Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein Talks Portlandia Season 3, debuting on IFC January 4th
After airing the holiday special Winter in Portland on December 14th, IFC's hit series Portlandia returns for all-new episodes starting January 4th. Take Back MTV is set to kick off Season 3, and to celebrate the return of this cult sensation, creators Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein jumped on the phone for a conference call, where they discuss upcoming skits and some of the characters we might be seeing in the new year.
"[We wanted] to do more things that are a little bit beyond the surface of what we've been doing already. Not just repeating ourselves, but finding a new angle, trying to make it seem fresh and new. We made little changes just so we're not repeating ourselves, and that's kind of hard. If we sit back and go, "This worked before, let's just do this again!" It wouldn't be as good. We make these little walls, "Let's try to jump over this one and see what happens."
"[It's about] finding ways [to make] the characters more multi-dimensional. Figuring out who they are and how to write for them is a challenge. But it also becomes easier as the seasons go on, because, as we figure out what makes these people tick and what their essential traits are, or their essential characteristics, it's easier to put them in conflict with the environment and to create situations for them that kind of bring to the surface who they are. So it's challenging, but it becomes more rewarding to create the world through these characters, and [create] stories for them."
Carrie then explained the role the show plays in fulfilling certain artistic endevors in her own life.
"For me, it's an opportunity to get to hang out with and collaborate with Fred Armisen, and with our director and co-writer, Jonathan Krisel. It's a very specific chemistry that we have. It allows a certain kind of frivolity, and certain kind of performance, like comparing it to absurdity, but also kind of dealing with the awkward moments. I really love that. It allows us, with all of the observations that I make throughout the year, to write those ideas down and bring those to fruition. I'm really just grateful, actually, that we only do it five months out of the year. Because we never take it for granted. We come to it hungry and eager and with a sense of enthusiasm that I think is really important and infectious. It comes from a labor of love, which it very much is. So I think that it provides that for me. It's just something that I am very appreciative of and grateful for."
This new year is bringing Carrie and Fred a roommate in Chloë Sevigny. The pair discussed the decision to have a new recurring character throughout the entire season. Fred went first, saying why it was important in oder to keep the show fresh.
"The characters of Fred and Carrie...We didn't want it to be the same thing, where they're just doing tasks for the mayor. So we thought, "Let's put another person in with them, who is close enough that it can actually have an effect on their friendship in some way." So that's the idea behind that. It wasn't just that we wanted to have a roommate. We thought that would be something through which we can get to know the Fred and Carrie characters a little better."
Carrie continues, offering her thoughts on Chloë.
"Chloë is a very confident actress. She's very dedicated to the craft. She's very funny and humble and she's bright and we really got along with her. I met her many years ago, but we have this really great...We became friends, and she just knows a lot about music, and we ended up really sharing this sensibility that we did not know we would have. We felt like we had a lot of mutual friends, and we came from the same world, so there was just this really innate chemistry. We really looked forward to being on set with her and hanging out. We went to shows in Portland and just hung out. So it was a real pleasure to work with her, and get to know her.
In terms of the story, we can't say much, but basically we go to Seattle on a mission from the mayor, and we bring her back as our roommate. Like Fred said earlier, we wanted a way of developing the characters of Fred and Carrie a little bit more. And we thought that having a roommate, a third person to insert themselves in that dynamic, would be a way of showcasing and adding a little tension to me and Fred's dynamic, putting something that might get in the way of our friendship. She plays that role."
Will Fred and Carrie ever head to another City? Fred says maybe.
"We've thought about it a little bit. I don't know that we want to necessarily go to another city. We talked about it the other day privately, but when a show goes to another city ,sometimes it's a little risky. Like for us, it's fun, but for the viewer, they like where we are. With that said, for some reason, I feel like there might be something to explore in Pittsburgh. I don't know why. I don't know what my backup for this is, but, like, Detroit seems like a weird and interesting city, because I feel that it goes through so much hardship. But so much great stuff comes from there. I'm like, "What's that about?" Minneapolis, for some reason, might be fun. Milwaukee is a major city, but I just want to explore what that would be about."
Carrie then talked about the inspiration she finds for the show at her local grocery store.
"I was in line behind this guy who had some nuts from the bulk bin, and the cashier was laying them up and when he typed in the code, it came up as Brazil nuts. The guy said, "Those aren't Brazil nuts. Those are macadamia nuts!" And the cashier was like, "That's fine. I'll just charge you for the Brazil nuts." But he was so insistent. He was actually about to save, literally, $20, but he was so insistent that everybody knew this wasn't the kind of nut he was getting, and he wanted to pay for it. It was just strange and weird."
She then discussed this year's guest stars, unable to pick a favorite.
"That's a hard question, because everybody brings something different to the table and we have been so fortunate in working with people that are very generous with their time and their energy. And we were working with a small crew on a pretty small set. So, I feel like it's hard to kind of pick a favorite. But this year it was a real pleasure to work with someone like Roseanne Barr, Jim Gaffigan, or Patton Oswalt. But, I'll say I'm going to name this person just because they're totally different from anyone else, I feel it seems fair, Martina Navratilova. All the actors have been amazing, but it's just so surreal to work with, basically, a legend, and literally one of the greatest tennis players of all time. She's just in the highest echelon of that sporting role, and I think it's because she wasn't an actor or comedian or a musician. It just lends itself to this kind of surreality and everyone was a little bit awestruck and star struck, so I'll just say her."
Fred continued talking about this season's guest stars by describing his day working with Jeff Goldblum, who plays a doily salesman.
"That shooting day was like being on some kind of a drug. Like, it was so amazing, I felt kind of dizzy from how crazy it got, and how awesome he was. He's so good. We literally don't have to tell him anything in terms of his scene. We've got this very talented art department who filled up this store with doilies, which is not easy because they're so tiny. So they made it seem like a real doily store and he was just so good with it, that I remember Carrie and I barely had to do anything."
Carrie and Fred are back for all-new episodes of Portlandia starting January 4th.