The hilarious Megan Mullally, who’s made a career of scandalizing audiences in beloved shows from Will & Grace to Parks & Rec, gets real about defying Hollywood’s expectations
By Jenni Miller // Photo By Ramona Rosales
Megan Mullally is pop culture royalty. The actor, whose IMDB roster dates back to 1981, solidified her place in the TV canon on Will & Grace: her character Karen Walker, a rich socialite with a maniacal laugh and a ravenous appetite for booze, drugs, and sex, was unlike anything primetime audiences had seen before or since. (The show itself, which ran from 1998 to 2006, was also one of the first network series to feature gay lead characters.) Throughout her career, Mullally has also shown her versatility on Broadway and off, in indie movies, and on cult TV shows like Party Down and Children’s Hospital, exercising her knack for creating memorable characters who buck Hollywood’s go-to sexist and ageist stereotypes. On Parks and Recreation she played the scene-stealing Tammy Two, the crazy ex-wife of Ron Swanson, a character immortalized by her real-life husband Nick Offerman. Onscreen, their chemistry was carnally over-the-top; off-screen, it embodies #relationshipgoals. “Look,” she tells me, “I’m 58, and I still have a really sassy thing going on with my husband. It doesn’t just all come to a crashing halt. It keeps going. You still want to get it on.” In her new movie Why Him? (out December 25), Mullally will be getting it on with Bryan Cranston, who plays her husband—an overprotective dad trying to stop their daughter (Zoey Deutch) from getting engaged to her outrageous Internet billionaire boyfriend (James Franco). I chatted with the comedy icon about supercouple home life, living childfree, and why people find her face so shocking.
Will & Grace was a groundbreaking show. Do you think it’s aged well? What do you think of the show’s cultural legacy?
I don’t see it very often, but whenever I do, I always think that it’s held up surprisingly well. I think it was a legitimately funny show with really great writing and a great cast who had great chemistry together. The fact that it has had any kind of impact at all on tolerance for equality for the LGBTQ community is pretty unbelievable, really. Going in, I don’t think anybody ever imagined that it would have any kind of impact.
You and Nick have a pretty high-profile marriage. Are people overly intrusive, wanting to know everything about your relationship?
The thing is, we’re so boring, what are they going to ask us sensationalist questions about? Our jigsaw puzzles? It’s not very exciting. As much as we post couple stuff on our social media, and we’re constantly working together and doing interviews together, I still don’t feel like we’ve really revealed anything. It seems like we reveal everything, but I don’t think we’ve ever revealed anything that’s really meaningful, personal, or private. Our relationship is very much our own relationship, and whatever we put out into the world is just for our own fun.
What’s something you do together that’s really boring and normal?
Where do I begin? The question should be what don’t we do that is completely yawn-worthy. We don’t go anywhere cool or make the scene. We don’t go to any clubs. We only leave the house under duress or if we’re being paid to do so. The jigsaw puzzles are a real thing. We have two dogs, and we spend a lot of time staring longingly into their eyes because we’re obsessed with our dogs and are basically spoiling them both rotten. We’re homebodies.
At the risk of perpetuating the sexist cycle of the press asking women who are childfree what it’s like to play a mom, I’m curious if you get that question a lot.
I feel like that’s really one of the last taboos—not having children. People don’t ever, ever, ever ask me about it because they feel like there must be something horribly wrong with me or that I must have suffered terribly because I wasn’t able to have a child, but that’s not true. I never really wanted to have children. Nick and I did try for a little while right when we first got engaged, but I was already 44. He was the only man I ever thought, Yeah, I guess I could do that with him. You’re supposed to want children, so to say “I don’t really want children,” people look at you like you’re an axe murderer. The other taboo now is not having plastic surgery. Like, people look at my face, and they are so visibly embarrassed by what they see. They’re completely mortified for me, and ashamed of themselves for even seeing my un-plastic-surgeried face.
What can we do to make that more the norm rather than the exception in the industry?
There are so many women my age and older out there. Don’t they want to see movies and television shows with women who are like them? I would like to see movies and television shows about middle-aged to older women. I think that’s interesting. Why can’t there be a show with just a bunch of older women? I think it would be fucking great.
MAKEUP: Matthew Van Leeuwen; HAIR: Marcus Francis