With memorable roles as a butch lesbian dog handler in Christopher Guest's Best in Show and an out lawyer on the groundbreaking drama The L Word, Jane Lynch has made you laugh. One look at her massive résumé will make your head spin: She's had roles in films and television shows as diverse as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Weeds, Desperate Housewives, Friends, and Frasier. But it's her current role on Fox's freshman musical dramedy Glee as the snobby, entitled coach of a high school's cheer team that is drawing her rave reviews -- is it too soon to talk Emmy nomination? And while we're talking statuettes, her on-screen role opposite Meryl Streep's Julia Child in this summer's Julie & Julia is a stellar achievement in an already sensational career.
Advocate.com recently caught up with Lynch and discussed her role on the hit Fox series, singing, and whether she would return for more of The L Word.
Advocate.com: Glee is a hit with critics and viewers after two episodes, and your Coach Sue Sylvester is completely outrageous. Why is she so anti–glee club?
Jane Lynch: Well, I think because she reigns supreme at the school and that's basically her goal in life is to be the top dog in some place and she's chosen this school and she's chosen the Cheerios and she feels the threat from the glee club, so she sets out to crush their spirits.
Do you think she was a former student at McKinley High like glee club instructor Will Schuester?
No, I don't think so. But I think she might be somebody -- and I don't mean to get too Method-y about this -- but I think she might be somebody who was made to feel bad about herself and less than in high school and now she's just resolved to be the top dog even though she's no longer high school age. Now she's proud to go back to school and take it over … exact her revenge!
After two episodes, we already know a lot about Schuester’s personal life, but little about Coach Sylvester’s. Is she gay?
No. Her heart is affected by a suitor -- a gentleman who she has a little romance with and we get to see a little bit of a softer side of Sue. You also get to meet a member of her family, which hopefully will give you a better understanding of why she is who she is, and maybe (have) a little sympathy for her in that regard. But then of course she completely squanders any nice feelings you have for her by going back to her wicked ways.
Will we see Coach Sylvester in anything other than matching track suits this season?
There will be a moment where she's in a zoot suit. One moment. You'll have to wait and see the show -- I'm not going to give it away.
What clubs were you a member of in high school in Illinois?
I was in the choir and I sang for the choir for four years and I did plays and I was also on the basketball team for a couple of years; I did the tennis team for a year, but I was mostly at home with the plays and singing.
Then that answers my next question: If you had to choose, which would you have joined, the glee club or Cheerios?
For me, personally, the glee club. Without a moment's hesitation.
Fox just announced a karaoke contest for Glee fans where viewers can log on to MySpace and sing one of the songs from the show and submit their videos for a chance to win a trip to Hollywood. If you were going to sing at karaoke, what song would you pick and why?
That's great! I think right now… I would sing [Henry Gross's] song "Shannon." [Sings] "Shannon is gonna hope she's …" that's next on my list. It's about a dead dog and goes up to a really high falsetto and every time I would hear that song I would cry. [Laughs]
How much of your role as Coach Sylvester comes from your experience playing butch lesbian Christy Cummings in Best in Show?
There's a strain of arrogance in both of them, but I think that Sue Sylvester's certitude and her absolute belief in herself is different from Christy Cummings, who though on the outside was very self-assured and everything, deep down inside she was really just barely holding it together.
Were you inspired by any of your former teachers?
Yeah. I had a teacher in college, an acting teacher, who we called the Dragon Lady who had this mystique around her that you really wanted to please her and you wanted her to notice you and she basically ruled through fear and humiliation and I kind of was inspired … a little of Sue Sylvester came from her.
Entertainment Weekly posted a blog entry about a possible Academy Award
nomination for you in your role as Dorothy McWilliams, Julia Child’s
gawky sister in Julie & Julia. What was it like working with Meryl Streep? You kind of are the Meryl Streep of subtle comedy.
was great; it was a dream come true. Yet when you come down to it,
she's an actor like everybody else -- just a really good one! I was a
little nervous going in, but she made me feel really at home and so did
Stanley Tucci -- he was really wonderful. You know you're working with a
pro. She was so good as Julia Child and so committed and so eccentric
and out there. It was really a joy to be in her presence as she was
doing this character.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about The L Word. Do you miss being part of a lesbian-themed show?
don't do things because they're lesbian-themed or high school–themed or
any themed. I like the work and I loved that character [out lawyer
Joyce Wischnia]. I loved the fact that it was a bunch of women working
together, which was a lot of fun. I liked the relationships; I thought
the writing was really good. It was fun.
Series creator Ilene Chaiken has mentioned doing an L Word movie. Would you be open to being part of that?
Oh absolutely, in a second. In a New York minute.
What’s your next project?
going to New York for a month, I'm doing a play, reading for four months
in a rotating cast in a play called Love, Loss, and What I Wore by
(Julie & Julia writer-director) Nora Ephron and her sister Delia
Ephron. So I'll be in New York for a month. I don't know what role I'll
play yet. It's a bunch of different stories and I haven't gotten my