Katie Aselton is Mark Duplass’s better half in real life, but on FX’s The League, they’re just friends. As the show returns for its fourth season tonight, her character, Jenny, is so pregnant she’s about to pop — but that’s not going to interfere with the gang’s fantasy-football plans (Dallas Cowboys training camp or the delivery room — you decide). When she’s not keeping the guys in check, Aselton’s busy directing movies; she started with The Freebie, and her second effort, Black Rock, was co-written with Duplass and co-stars Kate Bosworth and Lake Bell, as the three women attempt a getaway weekend and end up going to war against a group of ex-soldiers. Aselton took a break from her shooting schedule to chat with Vulture about vaginal hubris, necessary nudity, and hating vegans.
Do people ever come up to you and expect to talk to you the way they do on The League?
[Laughs.] Yes! And it’s incredibly frustrating and incredibly inappropriate. People forget that we’re in real life, and they’ll ask, “Do you have vaginal hubris? Are you rosterbating?” But what’s great is that the show has created this whole new vocabulary, and that vocabulary does create a certain comfort level to discuss just about anything. We’re like the Sex and the City of guy shows, and I’m like the Aidan of the group.
Aidan gets cheated on. Wouldn’t you rather be Big?
Oh, I could totally be Big. You’re right, Aidan gets walked on. But every girl wanted an Aidan, so he should feel good about himself.
The draft points system, as we’ll also see on this season, is quite adaptable for relationships. What would you give or subtract points for?
Okay, sense of humor: plus one. Being able to laugh at yourself: plus one. Being able to laugh at other people without being mean: plus one. Vanity: minus one. Douchbaggy-ness: minus one. Being good to moms: plus one. Being able to cook: plus one. Not doing dishes: minus one. Not knowing how to work a washing machine: minus one. Willing to take me to rom-coms: plus one. Won’t eat oysters: minus one. I really like oysters, and I won’t eat them alone. They’re just a weird thing to eat by yourself. If you won’t eat seafood at all: minus four. Won’t eat gluten: minus one. That’s just vanity, and I can’t deal with it. I don’t have patience for it. It feels so unmanly for a guy to be on a diet like that, and I can’t like a guy who doesn’t eat gluten.
What if they have an actual allergy to gluten? That’s why some people don’t eat it.
Well, I don’t want them to go into anaphylactic shock. But if they’re just avoiding gluten out of vanity, then that feels too weird. It’s like being a vegan because it sounds cool. I want to eat a burger with a dude! I really like red meat. So being vegan: minus one. I’m horribly allergic to animals, so having pets: minus one. This is really tough to figure out. [Laughs.] I haven’t dated in eleven years.
When Jenny’s pretty far along with her pregnancy, she’s feeling extra frisky. Could you relate?
I did not. I felt ginormous, and while I think I might have wanted to want to have sex, it just wasn’t on my brain at all. Some women say they’ve never felt sexier than when they’re pregnant, and I cannot relate to those women at all. [Laughs.] But all the more power to those women. You know, what I love about Jenny is that she’s a mom who is very honest about not always liking her kid, and you never see that on television, and it’s really fun to have a mom talk shit about her kids sometimes. I mean, I love my kids, they are amazing children, but they drive me bananas sometimes. And sometimes, I want to sell them on eBay … but I’m not going to. So I love tapping into that part of her. That’s the part I relate to.
Does Mark ever veto any improv you might come up with if it’s borne from something to do with your own children?
He’s definitely very protective, and he doesn’t like to draw attention to them, yeah. You know, that’s our private life, so we have those kinds of discussions all the time, more than you might imagine! It’s easy to keep work and home separate, because when you’re doing the show, you just show up on set and work, and it’s not big deal. It’s a little different when you’re making a movie, because that can take over your entire life. The League feels like a little vacation for us because it’s somebody else’s baby. We can just say funny things and go.
Then your baby is Black Rock, which was at Sundance. Any word on when it will come out?
Yes! In the spring. I can’t wait. I have no patience. It’s gone through some changes since we showed an early cut at Sundance, so it’s way more suspenseful now. Part of this stems from the idea that they don’t make thrillers like they used to. I think Deliverance is a beautiful film, but lately, things have gone more the way of torture porn, which is incredibly manipulative and disgusting. So I loved the idea of going back and doing a more intelligent thriller, and I loved the idea that this could happen. Maybe Saw 5 could happen, but God, really? This is based more on sort of a miscommunication and an accident, and things go really wrong and spiral out of control, but realistically, it could happen. And it’s fun to watch and think, What do I do if I’m on this island?
So you’re sort of playing with the genre’s tendency towards sexploitation?
The nudity is a nod to These are the thriller rules, but I’m going to do it on my own terms. We did it in a way that was responsible and beautiful and not gratuitous — there is a reason why they’re naked. It’s functional nudity. It’s not a sexual moment. And you know, women do take their clothes off! [Laughs.] It happens!