'Looking' Star Lauren Weedman Talks Movie, Memoir 'Miss Fortune' and Jon Stewart
Lauren Weedman doesn't have much of a filter. Over 30 minutes at a coffee shop in Midtown New York, the actress, writer and comedian holds nothing back. Seemingly nothing is off the table, including leftover feelings from having just appeared on Jenny McCarthy's Sirius XM show.
"I still want her to like me," Weedman said. "I had all these things lined up, like, 'I'm not gonna talk about this. I don't need to show off that I'm some big whore just to make her like me.' And of course, I was. I was like, 'Do you like my boobs, Jenny?'"
The Looking and Daily Show alumna's refreshingly candid voice comes through loud and clear in her new memoir, Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having It All from Someone Who Is Not Okay. The book, out now, is a collection of deeply personal essays. In the first, she tells the story of her stepson-to-be stealing her car — and how somehow she wound up blamed for it.
In a freewheeling chat, Weedman talked about how her book accidentally became a memoir, filming the Looking movie and what she wish she'd said to Jon Stewart years ago.
Mic: There's been a lot of press about the revealing stories in Miss Fortune — particularly regarding your ex-husband's affair with your babysitter. Was there any trepidation on your part that writing a memoir would open these very personal stories up for scrutiny?
Lauren Weedman: I never thought of it as a memoir. They started referring to it as a memoir. I always think of it as David Sedaris-esque essays about my life, that I can lie if I want to. Then the lawyers were going over the book, which I wasn't used to. They were like, "You say you had lunch at a diner on Hollywood and Vine. There's no diner there! Where were you, Lauren?" And I'm like, "Who cares? Who cares what I'm saying anyway?" But they were just doing their job.
There was the sense that it would sell better as a memoir, and it is a memoir, but I just wanted it to be entertaining. Are David Sedaris' works considered memoirs?
Kind of. They're in the same vein as Tina Fey's Bossypants; memoir-ish essays, based in fact but not factual.
LW: But you care about her life. I don't think people are like, "What happened?" Four people care. I thought people would read it because they wanted to, not to find out about me. That's gonna be a very small percentage of people.
Which essay did you start Miss Fortune with?
LW: The first one in the book, actually. That's what I started the proposal with. I can't judge my writing at all. There's a few chapters where I'm like, "OK, that was cool." But for me, when you can't write like your heroes, it's like, "Why am I even doing this? This is so not Tolstoy." But my editor was fighting for that one to be first. It was also the one that was the most written at the time of when it was happening.
That one is also fascinating, because there's kind of a twist. You're the victim of having your car stolen, and suddenly the police blame you. It felt a bit gendered.
LW: You think it was like, "The vagina did it! That bitch did it!"?
I don't know if it was conscious, but there did seem to be a subtle suggestion that it couldn't have been your ex-husband's fault.
LW: That's true. What I thought it was, when you're the step-parent, you're kind of the fall guy anyway. I wasn't officially a step-parent yet, but I was in that role. The fact that I'm the one who puts myself out there so much; when the whole thing was going down, they were talking about how I'd written about his [deceased] mother. That'd become an issue. I'm always gonna be an easy target.
I don't think I'm the reason he ran away [and stole the car]. But at the time, [my ex-husband] didn't step up to say, "God, what have I done wrong?" He doesn't blame himself, and I'm so, "It's all me, I'm a piece of shit." I'm always the one who puts it on me. A lot of ladies do.
You mentioned David Sedaris as a point of inspiration. Were there any other inspirations, or was he the end-all, be-all?
LW: I love him so much. I can't jump off that wagon. I used to not want to say him as an example, because it seems so cliché. It's like getting into music because of Michael Jackson. I love his voice and who he is. He's a national treasure.
I also read books that have nothing to do with what I write, like Miranda July ... I do this dorky shit where, wherever I am writing, I'll pick up a book and feed myself on that. It affects how I'm writing. There's one story that's really affected by A Room With a View. That's not a book I'd read, but the place I was staying had that book. So I'd read it and then it was affecting the story.
LW: I don't think anyone recognizes me for that. The only time The Daily Show is mentioned is because people like that I was associated with that.
Well, you were also a vocal critic of Jon Stewart.
LW: Yeah, but I loved his show. ... I always loved him, but it wasn't my environment at all. When he retired, people were calling me, and I felt like I was gonna be the bitter ex again. "Oh, he was so mean to me." I was so done with that. But I love that credit. So I'm such an asshole, because here I am biting the hand that changed my life, basically. It changed everything.
But I didn't get that then. I just wanted to be treated like an equal. In any environment, I can get along with anybody — except in this environment, where there was a king. Any job, any business, has that. And I was just not going to shut up when he walked into the room. I should've. I should've told him more that I was grateful for the job, but I thought that was a sign of weakness.
So would you say you get noticed more for playing Doris on Looking? There's a chapter in the book where you joke about walking past the Abbey, a gay bar in Los Angeles, four times waiting for someone to recognize you.
LW: It's so true! Now, I've gotten to the point where I see a group of gay boys, I try to talk loud. I think, "What would Doris say?" I so love that.
But Looking, yeah! The show I care about the most — and I'm so much more about doing my theater work and creating my own stuff. Looking was the only TV/film thing I've ever done that I felt a real love for. I liked Hung, too, but Looking was fantastic.
LW: Even if they hated it. I was just doing an event with Dan Savage, and he started off, "Looking. I'm the one who was very vocal" — he started going off on that. I didn't plan on doing this, but I told him this story. ... I told him [about] the last day of shooting. We shot in the Castro, for the movie, and they wanted the sun to be coming up over the Castro for the last shot. So we shot all night long, and the whole cast is there. The director comes in, Andrew Haigh, and he said, "All right, this is it." ... Jonathan Groff burst out crying. He's very sweet.
And then we walk out into the Castro — I've never seen it empty — and it's beautiful. The sunrise was amazing, and I can't believe I'm about to use this corny phrase, but you could hear the history of San Francisco. It meant so much to me, and to the boys. This show, whether you like it or not, is part of that history.
Then I look over, and Dan's crying. [laughs]
Can you tell us anything else about the movie?
LW: Just like Looking, it's small in scope and just story. Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan [the creators] are both film people, so they got to do what they do best. ... I saw some clips of it, and the clips were beautiful. But I'm not sure I have any good critical eye, because I'm just so deeply in that world.
Do you have another book in you?
LW: I always have something else in me. I don't know about a book. Books are hard; I don't have time to just sit and write and write and write. I'm working on a musical, a cabaret I'll be doing on a gay cruise ... which is kind of a fantasy of mine. My friends are like, "Ew, that's a nightmare." I couldn't be happier.
Book-wise, probably. After I wrote this one, I liked the idea of continuing writing. But not for a while.