Rudolph talks to ET about filming that scene and the time she played Beyonce in a similar moment on ‘SNL.’
On the Apple TV+ comedy Loot, Maya Rudolph gets to shine as Molly Novak, who finds her perfectly lavish life turned upside down after her husband, John (Adam Scott), unexpectedly betrays her and files for divorce after 20 years together. While the series created and executive produced by Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard features several standout moments for the former Saturday Night Live star as Molly attempts to climb her way out of rock bottom, there’s no funnier moment in the first three episodes than when the character unexpectedly appears on Hot Ones.
“She just gets a ton thrown at her all at once,” Rudolph tells ET about Molly, who then “picks herself up and just dives into the challenge and the change” as she attempts to move forward in her life.
In the third episode, “Hot Seat,” John questions his ex-wife’s substance in a new interview, forcing Molly and Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), the manager of the foundation where she now works, to hit back. While Sofia tries to find the perfect platform for Molly to showcase her newfound dedication to her charity, Molly ends up going a different direction -- one that she feels is more down to earth and will connect with viewers.
That interview Molly decides to go with, much to her team’s surprise, is sitting down with host Sean Evans on Hot Ones, which is the Emmy-nominated talk show that sees guests answering questions while eating increasingly hotter hot wings. It’s not long before Molly is cursing up a storm as she melts down over the spice level on the chicken. “I could kill everyone in here and get away with it,” she says at one point.
Needless to say, the interview doesn’t land the way Molly hoped and she’s left even more embarrassed than she was before. “I know I screwed up,” Molly later tells Sofia, who finally comes around to her boss and the two end up bonding over the viral moment.
When it comes to the Emmy-worthy scene, Rudolph explains that the initial idea for it was Molly doing a podcast. “But I was like, I really wanted to have it be something where she completely loses her cool,” she says.
“I find that to be incredibly funny and I was really hoping to get to play that 'cause that stuff, when it’s just such an epic fail, like at the jump, is so funny to me that I was really looking forward to it,” Rudolph continues. “Like, if the scale is, like, one to 10, she’s, like, at an eight at the beginning and you have nowhere but to fail up so hard, so quickly. And I really like that.”
She adds that Molly’s “a complete mess. She’s laying on the floor at some point, hallucinating and maybe speaking in tongues. So, I love getting a chance to play stuff like that. I think it’s a joy.”
And for her co-stars, who all made it a point to watch Rudolph film that scene, it was even better in person. “That was a day I think everyone who was on set, who was getting ready to film after that, was at the monitors, watching this tour de force,” says Joel Kim Booster, who plays Molly’s devoted assistant, Nicholas, explaining that Molly is “a much more contained character for Maya.”
“So then to get to see her go there and be Maya Rudolph to the Nth degree, it was really something. It was really magical,” he continues.
“I was very happy that I got to have that moment [because] every single last thing that she did was exceptionally amazing,” Rodriguez says, revealing she couldn’t contain her laughter. “And I kept laughing like a crazy person. I was like, ‘Am I laughing too loud, y’all? Am I gonna get in trouble? Maybe I should go to my trailer.’”
Given that the character was created with Rudolph in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that she can make the most of these moments. “We wrote this role for her,” Hubbard says. “In this role, she can really do everything. She can obviously do comedy, she can do drama, she can be vulnerable, she can be funny sometimes in the same scene.”
And as Molly, “We thought, ‘Oh, it would be fun if she played the divorcee of a billionaire and is given nothing but 87 billion dollars for her divorce.’ And then it’s like, ‘What does she do with that money? What is the second act of her life?’” Hubbard says. “And it just felt like an awesome role for her.”
For fans of Rudolph, the laugh-out-loud moment might remind them of the time she appeared as Beyoncé on Saturday Night Live. In the 2021 sketch, she impersonated the singer as she attempted to make it through a Hot Ones interview without losing her cool.
“I mean, this one is definitely different,” Rudolph says, when asked about both moments. “I think there’s a fun element of Molly just screwing up so badly because Beyoncé’s pretty unflappable. So yeah, this was definitely a different turn.”
And unlike Beyoncé or Molly, Rudolph doesn’t think she has what it takes to appear on Hot Ones herself. “I actually told Sean Evans I will never be on his show. Ever,” she reveals. “I don’t think I could last before one.”
The first three episodes of Loot are now streaming. New episodes debut Fridays on Apple TV+.
Reporting by Stacy Lambe and Lauren Zima