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Welcome to Kat Dennings Diaries, a fansite dedicated to the actress Kat Dennings. She became known to the general public as the sassy waitress Max Black in the comedy 2 Broke Girls and in the shoes of the witty Darcy Lewis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kat can now be seen in Hulu's new show Dollface. We aim to be your go-to source for Kat goodness and offer a comprehensive archive of her career and fierceness.
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    The Kat's Meow

    2011, December   |   Written by Lisa Butterworth

    Actress Kat Dennings became an indie “it” girl in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist before setting small screens on fire with her role on 2 Broke Girls. Here, she reveals why she loves talking dirty, hates being sexy, and enjoys doing laundry.

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    Kat Dennings is a hugger. I know this because it’s the first thing she does when we meet at Le Pain Quotidien on a typically mild evening in Studio City Los Angeles, right before she apologizes for being late. “I’ve been at a photoshoot all day, and don’t be scared, I still have crazy makeup on,” she says before lifting her Ray-Ban sunglass-es to reveal her mesmerizing blue eyes, dramatically ringed in sparkly black liner and shadow. They’re a wild contrast to her ultra-casual look — jeans, t-shirt, scarf, headphones—and demeanour as she drops her bags and slumps into the chair across from me.

    As it turns out, I’m lucky she made it to our interview at all. “I don’t have any gas in my car. The little orange dot came on last night on my way home,” she says. “[But I was like] fuck it. It’s two in the morning. I’m going home. ‘You better not die: I’m always talking to my car when there’s no one on the road, like, ‘Hold on, you asshole! Fucking hold on! I gotta get home, I gotta go to sleep: That’s the state of me right now.”

    And it’s no wonder. The week’s been a big one for the 25-year-old actress. Her new sitcom, 2 Broke Girls, premiered two days earlier to over 19 million people (though she didn’t even get to see it air, since she was filming), and her face is plastered all over L.A. to promote it; I passed her gigantic mug on at least three billboards just on my short drive across town to meet her. With an audience of that magnitude, 2 Broke Girls is a bona fide hit, which means Dennings is busier than ever. In addition to working on the show all week and doing a photoshoot for InStyle all day, she’s swooped in for our interview only to have to run out in 30 minutes for another one. Her Bust cover shoot is the next morning, and she’ll go straight from there to the CBS studios for an appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She is understandably exhausted.

    “You’ll have to humor me,” she says. “I’m out of my mind right now.” But that doesn’t stop her from being sweet, chatty, and extremely enthusiastic about everything, whether ifs coffee (“I love coffee. I could not live without coffee. It would be a disaster”) or John Waters (“He’s a genius”). Oh, and food. “I’m stoked,” she says, perusing the menu. “I realized in the car that I hadn’t eaten today.” When our server comes to take our order, Dennings’ signature self-deprecation comes out. “I’m gonna get…hmmm.” Our waiter stands patiently while she contemplates her options. “Could I be more annoying?” Dennings asks. “Uh…um. I hate myself. Wait.” Another few moments go by before she says “OK” with purpose and settles on a veggie sandwich.

    Since I stuffed my face with an enormous chocolate croissant while I was waiting for her to arrive (to which she exclaims, “Good for you!”), I ask if she’ll feel weird if I don’t eat while we chat. “It won’t make me feel weird,” she says. “Nothing makes me feel weird.” I get the sense that this is true. Kat Dennings has made a career out of playing the “weird” girl, who, for me — and I’d guess for the typical Bust reader — is often the most relatable character in a movie.

    In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, she rivalled Catherine Keener’s magnetism as her angsty, newly sexually active daughter. And in The House Bunny, she stole scenes as an acerbic punk. But it wasn’t until she starred in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist that Dennings unleashed the full power of her subversive charm, working her way into the hearts of indie girls everywhere. In the “one crazy night in New York” romantic comedy, she plays the sassy, smart-mouthed lead with an endearing vulnerability. As she falls for Michael Cera’s Nick, ditches her douchey ex-bf, and has her first O thanks to Nick’s nimble fingers, it’s hard not to fall for her.

    In fact, Dennings has been flying under the radar as Hollywood’s go-to alternative “it” girl for the past six years, and it’s easy to see why. Her dark hair, gap-toothed grin, and non-skeletal figure represent the antithesis of your typical starlet. Her charming sarcasm and offbeat humor simply seal the deal.

    But now, with a starring role on a prime-time network TV sitcom, I can’t help but feel like the secret of Kat Dennings’ awesomeness is out. Especially since Max, the young waitress she plays on the Laverne & Shirley-esque 2 Broke Girls, shares her easygoing, wry, feminist-y attitude. And though the show’s location (a diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn) is obviously a set and the premise is slightly far-fetched (Max befriends a riches-to-rags heiress, and the two plan to open a cupcake bakery), Dennings plays a character who seems totally real. Max works two jobs to barely make ends meet, shops at Goodwill, wears a Run DMC t-shirt to bed, and has an acrid wit about her.

    It’s a part that seems made for Dennings, which might not be too far from the truth. “I was the spoiled brat who got offered the role, straight up,” Dennings says. “I read [the pilot], and I was obsessed with it immediately.” Some of her excitement about the gig, in addition to Max’s coolness and quirks, comes from the fact that the jokes she gets to make are surprisingly crass for a show that airs on CBS before the kids have gone to bed. For example, when her roommate/co-server, Caroline (played by Beth Behrs), shows up to work after her shift was supposed to start: “You can’t be late again,” Max says. “I’m already worried about me being late… every month!” Or when Caroline asks her to open the back door: “We’ve known each other two days and you’re already asking for back door?” The humor lies mostly in Dennings’ delivery, which is good-naturedly sly and comically casual.

    “I think that’s totally awesome,” she says of Max’s indelicate tendencies. “And I think a woman saying stuff you’d usually hear coming out of a truck driver is just such a great shock to your brain that ifs interesting. Like, I kinda get hooked on saying it.” Talking dirty in front of a live studio audience every week wasn’t the only draw for Dennings. As she explains what intrigued her about playing Max — which, if all goes well, she could be doing for years — it’s clear that finding strong female characters is a priority for her.

    “[Max is] the girl who can hang with dudes and hold her own but not have to be sexy. I hate that. I’ve always hated that, when I read scripts about, like, how a girl uses being a girl to get her way, or she’s trying to be sexy for men,” she says, pausing only to take a big bite of her sandwich. “‘Cause all women are sexy — the end. And you can use that power if you want to, but there’s a certain even more powerful element to not using it just leading with other things — how smart you are, how funny you are. So I think that’s very empowering for women, and I think it’s really good for men to see a girl like that on TV”.

    It makes sense that the show’s main female character is strong-willed and a tad raunchy, since the sitcom was co-created by comedian Whitney Cummings, who Dennings believes based the role on herself. The production is also backed by a staff of notable female writers, including comedian Morgan Murphy, blogging phenom Molly McAleer, and former Groundling Liz Feldman. “That was a real priority for Whitney when they were looking for writers,” Dennings says, leaning forward at the table. “It didn’t have to be women, but they wanted to make sure that whoever they got thought women were funny — funny and powerful.”

    When I mention it’s unfortunate that there may be writers out there who don’t think that, Dennings gets animated. “There are! It’s so sad,” she says. “It’s not like a girl power thing, it’s an equality thing — saying women are just as funny as men, women can be funnier than men, and I’m OK with that.” She adds that the estrogen-fueled set makes for an awesome working environment. “It’s just a great energy. It feels good, being surrounded by smart women — comforting.” It’s not, however, a completely lady-run operation.

    The show is produced by Michael Patrick King, whose last project was a little series called Sex and the City. It’s a strange course of kismet for Dennings: King gave the actress her first big break on a season 3 episode of SATC way back in 2000. Dennings played a snotty, entitled teen who hired Samantha to do PR for her bat mitzvah. Though that was her first recognizable role, Dennings had been working toward a career in front of the camera for years. “I feel like I popped out of the womb wanting to be an actor,” she says, swiping at a thick layer of eye makeup with her finger. “It has no ties to my family at all, so it came out of nowhere.”

    Dennings grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, with her speech therapist mom and molecular pharmacologist dad. “We didn’t have much money, so we’d go to the library, and I’d get movies like Top Hat, An American in Paris, Gilda Radner stuff — you know, classics,” she says. “I was like, ‘Whatever that is, that’s what I want to do. I don’t know what that is, but it’s just… me.’ And then I just ran with it.” Dennings’ brother had a friend who was doing some acting, so he introduced her to his manager. Dennings worked the connection, getting auditions and work in New York and LA., eventually moving with her family to Southern California.

    Her parents still live in town, and when I ask how she plans to spend her next rare bit of free time, she tells me visiting them is one of her top priorities. The rest of her day-off to-do list sounds remarkably familiar. “Truthfully: sleep, do laundry, clean. That’s usually all I do,” she says, sucking down the last of her mint lemonade. “And I enjoy it. I really like home things. It makes me feel normal, like I have a center of some kind.” Nurturing that center doesn’t always involve getting groceries or making home-cooked meals, though. “I clearly don’t go food shopping,” she says. “I have a jar of marinara sauce in the fridge, that’s it. And I usually get home late and I don’t even remember eating it. Then I wake up and see a plate of marinara sauce next to my bed, and I’m like, Did you eat marinara sauce? With a fork? What the fuck is wrong with you? That’s not food.”

    Cooking may not be her forte, but she is crafty as hell. “I knit, I paint, I draw,” she says, leaning back in her chair. In fact, her love of art almost took her on a very different path. “I was gonna go to art school for classical illustration,” she explains. “I was getting my portfolio together. Every piece of art I’d ever made was on the floor where I was living. I go away for a while, come back, and a pipe had burst or something. It was flooded. Everything got destroyed. Every single piece of art I had ever done,” she says. “I didn’t go to art school. I took it as a sign.” But Dennings finds other ways to express her creative tendencies — she happens to be a master of budget decor. A DIY upholstery tutorial she wrote for Zooey Deschanel’s website HelloGiggles.com involves nothing but fabric and a buttload of safety pins. “My whole living room [cost] $80,” she says, proudly. “My chair and my couch, the whole thing.”

    Dennings’ DIY mentality and general cool make her a natural Bust cover girl. But I had to find out about her views on the F-word. When I lead into my question by telling her that she strikes me as someone who is actually representing Busty gals in the media, she interrupts with vigor. “Oh, P.S., I love Bust” she says, pointing a finger in the air for emphasis. “As soon as I got this [interview request], I was like, ‘Yes! I don’t care what it is, I’m doing it.” So I’m not entirely surprised by her answer when I ask whether feminism is something she ever considers.

    “I absolutely think about feminism,” Dennings says. “The way I view feminism — and I know there are a lot of different things going on—but, at its purest form, to me, it’s a very positive, supportive, nurturing, empowerment thing. I mean, God, who isn’t a feminist? If you don’t think women are as good as men, you’re not a good person!’ Before I can interject with an “Amen, sister,” she continues. “I like to think that most of the population of people worth being friends with are feminists, if that’s what feminism means. Again — it probably means something else. I’m gonna get someone angry, setting me on fire for this, but I think it’s a positive, beautiful, and good thing,” she says. “Supporting women is the point. It’s the point of life. Women are life. You have to support us.” I have an overwhelming desire to high-five her.

    Perhaps that’s why I’m not paying close enough attention when our server swings by the table with our check. Dennings slips him her credit card before he even has a chance to leave the bill. When I marvel at her swiftness and try to protest, she simply cackles, and exclaims, “Too smooth! ‘Too smooth Dennings.’ Put that in your article.” As our time comes to a close, I ask if she has any other upcoming projects we need to talk about. She rolls her eyes. “I don’t even know what day it is,” she mutters, as she gathers her stuff to leave. “I’ll have to IMDb myself to see what I’ve been working on.” Dennings throws on her sweater and picks up her bags, heading out to her next interview. Just after she leaves the restaurant, a bus drives by bearing a huge 2 Broke Girls ad on its side, with Dennings’ adorable face covering half the vehicle’s facade. I don’t think she notices, and she probably wouldn’t care even if she did. But for a closing scene, Michael Patrick King couldn’t have planned it better himself.

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