By Brandon Voss
Originally published on Advocate.com March 11 2009 12:00 AM ET
out because I never have interviews like this," says Mary
Lynn Rajskub about midway through our 20-minute afternoon phone
conversation. "I feel like I'm talking to a girlfriend
right now, and it's making me really happy." It should.
After all, the 37-year-old actress and comedian is just
chatting with Advocate.com, not saving Jack Bauer from yet
another life-or-death terrorist situation as code-cracking tech
analyst Chloe O'Brian on Fox's high-octane series
After lending her
acerbic wit and deadpan delivery to small yet memorable parts
in queer-friendly films such as
Mysterious Skin, Little Miss Sunshine,
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,
Rajskub costars in
(in limited release March 13), out screenwriter Megan Holley's
indie dramedy starring Amy Adams and Emily Blunt as sisters who
start a crime-scene cleanup business. We hacked into Rajskub's
complex role as an introverted lesbian before blowing the lid
off her real-life flings with girls and gay men.
Advocate.com: What attracted you to the character of Lynn in
?Mary Lynn Rajskub:
People often stereotype gay characters as outgoing, sassy,
flamboyant, or extreme, but I love that Lynn keeps to herself.
She's really sweet and genuine. Lynn is more adult,
responsible, and ready for a relationship, but she's interested
in this weird girl: Emily Blunt's character, Norah, who's all
over the place. Norah's sort of this open wound looking for
someone to talk to.
Though nothing materializes, do you think Norah reciprocated
any of Lynn's romantic feelings?
I would say yes, but -- and this is going to sound really
actor-y -- it may have just been me in character thinking Norah
was really interested in Lynn. Early in filming there was a
scene that was cut where we had another date at her apartment,
and when we were shooting it I was like, "Wow, she's
really into me!" But I didn't really have that
conversation with Emily.
Do you think Lynn and Norah ever reconnect after the film's
There was another scene that was cut where Norah comes into the
blood bank again after I've said, "Don't call
me." She's like, "Can't we just talk? I'm
just trying to make things right. I'm sorry. Let's be
friends." But Lynn's like, "Why do you continue
to engage me? If you're not into me sexually or intimately,
then what are you doing? I was really into you, and now I'm
humiliated." Lynn was pretty adamant about not putting
herself out there again for another screwed-up person. But
I'd love to see that relationship explored more, because I
think those two are an interesting combination.
Let's hope for a sequel.
Yeah, maybe Norah comes back from her road trip and says,
"You know what? I'm gay." And then she has to go
kiss Lynn's ass.
Did you talk to or observe any lesbian friends to prepare
for your role?
Not really. There are tons of things I have no idea about
because I don't live a gay lifestyle day to day. But can I
imagine being attracted to a girl, being in love with her, and
being hurt by her? Yes.
In one scene you flirtatiously nibble a candy necklace
around Emily's neck. Was it challenging to achieve that level
of intimacy and sexual vulnerability with another actress?
Yeah. Because of the shooting schedule, that was the very first
scene Emily and I shot together after I'd met her, and it
was my first day on set. Emily and I were both so excited when
we got done with that scene because it was so real. The
connection that we had, the awkward tentativeness, was really
cool. We both were like, "Wow, that felt
As a guest on Adam Carolla's radio show in 2007, you
said, "I tried hard being a lesbian, but it didn't
work." Were you joking or have you really experimented
Adam couldn't spar with me verbally, so things got really
weirdly personal. I got kind of uncomfortable. I was like,
"Why am I talking about my personal life so much on a
morning show? People are driving to work and I'm telling a
titillating anecdote about having sex with a woman? What is
happening?" But yes, I have had experiences with women. I
mean, believe me, I wish it had worked. I think women are
Playing a recurring character on NBC's
you dated Veronica's ambiguously gay assistant Josh. What was
up with that relationship?
That was a really odd relationship, and they never really
spelled out that story line. I could've been a beard, or I
could've even been gay too. There's more to explore there,
and I was always wondering about it myself -- and no one would
answer any of my questions. [
] I do remember that we were both supposed to be in love with
Have you ever dated a gay man?
My first kiss and the first guy I was in love with was a gay
man. It was in junior high, and he was years away from knowing
he was gay. I remember seeing him when we were in our 20s, and
he would not come out and say it. He just kept saying,
"Yeah, there's someone that I'm dating," and
saying "this person" instead of "he" or
"she." I was like, "Aw, man, let it out!"
Another really good friend of mine and I had a sexual
experience, and he later turned out to be gay too. But I look
back on it so fondly because it was one of his first sexual
experiences, so I was like, "Oh, he trusted me!" It
was a very special time.
You'll next appear on the big screen as Amy Adams's
character's best friend in Nora Ephron's
Julie & Julia
. How do you make the archetypal romantic comedy "best
friend" role memorable?
Great question, but I don't know if I have an answer. I
just kind of show up and hope for the best.
is so intense and extreme, and even a movie like
is odd, so sometimes I just want to be the friend in a romantic
comedy where there's good lighting and I can have my hair
Janeane Garofalo, whom you replaced as a regular on
The Larry Sanders Show
, joined the cast of
this season as FBI agent Janis Gold, a fellow computer whiz.
You're often asked in interviews about a romantic future
between Chloe and Jack Bauer, but what are the chances of Chloe
and Janis having a hot lesbian affair?
You really took it there, didn't you? [
] I think the chances are pretty good.
How might that go down?
The world is about to end, stress levels are high, and they
have to blow off steam somehow. There would be some anger
involved, some tech talk, and they'd push each other up
against a large hard drive.
You and boyfriend Matthew Rolph have decided to remain
unmarried even after the birth of your first son, Valentine, in
July 2008. Do you not believe in marriage?
I always thought that I wanted to get married. Every guy that
I'd date, I'd be like, "This one I'm
marrying." I was brought up thinking you're supposed
to get married, and it would always be in my face. But what
I've realized is that I don't really care that much.
Having said that, now that we have a kid we probably will get
married at some point, because I do think that's important.
I'm not cynical towards marriage; I think it's wonderful.
Oh, my answer is crazy, isn't it? I start by saying I'm
not into it, and now I'm like, "I love it!" But
you understand. I like the idea of it, and if people want that,
they should have it.
Valentine is a beautiful name, even for a boy, but let's be
honest: He's probably going to need to butch it up once he gets
to high school.
Nobody else would come out and say that in an interview. I love
] Well, it was Matthew's great-great-grandfather's name, and
two weeks before he was born we were like, "It's the name
of a Roman god, it's strong, it's unique." We
really didn't think it was that weird or feminine until we
went to his first pediatrician appointment and they were like,
"Is she ready?" We were like, "What did we
] But he's got a lot of different ways he can go with it: Val,
Your boyfriend's very attractive, but dating a personal
trainer sounds extremely stressful to me. I'd always be
self-conscious about my body and scared to snack in front of
Yeah, but the funny thing about him is that he loves to eat
sugar -- although he'd kill me for saying that, because we
generally eat pretty healthily. But all we did while I was
pregnant was watch TV and eat ice cream. It was the
So which contestant are you rooting for on
That blond girl with the tattoos. I watch more TV now than ever
since being pregnant, having the baby, and being more
homebound. My boyfriend got me into
The Biggest Loser
, and we watch
Confessions of a Teen Idol
. I sometimes start watching
and can't stop. And I have to admit I've watched many,
many episodes of
What Not to Wear
. I am that girl in the hoodie sweatshirt and jeans getting
yelled at because she thinks she's dressing up by wearing a
T-shirt without writing on it.