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Natasha Lyonne Got to Live Her Wildest Fantasy: Writing the NYT Crossword

Natasha Lyonne. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for New York Magazi

Natasha Lyonne is a devoted crossword stan, playing the New York Times puzzle every day and even taking screenshots of her favorite clues. “It’s like my version of taking photos of scenery on vacation,” she told the Times. “I’m like, ‘Look at this great clue! They found a way to get Lenny Bruce in the puzzle!’” Lyonne actually got to write the clues for a NYT puzzle, an honor she does not feel worthy of. “I always describe myself as a real Rachel Maddow, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Clinton type,” she said. “We do have a text chain, the four of us. They were constantly ridiculing me for not ever having constructed my own puzzle; this was the only way to keep up.” Lyonne has been a crossword head since boyfriend Fred Armisen introduced her to the habit five years ago. She even snuck her crossword habit into her magnum opus Russian Doll, when Nadia plays a crossword app while watching over Horse. Crossword editor Will Shortz complimented Lyonne’s puzzle, calling it “lively.” Shortz had few notes for the puzzle co-constructed with Deb Amlen, letting Lyonne get away with hints he would nix in the non-famous. Like, “Poehler vortex of funniness,” three letters. “That’s not a clue I would normally allow, because it doesn’t make sense,” Shortz said. “But it’s funny! It just makes me laugh, and it shows her personality.”

Crossword Superfan Natasha Lyonne Wrote Her Own NYT Puzzle