Yes, singing Kanye West's "Stronger" in that party scene was humiliating; yes, she, too, couldn't stop laughing at Lena Dunham's infamous mesh tank top from the "Bad Friend" episode; and no, that's not her dancing and singing in Major Lazer's "Bubble Butt" video, despite what you may have read on the Interwebs.
"Girls" star Allison Williams discussed these and other fun facts and rumors with Yahoo! TV, during a break while filming Season 3 of the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy nominee.
Congratulations on the Emmy nominations for Season 2. That must have been great news to get going into the new season.
Thank you so much. It's definitely an exciting thing to have happen, especially when we're shooting. It adds a little bit of a spring in everyone's step, I think.
Let's dive into your storylines in Season 2. Marnie is relatable to a lot of people in that she was drifting, wasn't sure what she wanted in her personal life or her career. What kind of feedback did you get about Marnie in Season 2?
It's very interesting. It's a little bit like a Rorschach test playing on TV, because people see different things in the character — things that are clearly going on with them. That's part of what makes ["Girls" series creator Lena Dunham] so brilliant, that people can look at the things she's created and see the same stuff but interpret it differently. Some people say Marnie is doing really well. She's finally having fun. Then you get people who are really stressed out by what she's doing. It's really funny to hear everyone's reactions to it, because they do vary.
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I interpreted it as sort of like a lost and found season for her. But she is someone who always feels like she's OK and always feels like she knows what she's doing. That often can be very convincing and can fool the people around her. It never looks like she's struggling. To me, victory for her will be when she can finally admit, "Yeah, I'm having a hard time." She sort of does briefly with Charlie, up on the rooftop, but it's not like a full-blown admission of being lost. She's still very reticent to do that. I think there's a lot going on that gives me an amazing arc to play with. It's such a privilege to try to breathe life into it. You can never tip the scale too far into self awareness for her. There's a lot she doesn't like to think about.
What was the most fun scene for you to play all season?
The most fun scene … I'm trying not to say something accidentally about Season 3. (Laughs) I had a lot of fun on some of my scenes with Andrew Rannells [Elijah], where we have sex in the first episode, just because I love him so much, and we have such a giggly fun time. It was his first ever sex scene, so I got to be his first and show him the ropes. I think that was a really fun scene. I love any scene with the girls, any time we get to be together.
And I really liked shooting the stuff when I went into Charlie's office, and I was just, like, pretty pathetic … Marnie, with pigtails and jeans that are too long and dragging on the ground and flip flops. The idea that she would go out looking like that is completely beyond her realm of what she can imagine for herself. So finding that kind of energy, which is as down as she can get, was really fun for me, even though it was not fun for Marnie.
I also definitely had a hard time keeping a straight face when Lena was across that island in Booth's kitchen from me, sort of shaking her tits in my face in that mesh shirt and yelling at me in a coke-fueled rage. It was very hard for me to keep a straight face. Also, every time Andrew walked into the scene and he said, "Marnie!" it made our entire crew crack up for some reason. We had to do it so many times, and it got to the point where I couldn't look at him anymore as he walked into the apartment.
Every day on set is a lot of fun. And I loved being able to eat as much Roberta's pizza as I wanted in the finale. That was a real privilege.
You sounded great when you performed "Stronger," but the circumstances made it one of the most cringeworthy moments of the season. Did you feel that moment, too — like, that the audience was at home yelling at the screen, begging Marnie not to do what she was about to do?
As I was watching it, I was, like, "Do not do this." I was yelling at myself on the screen, even though I knew exactly what was going to happen. I was, like, "Please, do not do this. Don't follow through with this!" It's funny, it wasn't a performance at the top of my ability, but that wasn't the point. It also probably wasn't one at the top of Marnie's ability, because she pulled it together in one day, and she just decided to perform it at that party. To me, the more excruciating things to watch were my little talks beforehand, and what I said afterwards, and my arm movements that I didn't even think about when I was doing it. It was edited so beautifully together with everyone's reactions. All the other guys did such an amazing job looking just mortified, which I imagine did not take much acting whatsoever.
Watch the scene here:
When we filmed it, I was just singing a cappella, because they were recording live audio to be like a back track. I had a little thing in my ear playing the back tracks, but no one else in that huge party could hear it. It sounded like I was just weirdly singing in the middle of the stage with no music behind me. Absolutely mortifying.
Marnie also had fun moments with Ray [Alex Karpovsky]. You have great comedy chemistry with Alex, and it was an example of two characters who aren't together very often just really clicking in their rare shared scenes.
Yeah, I think [Marnie's] drawn to people who are a little bit tough on her. Ray definitely falls under that category. Plus, he's older. Yeah, he's bitter and hates everything, but she wants to be the exception to that rule. She wants to be the one thing that he respects. I loved that scene where I asked him for help. I love the scene where he asked me to do the same for him. I had a lot of fun. The fact that he was the only person that cheered after the "Stronger" performance … I agree, I love scenes where it's sort of like a roulette of character combinations that's just something you wouldn't expect. We continue to play with that this season, mixing and matching all of us together. It continues to be really fun.
We also met Marnie's mom [played by guest star Rita Wilson] in Season 2, and that provided more insight into Marnie's character. Is it true that Rita Wilson is a mentor to you?
Yeah. I've known her for a couple of years now, and she's always been an incredibly supportive figure in my life. I'd say she's both a mentor and a friend, which is kind of an incredible thing to straddle. We are in touch constantly. I think Lena saw us together at one point and was like, "Oh, well, you guys obviously have to be mother/daughter if that ever happens. If we ever meet Marnie's mom, it's going to be Rita." It was like a dream come true to be sitting across the table from her and to play her daughter. It was incredibly surreal. She was so good. I learned a lot about Marnie from reading and then playing that scene, because if that's your mom, then you're a little bit more at sea than if you had someone who is grounded.
My mom is very grounded, and smart, and loving, and selfless. It was really interesting for me to see what that would feel like if [Marnie's mom] was your mom, if that's supposed to be the person that's in charge of you.
But, yeah, we had so much fun. We got to do a little bit more in this season, which has been said already, so I'm not going to get in trouble for saying that. But it's just such a privilege. [Rita] is so good.
Marnie and Charlie [Christopher Abbott], at the end of the season, are together. They express their love for each other. Do you think that she really does love him and wants to be with him, or does he kind of represent security for her, especially at this time where she's a bit adrift?
I have to answer this one carefully, because I don't want to give anything away. [Note: Abbott left the series as production began on Season 3.] I think Marnie genuinely loves him and is desperate to be with him. I think that's very real for her. Whether or not it looks real was something we played with. But she fully thinks, "I need to be with this person, and I'm going to get them. That's that." I think, for a while, she sort of thought that maybe that wasn't what needed to happen, and that she wasn't missing him. Then the minute he got with Audrey, it just all went out the window, and she was totally devastated and realized how much she missed him.
I think, yeah, of course, he represents security, especially now that he is a little bit more independent and entrepreneurial. He definitely became more enticing to her because that confidence came with it. That moment where they were walking through the Meatpacking District, and she looks at him, that's pure love in her eyes. She's just totally happy and feels totally, totally comfortable with him. In those eyes, I think she's seeing a house, and I think she's seeing children … the future.
Oh, my gosh! Let me think. A weird thing happened, which is that a lot of people thought I was in the music video for the Major Lazer song "Bubble Butt." I feel like I owe it to my doppelgänger self to maybe put some finality to that rumor. I don't know how it would work, but if I had the time, I would definitely invest some time into turning that into a ballad. (Laughs) I've never thought about it before, but I think it would be crazy. I'll pull my pink V neck sweater out of retirement from the "Tik Tok" video, and I'll wear it and sing "Bubble Butt."
Everyone is going to be waiting for that now.
Don't hold your breath! (Laughs)
Watch the "Bubble Butt" video:
"Girls: The Complete Second Season" is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from HBO Home Entertainment.