This week, I had the chance to interview the fabulous Jane Lynch, who plays the deliciously devious, Sue Sylvester on FOX’s hit show, Glee. She shared her views on the show, her new book, and her special role in tonight’s Super Bowl episode.
Check out the great answers to some of the questions below!
Jane’s thoughts on how her character is influencing young women in today’s society like Carol Burnett influenced her
Oh, well that’s an interesting question. I hope that girls see what’s possible for them. That they don’t have to play a stereotype, and what is Sue is not a stereotype. But basically, maybe we all are. I guess we all start that way and we hope to humanize them. But, I also see that you don’t have to be anything anybody tells you that you have to be. You can find these really crazy characters out there and that there’s more possible for you than maybe you’re led to believe.
Jump with us to see what else Jane had to say.
Her thoughts on our world when Glee and the Super Bowl can come together and actually work
Well that’s funny, I never looked it that way, but you’re absolutely right. It all remains to be seen, but I think it’s wonderful that the Super Bowl, football is very masculine and basically, to me, anyway, a metaphor for war. You’ve got your air game and your ground game. And then you’ve got these “light in your loafers” guys, and I’m talking about even the straight guys, singing and dancing. I think it’s a terrific world we live in and I love seeing these two things come together.
On her book and how it came to be
Well basically, how it came together is I’ve been giving speeches at gay banquets – and not even just gay – but people wanting to know more about it. I started writing things down and I was telling a friend about it, she’s a writer, and she said, “There’s a book in there.” So I kind of sat down and looked at it, and I thought, you know what, there is a book in there.
I think a little tidbit I can give you is I grew up basically with everything handed to me. Not my career. I worked for that, but I had a really good family, I was brought up with a lot of love, but still I chose time after time after time to suffer over so much. And that mental component of suffering is the thing I think, if I can look back on my life, is a choice. And to this day I still would choose maybe the angst over something when I really don’t have to. And how to kind of …your life slow. I know it sounds new-agy and granola, but it’s truly what I’ve come up with that you really need to trust that you’re on your own path and as long as you stay true to it and you show up; showing up is 90% of it. So basically that’s kind of what I’m saying.
On whether or not Sue get to be meaner on Super Bowl Sunday
She does. We’re kind of doing an episode of Glee that is on steroids and writ large. Sue Sylvester is a little bored with her routine, even though she has kids riding around on BMX bikes and jumping through fire. And this one routine with Katy Perry’s California Girls she wants to top herself, so she finds out there’s a human cannon in town, she buys it and wants to shoot Britney out of it. Figgins doesn’t allow it… And she has a hissy fit. She has two hissy fits where she just rips two rooms apart. So it was definitely Sue Sylvester on the war path.
Does Jane ever find the scripts shocking or does she just expect her character’s antics?
Well, of course the addition of my sister, having a sister with Down’s Syndrome took me completely by surprise. Carol Burnett coming on as my Nazi hunter mother took me by surprise and I was also very surprised when I said my mother was a famous Nazi hunter that that was true.
It turns out that there’s so many things that I’ve said that I’m like, yeah, sure, I smoked out Noriega with Special Forces. And I’m sure we’ll do an episode where maybe an old war buddy of mine comes back and indeed that was true, too.
On the production of the Super Bowl episode
This is a big episode. It’s kind of like the Madonna episode. It’s like the episode we shot for four months, like it drags on that long. I think we started actually after the holidays, but we needed to pick up a couple of reaction shots, just really quick reaction shots during the Thriller song, and they were really quick and fast, and then everybody had to get back into everything. You know, the zombie makeup, etc. So it was a big deal for two shots.
On whether Glee does big episodes better or if they are just all great
I think what I love about this show, and maybe with the exception of a couple every episode is kind of a big deal; they do something outrageous or a song or someone has an outrageous moment. I look forward to getting the script all the time and these shows, where we’re doing Britney or Madonna or Super Bowl where it’s special, they’re very fun as well and there’s always a lot of anticipation. I know they have a lot of production meetings for certain songs and certain episodes are heavier than others in terms of preproduction, but I like them all. I really don’t feel like we have a run, maybe we’ve had two run-of-the-mill that were like, ah, but I can’t even think of what they were. And you know what? I wouldn’t tell you.
Jane talks about Sue’s journey through the second half of the season
Let’s see, we’ve done a couple more after the Super Bowl episode. Sue has a devastating summer, suffers a devastating loss, after the Super Bowl episode and she becomes very, very depressed and she becomes kind of dangerously depressed, where she’s more violent than usual.
They get her to join the Glee Club to lift her spirits and they find that raising her voice in song kind of lifts her and she gets out of her depression. So I’m actually in the Glee Club for a while.
Jane’s view on how Glee has impacted her life and career
Well, I found out like in the middle of the first season that we have employment for three seasons, so that has never happened to me before, so that is different and that is wonderful to know that I will be employed, barring a big catastrophe, for the foreseeable future. And I haven’t had that in my life and it’s a huge psychological relief.
Then I’ll probably go back to job hunting, like I always do. I think I’m starting to become more popular and the character has become iconic.
On what she would tell her 17 year-old self
Oh, wasn’t that sweet? I actually took that premise and wrote a little something just the other day. I would tell myself, if I could go back to myself, to not suffer. To don’t sweat it. Don’t try to control things and just let your life happen. Show up, do your best everywhere you go, but there’s no reason to beat up on yourself. That’s what I would say.
Jane’s views on her whether she prefers playing evil Sue or nice Sue
I love when I get an equal dose. I like to get the variety. I like the two, for Sue Sylvester to be firing on all cylinders. I don’t like to stick to one thing for too long and the writers make sure of that, which is great.
I asked her which character besides her own she loved and why.
I love how big her heart is and I love how selfless she is and heroic.
Jane’s advice to aspiring actors
It’s so deep, man, and then when it comes down to it, just keep doing it. Do it, do it, do it, do it. Do it for free, do it for money, do it when no one shows up, do it when everybody shows up. Just keep doing it.
Her favorite Sue one liners
I love the monologue where I talk about the 1968 convention where Mayor Dailey punched his own wife in the face. That was fun. I like the one where I say, “Loving musical theater doesn’t make you gay, it just makes you awful.”
Jane’s view on Sue’s motivation behind her actions towards the Glee club. Is she trying to destroy or help?
The thing I keep coming back to Sue that motivates all these different ways she goes after them is that she just wants an enemy. She’s looking for the next fight. And sometimes it’s that fight to get these people to stand up for themselves instead of being so weak and wussy. And other times it’s, yes, to destroy them because they threaten her spotlight in the Cheerios that she works so hard to make a world-class cheerleading squad and she doesn’t want anything in their light. But I think she’s always looking for a formidable enemy.
I think she also has a fondness for Will and for who he is and how he’s genuinely just a good person. In moments she hates him for it and other moments she has great admiration for him.
Is Sue just a big fish in a small pond or will she branch out?
I think it is she wants to stay the big fish in a small pond. Remember the last episode of the first season, Olivia Newton John and Josh Grobin are the celebrity judges with me and they say to me, “We’re flying back to LA tonight first class. Where are you going?” And the thing is that Sue will never be flying first class and she will never go to LA. I think she has grand ambitions, but I think she knows that she will never be anything bigger than a Lime, Ohio coach and a terror at this high school.
Jane’s thoughts about the shows coming out in the fall that resemble Glee
We’re too busy to care what anybody else is doing, but it’s flattering and it sounds like a show I would like to watch.
That’s all for the interview, and I have to say that I was so excited I almost peed myself. 😀 It’s no secret that I love Glee, but I also love Jane Lynch. I hope you all tune into FOX right after the Super Bowl at 10:30/9:30c to watch the special episode of Glee. It’s going to be fantastic. (Again, the show may start late, so take that into consideration if you’re going to record it!)