Nick Kroll on Returning as Spirit Awards Host and His Unusual Role at the Winter Olympics

John Mulaney and Nick Kroll - Getty - H 2018
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Film Independent

The actor, fresh off of filming in Pyeongchang, reprises hosting duties on March 3 for the second time alongside John Mulaney.

Oscars emcee Jimmy Kimmel isn't the only one repeating his 2017 duties; Nick Kroll and John Mulaney also will reprise their two-hander hosting gig at the Spirit Awards on March 3, when the duo takes the stage for the second year in a row (the show airs live on IFC at 2 p.m. PT). Their material, by the way, is still TBD: Mulaney's been tied up with a seven-night sold-out stint at Radio City Music Hall and Kroll, who spoke with THR about the repeat gig, was at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, filming — well, he's not exactly sure yet what he was filming.

What were you doing in Pyeongchang?

I was filming with Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher. They got a grant as artists in residence from the International Olympic Committee to make a feature inside the Olympics.

What kind of feature?

That, at this point, is not entirely clear. It was funded by the IOC, so I think that's still in process. The idea was, basically, "Let's make a fictional story about what it's like to be an athlete at the Olympics — but actually do it inside the Olympics." I play a volunteer dentist.

So is it a mockumentary?

No, it's an insight into a world people don't really understand beyond the NBC package stuff. Normally coverage is about Olympic gold or some grand disappointment, but 90 to 95 percent of the athletes leave without a medal or a tremendous failure. This tells that story.

Was it your first Olympics?

Yes. I failed to qualify for women's figure skating a number of times.

What did you find that didn't make it to TV?

That it was a freezing cold unlike anything I've ever experienced. Even the Olympians, people who spend their entire lives in the cold, were like, "This is cold."

This is your second time teaming up with John to host the Spirit Awards. How do you describe your comedic partnership?

I would say it's a hate-hate relationship. No, it's the best. John is so deeply funny and smart. Even though he's a stand-up, he's incredibly collaborative. People don't realize how collaborative the comedy world is. We just hear the same laughs. We know what works and what doesn't. Hosting these kinds of shows is a weird job, especially when you do it alone. It's just more fun being onstage with someone. And, for me at least, it's a lot less scary.

Does the relatively small TV audience lower the pressure a bit?

It's during the day in a tent in Santa Monica. The pressure is immediately lower. And it's all people in and around independent film, so you kind of have a better idea of your audience.

Do you watch all of the nominated films?

The batch of movies this year is quite a bit different than in 2017. Those were all great films, but they were also real bummers. There's more variety this year. And if you look at most of the best picture nominees — Get Out, Lady Bird, Call Me by Your Name — they're movies that have resonated on a larger stage and are well-represented at the Oscars. I try to watch as many as possible.

Knowing that the fallout from Harvey Weinstein is still the dominant subject in Hollywood, are you excited or intimidated by having to address the topic?

We're navigating what is funny to us. It's such an important part of the last year, in filmmaking, the entertainment industry and the larger culture, I think we're just trying to figure it out. Hopefully we'll do something that is funny and acknowledges everything that's happening.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.