Interview with Jenn Lyon of "Saint George" on FX - Primetime Article From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Jenn Lyon with George Lopez

Interview with Jenn Lyon of "Saint George" on FX 4/18/14

I really enjoyed interviewing Jenn. She was so funny!

Here is the our interview. I hope you enjoy it!

If the audio is not streaming well, please right-click on this link and save it to your computer. It should work better that way!


Here's the transcription by Gisele:

1. How did you get the part on "Saint George"? What was the process?

I actually put myself on tape for it on my iPad and sent in a tape, and I was just reading by myself for it, 'cause it was the closing night of a play. I didn't have anybody to read with me, so I read by myself, and I sent that tape in, and they somehow liked it, and then George flew to New York to meet me. We had coffee, and we really hit it off, and he drove me to my audition for a macaroni and cheese commercial, and we laughed a lot. And then I flew out to LA to test for it, and then I got it. So, it was a real rags to riches story.

Were you familiar with George's work?

I was a big fan of his stand-up, yeah. I thought he was a fantastic comedian and writer. I had watched his sitcom maybe once or twice, so I wasn't as familiar with him as an actor, although I had seen "Henry Poole Is Here" and also Adriana Barraza, who was the original mom in Saint George, was in that as well. That was a great movie. She was great in that. But I was a fan of his stand-up, yeah.

2. What was it like being on the show as sort of the token white person?

It feels great! Oh, it feels good to represent the Caucasians. The pale people have been held asunder in this sitcom, and to be able to let the beige ??? fly I think is important for us.

3. Is it very serious on the set or is it pretty funny and relaxed?

It's so funny and relaxed. I mean, there's a lot of improv. George is so fast on his feet, and he encourages other people to make the lines better, funnier, and more natural if you can. I mean, if you can't, don't -- like stick to what's written, but if you have a better idea and it's funnier, throw your hat into the ring. The writing is great to begin with. We have a great staff of writers and executive producers, and they're on set as well, so even in rehearsal, they're always working to make it sharper, or throw in a better ad lib, so it's a really wonderful collaborative process. And it's hard to keep a straight face. Everybody is so funny, you know? With the exception of Harper, the little boy. He's a real tyrant. He runs the set with an iron fist.

4. Is it different doing a comedy or drama?

Yeah, yeah, I'd say it's different. You want both of them to be grounded in reality. Comedy is the best when it comes from a place of truth. That's when you're gonna get your best laughs, but certainly, yeah, they're different beasts. I prep for them differently, I'd say.

5. If you had your preference, which one would you probably do more of?

Gosh, I don't know. It depends on when you get me. I don't know. On a Tuesday, I might say drama. On a Wednesday, I might say comedy. I mean, I really love falling downstairs and stuff, so I've got a special place in my heart for comedy, but I also love Shakespeare, so I love drama as well.

6. Have you heard yet whether it will get more episodes or not?

We haven't heard. We're hanging on. I think we'll know after the ten episodes air, and we really want people to tune in and watch it. We haven't heard, so we'll just keep our fingers crossed.

7. I like your character on "Justified" and was disappointed when she turned out to be dishonest and not the right girl for Raylan.

Oh, that's sweet of you to say. I wouldn't say she was bad. She was just complicated. She just, you know -- all those women on "Justified" -- it's tough, you know. Just like Jessica Rabbitt, she wasn't dirty, she was just drawn that way. But, you know, Raylan's a lone wolf. I don't know if any woman is right for Raylan.

8. How was it working on that show?

Oh, so dreamy. I just felt so lucky. It was the second thing I ever did on TV, and to have it develop into a recurring character and get to work with those amazing writers, and Timothy, it was just -- I was scared out of my mind, trying to keep my pants on, 'cause I didn't really know what I was doing. To have that kind of writing to support you and that kind of character, I just felt so lucky. And to have that kind of company to keep. To be one of your first times at bat, I was just really flabbergasted.

9. You've been on TV a lot the past few years. Are you finding that people are recognizing you more when you go out?

I don't think so. I think I look different in real life than I do on TV. You know, on TV, they do your hair and your make-up. In real life, I don't have a spray tan and the lashes and nice hair. In real life, I look a little dirtier and gross. I don't think I would get recognized. Maybe I'll start to brush my hair a little more and that would maybe happen.

10. Do you have other shows, movies or plays coming up?

I have some stuff in the works happening. I just produced and shot my first short film called "The Flower Shop" which is in the process of being edited. That will be submitted to festivals and stuff this coming year. I'm in that as well as having produced it. There's some stuff in the works that I can't talk about it, 'cause I don't know if it's happening, but as soon as I know, I'll tell ya.

11. How did the short film come about?

I had produced before sketch comedy and stuff like that with my comedy group, and I had the opportunity to work with this playwright and characterizer that I really like a lot named Max Baker. He wrote this script, and my boyfriend is an Emmy-nominated editor, and he works for the New York Times, and we know a lot of people in the film world, so we got together this group of awesome artists and shot this great little thing.

12. Do you have plans to write or direct as well as act?

Yes, absolutely. I think it's important to make your own work instead of just waiting on people to hire you. It certainly gives you more control in the game, instead of letting other people be the gatekeepers of your destiny, I suppose.

13. Do you have any fun stories you can share about working on Saint George?

Oh, my gosh! They're all fun stories. I mean, we were singing every day. Hanging out with Magente every day? What's not fun about that? Just like every day is fantastic. It's just so fun! We crack up at the craft service table. We just have a great time every day.

14. Does anybody play jokes on each other?

I mean, we shot them so fast. There wasn't like enough time to really play great jokes on each other. I mean, George bought me some new hair, 'cause he made a lot of fun of me for wearing clip-in hair, 'cause you know, Mackenzie, is like a Beverly Hills Housewife. She has a lot of hair, and he saw my hair laying on a mannequin head in the hair and make-up trailer, and was making fun of me about it, and then he bought me some way-better hair, 'cause I just had like beauty-store hair that I bought myself, so he bought me some good hair. So, you know, stuff like that. He's so generous. It starts like a practical joke, but then it turns out he got me some actually really good hair, which I wear all the time. Joke's on him -- he got me some really good hair.

15. How long did it take you to actually shoot the 10 episodes?

We shot the first 10 in, I want to say, like 2 months. We shot one episode in two days. So, it's really fast. Like a normal TV show, a comedy, you would shoot an episode in a week. You have days of rehearsal. It's in front of a live studio audience. You have time to rehearse it. With this, you just hit the ground running. You shoot on the rehearsal. It's really, really fast, so we didn't have the leisure to practical joke each other that much. And then we had to do reshoots, because we got a new Alma in there, so when Olga came in to shoot, we did re-shoots in 2-1/2 - 3 weeks. It was really fast. Time is money. Originally, the mother was Adriana Barraza, who is Oscar-nominated for Babel, the movie with Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchett. She's fantastic, but there was a real language barrier. It was a mutual decision. We had her for like two days, and her English just wasn't good enough to work that fast. So, then we had Renee Victor for the original 10 episodes, and she just didn't work out, so then they brought in Olga Merediz from "In the Heights" and then we re-shot the 10 episodes and that's what you see on TV, is Olga. And she's so fantastic and is true to the vision of the mother that George wanted. Renee was great, but I think she just wasn't the Alma that the script had envisioned. It just wasn't clicking quite right, and so they went back and re-shot it with Olga. It happens often. Pilots get recast a lot. We just happened to have two episodes of a pilot.

16. Is there any possibility you'll be going back to "Suburgatory" at some point?

Man, I hope so. I hope so. Wouldn't that be great? That was a real dream. That was so fun. I get to play with those kinds of comedians, like Julia Duffy has been a comedic idol of mine most of my life, and Cheryl Hines is so funny. Emily Kapnek, the creator and producer, has made one of the funniest shows on TV. And to keep that company, too, is amazing. The executive producers on "Saint George," Matt Williams and David McFadzean, they did "Roseanne" and "Home Improvement." These guys are legends. So to get to work with the producers and executive producers I've gotten to work with is just -- I couldn't be luckier.

17. What TV shows do you watch for fun?

I'm a nerd bird, so I love -- right now I can't stop watching "Cosmos" on Fox. Oh, my gosh! What, I mean, 'cause I loved the old one with Carl Sagan. I've got a big crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson, so this new version I'm just have it on my DVR, and I just love it. I also love on reality TV "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding." I love just terrible stuff like that. In terms of actual programming, I love "Parks and Recreation" and "Community." In terms of drama, I love "Law and Order" always, "The Good Wife," "Hell on Wheels," "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones," "Louie," "Justified," and "Dexter." Yeah!

18. Anything else you'd like to tell the fans?

I just want the fans to keep watching and stay tuned in. The best episodes are yet to come.

More Information:

Jenn LyonFX’s original new series Saint George premiered last month and shined a spotlight on Jenn Lyon, who portrays “Mackenzie”.  As George Lopez’s wry but patient ex-wife, Jenn showcases her knack for zingers, which she’s adept at off-camera as well.  No stranger to television, fans know Jenn for playing “Lindsey Salazar”, the shotgun-wielding bartender and paramour of “Deputy U.S. Marshal Givens” in FX’s Peabody-award winning drama Justified. This month, she also played Cheryl Hines’ sister, ‘Georgia’, in ABC’s hit series Suburgatory. I’d love to talk with you about setting up an interview with Jenn.

As co-founder of the New York-based online sketch comedy troupe — Poykpac — Jenn writes, produces and stars in a series of hilarious online shorts that have taken the Internet by storm. Most notably, the group’s recent clever video-short entitled “Movie Title Breakup” using 154 movie titles as the only lines of dialogue, not only went viral but received national attention and was featured on the TODAY Show. The group’s YouTube channel has garnered more than 80 millions views.

The diverse actress began her career on stage and has amounted an impressive resume with leading roles in the new production of His Girl Friday at the La Jolla Playhouse, Born Yesterday at ACT Theatre, and has appeared on Broadway in the original American production of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy, The Coast of Utopia: Voyage, Shipwreck, Salvage opposite Ethan Hawke, Billy Crudup, Martha Plimpton and Jennifer Ehle.  She also guest-starred on notable television episodes of Suburgatory, Louie and HBO’s telepic Phil Spector. 

Jenn’s career has been thriving ever since. To view clips of Jenn, see the link below.  

Jenn on "The Better Show"

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Page updated 8/13/14

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