Ask Friends veteran Lisa Kudrow how she prepared for her role in Bandslam, and the subject of Rock Band — the omnipresent and much-loved video game — immediately comes up.
“Rock Band? Oh honey, I got it. We played it. It’s done. It’s over,” she says without hesitation.
“Did I just say ‘Oh honey’? Where am I from?”
That’s the brand of Kudrow humour that has carried the veteran actress through dozens of supporting roles. Despite what you might think, she’d much rather play second fiddle than take centre stage.
“The hardest times I’ve had are when I’ve had to be a romantic figure,” she says, noting that primary characters often have the burden of achieving universal likeability while supporting characters can get away with being a bit weird.
“For me, it’s such a challenge to make someone who is potentially really unlikable, likeable. I have a lot of fun with that.”
For her turn in Bandslam, Kudrow plays the protective mom to a teenager making his way at a new school — a sobering contrast to some of actress’ ditzier characters. Kudrow credits her spacier characters for her success and that makes sense, since her roles as Ursula in Mad About You and as Phoebe in Friends are what made her a star — but being flaky also helped her cope with success.
“I used to be very, very serious about things and it really made me let go of a lot of things, to be honest with you. It helps because you know, you’re not a threat when you’re stupid,” she says. “You know how people say that smart women aren’t that likeable? I honestly do think it’s true.”
What about Oprah, we ask? “You make a good point,” the star admits. “I guess it’s just me. I have trouble with people.”
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