Amy York Rubin on playing a “straight butch” on “Looking”

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Amy York Rubin created and starred in her own web series Little Horribles and people paid attention. With Lena Dunham‘s burgeoning popularity, Amy’s 2013 darkly comedic series was called “the lesbian version of Girls.” And while it didn’t hurt that she had some famous funny faces popping up throughout the 12 episodes (including Issa Rae, Ilana Glazer and Erin Foley), it was Amy’s triple threat status (writer/actor/director) that solidified her future in Hollywood.

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On the current season of HBO’s Looking, Amy plays Meredith, a brash co-worker of Patrick’s (Jonathan Groff) who everyone assumed was a lesbian until she mentions her husband while celebrating her birthday in the office. 

“I think I actually auditioned with the scene that was in that episode,” Amy said. “There was no on-the-nose description with all these details about her. I think they let whoever had the role bring it.”

Amy likened her character to Doris (played by Lauren Weedman), who is the straight best friend to Dom (Murray Bartlett) and his other gay male pals around the Bay Area show’s other stars.

“In a way I feel like [Doris] kind of cuts through this kind of, I don’t know, back and forth that the guys have,” Amy said. “That’s kind of how they described [my] character. She’s going to say what she wants to say, and she’s big and loud. I don’t remember the description but I remember talking to people on set about the idea of straight butch. Because I was asking about her, and we were talking about how straight butches are a thing in San Francisco, maybe.”

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Amy said it’s really an interesting idea that made her think about women who live on the East Coast and might “look like a lesbian” but are actually straight.

“Like in New England. These women in New England who live in a woodsy area and are tough and outside a lot. …Why is being tough and loud and aggressive—like why do we even think that’s a lesbian quality or means someone’s gay? It doesn’t,” she said.

A fan of Looking, Amy said she was thrilled to be asked to audition for the role.

“When the part came up—the opportunity—I was like ‘Of course!’ I hadn’t really been auditioning, like going to auditions and stuff. Mostly I write and direct and then I’m in stuff for friends or things that come through different avenues, but it’s niche, you know? I’m not the every woman. I think there’s a part of me, a very specific thing,” she said.

Amy said she also had the chance to meet with some of HBO executives before she was cast, and finds the network a very open and creative place to work.

“Everybody from HBO is just so—they’re very thoughtful and interested in anything that’s like a unique point of view. They’re just this ideal company. They’re amazing. So I was friendly with them, then this role came up, and I auditioned like anybody else,” Amy said. “I love the show, I get the show. I feel like I like that they have these broader comedic moments in a very grounded world. I feel like they do such a good job setting up grounded characters that are complex.”

Amy’s character Meredith appeared in this past week’s episode at an office party, and we’ll see her again in the upcoming eighth episode.

“She’s in the workplace so in the office, you’ll see her in other scenes,” Amy said. “I’m a work colleague.”

One thing that was nice about coming on set was Amy could concentrate simply on acting.

“I feel like when I’m on set I’m usually directing, and it’s like oh my god, I’m always stressed out about five hundred things,” she said. “It’s so fun to just be in the moment. All I have to do is be this person. It’s such a different experience. I feel like I’ve been spoiled.”

When she’s not shooting Looking, she is back to being behind the camera. This past year she directed a web series for Lorne MichaelsAbove Average comedy video site, which she can’t say too much about.

“I don’t know when it will be out,” Amy said. “Kate McKinnon‘s in it, Jay Pharoh, Aidy Bryant—SNL people. It’s like a really fun sort of parody series.” 

She also was behind the camera for Funny or Die’s The Program, starring Maria Bamford and has many more exciting projects coming up (including the future of Little Horribles), though nothing she can talk about just yet. For now, keep up with Amy on Twitter and tune into Looking, Sunday nights on HBO.

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