Kat Dennings Grew up on TV — and Found the Power to Help Other Women in the Process
As the star and executive producer of Hulu’s Dollface, Dennings — with the help of Margot Robbie — is learning to lend her strength to her fellow actresses.
“Essentially, I spent my whole 20s in a big box,” says Kat Dennings, referring to the six seasons she spent starring on the hit CBS series 2 Broke Girls as Max Black and two of Marvel’s Thor movies as Darcy Lewis. “It was really cool and I felt safe and happy doing that,” she continues. “I loved the routine of it. Also, it’s probably the best I will ever look, so I’m glad that it’s on screen! It’s all downhill from here!”
Dennings’s continued successes say otherwise. Her latest comedic project is Hulu’s Dollface, which she executive produces and stars in as Jules, who, after getting dumped by her longtime boyfriend, must reground herself in the world and try to rekindle the female friendships she left behind. The unique series offers invaluable dating and relationship advice for millennial women. It’s also an experience Dennings knows something about, hence why she was eager to bring a story likes Jules’s to life.
Also eager to develop engaging content like Dollface that broadens the types of stories we’re seeing about women on screen is Margot Robbie, who’s LuckyChap Entertainment brought the project to Dennings. “[Margot’s] commitment to her job is so inspiring,” says Dennings. “She is a very fearless person and actress, and it was inspiring to be around.”
Recently, Shondaland spoke with Dennings her collaboration with Robbie, writing a film, and her future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Your character in Dollface, Jules, is dealing with a romantic breakup. How did you connect to her?
I really identify with my character, I have been that person who has lost herself in a relationship — maybe more than once! I think it’s important to show that because women — and men! — can relate to her. With Jules, by making me travel back to my early 20s [to play her], I was in a similar zone as she is. It made me realize how much growth I have done, and how much I still have to do. I always learn something [from my characters], and it’s usually by taking a hard look in the mirror about myself, one way or another.
What advice would you offer women who got dumped but still think of their ex?
Watch Dollface! Pull yourself up, dammit, and don’t do it anymore! Value yourself! I am in therapy about this very thing! [Laughs]
So when Margot Robbie, who was nominated for an Oscar, came to you for Dollface, what did you think?
If Margot Robbie says she likes something, it’s a pretty good vote of confidence! Obviously, she is incredible and has great taste. That was immediately a special thing about this series.
She has a lot on her plate, with back-to-back movies and now Dollface. What did you learn from working with her?
I noticed something about Margot while we were on set. It was a really small thing, and it seems ridiculous to bring up, but I was really struck by it. She has a physical appointment book that she writes in, with a pencil. I remember sitting there watching her and thinking, “Oh my god! Is this what I should do?! If she’s doing it, I’m doing it!” She has her agenda and writes everything down, then erases the stuff she has done already. I think it says something about her old school work ethic. I really love that.
She’s also active in philanthropy, lending her voice to Australians with disabilities. Are you involved in any activism or charities?
I would like to do more — I try to donate to things I believe in. I am always trying to do things to help animals get adopted. I’m involved with some animal rescues that text me if they have a shelter pet that needs to be rescued quickly. I post about it on my social media, which usually really helps.
Margot has clearly been an empowering force for you, but when was a moment you felt empowered by another woman, or a moment you empowered another woman?
My co-star, Brenda Song, and I are really best friends. We became extremely close immediately. She is someone that really empowers me all the time. She is such a wonderful friend and an amazing, loyal person. I try to do the same for her, but I don’t know if I do as good a job as she does!
On the flip side, because I executive produced Dollface, I felt like I could finally be there for the other actresses in a way that was actually helpful. Other than just being an ear or a shoulder, if someone had an issue, I could actually solve it for them. That felt very empowering for me. I was proud to be able to be there for them.
Tell us one thing you’re watching, one thing you’re reading, or one thing you’re listening to and why.
I just got Disney+ so I’m watching everything on that. I just watched The Little Mermaid again, which took me back big time. I am reading Chase Darkness With Me, by Billy Jensen, a true crime journalist who is absolutely amazing. And am listening to the Nirvana MTV Unplugged album.
Is there anything on your life bucket list you’d still like to accomplish?
I would like to go to the Maldives and see the phosphorescent water there. And I would very much like to transition into writing and directing. I feel like I’m ready. It took me a long time to feel that way.
Do you write?
Yes! I’m actually writing something right now, a horror comedy television project.
That sounds fun. Would you ever write or star in a drama?
For sure! I would love to. Drama feels like a vacation for me. I like to really let it out!
For all the writers out there, got any tips?
Just write something and finish it — even if you think it sucks. You can always do draft after draft. It’s such an amazing feeling to start something and finish it. A lot of writers give up, like I am starting to. But I am not going to — I’m going to listen to my own advice!
You clearly deal with a lot in your personal and professional life — how do you stay well when you’re juggling it all?
Funny you say that, as I have a cold right now! So am not doing a good job!
But I try to give myself as much alone time as I can. Maybe that sounds weird? I really thrive when I have time to power down, you know what I mean? I really need a little mental break from things in order to recharge, which may be because I’m a true introvert. You know how some people really thrive on interacting all the time, it gives them energy? I am the complete opposite: easily depleted. So I try to really hibernate when I can. That refreshes my batteries.
What’s your idea of self-care?
I am a big bath fan. I really love putting on a podcast, getting in the bathtub, and just drifting off. Not to sleep, because that’s dangerous! But taking that time to give your mind a vacation. If something makes my brain stop talking that’s my idea of self-care. Whether it’s baking or even cleaning the house — things like that make me feel relaxed.
In a moment when maybe you weren’t feeling empowered, was there a time you felt you had to stick up for yourself? What helped you do that?
I feel like I do that quite a bit. I have less patience as I am getting older. I am much more comfortable with myself and I am more clear about what I want and don’t want. I found a lot of strength in the last few years of life. I feel much more comfortable standing up for myself than I used to.
If you weren’t an actor, what would you do with your life?
I think about that all the time! I dream about going to college for classical literature. Or I might change careers completely and become a profiler for the FBI. Just something completely opposite.
Project wise, what’s next?
I have a really fun friendship movie called Friendsgiving, which Malin Akerman produced, that will be out next year. And I’m also reprising my role from Marvel’s Thor movies and starring in the new Marvel/Disney + series WandaVision, which is exciting! The fans like to be surprised — so I won’t say much more!