'Girls On Girls (+ One Guy)' Podcast with Allison Williams
The "Girls" actress joins us for a special episode to chat about Marnie's singing career, the fallout from Christopher Abbott's departure and why filming that Edie Brickell music video is a "close contender for my favorite day of work."
Hannah does an epic mic drop at GQ as Jessa swoops in to snag a dream job from Marnie, who later rebounds in unexpected ways (to say the least) in the latest Girls episode, "I Saw You." Allison Williams joined Girls podcasters Erin Weinger, Jessie Katz, Brandon Kirby and Rebecca Sun to digest all that went down and answer our most burning questions from this season, including: why didn't Marnie share screen time with the other cast members earlier in the season? Did Marnie know that Hannah was going to use her apartment as a sex dungeon? And whatever happened to that adorable kitten?
Plus: Williams reveals which famous musician (and co-star's boyfriend) wrote the song for Marnie's open mic, and offers the "step-by-step way to get Marnie to have sex with you."
Jessie Katz: Thank you so much for joining us for our Girls On Girls (+ One Guy) podcast. I am here with three of my very close colleagues and Marnie fans, who are all very excited to have you on.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh my gosh, I am so glad! I am so grateful that you are Type A and like things just so.
JK: It’s the perfect episode to have you on to discuss because it was a huge episode for your character. So this was all very fortuitous.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yes it was.
JK: So we've had some burning Marnie questions that have been lingering all season as we have gone alone. So we're wondering if we could start with that and pick your brain while we have the chance?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yes, of course.
JK: I think the biggest topic is singing. There has been a crazy full evolution of that for Marnie on the show. So first question is the You Tube video.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yes. (Laughter)
JK: What was it like to make that? Who chose Edie Brickell? How the hell did that happen? It's so amazing and we're so glad it resurfaced this week.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh my gosh. Well let me start by saying it was a really close contender for my favorite day of work, if you can even call that work, on the show thus far. We filmed it at the end of the season. So throughout the season when you see people reacting to it or talking about it, it was all before I had filmed it, before we knew what it was gonna be. There were a lot of ideas about what it was and it took us almost the whole season to figure out what we wanted the video to be. So the moments where Ray is watching it at work and they're laughing about it, they are completely just imagining what this video would be and at this point we had no idea what it was. So after watching all of these scenes of people reacting to it we realized that it had to be just the most cringe-worthy thing.
JK: And you nailed it.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: But it had to be very specific and very subtle because it would be Marnie trying her best and it would be Charlie using his best resources to put together the video and it would be something that Charlie would think was worthy of his money, at least initially. And it would also have to be something that Desi describes as a bummer and something that Marnie calls YouTube crying about as if they could do anything about it. So I think Lena came up with What I Am by Edie Brickell, which is so brilliant because it's a song that once you've heard it once it stays in your head and burrows. But I don't think a lot of people had been listening to it lately a lot so it was kind of the perfect thing. Also it's a very dark and very complicated song. I've thought about it a lot. I still don't fully understand what it's about. Marnie definitely doesn't understand what it's about. Her interpretation of it is essentially that I can be whatever I am and maybe that's a hipster and maybe that's a punk and her versions of all of those things are laughable, obviously.
JK: That's interesting because we've been talking about how Marnie's personality and especially her look changes a lot, depending on who she's hanging out with and what guy she's interested in.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh yeah.
JK: She's gone a little hipster, she was sporting a beanie last week because she was hanging out with Desi.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh yeah, it's very deliberate. She's a chameleon in that way. So I think that it came very naturally to her. But it was so fun. It was like a B camera crew so we were all just on one location together for the whole day and we just tried a bunch of different stuff. It was so, so fun. My hope is that eventually they'll release the full-length music video because there's definitely enough to cut one together.
JK: We're waiting for that too.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: It's something I'm very proud of because it's really, really subtle. And it's something that everyone who worked on it should be proud of because these are all professionals. They're capable of amazing work and they had to go back to a time before they started doing great stuff and when they were just trying to do great stuff but were missing the mark just by an inch. And with all of us missing the mark by an inch we missed it collectively by three feet, which was perfect.
JK: Did Lena know that you had this amazing voice and she found a way to work it in?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Well the reason I auditioned in the first place is that I did this YouTube video with the Mad Men theme song after I graduated college. I just made it with a bunch of my friends and sent it to people. It got onto blogs and Judd Apatow saw it. There just was something about my vibe, I guess, that was so different from any of the things that they were seeing in the Hannah character that was developing and they wanted someone who stood in stark contrast to Hannah and I guess in that video I seem very different from Hannah and I can see why. So that's why they had me audition. But I think the idea to have Marnie sing comes from a sense of entitlement that she has. And so it's a very interesting way to pursue singing. It's certainly more interesting than the way it worked into my life, which was like fifteen years of voice lessons and doing musicals and stuff like that. But I think for Marnie it's funny because she wants to throw herself right into a world that's really competitive and scary and different and one that she knows almost nothing about but she has no shame. I mean she really doesn’t. So the idea of performing at an open mic, she gets a little nervous but, as she admits, she's almost more nervous about the Desi side of it than she is about the actual performance side. She invites all her friends, so she certainly feels okay enough about it to want all of them present. So that part has been really fascinating, being able to sing as Marnie and not necessarily as myself, which is much more freeing. It means that I don't have to warm up or worry about whether or not it's good enough or did I hit that note or was I a little flat. None of that really matters because as long as Marnie would walk away thinking she did perfectly, which is always, we're good to go.
Brandon Kirby: We want to ask about a moment from last week's episode where Hannah says that Marnie let her use her apartment for this weird, bizarre, role play thing she does with Adam.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yes! Oh my gosh.
JK: We had a lot of debate about what Marnie's understanding was.
BK: Did she know that that's what Hannah would be doing?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: What do you think? (Laughter) My imagination of that call is basically that Hannah called Marnie and said, “I need to use your apartment. I just need to get out of my apartment and I was wondering if I could have some alone time there.” You know Marnie. She is the cleanest person alive. If she knew that someone was having sex on her bed she would have a conniption.
JK: I think, Erin, you said that Marnie looks like the type who carries Purrell. I don't think she's gonna offer her apartment as a sex dungeon.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh, you are absolutely right. She has, like, lotion with sanitizer. Her apartment, as Adam says, smells like air freshener. I mean she is a person of cleanliness. So I don't think she knew that was what was going on. I would like to think she knew and was down with it but she's not Jessa.
Erin Weinger: Jessa would have shown up at the door probably.
Rebecca Sun: Yeah, Jessa would have joined in.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh my God, she would have filmed it.
BK: I also wanted to ask about Ray. Do you think Marnie is actually in any way attracted to Ray or is she strictly using him?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh no, I think there's a lot about him that she finds really enticing and compelling. I mean he has always been the kind of member of their friend group that is the authority. Whether that's earned, that kind of confidence and condescension is very appealing to her. She likes to think of herself as someone that Ray would approve of. So I think when she went over to his apartment, yeah, maybe she put a little extra perfume on and maybe she didn't know why, but she wanted to hear from someone whose opinion she really trusted what was wrong with her. And I definitely don't think she expected to hear what she did, but she certainly went to the right place. And then the attraction that follows is just all ego-based. I mean someone has just eviscerated her and told her very truthfully everything that's wrong with her and then doubled back and said but I do think that at your core you're a good person. So for Marnie that's like catnip. I mean that's literally step-by-step the way to get Marnie to have sex with you. So I think there was a lot about him in that moment that was attractive to her. She thinks he's smart, she thinks he hates everyone and she would love nothing more than to be the exception to that rule.
JK: Yeah, it did occur to me when you were talking about her singing earlier, that it was kind of Ray who was the first one to egg her on and be like, “You do have a nice voice.”
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah! He helped her last season. And he has always had sort of this weird soft spot for her where he believed in her. And so I think she watches him give Hannah shit and she loves that. He says things that she's thinking most of the time. I think there had always been this sense of respect that she had for him, even though his actions and his lifestyle and his actual life path was what Shosh inevitably rejected about him. His attitude and everything else is probably what makes Marnie respect him.
BK: I have another question: what's more fun, doing a bad Kanye cover in season two or doing a really cute open mic night from last night's episode?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: I want to say the open mic night was way more fun but I found both equally rewarding. The Kanye song took a lot of time to work out, just trying to turn it into music was really challenging and working with Michael Penn, who does the music on our score. Because we had to make it sound like Marnie and Ray laid down the track together pretty much that day and also make it recognizable and sing-able. So again, Michael is incredibly talented. He could've written this virtuoso version of Stronger but he had to sort of pretend that he was Marnie and Ray at Garage Band and do what they were capable of. And then when we filmed it, I had an earpiece in so I could hear the piano but we were doing a live sound recording. So I was singing out loud and they were rolling on what I had produced in those moments with my voice. But no one else in the room could hear the back track so it sounded like I was just a crazy person singing acappella in the middle of a room of a hundred and fifty extras. So that was a little embarrassing, but it really helped get me in a place of pressure and of awkward hand gestures. Now for the open mic night, that was a dream. I mean Jack Antonoff wrote that song. We went over to Lena's apartment to record the audio on a weekend, just me and Ebon and Jack. I don't even think Lena was there. The song I think is actually really pretty and it got stuck in my head like crazy. So playing that song was really fun. And then when we actually went to film us singing the song, it was a delight because I've never been able to play that dynamic with Marnie before where she's just completely gone on someone and just staring a hole in the side of his face, like every single facial expression she makes, every angle she puts her body into, she’s trying to just be cute to him. It was such a thrill because I've never played that with her yet so it was really fun to just be like desperate for someone.
JK: It was really important that that song be amazing because it not only shows you how they are great collaborators, there is something between them, but also for Shosh to be able to have that moment with Hannah saying, “Uh-oh, they're actually really fucking good. You're in trouble.”
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah and I also think it's helpful to their cause because I think even though Marnie's behavior has been terrible, I think she was sort of gunning for a win. And the moment where Jessa swoops in and takes the job that Marnie didn't even know existed, she was like “what the fuck? What am I gonna do?”
BK: So heartbreaking.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: She deserved a tiny win. And obviously that won't last forever but it was kind of nice. I mean I am always rooting for her so obviously, that the song was gonna be good. But I think even people who don't root for Marnie will probably be happy to see her succeed in this little moment that lasts for ten seconds.
BK: Well, who knows with Desi there with her. It could last longer.
JK: We have high hopes.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh yeah.
JK: One last question about what preceded this episode. We noticed throughout the season that Marnie wasn't spending a lot of scene time with the other girls.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah.
JK: And we were wondering why Marnie was stuck in isolation, if it had something to do with what happened with Christopher Abbott, maybe there was a Charlie storyline that had to be ditched at the last second or what. What was happening? Where were you?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: It was some combination of the two of those things. The beginning of the season was a little bit more of the Charlie effect than the rest of the season. But yeah, definitely the rehab trip and everything, that was all supposed to be coinciding with Marnie/Charlie stuff. But I think she's an isolator. She's not an extrovert like that. She can very easily be by herself. I don't think it's necessarily out of character for her to be. There are little moments where she and Hannah will be on the phone or they'll be connected in some way. Jessa's alone at the store and Shosh will pop by. There is definitely that integration. But I think obviously when she's living alone there is less natural bonding with them. Obviously it makes me so happy any time that Marnie and Hannah are doing well. It makes me just…I don't know, it just makes me feel like she's okay. So I root for that always. And I think this is just part of her arc that she's not interested in focusing on being a friend and she's certainly not getting much from her friendships as a result. And her actions and her behavior with regards to her friend's ex-boyfriend definitely doesn't help that situation. But yeah, I don't think Marnie would describe herself as a girl's girl. But I'm hoping that'll change.
BK: Marnie found herself a little best friend earlier in the season. Does she still have that adorable little kitten? What happened to it?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh my God! Okay, here is the state of the kitten: the kitten was there for one day of filming and it turned out that I was pretty allergic.
BK: Oh no!
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah. So the cat didn't come back but cat toys are ever present. And so I think the kitten, we can assume, is still a part of Marnie's life until we are informed otherwise.
BK: So the kitten is somewhere in that apartment?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah somewhere in that tiny apartment.
JK: Locked in a hypoallergenic closet.
RS: Traumatized by Hannah and Adam.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah exactly.
EW: Allison, one of the things that we do every week here on our podcast is an index, a Girls Graph, if you will. We examine the areas of Fashion, Finance, Friendship and Fornication, and we look at who is up and who is down in Girls world.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Okay.
EW: So we've got Marnie on the graph this week.
JK: Marnie's on there for sure. So we'll go through our picks and you can let us know what you think and we'll try to pick our winners and losers here.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Perfect.
EW: We'll start with finance. We gave Marnie an up in finance this week just because of the music thing. Maybe there is hope that Marnie will in fact make some money off of her music career one day.
JK: Yeah, she's chasing the dream. The gallery thing was a rough moment with Jessa swooping in, that was hard, but her true passion seems to be the music so I think that makes her a winner in this episode?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah. I would say that I agree with that, that she's up this episode. Plus she's still gainfully employed, as far as we know, at the gallery. So we're good.
RS: That's true.
JK: As long as she stays in Soojin's good graces.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yes, which can't be hard.
EW: We gave Hannah the finance down because she went cray at her job and…
RS: Flamed out.
EW: I mean she just mic-dropped that, so..
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah, that was not great, that was not a good financial move for her. Nope.
EW: That was not a good look for her. For Fashion, what did we have for fashion up here? We had another Marnie?
BK: Yay, Marnie was lookin’ good.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh good!
JK: We're not just trying to flatter you. When she was performing with that cut t-shirt and the hair, that kind of rocker chick look…
RS: I actually really liked the hair because to me it was sort of in a modern rocker, June Carter Cash look. I mean I don't know if that was a reference at all but just when Marnie and Desi were singing and then Desi's got that scruffy guitar man vibe…The song is a little rootsy. Marnie felt very June Carter Cash to me.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: That is the highest possible praise. I will say that it was a long-standing dream of mine to rock a waterfall braid as Marnie and this was the time. The t-shirt was some kind of crazy, long, graphic tank top with a pretty standard jean, I believe, and some heels.
EW: We also had another - you were kind of tied, we're not gonna lie - we were kind of into Elijah's bowtie.
BK: As was Patty LuPone.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh yeah.
JK: Yeah, Patty LuPone was so all over Elijah. I mean we gotta give him a little credit for his Troy Donahue good looks and his Kennedy-esque-ness, yeah.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: He is everything.
EW: For down this week we also had a tie. We can't decide if Jessa's weird flowy dress that she wore to steal Marnie's job is worse than Soojin's floral overalls.
RS: Yeah, Soojin's overalls, I don't know.
EW: I mean you saw both of those up close so…
ALLISON WILLIAMS: I don't know.
BK: What was your take being there in the room with both of those outfits?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: That's a really tough call. That's a really tough call. Although I loved that Jessa dress because if she turned too quickly, she showed ass cheek in it in real life. So it was a very exciting dress.
BK: It was major leg but it went to ass cheek? That's intense.
RS: That was what was surprising because I actually thought that from the waist up it was nice and romantic in that one-shoulder way. But then you look at the waist down and you're like, “That is not a daytime public… “
EW: But that's kind of what makes it amazing for her.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's what makes it so good. Jessa can work anything.
RS: All right. Fine. So Soojin's the looser.
EW: She is, she is. Friendship, we have an up for Ray this week cause he really took Adam under his wing.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Yeah.
JK: Their little bath time bonding...
EW: The bath time bonding was very cute, very, very cute. Hannah we have a down for being a bitch to everyone.
BK:Mostly her GQ co-workers.
EW: Yeah that was pretty bad.
RS: But particularly the very last line of the episode when Hannah says to Marnie, “You can never judge me again.”
BK: Oh yeah, that was intense.
JK: Where do you think this leaves the state of their friendship with this revelation?
ALLISON WILLIAMS: I think secretly probably Hannah is thrilled because of that exact fact, which is that Marnie officially has no pedestal to stand on, which has been true all along. I don’t know why she didn't get that. But yeah, I think it's so bad and Marnie knows she's been misbehaving, obviously, or she wouldn't have kept it secret, so she'll have to deal with it, which is probably a relief. Yeah, I don't know. She's right, Marnie can't really judge her as harshly as she has been.
EW: Our very last area here on the graph: Fornication. For up we sadly had Desi and his girlfriend.
JK: Sorry to break it to you.
EW: Desi and Clementine seem in love.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Oh God, yeah. They do.
EW: They seem to be in love, they do.
RS: Well mostly because I thought if Desi could resist Marnie and their musical magic and everything, that must mean that their relationship is -
EW: Her name is Clementine, that alone is like.. .
JK: That's hard to beat.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: She is just so much cooler than Marnie is. Like, effortlessly cool. She makes so much sense as a girlfriend. And Marnie just does not. Shooting that particular scene was so fun because before Clementine walks up, if you notice, Marnie is trying to hold him as if they're a couple. And then she walks up and it's just like, “Oh, that's the actual girlfriend and they're making out now. Great. They clearly have sex.”
EW: Well our fornication down: Marnie again, Marnie and Ray.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Woohoo! These two.
BK: Coitus interruptus.
EW: I mean that is never good when somebody walks in that you just don't wanna see.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: No. And that was really funny to shoot because it was complicated, choreography-wise. They knew they wanted Marnie behind the bed basically, but trying to figure it out…I have never scrambled from that position so fast and so far, so we had to figure out how to get that done. Yes, coitus interruptus, definitely.
JK: Well I think that's it!
RS: Thank you so much.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: Awesome, thank you guys so much. I'm so glad you're Marnie fans. Keep hanging in there.
JK: We cannot wait to see how the season ends.
ALLISON WILLIAMS: You will not be disappointed. I'll tell you that.