411mania Interview: Jane Levy (Suburgatory)
Success has come quickly to Jane Levy; within a year of moving to Los Angeles the 22 year old had booked a movie (Fun Size), a multi-episode stint on Shameless, and the lead on the ABC comedy Suburgatory.
Al Norton: Happy birthday (Levy turned 22 at the end of December)! Did you do anything special?
Jane Levy: Thank you so much. I did, actually. I was in the Bay Area, which is where my parents live, and I rented a 40 foot sailboat and me and 15 friends went out on the bay. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.
Al Norton: It’s nice to be on television.
Jane Levy: (Laughing) Yes, definitely.
Al Norton: Growing up did you deal with your birthday getting over shadowed because it was so close to the holidays?
Jane Levy: It was kind of overshadowed but I’ve got amazing parents and there are worse things in the world than getting combined presents. It was never that bad.
Al Norton: You know that most actors don’t move to LA and then just start working, right? Do you have friends who want to rub your head for luck?
Jane Levy: Yeah, I know (laughing). Of course it’s about luck. It’s crazy.
Al Norton: You were cast first on the show, so what was it like to sit there and not only enjoy the high of getting the lead in a major network pilot but then learn every week or two about another talented person joining the cast?
Jane Levy: It’s been that whole way through this entire project; every month I’m delightfully surprised by something, and it’s more than that. I’m so knew that in a way it’s a blessing because I don’t have any expectations about stuff but at the beginning I was like, “what, I’m going to be on pilot? What? What?!?!” Every time someone signed on I would think, “oh my god” and then once the pilot got picked up it was another, “holy crap.” Then once I saw the episodes and saw they were so much better than I ever thought they could be…that’s how this whole process has been. I am thrilled more and more and time goes on. It’s messed up (laughing). I don’t know what’s happening.
Al Norton: Because so many of the actors on Suburgatory came in with such high quality resumes, were you nervous about any sort of learning curve you might have?
Jane Levy: Yes, I was extremely nervous. I remember after the first day, and I know this sounds crazy, but I was convinced to the point that no one could convince me otherwise that I was going to be fired. I was so certain I had messed everything up that that was it.
The whole beginning of this process was so crazy and made me so nervous that I didn’t have a sane outlook on things but now that it’s starting to settle in, I’ve learned so much and it’s becoming fun because I can relax a little bit.
Al Norton: Was there a point at which you realized, “hey, the job is mine, I don’t have to look over my shoulder anymore?”
Jane Levy: I’d like to say yes (laughing) but I don’t know if that will ever change. A couple of weeks ago Emily (Kapnek, executive producer of Suburgatory) emailed and said she wanted to talk to me about a couple of changes they were making in the writer’s room and for a whole night I was convinced she was writing me out the show. I was seriously convinced. And it had nothing to do with me, of course, she just wanted to let me know, but I was sure that I had screwed it up, that no one liked me, and they had found someone else to do the voiceover. I don’t know that that will every change.
Al Norton: How do you keep a straight face in the scenes with Carly (Chakin, Levy’s Suburgatory co-star)?
Jane Levy: I’m the worst, I’m the worst one. I don’t. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve had to stop to let Jane laugh for five minutes. It’s so ridiculous I’m even embarrassed about it. I think that’s something that comes with time or…I don’t know. Everyone cracks me up.
Al Norton: You did some musical theater work growing up; could we ever see a musical episode of Suburgatory?
Jane Levy: You never know. I don’t have a real answer to that – I haven’t seen one – but I would be open to one. Jeremy (Sisto) sings and plays guitar and he’s really good. Hopefully that will be incorporated somehow.
Al Norton: What do you watch that makes you laugh?
Jane Levy: I was a big fan of The Office until Steve Carell left; nothing against the show now but I love him and Michael Scott is one of my favorite characters ever. I’ve been watching Extras on my iPad and laughing a lot. Ricky Gervais is hilarious to me.
Al Norton: Tell me about Fun Size.
Jane Levy: I shot Fun Size last summer and it’s coming out this October. It’s a Halloween teen comedy and I play a character completely opposite Tessa; she’s a girl whose number one goal in life is to climb the social ladder, and she tarts herself up at school because she wants to be popular soooo bad (laughing). She dresses up like a sexy kitty because the whole movie takes place on one day, Halloween. Shooting the movie was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. It was like summer camp. Josh Schwartz, the director, and Stephanie Savage, the producer, are the most wonderful people to work for. I hope people like it because I liked making it.
Al Norton: The next episode of Suburgatory is Driving Miss Dahlia?
Jane Levy: Yes. Dahlia can’t pass the driver’s test because she’s not good at anything – ha ha – and Tessa can so she hires Tessa to be her driver for a lot of money; she pays her a lot of cash. Her first assignment is to circle this boy’s house that Dahlia is obsessed with and it turns out this boy actually likes Tessa and not Dahlia, and it will spark an ongoing war between the two of us.
Al Norton: Did you pass your driver’s test the first time?
Jane Levy: Nope (laughing). I failed the first time. I was so sad. I remember I didn’t pass and immediately started crying and the instructor just threw the paper and ran because she was so scared of how hard I was crying. I passed the second time.
Don’t miss Suburgatory, tonight at 8:30pm on ABC
For more information on the show, visit www.abc.com/shows/suburgatory