chat room

Kristen Schaal on Her Grotesque Mini-series, Capitalism, and Picking Men Up ‘By the Throat’

Kristen Schaal. Photo: Patrick McMullan

On Flight of the Conchords, YouTube minis like “Horrible People,” or The Daily Show, Kristen Schaal seems like the sweetest, most innocent girl in the world. But as Hurshe on the Adult Swim mini-series The Heart, She Holler, she’s total white trash. All spandex and Aqua Net, meth mouth and lizard eyes, Hurshe is a rabid succubus, hell-bent on usurping her fellow inbred siblings (Patton Oswalt and Heather Lawless) for control of the town that her daddy should’ve bequeathed her in the first place. We talked to her about playing a freak, Occupy Wall Street, and picking men up “by the throat.”

You seem like a really sweet, nice person. Your character in The Heart, She Holler is the most aggressive, angry version of Kristen Schaal yet.
This felt really Greek to me. Playing Hurshe was like putting on a Greek mask and doing like, a tragedy. It’s almost the same as Oedipus: I’m definitely doing it with my dad, and I’m sure if my sister had a baby I would feed it to her. It’s sort of on the Greek tragedy side, so the furthest I’ve gone in that direction and the most fun too. The notes that I would usually get from Jon [Lee] and Vernon [Chatman, the co-creators] would be to go even bigger, which is always exciting for an actress — to play over-the-top.

Did you do your own stunts on this show? Or at least your own makeup?
There was a makeup artist, but she sort of just bought up all the discount makeup items at Duane Reade or Rite Aid. So I’m wearing a lot of Wet n Wild. And that is me hanging. There’s no stunt double involved in that.

And your super-human strength is a camera trick?
No, I can actually pick up men by the throat with one arm.

The whole mini-series is really grotesque.
There’s a grotesque motif that just sort of colors the world. It has a horror element.

You’re still the senior women’s correspondent on The Daily Show, so did you see that Harvey Weinstein invited Michele Bachmann to the premiere of your new movie Butter?
Yes. I think Harvey Weinstein is a smart businessman and he dropped a name that had a lot of buzz that week. People were talking about Butter. But that being said, if she and him become movie buddies, I think that’s really nice.

Have you been paying attention to the Republican debates?
I got sidetracked by being in Tokyo the last couple weeks, so I took a break. But I was deep into it before that. I still feel like I’m on top of the shenanigans.

What’s your favorite part so far?
I think my favorite part of the Republican debates is the one in my mind where they say they’re going to work together to help the country. I haven’t heard it yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. I just get so excited when people offer real solutions, and I don’t think I’ve heard any of them talk about anything other than what they’re going to destroy of Obama’s when they get in office.

Have you been to Zucotti Park yet?
I haven’t been yet. I understand the movement and I understand the anger. I get it; it just makes me anxious and sad because it seems futile to protest capitalism.

So you love capitalism?
There’s good and bad, but it’s just a private legal thing. That’s the whole problem. I do think that they abuse the system and everything has to be overhauled. You know, when you’re protesting the government or you’re protesting the war, that’s something that involves everybody. But when you’re protesting capitalism, you’re protesting the individual. And that’s a tough one. I don’t know, I have mixed feelings about it. There’s a lot of action, but I don’t see the outcome at all.

You tweeted about your Japan trip. You’re going to New Zealand next?
I’m actually going there for the first time. I have an eight-minute set on a New Zealand Christmas show!

Wow. How much time do you get to spend in New Zealand on either side of that eight minutes?
A week. You know what? I feel bad about my whole Wall Street answer. Maybe I don’t know enough about it. The government was involved because there is that whole government bailout, so it’s not just capitalism that they’re protesting. I feel them! I feel them.

I think they would be able to relate to Hurshe.
There, that’s a good way to tie it all together.

Do you have a dream project? Something you’re really passionate about?
Ummm … well, yeah, my dream project would be to create something that a lot of people get to see. I don’t have it yet. But when I do I’ll be so passionate about it! That’s all I’ll talk about.

Kristen Schaal on Her Grotesque Mini-series, Capitalism, and Picking Men Up ‘By the Throat’