Amy Sedaris Has a Very Specific ‘At Home’ Role in Mind for Friend Sarah Jessica Parker (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Desiree Navarro/Getty Images
“I never think anyone wants to do the show,” Amy Sedaris says of the many celebrities -- from Michael Shannon and Neil Patrick Harris to pals Justin Theroux and Stephen Colbert -- to appear on At Home With Amy Sedaris, her critically acclaimed sketch series which hilariously parodies mid-century, public access homemaking shows while also showcasing the star’s DIY and entertaining expertise. “I’m too shy that way.”
But shy is not an obvious trait I would apply to Sedaris, who is perched on a sitting chair in a large, empty drawing room in the Nomad Hotel in New York City, where she interrupts my questions about her Emmy-nominated series, which returns to TruTV on Tuesday, to ask me what I found funny about the show and what I thought of the new season.
Sedaris is specifically referring to the slight shift in structure of the show, which still is rooted in homemaking, but drops some of the how-to and craft-making segments in favor of more storytelling and thematic episodes -- largely picking up off the season one finale, “Murdercide,” which saw the host and her book club dealing with a murderous Shannon. “We felt last season that was our favorite episode and we like that there was more story and you could develop a little bit more character,” Sedaris says, adding that certain episodes this season remind her of Strangers From Candy, her acclaimed cult series that ran for three seasons on Comedy Central.
In season two of At Home, we see the host (and Sedaris’ many other characters) dealing with teenagers in the premiere, welcoming a longtime fan (played by a delightfully deranged Rose Byrne) to co-host in another episode, and struggling to survive an attack of angry wild turkeys in a Thanksgiving-themed episode. And despite any concerns over getting guests on the show, season two is packed full of star power, thanks to Ann Dowd, Billy Crudup, Juliette Lewis, Martha Plimpton, Matthew Broderick and Susan Sarandon. Also returning this season is Theroux.
Despite making a hilarious appearance as a gay astronaut in season one, the actor was initially reluctant to come back on. “Are you going to do it?” Sedaris recalls repeatedly asking her friend before just writing the character -- this time a closeted sea captain. “I’m like, ‘Go watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I want you to do that character.’” With the assistance of teleprompters set up around set, he managed to pull off a “brilliant” performance in what Sedaris considers her favorite episode. “You really forget you’re watching our show,” she adds.
While pals, Broderick, Colbert and Theroux, have appeared on At Home, one friend that has yet to make an appearance is Sarah Jessica Parker. Having known each other since they both were cast in a 2001 Off-Broadway play, Sedaris has appeared on Parker’s HBO shows, Sex and the City and Divorce. But when it comes to At Home, Sedaris says they just haven’t found the right part for Parker.
“It has to be right,” she says, explaining that she does have a specific idea in mind: “I want her to do a cockney character. I wanted [my character] Patty Hogg to have a servant and I wanted her to be cockney because Sarah does a really good cockney accent. But we just never wrote the episode.”
But if it’s any consolation, Sedaris will reprise her role as Parker’s overbearing sister-in-law, Cathy, on Divorce season three, which is currently in production. Surprisingly though, “it’s a character I don’t like,” Sedaris says, explaining that “for me, Amy, I like everybody that I play. So it was really hard to figure out how I was going to play her and still have her be a little likable and make her fun to play.”
However, despite any reservations, Sedaris always manages to be a standout guest star on any show she appears on, from The Good Wife to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. “I love to be a guest on other people’s shows,” she says simply.
It’s also perhaps why she signed on to do Disney’s upcoming remake of The Lion King, which features an A-list voice cast, including Beyonce, Billy Eichner, Donald Glover and Seth Rogen. When it was first announced she had joined, it was to voice an elephant shrew, a new character to the film that director Jon Favreau asked her to do. “I think they changed it to a bird,” she clarifies, joking: “Can you believe I’m in that movie? How funny is that? ‘Bey, going to the wrap party?’”
But she’s just as thankful to Favreau for giving her work as she is to her friends for appearing on At Home. While there’s no official word on a third season, she already has ideas in mind, including a spinoff involving writer Cole Escola’s character, Chassie Tucker, and a list of dream guest stars including Patricia Arquette and David Alan Grier.
In the meantime, Sedaris just hopes people like season two “as much as they liked the first season,” she says. “It takes a lot of energy to do that show.”