8:30am PT by Alyse Whitney
Inside 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's' Surprise Season 2 Casting Coup
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season two finale of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.]
Kimmy waited 15 years to find her mom, Lori-Anne, on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but finding the actress to play the role was a much easier journey.
“It was a first choice thing. Thank god she wanted to do it,” showrunner Robert Carlock tells The Hollywood Reporter about casting Lisa Kudrow. “We wanted to find somebody who could tell a story where you understood where [Kimmy] came from, with this optimism and sunniness and strength. They both are very good at moving forward, grinning and bearing it, and having fun. I just think there is no actress other than Lisa who encapsulates that.”
For Kudrow, it was an easy “yes,” too. “I’m a fan of the show, number one. And Tina [Fey] and Rob, number two. And then I read it and it was just perfectly funny!” she says.
In the series, the casting of Kimmy's mom was two years in the making. In season two, Kimmy came to the realization that she needed to find and confront her mother — whose neglect she blames for her kidnapping — as a result of her therapy with psychiatrist Andrea (executive producer and guest star Fey). In the end, mother and daughter had a long overdue confrontation on a roller coaster at Universal Studios.
Although saying yes to the role was a no-brainer for Kudrow, getting into the rhythm of Fey and Carlock’s writing proved a bit daunting. “That was one thing I was nervous about. I laughed so hard at 30 Rock and this show and then I realized, ‘Oh, that’s not what I’ve done before!’ It didn’t dawn on me,” she says with a laugh. “Then I realized that they wrote funny things. You just have to say it, basically, and mean it."
Things were left open with Kimmy and Lori-Anne at season’s end, so could their mother-daughter relationship continue in season three?
“I would love to have her back. We intentionally left it at this place that was open,” Carlock says. “Her mom won't ever fully be there for her, which is very sad. ... It ends with, ‘OK, we are in each other's lives now, but what does that mean?’”
Kudrow is up for a return visit. “I would love to! It was fun and I like the character. It just depends on where their stories take them next season.”
The guest appearance on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt comes after several months away from TV for Kudrow, who starred on and co-wrote Showtime's Web Therapy for four years before segueing into The Comeback last year for HBO. Even though Kudrow doesn’t have plans to jump into pilot season this fall, she’s open to doing another series. “I would like to, I think. I have to qualify all of it. I have to put a little speed bump in there,” she explains. “If I really connected with something and felt, ‘I have to do this,’ then I would do it.”
One role she would definitely return to is The Comeback, which she and co-creator Michael Patrick King are “still talking about” for potential third season.
“We want to make sure it’s worthwhile. It ended kind of like ‘Well... that’s that!’ It gets scary because we loved it and we loved how it ended and all of that, so do we roll the dice?” she questions. “We’ve done well so far… two seasons in 10 years. I love being Valerie Cherish. It’s very fun to be her. It looks painful, but it’s actually really fun because everything’s fine with her, so that’s nice.”
Until Valerie makes another comeback, Lisa has another guest-starring role in mind. “I think Veep would be fun! Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] is so good. She did Web Therapy and it was one of my favorite days. It would be really fun to work with Julia again.”
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season two is streaming now on Netflix.