Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Natasha Lyonne tells Seth Meyers about living inside Russian Doll's New York "meta snowglobe nightmare"

Natasha Lyonne, Seth Meyers
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

For Russian Doll creator and star Natasha Lyonne, the fact that her daily life as a New York City fixture so closely mirrors that of her violent-death-prone character Nadia Vulvokov earns hardly a shrug. “When I get hit by a taxi, I won’t be surprised,” joked Lyonne on Wednesday’s Late Night With Seth Meyers. (And don’t get her started on those bike lanes.) Telling Meyers about filming her acclaimed “existential adventure show” right in some of her favorite haunts in her East Village neighborhood, Lyonne related the uncanny experience of wandering into the same busy diner her character frequents in one episode of the Netflix series, and being seated in exactly the same booth. Calling her life in a post Russian Doll New York something of a “meta snowglobe nightmare that I can’t even describe,” Lyonne confessed that, in making her daily life the setting for some truly uncanny and unsettling events, she’s “created, like, a bit of a nightmare.”

But, being Natasha Lyonne, a living nightmare is just another day in New York. Calling herself “a Paul Giamatti type,” Lyonne said that, despite her lifetime in show business, seven years on Orange Is The New Black, and newfound role as groundbreaking show creator and star, seen-it-all New Yorkers generally leave her alone. Defining her presence on the streets as “a New York character that’s more like garden gnome or a leprechaun,” (or, less adorably, “a pile of ash”), Lyonne told Meyers, with signature trouper’s brashness, that she still gets asked for selfies so infrequently that she sort of feels left out. (Also, if you want to slip her a fiver, she’s not gonna complain.)

As to fans pestering her about continuing Russian Doll past its fiendishly brilliant eight-episode run, Lyonne blamed Netflix binge-watchers’ “I like it—give me more!” mentality, and told fans, noncommittally, “Like Janis Joplin said, ‘We’ve only got one day, man . . . so take it easy.’” Still, Lyonne was clearly touched and a little surprised at how strongly viewers have responded to her show (co-created with Leslye Headland and Meyers’ pal Amy Poehler), explaining, “It’s just so heavy and deep that something so personal is connecting in this way.” She also drew applause for the offhand reference to the fact that Russian Doll happens to have been written and directed solely by women, and summed up her heavily autobiographical tale of repeated, frustrating death, bebirth, and striving with the motto, “Hey, we’re all broken on the inside, so let’s do it all together.”


Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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