A couple of years ago, if you'd mentioned the name “Jane Lynch” to someone, you might have gotten a blank look. But after her performances as the lesbian dog owner (with Jennifer Coolidge) in Best in Show and smarmy attorney Joyce Wischnia on The L Word, you're now more likely get an “I love her!” Lynch's comedic performances (also catch her in For Your Consideration and A Mighty Wind) are as dry, subtle and buzzworthy as a great martini.
I recently chatted with Lynch about being sexually inappropriate, coming out in Hollywood, and why Joyce Wischnia doesn't have a girlfriend.
AfterEllen.com: How was shooting Spring Breakdown, your upcoming film with Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler and Parker Posey?
Jane Lynch: It was a really good time doing it, and we were on the beach a lot. They're just a great trio. They're really funny girls.
AE: What's it about?
JL: It's about a group of girls who were kind of the nerds in college, and they always said, “Oh, our time will come when we're older.” And of course it didn't, so they decide to go back and claim spring break for themselves. I play Parker Posey's boss.
AE: Were you a nerd when you were in school?
JL: No, no, no. I kind of infiltrated pretty easily. I was kind of in with the popular kids and in with the nerd kids because I liked theater, and I liked singing in the choir, and I also just liked to party. So, I kind of easily slipped in and out.
AE: You've guest-starred on so many different TV shows; it's kind of like that now.
JL: It is, isn't it? It's very much like that, except it's all under the heading of “acting,” but I'm kind of all over the place.
AE: Not many actors can say they were on both The West Wing and Family Guy.
JL: Oh. Right. [ Laughs. ] I bet they can't.
AE: Has being gay ever come into play when you're going up for a part?
JL: No, I really doubt it. I think times have changed, and I think we have Ellen [DeGeneres] to thank for that, for coming out the way she did 10 years ago.
AE: What advice would you give to young gay actors?
JL: Be an actor first, and gay second, third, fourth, fifth. … One of the things I love about T.R. Night, from Grey's Anatomy, [is when] he said, “I hope you won't find my sexuality the most interesting thing about me.” I would echo that. [As an actor] your work is to experience all kinds of people, all kinds of life, present all kinds of stories, so you have to be careful about pigeonholing yourself. Don't worry about society pigeonholing you or Hollywood pigeonholing you. Just don't pigeonhole yourself. Stay open.
AE: With the exception of Best in Show where you and Jennifer Coolidge played a dog-loving lesbian couple, your characters rarely get to have a love life.
JL: I know. I'm always the one who's really inappropriately sexual.
AE: Not that I know anything about that …
JL: [ Laughs.] I've played a lot of people that just look for love in all the wrong places and are completely oblivious. They're just completely oblivious that their charm is not working.
AE: That's what I dig about Joyce Wischnia on The L Word. I don't know if it's so much the writing as it is the way you play her so perfectly. Joyce is such a narcissist.
JL: Very good; it is narcissism. She's the poster child for narcissism.
AE: What's with the giant uterus on the wall in Joyce's office?
JL: [Laughs.] She wraps herself in the trappings of her identity, you know, and having a huge uterus on the wall goes along with her identification of herself as the great savior of women.
AE: Joyce needs a girlfriend.
JL: Well, watch the whole season. You'll see when you get to the end. Something lovely happens for Joyce.
AE: Really? What happens? I won't tell anyone, I promise.
JL: I don't want to give it away. It's probably best just to wait, but it happens at the very end. It's kind of the beginning of something that could grow.
AE: How about a hint?
JL: Joyce doesn't kiss and tell.