For a second, it seemed Megan Mullally was destined to be remembered solely as Karen, the buxom babe with a shrill voice and an acidic tongue, on Will and Grace. But then she started popping up in the best alternative comedies of the past few years and she cemented herself as one of the funniest actresses today. Her appearances on Parks and Recreation as Ron Swanson's (played by her real life husband Nick Offerman) second ex-wife -- and his second Tammy -- are classic episodes and when she replaced Jane Lynch on the cult hit Party Down she found herself in another memorable role. After Party Down's too soon cancellation (RIP), she was roped into Childrens Hospital which features a lot of the same talent. On the show, she plays Chief who, in her own words, is "most disgusting woman ever, but everyone wants to fuck her." We talked about filming the show, how it compares to her earlier work, and how she can possibly make Chief even uglier next season.
How do you prepare for an episode of Childrens Hospital when everything is so absurd and different episode to episode?
Yeah, well you can’t really prepare. The thing that’s good about it is, you can literally do anything and it will fine. Nothing is too big, nothing is too weird, you can just sort of let it all hang out. It’s fun in that regard because there aren’t any, like this episode a few weeks away is super innovative and conceptually really ground breaking the way its shot considering its a 15 minutes show on Adult Swim. But next season Rob (Corrdry) said he said he doesn’t want any continuity, there’s very little now, but next year he doesn’t want any. He doesn’t want any relationship between two characters to last for more than one episode because there’s no rhyme or reason. There’s just jokes.
What’s the biggest challenge in filming Childrens Hospital?
Just not laughing (laughs). It’s really funny and the situations are so absurd so its hard not to laugh sometimes. And the other thing is we film in the most disgusting dirty, gross, abandoned hospital that you could ever imagine. It’s actually condemned and may be being demolished as we speak. It’s super dirty and I’m sure we’ve all only got three years to live but it was worth it.
The set seems really fun, how do you balance the serious side of getting the job done with having fun with your costars?
It’s a fun run on the show because its so absurdest, the tone. Half the cast comes from UCB, that kind of world, while the other half comes from more regular acting. It’s me, Lake Bell, and Malin (Akerman), I guess the girls come from straight acting background and the guys come from sketch. It’s just have to ride that line of parody but still bring your own POV.
Will & Grace is the classic example of a three camera, live studio audience show while Childrens Hospital is the newer single camera show, how does that difference effect the comedy, the timing, on set sensibilities?
Well its so different because Will & Grace was filmed in front of a live audience and Childrens Hospital is shot like a film and I think the other real major difference is Will & Grace is character and story driven while Childrens Hospital is joke, joke, joke, joke. I always think about my character and what she looked like and what she would wear and all that but its not about that at all. It’s just about jokes. It kind of takes the earnestness out of being a serious actor which you might want to indulge in.
Was that a conscious decision on your part to go from Karen on Will and Grace, a beautiful woman, to Chief on Childrens Hospital, a cripple?
Yeah, well she was originally written to be the most disgusting woman ever but everyone wants to fuck her. So I try to make her worse and worse every season, which is hard. The first season, I walked on crutches that clasped around your arm so I got gigantic bruises on my white pasty arms. So I switched to the walker which I think you get the same bang for your buck out of that. Then I added the hunch back. I don’t wear any make up. I bought a man’s wig on Hollywood Boulevard and then I have the giant glasses. And 80’s dresses with the giant shoulder pads that make me look like I’m living in one of those bigamist colonies in Utah. So I guess she’s irresistible to all who behold her.
So how are you going to make her uglier next season?
You know, I’m not sure. I’m running out of ideas. I got really mad because they’re doing another show on Adult Swim and this actress wears an eye patch and smokes a pipe and I was like well what am I going to do?? Cause I thought an eye patch and pipe was a funny idea. I do have a traveling mole this season but I don’t know, I’m going to have to put my thinking cap on to up the ante.
You’ve appeared on pretty much all the best comedies of all the past few years, are there any that you haven’t yet that you would like to appear on?
Louie, I love that show.
On Parks and Recreation, who would you like to see as Ron’s first wife, Tammy 1?
Oprah, that was Nick and I’s push. That suggestion came from a guy in Oklahoma City where I grew up who I’ve known since first grade and pitch that and Nick and I fell all over it and told everybody about it.
Has there been any development on getting her?
No, I don’t think they’re going with Oprah. I don’t know who they’re going with. They seem very tight lipped about it, they may not know (laughs). But I don’t think unfortunately that its going to be Oprah, I was so hoping to become best friends with her.
Anything else in the works?
Well, we’re going to do another season of that in the winter. And there’s this other show I can’t say which one because the deal isn’t done. I’m developing shows to produce and I have this one that’s driving me crazy but its going surprisingly well so I feel lucky in that regard. Nick and I are in Austin right now doing a little indie, I just have a cameo but Nick has a bigger part with this indie filmmaker we’ve worked with in the past. I just did the party down marathon here last week. Everyone came and it was a blast. Spent the whole weekend eating and drinking and it was really fun.