Elisabeth Moss: Mad About the Woman

Jane Lynch hit on her, Bette Midler yelled at her, and she’s followed in Madonna’s footsteps.

BY Brandon Voss

March 23 2012 2:30 AM ET

Moss and Keira Knightley in The Children's Hour X390 (CREDITED) | ADVOCATE.COM One of your most notable roles as a child actor was as Baby Louise opposite Bette Midler in the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy.
Isn’t that cool? Few people put that together, because I was, like, 9 or something. Bette Midler is an idol of mine, and I think she’s extraordinarily genius in every way. It’s an honor to even be mentioned in the same paragraph as Bette Midler. I mean, she’s Bette Midler. She just walks into a room and fills it, and even as a kid, you could feel that. Playing Baby Louise with Bette Midler was a very big deal for me.

You can’t imagine what some people would give to have Bette Midler yell “Sing out, Louise!” at them.
[Laughs] I know! I’ve never thought about it like that, but you’re totally right.

You made your Broadway debut in the 2008 revival of Speed-the-Plow as Karen, a role previously played on Broadway by Madonna. I’m pretty sure that also earns you extra gay brownie points.
I did not know that, but that’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. When I got that part, I never thought I’d be following in the footsteps of Madonna in any way, shape, or form. Just to occasionally be in the same sentence as her is an honor, so I will gladly mooch off of her gay icon status.

Who’s your celebrity girl crush?
Gosh. Oh, that’s so easy! I don’t even know why I paused. Marion Cotillard. To me, she’s just a perfect, lovely, French little fey, but she doesn’t lose her animal sexuality, and she’s still very much a woman.

You’re currently shooting Top of the Lake, Jane Campion’s BBC miniseries, in New Zealand. Your costar Lucy Lawless was recently arrested for protesting on an oil rig with Greenpeace activists. Are you staying out of trouble down there?
Yeah, I’m surprised that she didn’t call me to come be a part of her oil rig antics. [Laughs] She’s pretty badass, but she’s so sweet.

You star as a detective searching for a missing girl. Is the miniseries inclusive of LGBT characters?
Yes, but I can’t tell you about it, because it’s kind of a reveal that’s a plot point. It would ruin it if I told you.

You also costar in the upcoming film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road as Galatea Dunkel, whose real-life counterpart was Helen Hinkle. What can you tell us about the character?
The interesting thing about Galatea is that she’s actually one of the only people in the book and in the film who’s actually outside of that whole world and sitting in judgment of it. She’s the put-upon wife who’s sort of left at home while these guys go out and have this fantastic time. There’s so much fun, experimentation, and freedom in the story, but what was interesting about playing my character is that she gets to step in with a voice of reason, like, “I’m so glad you guys are all having such a great time, but you actually do have a life and responsibilities that you’ve left behind.” I kind of liked being the person who gets to say that, because somebody needs to.

Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline play your parents in the upcoming comedy Darling Companion. Does it get any better than that?
No, actually, it really doesn’t get better than that. The two of them are idols of mine. Kevin is just the sweetest, most talented, lovely person, and Diane is just so fucking cool and funny. It was the coolest thing ever.

You’ve had many years of success in television, film, and theater. But because of your appearance in a popular commercial, how often does someone come up and ask if you have an Excedrin?
[Laughs] Way more than I would like. Just to put it out there: No, I don’t have any on me. 

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