey:
Yes it blossoms from there.

Maya Rudolph:
Yes and we're still doing that I think. I think ere still figuring out who she is and it's been enjoyable because I think that she's got some really fun layers to play.

Emily Spivey:
Yes, and I just really wanted to make sure that she was, you know she was obviously she's not the same as Christina but that she's fit into her life in a nice way and that she actually has some vulnerabilities of her own. I think what people hear about the show their thinking is going to be the polar opposite. And I don't think you can have a friendship like that. So I think it's important to have since that's the cover that you're going be surprised by.

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