10Qs: Tymberlee Hill on Hotwives, Casey Wilson & Meeting NeNe Leakes

Tymberlee Hill

Photo: Hulu

Although a team player in several ensemble shows, Tymberlee Hill always manages to stand out. Fans will recognize her from Comedy Central's Drunk History (she's a friend of Derek Waters, the show's creator and appeared on one of its earliest YouTube clips), as well as Casey Wilson and Ken Marino’s wacky lesbian neighbor in last year's shortlived NBC sitcom Marry Me. But once you've witnessed her turn as Phenomenon "Phe Phe" Reed, the loudmouth, multi-hyphenate know-it-all from Hulu's original series The Hotwives of Orlando, you'll never forget that Tymberlee Hill is a comedy star.

The series returns for a second season, but this time the funny female ensemble — including Wilson, Angela Kinsey, Dannah Phirman, Andrea Savage, and Danielle Schneider, and series newcomer Erinn Hayes — are all playing new characters in The Hotwives of Las Vegas. Except Hill, whose character Phe Phe has relocated from central Florida to the desert capital of gambling. Plus, she has some sexy arm candy with co-star LaMonica Garrett playing Adonis, Phe Phe's conman husband. "LaMonica’s resting body has, like, eight muscles in his stomach," she says. "It's unreal." We caught up with Hill to find out what it was like this time around — and what happened that time she bumped into NeNe Leakes.

In the new season of Hotwives, everyone is playing new characters but you. Why is Phe Phe back?

We wanted to have a through line, and Phe Phe ties the shows together. Plus, it’s really hard to do a character that people care about. And people love Phe Phe, so the last thing you want to do is change it and do something else. I’m the first person who, when they change something in a show, I’m completely like, “Why did you take it away?" It’s like when you go to the store and your favorite deodorant has been discontinued. Why’d you do that?

No one would compare you to deodorant! But we do love Phe Phe. The first season was shot guerilla-style in seven days. How was it filming Las Vegas?

We had just a little bit more time: We shot the whole thing in 12 days. But it’s great because the [team] knows these women inside and out. Everything but the breath marks are in this script. You know what I mean? So you do whatever comes natural, and you do a couple of your own takes. It’s a mix. We get two takes, and whatever happens, happens. That’s the freedom that we get. But god forbid if you try to be heard over all these funny people. 

But isn’t Phe Phe the loudest? Won’t everyone listen to her?

Phe Phe is, but this is the one group where being the loudest doesn’t make you the most heard. You’re a good one to get a word in. I mean, we have Keegan-Michael Key this season, and he’s maybe one of the funniest improv people I’ve worked with. Every guest star is amazing.

Plus, Casey was literally ready to pop. That baby was on its way. Wait 'til you see her on the show: Nine months pregnant doing a strip tease. You will not be able to process it.

You were also great playing Kay, your lesbian character on Marry Me. Although popular, the show was canceled. Do you miss playing her?

I’m still in mourning for that show. I can’t believe that NBC wiped the entire slate clean. That show wasn’t just wonderful show, it was wonderful because it ended up being a family event. Casey and I have known each other for eight or nine years. But even the people who came in from UCB, who were new, every day you went to work and it was fantastic. Then Ana Ortiz [who played Kay’s love interest Hailey] came in, and we were nervous about being lovers on that show. But it was great. I miss Kay: I miss her clothes, her attitude, and her freedom. Everything about her.

You obviously have a strong relationship with Casey, how did that develop?

I don’t think people realize about Casey Wilson, that she can’t spell the word fear. She doesn’t know what it means. She’s the most courageous actor. The first time I met her at UCB, we had 100 people in the audience, and I remember her character, in the midst of madness, starts stripping from the waist up. And she’s walking through the crowd. I mean, her boobies were just out in the world! She couldn’t care less — because it was funny. That’s all she cares about. I asked her: “What gave you the balls to walk through the crowd? They could have reached up and touched your boobies!” She said: “I didn’t notice. I just heard the laughs.” She’s just fearless.

But you are funny and fearless, too!

Not the same. Mine is really raw. I have no filters, I just want to fly by the seat of my pants.

You have theater training and a background in Shakespeare, and you recently tweeted about Patrick Stewart, another classically trained actor, doing comedy on TV this fall. Are you a big fan?

That man is hilarious he’s a comedian. He’s a true definition. He’s like Robin Williams and few other people who can move in between doing drama and comedy and everything. Patrick Stewart can do comedy! And there’s a lot of dramatic actors who want to do stuff, people crossing over into comedy, and it doesn’t work for everybody. He’s from the golden age of the Shakespearean theater, but this is the same man who, on Extras, pitches a movie script where all women’s clothes fly off!  He and Ian McKellen, I follow them on Twitter and I’m in love: We need them to do a comedy together.

So, with your theater background, we need to get you back on the stage. Ready for Broadway?

I would love to do theater again. I was just talking to my agents and managers again about that now that. Now that I’m not doing Marry Me, I’d love to do it. After doing so much television and stuff, I want to be back in my body — and use my arms and legs. You don’t get to use all that on TV. There’s a lot of restraint.

You’ve said Phe Phe is a combination of NeNe Leakes, Phaedra, and Wendy Williams. Have you ever met or been confronted by one of the Housewives in person?

This is so funny. No one has ever confronted me: I don’t think they know I exist. That’s fine with me. But I did meet NeNe. I was with Dan Bucatinsky. He had just come off of Scandal, and won an Emmy for it. He’s a big star, and we went to the Golden Globes party together. We went to the Beverly Hills Hotel, or wherever the party was, at one of those Beverly Hills hotels, and we’re in a hallway, and I see NeNe coming toward us. And I’m like, “Dan, you have to say hi to her. I can’t say hi to NeNe. You have to have someone of equal or greater stature.”

As she gets closer, he says, “Hey NeNe.” And she looks both of us, looks him and me up and down, and says, “Hello.” And walks away. He was like, “Did we just get dissed by NeNe?” And I’m like, “Yes." So maybe she does know who Phe Phe is.

OK, to wrap things up, we like to ask: What’s your spirit animal?

My spirit animal is a marmoset. Oh, but I love to meerkat. Yeah, anything that lives and hangs out in a sweet little spot under the ground and only pops up to see what’s going on and then goes back down to watch TV. That’s me: a meerkat.

And if you were to have you play Fuck/Marry/Kill with your co-stars? Let’s not include Casey, because that wouldn’t be fair. But between Angela Kinsey, Andrea Savage, and Danielle Schneider, who would it be?

Oh yeah. I’d Fuck Andrea. I would definitely marry Angela. And I would kill Danielle...

Oh, that was easy. But why?

I’d marry Angela because I just I love her. I would say I’m married to her in a sense anyway — we just don’t have sex. I’d fuck Andrea because she is super hot and really good looking. She has a body made of metal. My body didn’t even look like that when I was 17. She’s hot!

I would kill Danielle because when she plays wounded or looks afraid she has this amazing reaction. And I would love to see that look in her eye. It’s the funniest thing. I could have a good hearty laugh while I’m killing her.

Hotwives of Las Vegas premieres Aug. 18 on Hulu. Watch the teaser below:

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