AE: What's up next for you?
JL: I have those episodes of The L Word coming out, I have an episode of Veronica Mars, and I’m playing a medical examiner on a few episodes of the upcoming show Blind Justice, that premieres around mid-season.
AE: So have you been on every television show ever?
JL: (laughing) Yeah, I’ve been on a lot of them. I’ve hit all genres, I think.
AE: There are actors who play extras on a lot of shows, like Girlfriend #1 or the Sick Patient, but you actually have fairly prominent roles on these shows —
JL: Yeah, and I thinkit’s getting to the point where if I don’t get my own show, I might not be able to continue this.
AE: Because you’re too familiar?
JL: (Laughing) Exactly.
AE: Do you prefer movies over TV?
JL: Not really. I like them both, and I like theater. They’re all different, and they require different kinds of skills, andit’s always fun to exercise those muscles.
AE: So if you had to do just one —
JL: Oh, I’d be fine doing just one, too. I’ve never really planned my career. I don’t really have a strategy, I’ve kind of just gone with the flow, andit’s been great. I’ve played a great variety of parts — all sorts of people in all sorts of shows. I couldn’t have designed it better.
AE: How did you like your role on the first season of Arrested Development?
JL: I loved it! Jeffrey [Tambor] is so great, and I had such a great time. I am so proud of that, and grateful that I got it. It was a great role, and a joy to play every day. Both directors were fantastic, and I would love to do that show again.
AE: You tend to do a lot of comedy. Do you prefer that over drama?
JL: I do. But I usually get funny stuff, because of my roles in the Chrisopher Guest movies [A Mighty Wind and Best in Show]. But I think if you can do comedy, you can do anything, because you can pick up the ironies in life better. It takes a little more investigation into your own heart with comedy; I think you can get away with a lot more in drama. I think you’ll find that a good actor usually does comedy really well. That's why I enjoy I playing character roles.
AE: Are you okay with always playing supporting roles? You don’t want to be the next Julia Roberts?
JL: (Laughing) I think my day has passed. No, actually, I prefer doing the supporting roles, because then I can show up in any guise.
AE: What’s made you as successful as you are at working steadily?
JL: I don’t know that this makes me special, but I think when my work really became profound, when I began to think of myself as an artist, was when I began to really get to know myself better — through therapy, through asking my friends "Why do I keep doing this?" Living an aware life as best I can. I then started to translate that into my work, where I was able to use facets of my self and facets I see in other people. Anything that’s in another person, also is in me. We all have everything.
I can choose as Jane Lynch to express it or not express it, but I can always use it for a character. Very rarely have I come across a character — and I’ve played some doozies — where I say "I don’t know where this person lives." Usually that’s when the writer doesn’t know, either.
I just turned down this role, actually, in a made-for-television movie because the writing wasn’t clear enough, and they really didn’t tap into something that lives in a human being. She was a wacky, drugged-out person, but there was nothing credible about it. As much as I tried — because it was an offer, not something I had to audition for — I looked at it and said "Okay, what do I use here?" and there was nothing I could hook into. In that case, you just have to say no. Maybe someone else will find something, but I think it was just bad writing.
AE: Which character have you played that you most resembled?
JL: Hmmm —nothing’s really coming to mind. But I did recently play this therapist on Two and a Half Men who jumps to conclusions too quickly. She listens, but she doesn’t hear, and sometimes I do that.
AE: If you could go back twenty years ago to when you were just getting started, what would you tell yourself?
JL: I would say stop worrying, and keep working on yourself. And when people ask me "How do I become an actor? How do I succeed?" I just say "there’s no secret, just keep knowing yourself." You can apply that to any undertaking in life: the first thing you have to do is know yourself. Because without it you don’t have your material, you’re just making sh-t up.