Natasha Lyonne Talks 'Russian Doll' Success and Attraction to Philosophical Stories

Russian Doll S01 Still 2 - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Netflix

Nadia (Lyonne) doesn't carry a handbag, meaning everything from her jeans to her coats have pockets. She embodies the "throwback cool" look of the Lower East Side.

Russian Doll actress and co-creator Natasha Lyonne stopped by The Daily Show to reflect on the Netflix series' success and what attracts her to projects with major philosophical themes.

Host Trevor Noah congratulated Lyonne on her three Emmy nominations plus the ironically lucky 13 nods the series gained as well. Lyonne, who co-created the series that's headed for another loop with a second season, has been Emmy nominated just once before — in 2014 for her role as Nicky Nichols in Orange is the New Black

"It's good also because it's a number I like," Lyonne noted. "You know, if you are not going to get 666... you want 13."

Noah agreed, adding that a show about bad luck — specifically a coder, Nadia Vulvokov (played by Lyonne), forced to relive her 36th birthday by means of dying and coming back to life in a nightmarish loop — is “turning into good luck” for the actress.

The dark comedy from Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland has been critically praised for its insight on humanity and death mixed with Lyonne’s signature sarcasm. Lyonne shared that for her TV writing debut, where she has been “meticulously constructing and writing it and trying to Easter egg it everywhere," it is "a very warm, nice thing" to see it so well received. 

"We’re in a crazy time in this country," Lyonne continued. "I think that we really tried to tell the truth the best way we could… to talk about big ideas and the heart of the matter. So I think maybe that sort of accounts for some of the response... we’re hungry for that kind of storytelling in this moment."

Noah and Lyonne also joked about Lyonne’s confidence at the start of the series, complete with what the actress describes as her "Pesci move," to how the story evolves into a “deeper search for meaning.”

The host commented that shift reflects Lyonne’s professional career as well.

“I fell in love with your acting in American Pie,” Noah said. “Your humor, your acting, the way you come across on camera. What’s changed in your roles is you still have that humor, you still have that charisma, but everything you touch seems to have a deeper meaning. You have that with Russian Doll and Orange is the New Black talks about such big ideas – addiction, belonging, the way we treat people who are imprisoned, being a woman.”

Lyonne agreed that she’s "always had a philosophical leaning" and comically chalked up her affinity for such themed projects as a result of "getting older."

The first season of Russian Doll and the final season of Orange is the New Black are available on Netflix.