Lena Dunham's Mommy

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I love it when people are out there, you know, just out there doing what they've always wanted to do and doing it well.  In addition to her epically original and epically successful HBO series GirlsLena Dunham recently got a $3.7 million advance from Random House to write a book of essays (that's a hardy piece of validation).

So where did this 26 year-old find career inspiration?  In her interview with Alec Baldwin* on his NPR radio show Here's The Thing,  Lena says that she was inspired by her mother's work as an artist; that she was turned on by its element of permanence.

excellent cardigan Mrs. Dunham

Lena chats with Alec about the source of her closeness with her mother:

Lena Dunham:  Something I like about both my parents, and I’d imagine you’re like this with kids too, is they really talked to me like I was an adult always. And I love that. And I love talking to kids like they’re adults because it’s like they kind of come alive when you just ask them real questions.

Alec Baldwin: Yes.

Lena Dunham: My mom always really let me into her world and say, ‘I’m working right now. I’ll talk to you in 10 minutes.’ Just having that kind of access to her was amazing.

Alec Baldwin: Sincerity.

Lately I've been catching myself speaking to Poppy with that silly, almost cartoonish voice that adults use with kids.  It's shameful.  I'm going to try to speak to her as an adult, without the condescending high-pitches. 

Another interesting part of the interview:

Alec Baldwin: Someone said to me, ‘To be a famous star you have to have two double-syllable names.’

Lena Dunham: My mom did tell me that she gave me my name, which is so funny because it’s not like we have any actors in our family.

Alec Baldwin: You’re real name is what? Svetlana?

Lena Dunham: My mom said, ‘I named you after my Russian great-grandmother.’ My mom said when she named me she thought, ‘I don’t know what you’ll want to do, but this is a great name if she does want to be a movie star.’ That was what my mom thought. Which is so funny because it’s not like my mom’s some crazy stage mom or like -'

Only awesome moms take this kind of thing into consideration.  

Here's a great scene from Tiny Furniture  (yes, Lena cast her mom in her first feature film).  Even though Lena's mom isn't portrayed positively in this particular scene, it's still clear that they have an real and honest thing going (I wish that I wanted/had this kind of relationship with my own mother, but instead we are happily under committed to one another).  If that weren't true I doubt that Lena's mom would be able to say things such as 'like Bob would go to the opening of a fucking envelope' to Lena with such ease.  

Here's the interview podcast:

* Oh Alec Baldwin...that guy is everywhere: Woody Allen films, SNL, random commercials, public radio, the 5 timer's club...and he's apparently also on the board of some international cigar smoking club.

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