Molly Shannon Talks about Year of the Dog, Saturday Night Live and More with Michelle!

Molly Shannon talks Year of the Dog with EclipseMagazine.com Molly Shannon has had a long and interesting career her first film role was a horror remake of The Phantom of the Opera after that she went on to do a couple of bit parts before she got her big break on Saturday Night Live. After leaving SNL she went on appear in projects like Never Been Kissed, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Scrubs and more. Generally she’s been typecast as the “funny best friend,” now in Year of The Dog, she steps from the shadows to prove that she can be a dramatic leading lady. 

EM

So is this the pay off for doing all the Dog Show sketches?

Molly Shannon

[laughs] Yes [kidding] it was a sketch that Will Ferrell and I did together. I’ve always loved dogs.

EM

So what’s it like to have a friend write a script specifically for you? Did you believe he would do it?

MS

I did believe him. Three years ago Mike and I did a television series called Cracking Up about a bi-polar, alcoholic mother. The network kept asking Mike to change it. We shot 13 episodes and only 2 aired. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience for Mike. We became really good friends and had dinner a lot; at one point he told me he was going to write me a movie. I can’t tell you how excited I was, when you have someone like Mike tell you that. After the experience with Cracking Up, I thought if he did this, it should be fun with no pressure. So he would call me every couple of months and tell me “I’m still working on that movie,” he wouldn’t tell me what it was about or anything. One day after Christmas he called me and told me he had a script for me. It was like a dream come true. There’s this misconception that there’s so much to choose from, people always ask “why did you choose to do that?” When there isn’t a lot of amazing stories that star females.

EM

Lately you have played the part of the “funny, best friend.” What’s it like to step up and be the center of a film like this?

MS

It was so hard, because it’s so different than comedy because it’s a lot quieter. There were so many scenes where she cried, or broke down, or was emotional, it was all over the script. I just wanted to do a good job for Mike. It’s also very technical because everyone is waiting around for you to get emotionally ready. It felt like a real challenge.

EM

Do you feel the weight of the success of the film on your shoulders?

MS

No, not really. This is Mike’s film, he has so many. It’s his vision and creation and I just help serve it.

EM

We had Laura here and she feels like it’s a comedy. But you describe it as a drama.

MS

[laughs] Mike likes to call it a comedy that’s not that funny. I guess to me, it’s a drama because all of my scenes are so serious.

EM

As an SNL alum do you still keep in touch and are you able to tap that network to get parts?

MS

I still talk to so many of those people and they are really good friends. It’s always nice to get a call from one of them asking me to be in their project. But I don’t want to have to rely on that network.

EM

When you look back on SNL is there a skit that you miss doing?

MS

I really miss doing Dog Show with Will. It was easy and fun, we wrote it together and just laughed while we were writing. Then some of them are technically hard. Comedy is fun when it works, when it doesn’t it’s like trudging through mud. Will and I had a theory that if it was really bombing we would try harder and really commit.

EM

What is your strongest memory of any celebrity host?

MS

Gwyneth Paltrow was really fun she just wanted to have a good time. There are some hosts who come because they want to prove they are funny. The ones that do really well are there to have fun and not to prove something.

EM

Who was the worse?

MS

I can’t say. But there are some who come in with their own writers, which never goes well.

EM

When you watch it, do you pick up on things that the normal audience may not? Like “oh, my god they want to kill that guy?”

MS

I love watching the Good Nights. [laughs] My husband is like why do you always watch that? It’s fun because you can tell by the body language and how close the cast is to the host if they liked him, or if you see two of the cast members on the opposite sides of the stage, or she must be bummed because she was hardly in the show. There’s a whole other show going on with them.

EM

Who is your favorite performer this year?

MS

I don’t want to say, I really love them all.

EM

How does the cast react when Alumni come back?

MS

The writers get really excited when someone like Alec Baldwin comes back because he’s so easy to write for. And generally most of the alumni understand comedy so it becomes fun… But not all of them…

EM

How close is 30 Rock to the real thing, does it feel like your life?

MS

YES! Because I watched Studio 60 and it didn’t feel at all like reality, but 30 Rock is dead on. The writer’s room feel very familiar, but the stuff with the boss not so much.

EM

Where you there when Brad Pitt came?

MS

I was eating lunch with the Producer and my kids and Brad Pitt came and sat down at my table. I went “Oh, my god that’s Brad Pitt.” It’s funny to watch a superstar like that because people act like they don’t notice, but they are staring at him. He handles it well considering he creates a tornado everywhere he walks. I felt really distracted, trying to focus on my dramatic scene while he was there watching.

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