As the longest running female cast member on SNL and the first out lesbian on the show, Kate McKinnon has amassed numerous noteworthy epithets in her career. This summer, McKinnon returns to the big screen opposite co-star Mila Kunis in the comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me. In a new interview with Glamour, the comedian described why this role was so different for her.
McKinnon has mastered the art of imitation, having conquered striking impressions of Rudy Giuliani, Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres, and more. Even in her film roles, like the caustically Australian Pippa in 2017’s Rough Night, the actress loses herself in her characters—and she loves that. But in The Spy Who Dumped Me, the 34-year-old plays a grounded character—one that’s more like herself than anything she’s done before.
“I spend so much time in wigs and doing these voices that having to use my own voice made me feel quite naked,” she says of the role. McKinnon recounts multiple occasions on set when director Susanna Fogel would insist, “play it real, take it down.” McKinnon joked that at times she felt like, “Don’t make me act, you hateful witch!”
Although the actress was uncomfortable with how much of her was in this movie, she actually came to love the character. “I connected to this character on a level I didn’t expect,” she explains. “The character is an actrice who is very performative. And I am that way as well. Sometimes I feel like that makes me unique and wonderful, and sometimes I feel like that makes me someone that people would rather have leave the room.”
She added, “I didn’t know what it would be like for me—being me—to be on screen that much. Would people be able to tolerate it?” Downplaying her award-winning talents, she elaborated, “In all of the roles I had done prior, I was more of a side dish, a wonderful creamed spinach. And the creamed spinach can afford to be as odd as the creamed spinach wants.”
But what’s most important to McKinnon is finding truth in every character she plays. “It’s not really perfection that is the goal for me; it’s more the pursuit of truth,” she insists. “If you convey something you find true and other people also find it true, you feel a sense of gratification unlike anything else. So I suppose I am relentless in my pursuit of that.”