On ABC's Happy Endings, Casey Wilson proved no one could make the English language their bitch like Penny Hartz ("relayshe," "hysterecto," anyone?). This month, the SNL alum unveils her next great character in Ass Backwards (in cinemas and on VOD now), a comedy she co-wrote and stars in with her real-life bestie, June Diane Raphael. She plays Chloe, one of two clueless big-city girls on a road trip to their hometown to try to win the beauty pageant they lost as kids.
Out: Hi Casey! What are you doing right now? Casey Wilson: I just went to yoga class, and a poor man literally had to be dragged out and the ambulance came. It was just too hot for him, and I feel, like, so bad for him because I know I'm one step away from that happening to me.
Oh gosh. So it's one of those hot yoga classes. How hot does it get? I have to tell you, very hot. And there is a lot going on. It's hot, and they're touching you kind of spiritually and physically and emotionally. You can become overwhelmed. I'm kind of addicted to it. I think people either love, like, spin or hot yoga. But some people hate those two things. I feel like I wanna blow my head off if I'm in a spin class.
I was reading that you tried SoulCyle but that it was too intense for you. I've never put this together, and I'm really not putting down either institution, but SoulCycle reminds me of Saturday Night Live: You're strapped in, it's super competitive, you can't stop peddling, and you're like, "Get me off this thing." There are adrenalin highs as well.
Ass Backwards opens with a shot of you from behind as you're squatting to pee on the side of the road. Did you use an ass double? I wish, but it was a low-budget movie, so I was forced to work with my own ass. And my ass is a diva. It demanded a lot of time and attention in the makeup chair.
It never occurred to me that you would need makeup for that. You would think not, but when that lens gets on you, no one's safe. Everything these two girls in the film do is wrong, so we just thought that was a good metaphor. It's all funny when you're writing it in your apartment. It's a different story when you're in Upstate New York in the hot sun and it's 100 degrees and you're squatting with your ass cheeks out.
The film was inspired by your broke twenties with June in N.Y.C. How much were you slumming it? We were sharing a waterbed in a shithole at St. Mark's Place, sharing credit cards. We rented out the balcony for people's bikes and the living room for someone's drum set. Our lives were in shambles, but we thought we were living large.
Chloe is a "performer" who basically stands in a box at a club. Do these women really exist? Yes! Our first night in L.A., we were celebrating at the Standard hotel, and when we walked in there was this humongous glass cube--like an installation--and a girl was lying down in sexy pajamas, asleep. We were like, "How does one get that job?"
Well, I guess it is a form of performance art. I mean, if Marina Abramovic can just sit and stare for days and Tilda Swinton can lie in a box for hours at the Museum of Modern Art... Yeah, these girls were kind of ahead of their time in performance art.
During their road trip, your characters end up at Camp Summer Solstice, a lesbian commune. Where did you get the idea for that? That came from a New York Times article that came out when we were writing the movie. It was profiling these women who were much older, and they were saying they were having a lot of trouble getting younger members. It was just fascinating that these women were living this style of life but then talking about having trouble drumming up new business.
Lea DeLaria plays one of the more--how do I say this?--outgoing members of the commune. How much persuading did it take to get her to go topless? Not only did we get her to do it without persuasion, she pitched the idea to us! She said, "I've been to a bunch of these events. I know what they do: They basically take their tops off and put masking tape or gaffer tape over their nipples in a kind of protest." So we said, "You do you. Do whatever you want." She came to Upstate New York, and we were so thrilled to have her. She's so brave, and it was great to have her observation of those types of events. The fact that her vanity came second to what is funny and what is true about those things? That is my favorite kind of performer.
You and June used to have a two-woman show, Rode Hard and Put Away Wet, that was actually a big hit with lesbians. Yeah, we ran it for about a year, and I think lesbians connected with that show, so they would come back and bring friends, and then we would get hired out to do lesbian birthday parties. We had these dear friends at the performance, and they hired us to do a sketch as them. Then we started doing this thing where we'd meet a lesbian couple, learn about them, and then come out and impersonate them, which was really fun. We would do the show, and one of them wouldn't know. For one of them I had to watch home videos [to learn how to play one-half of the couple] because she didn't know [we were going to impersonate them]. I was like, "This is my Daniel Day-Lewis turn."
Speaking of performing for lesbians, Chloe delivers a slightly awkward rendition of En Vogue's "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" by campfire one night for the lesbian commune. I loved that song growing up, and it was also sort of ridiculous that she would be singing that to the lesbians. Chloe thinks she's a performer. She's so used to being in that box that she doesn't sing loud enough for anyone to hear her. You can't even understand her.
Later, for her talent portion of the pageant, she sings Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All." What's your go-to karaoke number? My fiance's cousin gave me a great song: Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." At any time of year. I'm telling you, people love it. They're not expecting it in July, but then they realize they need it.