Casey Wilson on One Mississippi and Playing the ‘Annoying Girl Next Door’

Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Amazon Studios

Casey Wilson is back again in a more subdued but familiar role as the slightly annoying and very oblivious girlfriend of Tig Notaro, Brooke, in Notaro's new Amazon show One Mississippi. Wilson is also working on her own show alongside Grace & Frankie’s June Diane Raphael: Unhinged, which will star Wilson as a woman with an anger-management problem. Vulture sat down with Wilson at the press junket for One Mississippi to talk about the Happy Endings reunion at the Vulture Festival, playing “the annoying girl next door,” and the recent groundswell of female-centered comedies on television.

Did you enjoy the Happy Endings reunion at Vulture Festival?
I know this sounds cheesy, but, you know, when the show was cancelled, we didn’t know it was going to be cancelled. So, we all hadn’t really gotten together. It was like closure we needed. Just to get everyone together, and see the clips package — and the fans are so sweet. We went to dinner that night after, and were like, ‘We needed this!’ It was healing.

Was it like an in memoriam segment?
Oh, 100 percent. It was a funeral.

But maybe it’ll come back?
It’s like one of those celebratory funerals that happens down the road. Maybe it’ll come back. I think we’re getting a little long in the tooth. But I don’t know if it’ll come back.

If the show came back, would you want it to be sort of the same?
It should be kind of a sad, midlife show. I’m sure these characters — their lives are filled with ruin and divorce — I’m sure nothing good has happened to any of them.

You could do an alternate-timeline version where they’re all a mess.
Yeah. Maybe it would be like Wet Hot American Summer, where we all play ourselves younger. And it totally works.

How did you end up connecting with Tig Notaro to play her girlfriend on One Mississippi?
Well, I’ve known Tig for many years, just in L.A., and we were very friendly, I always thought. I had a conversation with her at a party. And I was kind of in a corner with her for like an hour, and she told me the funniest story I’ve ever heard in my life. Truly, I was on the ground absolutely dying laughing. And I’m like, That’s the funniest person I’ve ever met. Then years went by and I had my son and I got an audition and I was not feeling my best postpartum self. And I just auditioned and got it, and I was so thrilled to work with her and Nicole Holofcener, who directed it. I think every actress thinks of themselves as able to do drama, but I hadn’t really. I was in Gone Girl, but I had more of a comedic part, and I think they just wanted to probably see if I could do something that is not just a straight-up comedy.

How did you conceive of your character for that show?
Well, I’m playing kind of a loose compilation of many of Tig’s old girlfriends. Very loose. And my character is not the most socially aware and sensitive girlfriend that you would want when you’re going through what Tig’s going through. I’m well-meaning, but just making gaffes all over the place, inserting myself into Tig’s family and her life where I'm not wanted, and generally annoying everyone around me.

Did Tig talk to you about the real-life influences?
A little bit. Tig is so generous. I don’t think she would ever point anyone out from her past, but she just gave me some qualities. She told me it’s the girl that’s just laughing too loud, is just in general too loud, where you get a red flag right away when she walks in, where you’re like, she’s just a little bit too much. So, right after your mom’s died, it’s not exactly the energy you want around you.

How did Tig think of you for that part?
I mean, how couldn’t you? They probably heard that description and they’re like, "Let’s get Casey."

What do you think of the current trend in sitcoms that are deeply autobiographical, that are a little sad?
I think it’s amazing. Obviously, I’ve been on two network sitcoms most recently and so I’m aware of the limitations of network. But at the same time, some of the limitations end up being fun. I think the case of Happy Endings, there was Standards & Practices, so you have standard boundaries in a way that maybe end up helping for that world. But I'm just loving all the different shows on cable right now. Lady Dynamite is my favorite show — other than One Mississippi — out there. And in terms of just getting to see much more personal stories that you can tell on cable, where it feels to me that there haven't been so many cooks in the kitchen as can happen on network. So, I feel like the result is this blend. These shows that have all the things that you're wanting. They’re hilarious, but they’re also heartbreaking. Lady Dynamite is a great example. It’s so wacky and fun and out-there, but then there was this insanely beautiful scene of Maria and her father, played by Ed Begley Jr., at the table, where she’s going through a nervous breakdown, and I was just bawling. I was like, how can those two moments exist in one show? It’s so refreshing and amazing. It’s almost like there’s permission now to find your own complete tone whereas, I feel, in network, the tones have to be homogenized.

Were you a fan of Tig’s comedy?
Tig’s been someone who I would always go out and see. I remember seeing her at the Upright Citizens Brigade for a small crowd ten years ago, and then I would just see her at bigger and bigger venues. I remember thinking, like, This is the most unique performer I’ve ever seen, and in such a warm way. She’s so inclusive and funny. I love that her comedy, none of it is mean-spirited, but without being saccharine. It’s both edgy and warm, which I love.

She’s not interested in making fun of people.
No! She’s just truly observing what’s weird to her, and her cadence is so funny and her delivery is so weird. She couldn’t talk slower.

What are you working on?
Well, I just sold a show to Hulu.

Thank you. I'm writing with my best friend and writing partner, June Diane Raphael. She’s on Grace & Frankie right now, and we’ve been writing together for over ten years. We wrote it for me to star in, and we’re excited about it. It’s just about a woman with an anger problem. That’s all we have so far. Well, we have more, but — and that is a deeply personal story as well.

I’ve been doing this podcast called Bitch Sesh, which has taken on a bit of a life of its own. It started as a Real Housewives commentary show. Again, I was not postpartum, but I had just had my baby and I was like, "What can I ..." — I love to be creative and perform, and the laziest way to do that is in the kitchen. Just do a podcast. And so my friend Danielle Schneider and I started doing it, and we’ve been shocked by how many people are listening. People who have never even seen the housewives. Friends are like, "This is the best thing you’ve ever been a part of." I'm like, “You realize I’m not acting, right? I’m just talking about Housewives.” So now we started doing it live out in L.A., at Largo, and we’re going to go on a tour and we’re just having fun.

You were in front of the camera so much and now you’re also writing and creating a show. How does that shift the kinds of representations that you get to do?
Hmm. I don’t know if that shifts so much as the shift you’re talking about in television in general, which is just the ability to do these shows. Like The Comeback and Enlightened and Getting On, all these shows have inspired me to broaden my scope in terms of what could even be written. And I think you’re right. I don’t even know if it’s a trend so much as there’s been more freedom to do it, which is women making shows that are slightly more personal. Anger is something a lot of women struggle with, but they either try their best to mask it and be really sweet, or they lose it and then they’re called a bitch. I just think it’s an interesting color on women and a funny one. It's been explored a lot with men, but it’s trickier when women are angry. So, I think it’s kind of ripe for comedy. For sad-com.

It’s an interesting opportunity for you to do something that you haven’t shown other people before.
Yeah, totally. And I think I have done a lot of characters, you know, like Happy Endings, and I would put myself in a category of annoying girl next door. That’s not as close to who I am, even though I love doing it and will play those characters until the day I die, I’m sure. But yeah, I’m excited to do something a little deeper.