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TV Junkie: Interview with Katie Aselton from 'The League'
Katie Aselton (right) stars in FX's "The League" with Nick Kroll and Jon Lajoie. "The League" airs tonight at 10:30pm
We've never tried to hide the fact that we're tremendous fans of FX's "The League" (Thursdays @ 10:30pm), the series about a group of former college buddies/misfits who run an extremely competitive, no holds barred fantasy football league. For those who haven't watched the show, the fantasy football stuff is the MacGuffin, simply an environment for some hilarious characters powered by inspired improvisational performances from a cast that includes: Paul Scheer, Mark Duplass, Jon Lajoie, Stephen Rannazzisi, Nick Kroll, and Katie Aselton.While it was insightful to talk to the series co-creators Jackie Marcus Schaffer and Jeff Schaffer a few weeks ago, we had really wanted to speak with more of the series cast - we did a walk and talk in Hollywood with Jon Lajoie about 6 months before the first episode aired, and we talked off-record with Nick Kroll at the HBO Emmy party, but none of these conversations were recent.
We were very excited to have had a chance to speak with Katie Aselton, who plays Jenny, wife of Kevin (played by Stephen Rannazzisi) as her character has become a series regular - appearing in nearly every episode as the lone female interloper available to wreak havoc on the male-dominated fantasy football league. Aselton appears on the show with real-life husband Mark Duplass who plays the recently single Pete. While we had always suspected Duplass to be one of the luckiest guys in the world, a phone call with Aselton confirmed it as she was as friendly and charming in real life as she is beautiful, smart, and funny on the show - a seemingly impossible combination.
LAist: Am I crazy or are we seeing quite a bit more of Jenny this season?
Katie Aselton: You are! You are seeing a whole lot more of Jenny which is really exciting for me!
LAist: Jenny is such a great foil for these guys who thought they were operating in this autonomous male universe - and they certainly haven't since you got involved.
Katie Aselton: I know, it's sort of fun to knock them on their asses every now and then!
LAist: She provides a reality check on so many different levels. Tell us the story of how you got involved in "The League"?
Katie Aselton: Thanks - it's an awesome role to have scored. It happened when Jackie Marcus Schaffer and Jeff Schaffer were just starting to shop the show around and my agent got wind of it, and my agent represents both me and Mark [Mark Duplass, Aselton's real husband, who plays Pete on "The League"] and we had done a small movie together called The Puffy Chair which had a lot of improvisation in it, so she knew I had the chops for it. So she insisted that Jackie and Jeff meet us and the next thing I knew we were throwing back margaritas and then before I knew it we were shooting a pilot. It was the craziest way to get a job, I loved it!
LAist: Despite kind of jamming the show into their schedule last year, FX has been very supportive and here you are with even more episodes this season.
Katie Aselton: It was a kind of a slippery slope, it was wild. But FX has a lot of faith in the show, in Jackie and Jeff and the creative cast. They're really kind of amazing, they are willing to step out on a limb and let us push the envelope, letting us go way beyond any of the networks would ever let us go - and that's so fun! It's such an awesome place to be, and they love the show, and John Landgraf (president and general manager of FX) loves us, to have the president of a network to be fully behind a tiny little show like ours is key.
LAist: You guys are such a cohesive group - how does that work out with the improv nature of the show?
Katie Aselton: I have to give Jackie and Jeff a lot of credit for that because they, rather than auditioning everyone, they did chemistry tests. They got all of their favorite people together, their top list of people in a room, to see who gels, who got along, and so they narrowed it down to the six of us. Everyone in that group worked so well with each other which is amazing because when you are improvising, people can be fighting for the funniest lines, and be competing to be the funniest person. But those guys are so generous with the funny, they just happy that a scene is working and are willing to do what it takes to make it happen, which is a dream to work with them and its hilarious to be on set.
LAist: Your reactions to things, the way people drop in and out of conversations, its so realistic. I think Nick Kroll is hilarious in particular.
Katie Aselton: Isn't he brilliant, oh my god, and I don't use that word very often, but Nick Kroll is something else.
LAist: Jackie and Jeff called him the Dark Soul of "The League"
Katie Aselton: He has the most unlikeable character on television but you end up loving him because he goes to that far into being so awful.
LAist: How did it come about that we are getting more of Jenny this season?
Katie Aselton: I don't know what the details are and I'm not going to question why I'm doing more. I'd just like to think that it boils down to the fact that people just really liked me.
LAist: The character of Jenny, her willingness to "go there" last season is probably why we're getting more of her.
Katie Aselton: I agree - she's definitely a ballsy girl, I love playing her, she's the girl that I want to be.
LAist: She can be tough, manipulative, not hold back, she wants to win in so many different ways which is a lot of fun to watch. It seems like there's a lot of testosterone on TV - why isn't there a show (as good as "The League") that has more women in it?
Katie Aselton: I think the cable networks are getting up, it's less sterile there, it's edgier and funnier. More shows where there are people who talk the way we talk. Truthfully, in a lot of ways, "Sex and the City" did that for the female demographic: finally people understand that girls talk about blowjobs, which you have not seen on network television at all, ever. I think we're seeing that on cable, you're seeing it on "The League", maybe there will be more shows that will come about as well.
LAist: Your show has that connection with "Seinfeld" via Jeff, which had the masturbation episode. First of all, it was the first time masturbation was being discussed, and the fact that Elaine, a female character talked about masturbating on a network TV show, but that was almost 16 years ago and it hasn't happened since then!
Katie Aselton: God forbid we continue to actually admit that. I know that saying this I might never get a job on network television again but I do feel that standard is par for the course on network television, it's overly sterilized so that they can go the uber-conservative route so as they don't cause an uproar if they talk about masturbation - so all that has to be taken into consideration, it's tough.
LAist: I demand that Jenny talk about masturbating soon - just to keep us going.
Katie Aselton: [Laughs] Doesn't she talk enough about her hoo-ha? Do we need to keep going?
LAist: You're holding the fort, so to speak.
Katie Aselton: Yeah right! I think I take the cake for being the first girl on television to drop the "P" bomb and to drop it as many times as I did. Which is kind of a cool title to hold! My parents are incredibly proud!
LAist: Speaking of parents, do you miss New England?
Katie Aselton: We just got back a few days ago. It was so frickin' cold - we took my two year old daughter, we Trick-or-Treated in 35 degree weather. It was too cold. It never really dropped below freezing, it just hovered around that line, but that was too cold for me. But I get back quite a bit, which is always great. I'll go back for Christmas for a couple weeks but then what's great is that I get to leave because back in LA it's 90 degrees.
LAist: Thanks for talking with us about one of our favorite shows.
Katie Aselton: Oh thank you and thanks for wanting to talk to me.
LAist: Well we had to because this season the "Jenny Situation" has been so key to what's going on in "The League" - a lot of what's happened is because she's a member now.
Katie Aselton: I'm glad that you appreciate it because it's tough to hold your own against these guys because they're pretty tough but they're super talented and it's so much fun to be a part of this.
"The League" is on tonight at 10:30pm on FX