After parts in high profile comedies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Taladega Nights and Role Models, Jane Lynch has gained perhaps her highest level of success on the smash hit Glee. We sit down with Jane to talk about the show, her book and everything in between.
SHAKEFIRE: Curious to know, since you grew up watching the Carol Burnett Show, in what ways have you seen how Sue in Glee are influencing young women today like she influenced you?
JANE LYNCH: Oh, well that’s an interesting question. I hope that girls see what’s possible for them. That they don’t have to play a stereotype, and what is Sue is not a stereotype. But basically, maybe we all are. I guess we all start that way and we hope to humanize them. But, I also see that you don’t have to be anything anybody tells you that you have to be. You can find these really crazy characters out there and that there’s more possible for you than maybe you’re led to believe.
SF: Thanks for your time today. You know, the Super Bowl such an iconic masculine thing and then Glee gets kind of thrown in there with its very gay-centric limits, what do you think of this world we live in when these two things can actually come together and work?
JL: Well that’s funny, I never looked it that way, but you’re absolutely right. It all remains to be seen, but I think it’s wonderful that the Super Bowl, football is very masculine and basically, to me, anyway, a metaphor for war. You’ve got your air game and your ground game. And then you’ve got these “light in your loafers” guys, and I’m talking about even the straight guys, singing and dancing. I think it’s a terrific world we live in and I love seeing these two things come together.
SF: There was a press release about your book yesterday and so I’m curious how that came about. And maybe you could give us one juicy little tidbit that we didn’t already hear about from it?
JL: Well basically, how it came together is I’ve been giving speeches at gay banquets – and not even just gay – but people wanting to know more about it. I started writing things down and I was telling a friend about it, she’s a writer, and she said, “There’s a book in there.” So I kind of sat down and looked at it, and I thought, you know what, there is a book in there.
I think a little tidbit I can give you is I grew up basically with everything handed to me. Not my career. I worked for that, but I had a really good family, I was brought up with a lot of love, but still I chose time after time after time to suffer over so much. And that mental component of suffering is the thing I think, if I can look back on my life, is a choice. And to this day I still would choose maybe the angst over something when I really don’t have to. And how to kind of …your life slow. I know it sounds new-agy and granoli, but it’s truly what I’ve come up with that you really need to trust that you’re on your own path and as long as you stay true to it and you show up; showing up is 90% of it. So basically that’s kind of what I’m saying.
SF: What is your favorite evil scheme that Sue has ever pulled?
JL: Let’s see, oh, I think when she forced Schuster to get the monkey …and she turned a sneezing …right into his face. Oh no, she didn’t do that. She did that to Figgins to get him sick. I didn’t have anything to do with getting, but getting Figgins sick so I could become the principal.
SF: Could you just talk about what else we’ll see coming up for Sue and for Glee in the second half of the season?
JL: Let’s see, we’ve done a couple more after the Super Bowl episode. Sue has a devastating summer, suffers a devastating loss with her …after the Super Bowl episode and she becomes very, very depressed and she becomes kind of dangerously depressed, where she’s more violent than usual. They get her to join the Glee Club to lift her spirits and they find that raising her voice in song kind of lifts her and she gets out of her depression. So I’m actually in the Glee Club for a while.
SF: Can you just talk from your perspective what Glee has done for your career and what this has been like for you? As someone we’ve seen in so many things over the years, to have this role at this time?
JL: Well, I found out like in the middle of the first season that we have employment for three seasons, so that has never happened to me before, so that is different and that is wonderful to know that I will be employed, barring a big catastrophe, for the foreseeable future. And I haven’t had that in my life and it’s a huge psychological relief.
Then I’ll probably go back to job hunting, like I always do. I think I’m starting to become more popular and the character has become iconic and they say all wonderful things and I’m very well aware of the fact that I’m ….
SF: Glee is all about being in high school and a bunch of teenagers who are really insecure and still finding out who they are and what they want to be. So my question for you is, what’s the best piece of advice that you could offer your 17-year-old self?
JL: Oh, wasn’t that sweet? I actually took that premise and wrote a little something just the other day. I would tell myself, if I could go back to myself, to not suffer. To don’t sweat it. Don’t try to control things and just let your life happen. Show up, do your best everywhere you go, but there’s no reason to beat up on yourself. That’s what I would say.
SF: I think you should tell that probably to Rachel.
JL: Yeah. Poor thing.
SF: I was wondering if you could share your favorite Sue one-liners. One of them or a couple of them.
JL: I love the monologue where I talk about the 1968 convention where Mayor Dailey punched his own wife in the face. That was fun. I like the one where I say, “Loving musical theater doesn’t make you gay, it just makes you awful.”
SF: Sometimes it seems like Sue really is trying to destroy the Glee Club, where other times it seems like she’s more trying to improve it through tough love. Are these two natures of Sue going to come to a head at some point or is there a way you would like to push the character to choose one or the other?
JL: No, I don’t know if that will ever happen. The thing I keep coming back to Sue that motivates all these different ways she goes after them is that she just wants an enemy. She’s looking for the next fight. And sometimes it’s that fight to get these people to stand up for themselves instead of being so weak and wussy. And other times it’s, yes, to destroy them because they threaten her spotlight in the Cheerios that she works so hard to make a world-class cheerleading squad and she doesn’t want anything in their light. But I think she’s always looking for a formidable enemy.
I think she also has a fondness for Will and for who he is and how he’s genuinely just a good person. In moments she hates him for it and other moments she has great admiration for him.