Annie Murphy's New Show, Kevin Can F*** Himself , Is Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen Before
For five years, Annie Murphy played Alexis Rose, Schitt’s Creeks weirdly clueless ex-socials with a heart of gold. But the part almost didn't happen. When she was cast on the popular Canadian series, which first aired on Cable's pop network, she was about to quit acting: her house burned down, her bank account was empty, and she had almost never gotten an acting appearance for 2 years . While it took the series a season or two to gain a foothold, it found a loyal following with the help of Netflix in its final seasons. By the season finale in April 2020, the series had been nominated for four Emmys.
Murphy, 34, is in a very different place now than she was when she was originally cast as Alexis. There was her Emmy win last year, but also new opportunities to go beyond Alexis. "I really, really wanted to leave," she said on the phone recently from her home in Toronto. "And I really wanted to do a show like Schitt's Creek, which is very entertaining but also about something."
In Kevin Can F *** Himself, a new show that premieres June 13th on AMC, Murphy plays a frumpy Worcester, MA sitcom woman who has had enough of the humiliations her husband inflicted on her and decides to take revenge. Allison seeks a way out of their vacuumed, claustrophobic marriage, and the show manifests its drive through a unique, cross-genre form in which Murphy's character lives in two worlds: a multi-cam sitcom where she grins and the humiliations of hers Situation and a gloomy prestige drama with a single camera that underscores her stifling anger and fear. Murphy walks through doors or other passages and the format changes - a harrowing and effective shift that, in its contrasts, highlights the contrivances and inventions of the sitcom world.
"When I got this script, it was so appealing because it was about a woman who was really sick of the bullshit," says Murphy. “With so many sitcoms we love and laugh with, there is so much misogyny, homophobia, racism and sexism covered in a trail of laughter. Diving in a bit and really getting people to wonder what they're laughing at and why they're laughing at it was a really exciting approach. "
Before the premiere of Kevin Can F *** Himself, Murphy spoke to Vogue about channeling her anger as Allison, joining the cast of Russian Doll's season two, and the possibility of the future of Schitt's Creek.
One of the things I noticed about Kevin Can F *** himself is that you had to put on a different voice, so to speak. What was it like switching from Alexis Rose's "Valley Girl" -like voice to a Worcester accent?
First of all, I was shit scared because it was really important to me to do something completely different from the start. Just to prove, not even to anyone, just to myself, that I can do something else. So when the character of Allison showed up, she couldn't be further from Alexis: a downtrodden, un-fashionable, angry working class woman with a harsh Worcester accent, I said, "yeah, yeah, yeah." We were very fortunate to have a wonderful dialect trainer who worked with us very patiently and very nicely. It's really tricky, and I'm worried we'll get laughed at from Massachusetts.
For Allison's character, were there any characters on TV or in movies that you tried to mimic?
I've seen everyone you see like The Departed and Good Will Hunting. In The Departed, Jack Nicholson is so much Jack Nicholson that he didn't even try. He said, "You know what? I'll just do Jack Nicholson and that's it." But I was actually lucky enough to have a good friend who grew up in Worcester and now lives in New York. She really trained Worcester out of it, but when she has a few drinks she can slip in really well. Let's say I maybe soaked her up a few times and sat back and watched.
Annie Murphy as Allison in the "realistic" part of Kevin Can F *** Himself.
Jojo Whilden / AMC
You filmed Kevin Can F *** yourself during the pandemic. How was that experience for you?
On the whole, it was wonderful because we were fortunate enough to be working at a time when many, many people were not. But it was certainly a very different experience on set than I was used to. And to this day there are good friends of mine on the crew whose faces I haven't fully seen, which is a very strange thing. My brain has calculated what I think their faces will be under their masks, but I don't know if I'm right. The other hardest part was not being able to hang out with the cast and crew, go out for a drink after work, or whatever. It was very isolated. It was basically [going] from work and the studio to my apartment and back and forth. So when we get a second season we can [hopefully] really hang out and explore Boston.
This show has a very special format. There's really never been a show like this.
No, I think I can say that with confidence.
Mary Hollis Inboden as Patty, Annie Murphy as Allison, Eric Petersen as Kevin, Brian Howe as Pete, Alex Bonifer as Neil in a scene from the sitcom Kevin Can F *** Himself.
Obviously, we see Allison straddling these two worlds: the sitcom world with a laugh and the outside world, which is much darker. Does Allison envision the sitcom world to deal with her own pain?
No, I think what happens in the sitcom world is actually happening. Because it's a world that revolves around Kevin so much, that aesthetic really makes sense in the sitcom. When she is with her husband, Allison doesn't matter. It's not about her, and it's mostly about him, and she's there to wave her finger at him because he's bad, bring him sandwiches and make jokes. And that's what the sitcom woman has done in the past.
Is Allison and Kevin's relationship on the show supposed to be abusive?
We never press or show that it's an abusive relationship, but even in sitcom behavior there are certainly examples of emotional abuse, and I'm sure if you pull the layers back there is a very dark one, not necessarily physically abusive , Lower abdomen to it. He is a drinker, deeply irresponsible, gets very angry, upset and bullied. I don't know if she really wants him dead, but if she wants her life back.
I've only seen four episodes of the show so far, but will the outside world eventually take over the sitcom world's screen time?
Yeah, I think the front half is as multi-cam heavy as it will be, but the multi-cam never goes away because Kevin exists there and he has to continue to be in the story. So we never say goodbye to the multi-cam world, but we dive a little deeper into Allison's terrifying adventures.
It feels like you have to push the boundaries in terms of acting on Kevin Can F *** yourself. What was your favorite part of the series to film?
Basically every scene I've had with Mary Hollis Inboden playing Patty [Allison and Kevin's neighbor]. She will be America's darling, remember my words. We have to be the best, the best of friends. Working with her was such an absolute pleasure, everything with her. It was also fun to be on the sitcom set and watch the guys at work and be so good at what they do. They made us cackle many, many times.
Mary Hollis Inboden as Patty in
Photo: Jojo Whilden / AMC
What significance does Patty have as the only person who exists in both the sitcom and the outside world?
Your character identifies as "one of the boys" and laughs and drinks with them. These two women have lived in the same room, across from a living room, for more than 10 years; they don't like each other and have nothing in common, but slowly grow together.
Where is the breaking point of your character?
I think it's just before we find her cocaine in an alley with a stranger when she finds out that Kevin has gambled away all the money she kept in her bank account to give them a slightly better life. That was the light at the end of the tunnel - not a mansion, but a house that is a bit cleaner and in a slightly better neighborhood. She clung to that.
Allison also gets a lot of anger when she comes to terms with Kevin. How did you channel that on screen?
It was hard to be human on the planet at this particular point in the year we all had. I'm an optimistic person, but when my task was to act angry and frustrated, I didn't have to dig too deep. I have to thank the state of the world for that.
How should Allison develop during the show?
I want her to let out her anger at will and then start living her own life for the first time.
Jojo Whilden / AMC
In addition to the broadcast. Are you currently working on other acting projects?
I've just finished shooting Russian Doll. It was the nicest chaos I have ever experienced working with Natasha Lyonne. There are a couple of animated things I'll do
Schitt's Creek has had a profound emotional impact on fans of the show, and I think even more so during the pandemic. How has fandom developed for the show over the past year?
It was so wild. I haven't been out of the house much last year, but when I was in New York and out and about it was crazy to notice people recognized me. I think we owe it, I hate to say that, but I think we owe the show's success to that f *** er Trump and the pandemic. Because in the run-up to the pandemic, the last four years have been so terrible that people needed a friendly and inclusive place. I never would have expected this show to be what it is.
Do you have any funny stories about being asked to sing "A Little Bit Alexis"?
I have a pre-pandemic story. I was in New York and had a drink with a friend in a drag bar. I had a drink and one of the queens came up to me and said, "Hi. I just wanted you to know that 'A Little Bit Alexis' is in my set." I thought she was going to say, "Well, if this is uncomfortable for you, I don't have to do this." But she said, "Well, I'll do it, I just wanted to let you know this was happening." And I said, "Cool, cool." When she started her set, she made a medley of "Work Bitch" and "A Little Bit Alexis" and the whole bar was singing along when my friend came in to meet me and I said, "I wasn't planning this. I swear to god I didn't give anyone $ 50. It's just a very strange moment that you came in. ”He took the cake from me.
Have you talked about doing a Schitt's Creek movie or a reunion?
I mean, I mail bribes to Dan [Levy] every day and every waking moment of my life to get him to do it. So far, he has not answered my calls or accepted my bribes. But I mean, I would do it right now. I miss everyone so much. God, I would love to be with Moira again.
Originally published in Vogue
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