'Obvious Child' Star Jenny Slate on a Marcel the Shell Movie (and Her Looney Tunes Script)

Obvious Child-Jenny Slate-Jake Lacy
Obvious Child-Jenny Slate-Jake Lacy

Slate, with Jake Lacy, in ‘Obvious Child’

It’s unfortunate that the phrase “abortion comedy” has become the go-to description for the sweet, thoughtful movie Obvious Child (out on DVD and Blu-ray today). Yes, there’s an abortion, but it’s basically just a plot device in the Gillian Robespierre-directed film, starring SNL alum Jenny Slate as a foul-mouthed young comic who has a fateful one-night stand. “Obvious Child is not an abortion comedy. And like I’ve said many times, that’s not a thing,” Slate tells Yahoo Movies. “I just think of it as a modern rom-com.” It’s also a movie about a woman beginning to figure out who she is, and an affirming story of love coming from messy, unexpected places.

But if Obvious Child has been unfairly pigeonholed, its star most certainly has not. A scant year ago, Jenny Slate was best known for playing idiosyncratic comedic characters like Parks and Recreation’s Mona-Lisa and viral-video sensation Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (which she created with husband Dean Fleischer-Camp). With her vulnerable and complex performance in Obvious Child, Slate has achieved a whole new level of recognition as a film actress. On a personal level, the experience taught Slate that she doesn’t have to tolerate the entertainment industry’s frequent hostility towards artists. “That was something that I learned: It’s actually okay if the way that I do my best is when I’m treated well,” says Slate. “I shouldn’t have to work with a—holes who are willing to let me drown. I should just work with people who want to succeed, and who want me to succeed with them.”

Slate is keeping that standard in mind as she moves forward in her film career. In between shooting her half-dozen recurring television roles, she filmed a small role for Joe Swanberg’s upcoming Digging for Fire and has been developing a Marcel the Shell movie (still “in the future,” she says). The comedienne also wrote a Looney Tunes film for Warner Bros., though the studio seems to be sitting on her screenplay. “It was very, very fun to write it, but in the end, I don’t think I was able to be as formulaic and mainstream as that movie needs,” she says without malice. “It really needs that. It’s a very old, very important franchise, and if it’s going to be done, I think it really has to be a more mainstream thing. And I don’t know that I’m really interested in being that voice.”

“I want to write a studio movie,” Slate adds, “but probably one that’s for me to be in.”

Photo credits: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic