She also discusses how they made the music festival scene happen with the same pool of background performers.
In its second season, the Hulu series Dollface continues to follow Jules (Kat Dennings) and her best friends, Madison (Brenda Song), Stella (Shay Mitchell) and Izzy (Esther Povitsky), as they navigate post-pandemic life. Heading toward turning 30 has them all re-evaluating their careers and romance and trying to figure out what’s next, while the ups and downs and bumps along the way bring them closer with each other.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Dennings talked about the shenanigans Jules gets up to this season, the Cat Lady, how the dance class sequence came about, safely shooting a music festival, loving her co-stars, the importance of a collaborative relationship between actor and showrunner, and her hope they’ll get to continue doing the show.
Collider: This show is so much fun. What did you most enjoy when it came to the shenanigans that Jules gets up to this season, and what are you most excited about fans getting to see with these new episodes?
KAT DENNINGS: I’m really excited, personally, for people who liked season one to see all of the Dollface girls going into the magical realism element of the show. In season one, the Cat Lady is a way for Jules to act out her anxieties and her worst-case scenarios. Whereas this season, all the girls come into it and it becomes cathartic, not just for Jules, but for Izzy and Stella and Madison. So, I’m really excited for people to see that.
When you started talking to the Cat Lady, did you have any idea what that would develop into and how important of a role it would play? Were you ever worried that it wouldn’t work?
DENNINGS: I’m so lucky that I get to work with Beth Grant, the absolute genius icon that she is. I will take credit for this because I said, “We need to get Beth Grant.” From the very beginning, before anyone was cast, it was just, “Find a way to get Beth Grant because she’s the only person who can do this.” Somehow she agreed and we have her. With Beth, it’s so real, if you can believe that a huge cat head person can be real. She throws herself into all of her roles and she just takes you there with her in these scenes. I knew that we had something very special happening and that she would evolve, and the writers are always trying to give her lots of things to do, so that’s just incredible for me.
You have some fun moments this season. Two moments in particular that stood out for me were the music festival and the dance class. With the dance class, was there ever a moment where you considered trying to do the performance of the dance routine yourself, or were you always just like, “No, I’m not going to do it”?
DENNINGS: Interestingly, Jules was scripted to do the dance. What happened was, I was filming other scenes while all the other girls got to do dance rehearsal. So, I had to have a moment with our showrunner, Michelle Nader, and just be like, “I cannot do this dance. Either you’re gonna have to cut away from me or you just have to write that Jules is really bad at this dance.” She was like, “You know what? I think we can find a really funny way to do this.” And it ended up being one of my favorite moments in the entire season. Spoiler alert, Jules gives the dance instructor a doctor’s note to get out of dancing. It’s a very relatable moment. I think it’s more Jules than doing the dance, and I think that’s what I would do too.
How was it to shoot the whole music festival? What was it like to pull all of that off and make it seem like such a big moment, done in a more intimate way, so that everybody would stay safe doing it?
DENNINGS: Exactly. That was a real feat for our amazing DP and the crew. Not to give away the Hollywood magic, but as you said, it was about staying safe. We had our safe group of background performers, and they would maybe change clothes and come back, or walk through a few times. They made it look really packed and busy while only using our safe extras. It was really amazing. They did such a great job. Everybody was all about safety – the cast, the background performers, and the crew. It was a group effort, but I think it paid off really well.
It looked amazing. I thought it was a really genius way to pull all of that off.
DENNINGS: Thank you.
I absolutely love the friendship between these characters. The dynamic between these four is so fun to watch. What have you enjoyed about finding that, as characters and as co-stars, working with these other actresses?
DENNINGS: I love them all so much, and we really have a real friendship going on. Part of the magic of the show is seeing four real friends interacting because you really can’t fake that chemistry. Obviously, in season one, we got to know each other really well, and we all missed each other so much because something happened in between season one and season two, and we didn’t get to see each other at all. It was so amazing to finally see them all again, and it was a really special bonding experience. Brenda [Song] describes it as summer camp, and it was like that. We see each other for 15 hours a day, and we’re in little pods together. Brenda and I text each other from the same room. We’re all very close.
Were there conversations about how to handle the pandemic in the show and whether to address it at all? How do you feel about the way that it actually gets incorporated?
DENNINGS: Yeah, definitely. Of course. I think some shows may have chosen to just not do it at all, but that didn’t feel authentic. Our showrunner, Michelle Nader, who is a brilliant genius that I love more than anything, took the helm on, “Okay, how do we do this?” We actually had a different opening and she changed it close to the season wrap, to make it what it was. It became, “Let’s see all the girls during the pandemic, and what was that like? Were they together in a pod? What were they doing?” I think it was really important to show that Jules and Madison and the girls got to be together during all that. Their friendship got even more strong. And of course, there’s the comedy of Jules spraying her mail and stuff like that, which I did do. So, it’s dealt with, with a light hand, but we did not want to ignore it. Dollface, in its own way, is sort of a fantasy. The pandemic going away, of course, is not realistic, but for the show, it seemed like the right path.
How involved are you, as a producer on the show? Are there are aspects where you’re really involved and give a lot of input? Are there things that you found that you enjoy that you didn’t know you would enjoy before doing it?
DENNINGS: Yeah. Season one, especially, I was extremely hands-on and involved, just because this was my first big thing since my last show (2 Broke Girls) I was on. I wanted to really make sure that this was gonna be great, as my first big executive producing a thing that I was doing. I wanted to do the best job that I could, mainly finding the best actors for the roles, which of course everybody was involved in, but I’m so proud of being able to do that. As an actor, casting is terrifying. I’m really proud of how everybody came together. And season two, I still am very involved, but because Michelle Nader is there as our showrunner, and she’s somebody that I have worked with since the beginning of 2 Broke Girls, for 11 years, I trust her completely and she’s like another arm. I could calm down and relax a little bit this season.
What is it like to establish that collaboration between showrunner and the writers and the directors? How is it to find a voice among all that?
DENNINGS: It’s really, really important. A showrunner is the most important element of a show sometimes. That’s the person who’s the go-between with all the departments. That’s a hard job, and Michelle’s just unbelievable. She and I have a secret language shorthand already, so I don’t even have to worry about that. She’ll just text me and be like, “Okay, what do you think of this?” And I’ll be like, “Okay, great.” And then, it’s done. She has tentacles going into every single aspect of the show and I completely trust her. It’s a very rare relationship. It’s very lucky. It’s almost like a Ben Affleck/Matt Damon relationship, except on a way different scale. She’s the Ben Affleck. No, wait, she’s the Matt Damon. I don’t know. We switch off.
Even though Jules isn’t 100% sure of what she does want, by the end of this season, do you feel like she’s at least more centered and more sure about what she doesn’t want?
DENNINGS: Yes. That’s a really good way of looking at it. In season one, things are being hurled at her, and she’s just trying to get through it. She’s done all that work and I think she’s more ready to let things in, in season two, but so much is happening to her that’s good that she doesn’t know what to do again. Even though she’s made all this progress, she can’t fully work through it. She has definitely grown, and she’s more confident, especially at work, and more confident in herself, but she has a long way to go.
Have you already started our conversations about where she could go for season three? Do you try not to think that far ahead?
DENNINGS: I’m superstitious. I always assume one and done, for everything. I don’t think I decorated my dressing room at 2 Broke Girls until season five. I always assumed I just had to have my bag packed. I don’t really think about it. But of course, that would be incredible and there are all sorts of dream scenarios I’d love to see.
Dollface is available to stream at Hulu.
Written by Christina Radish for Collider, article published on February 13