It's All Work and No Play for Lisa Kudrow
After she became part of TV history along with her Friends co-stars, Lisa Kudrow kept her fans delighted by taking on a string of quirky characters on screens big and small.
Now, she's delivering the kind of off-the-wall performance she loves as a foster mom from hell in Hotel for Dogs. The irony is that, off-screen, she and her handsome hubby, French TV exec Michael Stern, are doting parents.
Q: You crossed a line by being mean to kids on screen. How did you dare?
A: Oh, my god. You mean what if I'm on the cover of the tabloids as the mean mom? I thought it would be fun to play a sort of villain in a family movie. So she doesn't like kids. That's OK. But here's the bad news. I took my son to a screening and, unfortunately, there were moments that felt familiar to him. Maybe that's not so good.
Q: Who's the disciplinarian, you or your husband?
A: I was a pushover until my husband taught me that I have to be more strict. But I don't know if strict is OK or not. I've been trying to be a little more structured and have rules and boundaries and I've gotten better at it. But I'd say my husband takes care of the discipline.
Q: When you speak about your husband, you beam.
A: He's phenomenal. Thank God for him. He's so centered and he keeps all the hype and fame stuff in total perspective. He knows that there's no danger of me falling in love with someone that I don't know, like a co-star in a movie. I mean, we've talked about that a lot and I don't get crushes that easily. Oh God, I wouldn't leave him for anything or anyone.
Q: How did you feel about sharing the set with a bunch of dogs?
A: I grew up with dogs and I have a toy poodle. But when you're filming everyone has to have their ducks in a row before the dogs come to set, otherwise it will be harder to get them to do what they need to do. But that's fine with me. You can't upstage a cute doggie.
Q: You get to be pretty outrageous in Hotel for Dogs. Is it fun to be sort of the Queen of Mean?
A: It is occasionally. But when I was with The Groundlings comedy troupe, the emphasis was almost always on the mean stuff. You had to look angry to make it funny. I didn't want to live my life like that just to get laughs. I realized that there were things that I thought were funny that weren't so mean spirited and I got a chance to show another side of myself on Friends.
Q: There are a lot of talented comedic actresses, including you, who don't get a chance to be funny as a leading lady on the big screen. Why is that?
A: I wish I knew. Male-driven comedies always outnumber female driven comedies. Then when there is one, everyone is like, 'Well, that was a shock. Who would've thought people would go to see women be funny in a movie?'
Q: Did you ever feel a challenge to go beyond your image as Phoebe on Friends?
A: It hasn't come up that much. I don't get people saying before they cast me, 'I need to see that you're not going to be Phoebe when you do this.' Actually, I'm always expecting it to happen. But I've gotten a lot of roles that are nothing like her. Maybe I'm just lucky.
Q: Blonde or brunette — which is more fun?
A: My hair was dark most of my life. When I became blonde, I definitely felt lighter, and I guess also because you're lighter, people treat you lightly. It just feeds into itself. I really lightened up. When I had dark hair I didn't smile as much. I was, you know, a depressive. But when my hair got lighter, everyday I was just in between smiles.