I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Critic
The fifth episode of FXX’s hit series THE LEAGUE airs tonight. Really, you can expect anything. If you saw last week’s episode (when Rafi and Randy met in a mental institution – featuring hardly any of the main cast members), you would know that with this show, anything can happen. But hilarity always ensues.
We had the opportunity to speak with Katie Aselton, who plays Jenny on the show. We talked about her and her real-life husband (Mark Duplass), if she is a real fantasy football player, how she relates to Jenny, and who she would cast as her girlfriend on the show.
Hi, Katie. How are you doing?
Katie Aselton: “I’m good, thanks. How are you?”
I’m doing great. So, I talked to your husband a couple of weeks ago when he came through Dallas for THE ONE I LOVE and I asked him this question, and I kind of want to get your perspective on it since it relates to THE LEAGUE as well. Thinking about your relationship with Kevin in THE LEAGUE and your real-life marriage with Mark, what in your opinion makes love last through its ups and downs?
Aselton: “Well, I mean, in real life do I think Jenny and Kevin are a great couple? Not necessarily. I think they’re a super great couple to watch, but if anyone ever spoke to me the way that Kevin speaks to Jenny or the way Jenny speaks to Kevin, that never works [Laughs]. I think what really works in a good relationship is mutual respect and good communication, and I think without those two things you have a hard time making it last.”
Yes, absolutely. Mark mentioned something about, I’m probably going to butcher what he said, but that you can only expect for your spouse to do about 80% of what you ask of them, and you have to be forgiving when they don’t.
Aselton: “Totally. Just have a mutual understanding and respect for each other, and an appreciation for what they do.”
Agreed. Were you and Mark cast as a package deal, or was one cast before the other?
Aselton: “No, we were cast together. When Jackie and Jeff Schaffer were looking to cast the show, the pilot, they were sort of looking around at all different types of people who do improv. So, they went to the comedy side and that’s where they found Paul Scheer, Nick Kroll and Stephen Rannazzisi, and then, they had a conversation with my agent and Mark’s agent and Mark and I had just come out of a film together that had a whole lot of dramatic improvisation and so they took a meeting with us together and by meeting I mean I hosted them for dinner and plied them with a lot of tequila and they were like, ‘These guys are great.'”
Aselton: “The next thing I know we were doing a TV show.”
Why did they make you not a couple?
Aselton: “You know, honestly, we had come as a movie that we had done together we were playing a couple. So, the idea of not playing a couple was really pleasing. And, you know, they had already really thought of Steve in the role of Kevin and sort of this is where we all just fit in.”
And when this started, did you think you’d make it this far? Six seasons and going strong – it’s really impressive.
Aselton: “I thought I was going to get fired after the first day. I was prepared to be fired every day for the first two years. I couldn’t believe it kept going, but I’m thrilled. I have really found a great audience, and the great thing about our audience is that they’re also for the most part sports fans who are loud and loyal and that’s great. Those are the kind of TV fans you really want.”
Definitely. Are you a fantasy football player in real life? And if so, are you a Shiva superstar or a Sacko type?
Aselton: “[Laughs] I have to say, I knew nothing about fantasy football before this show, but the show, it was part of jumping into the character was learning all about it and we – the cast, the creators (Jackie and Jeff) and the rest of the cast – have formed a league on our own and we play it every season. I will tell you that our trophy is called The Aselton Cup and that is because I won it the first year.
[Laughs] That’s so great. I am excited to know that, and I get the impression from the show that you will pretty much do just about anything if you think it’ll get a laugh.
Aselton: “[Laughs] Yes, I really have no standards.”
Were you always this type of person? Was it evident to you early on that you could be funny for a living and that there were no boundaries for you?
Aselton: “Oh, honestly, I am the youngest child of four siblings and they are all much older than me and I felt like I spent my entire childhood just not getting the joke. The jokes were always over my head and they would always make me cry because I always felt like they were making fun of me. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I sort of quickened to the humor of it all and now I can’t stop.
I’ve tried to go into very dramatic roles and I always seem to really gravitate back to the humor in really heavy moments, but I kind of love that because I think the more you sort of study the world around you, humor is everywhere and it’s sort of how we cope with things and how we take on the heavy things in life. I think you need the humor, so I have fully embraced it now. I can’t escape it.”
Well, you do a great job.
Aselton: “Thank you so much.”
No problem. I read an interview with you over the summer, and you mentioned that you really wanted to see Jenny have a girlfriend.
Aselton: “I do. I want it so bad.”
Now that you’ve got a few more episodes under your belt, is that something that’s going to come to fruition this season?
Aselton: “We’re halfway through shooting this season. I haven’t seen the rest of the season, but we’ve had a lot of great male guest stars come on. I haven’t had a girlfriend yet, but I really would love it.”
If you could cast the person, who would you like to play that role?
Aselton: “Oh, man. I don’t know. I feel like there are so many cool girls out there I would love to work with, but you know whose work I’m really loving lately? Constance Zimmer. I think she is really fun and also just mutually sassy. I think I would love to have her on the show. I mean, who wouldn’t? But really, just anyone. Anyone, because any femininity at all would be great.”
She would be great. I love her on HOUSE OF CARDS and ENTOURAGE. But you just talked about strong women. How much are you like your character and how much are you not like her?
Aselton: “Oh, boy. I feel like Jenny is a huge part of me. I think she is the part of me that I sort of censor in real life, but Jenny gets to say it all because in that world you can. She’s my crazy competitive spirit coming out and she’s my mouthy spirit coming out, but I think I may be a little bit softer than her. I like my kids a lot more than Jenny does and I respect my husband a lot more than Jenny does Kevin, but I do think that Jenny and Kevin do have a good thing. They’re really funny and they do care about each other and I do appreciate seeing that relationship, but yes, I think she’s just sort of an exaggerated version of me. She’s like me turned up to 12 on the dial.”
Would you be friends with her in real life, with Jenny in real life?
Aselton: “I think I probably would have been friends with her in college.”
But not now?
Aselton: “I think we would probably grow apart. I think there’s maybe a reason why Jenny doesn’t have any girlfriends.”
I think you’re right, and that makes sense. One of the main reasons why I like this show is because it always stays current. You feel like you’re definitely riding along with the current season. With the troubles of the NFL that have gone on in the last two weeks, you almost feel like if you’re a fan of the show like you’re waiting for THE LEAGUE’s commentary on it. Are we going to see something on that?
Aselton: “We definitely will. We don’t leave any stone unturned, and as unfortunate and horrible as all this has been for the NFL, it does give us a lot to work with.”
Yes, because it just seemed like even Jenny would have a great stance on this being in a roomful of boys all the time.
Aselton: “Yes. I have a lot to say about this and I can’t wait to dig in. I hope I do have the opportunity to say something.”
I’m sure you will. Well, thank you so much for your time, Katie. I really appreciate it. I look forward to what’s in store for us the rest of the season.
Aselton: “Thank you so much.”
THE LEAGUE airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. E/P only on FXX.