Greta Lee takes on the role of Hae-Won in hit comedy Sisters, which saw her star alongside Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and work with director Jason Moore for the first time.
We caught up with the actress to chat about this latest role, working with Moore and the cast and what she has on the horizon for the rest of the year.
- Sisters is about to be released on DVD here in the UK, so can you tell me a bit about the film?
Sisters is a movie written by Paula Pell and directed by Jason Moore and it stars two of my most favourite people in the world; Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. As well as pretty much everyone from SNL who I love, including Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and Bobby Moynihan. It is a story about sisters. It is about family. It is about growing up and coming into your own and it all takes place at a house party.
- You take on the role of Hae-Won in the film, so what was it about the character and Paula Pell's screenplay that was the major draw for you?
I have been a really big fan of Paula's for a while. And I was really excited about everyone else who was also involved in the project. I was particularly drawn to this character because Hae-Won is not someone I am used to playing. I don't have a lot of experience playing specifically Asian women who have moved to America from, in this case, Korea. Having an accent was also something new.
Initially, I was curious about what that challenge would be like to take on something that could come across stereotypical. Once I read the script, I had a conversation with the creative team and realised that this was a really cool and unique opportunity to, hopefully, portray a very real person in a funny way - and that doesn't happen so often. I was really happy that this came together.
- Where does your character fit into the film?
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's characters go to a nail salon to get a manicure and pedicure, where they meet a nail technician who they think is called Vicky. We find that she is called Hae-Won and she is a nail technician as well as a mother of two children - she is a single mum. She is also a party animal - she loves to rage, which is a fun and unexpected twist that we discover later on in the movie.
- You mentioned that this role allowed you to tackle an accent - how was that challenge?
I loved it so much. I am a child of immigrants, my parents moved to Los Angeles from South Korea themselves. They both have accents, so I was thrilled. I don't always get to channel my parents, specifically my mom. I have a sister myself - she is just a year younger and we are really close - and this was all very personal and I got to go it in a funny way, which is such a gift and so rare.
- The movie sees Jason Moore back in the director's chair, so how did you find working with him?
Jason is the greatest. I think it really does take a special kind of director to be able to balance so many different comedic personalities and colours; he really does that seamlessly and it is very impressive. He is very trusted, especially in this case with this character.
I had a lot of ideas of what I hoped to bring to this role and I cannot believe that he was so trusting. A lot of that came in the form of improv and letting us improvise like crazy. The DVD does include deleted features that include improvised scenes that are so funny. I really am excited that people will get to see all of that.
- As you say, there was a lot of improvisation on Sisters and I was wondering how much is that something that you enjoy as an actor?
I love it. I love doing it with other actors that love it and are good at it. It really is the best way to create lots of options for the edit. There was tons of improv on this movie. the actors were improvising.
Paula Pell did something with post-it-notes; she likes to secretly send you a little post-it-note with alternate lines, but without telling anyone else. That then just becomes a game of trying not to break and trying not to laugh when someone says something that was completely unexpected. Yeah, there was so much of that, which you will see on the DVD.
- It sounds like it was a fun and laid back set to be on.
Yes, it was. We shot in the summer out on Long Island and it really did feel like it was Summer Camp. It was with the funniest and brightest people and everyone was so happy to be showing up to work every day with this group of people. I really cannot tell you how funny everyone is. Everyone except Ike (Barinholtz) - no one liked Ike, which is unfortunate for him (laughs). Everyone else we loved and it was such a blessing. I love Ike.
- Sisters sees Tina Fey reunite with Amy Poehler, so what was it like watching them work together - they have a great chemistry?
They really do. You could watch them forever. They have a comedic chemistry that is really unlike anything that I have seen; it was a pleasure to watch. They each bring such a unique and different quality and together, it is like an atomic bomb of funny. They are so smart, original and, at times, really dirty; which was a fun surprise for us all (laughs).
- The film hit the big screen at the end of last year, how did you find the response to the film?
I was so surprised that people seem to really love this character. I was really blown away by people reaching out and saying that they were really excited to see a diverse character in the scope that is not seen as much. I was curious to see how it would go, because I have never played a role like this before.
Even people reaching out and talking about the rights of nail technicians - it has been getting a lot of attention in New York City lately. This is a comedy and we are making jokes, but it is really cool that people were moved by it. It really has been great.
- We are also going to be seeing you return in Money Monster, so can you tell me a bit about that project?
Money Monster is a financial thriller that is directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. That comes out in a few months. Along with that, with have got some other things going on as I am shooting Inside Amy Schumer right now, we are in our fourth season. I will be returning to some other television show that I have been in the past and getting to re-visit some of my favourite characters. I cannot say which one, but I think people will be really excited to see.
- During your career, we have seen you move between TV and film, so how do the two mediums compare?
I love it. With film, depending on the job, it feels a bit more like camp as you are there for a finite period of time. But with television, it is a longer stretch of time and you get to explore different parts of the character in a different way.
It also just depends on where it shoots. I find that a lot of the projects that I have gotten to do have been in New York and that seems to lend a different quality to the project, whether it is TV or film. I love New York - just in case you can't tell (laughs).
- We are always hearing about the lack of opportunities for women behind the camera, so where do you stand on this debate?
I loved it, I was obsessed with it and it is all I want. I think that it is a total shame that we don't have more female directors or rather, more opportunities for them. It is unconscionable that this is the situation and it makes no sense. When I look back at my career so far, hands down my favourite jobs have been directed by or written by women and I don't think that that's an accident.
- Finally, what's next for you?
Money Monster will be coming out later this year and there's another film called Pottersville, starring Michael Shannon. I am also going to be in an indie film called Fits and Starts. I am also going to be back on Inside Amy Schumer. There are also some other things on the horizon that I can't talk about (laughs). You know how it is.
Sisters is released on DVD on 25th April.