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“Cool people like me,” Amy Landecker tells Off the Cuff while describing what it’s like co-starring with the likes of Gaby Hoffmann and Carrie Brownstein on Amazon’s new breakout show Transparent. “I’m not as smart or talented as anyone around me. But they like me.”
Just how smart and talented Landecker is seems barely in question with critics falling over themselves in praise of the latest work — and Landecker’s starring turn therein — by series creator Jill Soloway, who wanted to cast Landecker after first seeing her in an episode of Louie. The actress initially resisted (“I’m the idiot who actually turned down the audition for the show,” she admits), largely over concerns about nudity for her character Sarah, who free-falls into an affair with an old college girlfriend while adjusting to the news that her father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, has decided to transition as a woman. Landecker quickly learned that Soloway takes an entirely different approach behind the camera from many of her male contemporaries.
“We’re going to direct from our vaginas,” is how Landecker sums up Soloway’s philosophy. As she tells it, it was a welcome departure from some earlier on-set experiences she had had in her relatively recent but prestigious screen career.
“There’s the male director and there’s the male actor and the male crew and there’s not a lot of emotional discussion,” she recalls of shooting a typical sex scene. “No one yells cut and your panties are down and you’re like, ‘Wait, I don’t even know what just happened to me.'”
Viewers will have to spend some time trying to understand what’s happening to them as Transparent will undoubtedly usher new members into the growing “cult of Soloway,” with Landecker noting that the director wisely “keeps it all really sexy and funny so she can get her politics in there.”
“We got dildos flying and it all feels like great art,” she says. “You don’t even realize you’re being indoctrinated into the future.”
Listen to Landecker’s full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff and be sure to subscribe to #pretapodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek