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INTERVIEW: Anna Chlumsky Checks Into 3C

The popular actress discusses her work in David Adjmi's new play inspired by the TV sitcom Three's Company logo
Anna Chlumsky
(© David Gordon)
Anna Chlumsky is perhaps best known for her breakout starring role as the title character in the hit film My Girl more than two decades ago, but the talented actress has long been eager to show her range. She was recently seen as Julia Louis-Dreyfus' no-nonsense chief of staff in the HBO sitcom Veep, which will return for a second season, and she's currently starring Off-Broadway in David Adjmi's thrillingly inventive new play, 3C at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. TheaterMania recently spoke with Chlumsky about her role in the play, its connection to Three's Company, and what she discovered about herself in the rehearsal process.

THEATERMANIA: The show is such a vivid evocation of Three's Company -- and then David Adjmi takes it in a completely different direction. Do you think it will appeal to fans of the sitcom?
ANNA CHLUMSKY: I think anybody would be remiss just to expect a send-up of a particular show. There are all these other influences in there, some louder than others. It's definitely its own animal once you get into it. What's so great about David is that he doesn't let himself or his audience members or actors off the hook. He doesn't say, "it's too scary to go there" or "let's protect ourselves from going to these places."

TM: Your character, Connie, couldn't be more different from Amy on Veep. Is that what drew you to the role?
AC: For sure. Really, I was so happy to have the opportunity to have the timing line up to do a play. The first thing that drew me to it, though is that it's such a compelling piece. I was so into it from the first page I turned. The cherry on top is that she's so very different from Amy. As I start to look towards fall and playing Amy again for a good amount of time, it's really nice to stretch in the other direction before getting ready to do that.

TM: Were you a Three's Company fan before the show?
AC: I actually haven't seen it in so long. I watched it a lot when I was younger, like you know when you're watching all the reruns in the afternoon. I didn't watch it before doing this show, though, because I'm too much of sponge sometimes. I didn't want it to just be an impression of Suzanne Somers. I wanted it to be its own thing. It's actually in my Netflix now to watch, so I can kind of revisit it with brand new eyes.

TM: What was the most surprising thing for you in exploring the world of this play?
AC: I think it was realizing just how many directions we could take it. It's chock full of different tones, scenes and inspirations. When I first read it, I had this very vivid idea of what it would look like and how we would play it. Once we got into the room, one day we'd do it one way and then the next we'd take a 180 and do it completely differently. It would still be relevant whatever styles we chose. However, we all as a group decided to address the material; it all was fair game. It became about Jackson Gay, our director, and David really choosing one through line for us to go with. That was surprising to me. I thought I knew everything (laughs), and then I found out I didn't.

TM: Is there a particular moment for you when something shifted?
AC: For Connie, I've had to explore the more detached elements of her personality and her coping mechanisms. I think that's one of the themes in the play about how people cope. In the beginning, I was going with her bubliness and kookiness. Then Jackson led me to explore the parts of her that actually get her through the day. She's very protected and has to detach herself a lot. That process has given me an immense amount of tools I didn't even know I could utilize.

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