I wanted to ask about just having Chloë Sevigny play your mom in those flashbacks. Was that always sort of in the back of your mind?
Lyonne: For me, Chloë's been really more like a sister in this life than just my best friend. I think that it felt like such a personal cliff to jump off of, that there was something about Chloë that, for me, represented a real safety in that decision to expose self in that way, potentially. By watching her do it on set on the monitors, and then later spending time with her footage in the edit, was really heavy for me. There was a lot of just me crying at the absurd harrowing beauty of life, the way things come together, and my love and respect for Chloë as an actor and as a human being is so deep and real. I've spent so many nights crying in her hair that I can really smell her skin from a distance. She's the one that will come to my house, and put the Woolite in the bathtub and clean my pantyhose for me, and explain to me that that's how you wash your pantyhose. She's always been that person who's like, "Well, Natasha, I don't think you should ever be straightening your hair, because I love your curly hair. If you're going to straighten it, then you have to brush it once in a while." I'm like, "What's a hairbrush, Chloë? It's going to ruin the blowout." She's like, "No, you have to brush straight hair," and I was like, "Alright," and then she'll brush it for me, braid it or something.
I have this very long-standing familial connection to her, and her brother, and then beyond that, as far as these really dark nights of the soul, Chloë's always been the one that's been there for me. All the various chaos of my drug years, it was always Chloë who was showing up for that. She was my rock through all that. I mean, I always knew it was her. The fact that she actually did it, and that she's just so good at acting, makes it extra fucked up and extra emotionally incredible. The idea that that's something that we get to do in the art, explore things in this sort of third party way, is very healing. It was pretty awesome. In no way is it exactly my mother, by any stretch, but certainly there's -- like, Alfa Romeo Spider was my mother's car, and the red hair, and the watermelons. The thing that wasn't there was Tina Turner, which was my mother's favorite thing to play in that car. We couldn't afford it [for the show]. She would also often play "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues.
How do you see those final moments of the show? What did you want to have the characters come to?
Lyonne: It definitely is an emotional journey and emotional roller coaster, this show. It's almost funny to hear people talk about Groundhog Day. I love that movie so much, but it's a very different species. The first few episodes [of Russian Doll] slide you into this experience in a way that may feel vaguely familiar. I don't think that's where it was ever going, emotionally, or the story that we're trying to tell. I'm trying to remember Groundhog Day... I know there definitely is a feeling of this man had to figure himself out. I think here, in a way, it's a bit darker, I would say. It occurred to me as we were cutting it all together that, unbeknownst to ourselves, we'd really made a show about not taking yourself out. That's a very tempting thing in this life, is that when it all gets to be too much, there's this idea: Should I just drop out and exit my own life? There's a lot of reasons, big and small, why that sometimes feels like a reasonable option to consider.
You look at the world, there's so much injustice, it's hard to make a living, people have minds full of colliding thoughts, there's breakups and aging and health concerns, people have fucked up childhoods, addiction. There's a lot of very real reasons in this life where it becomes a tempting concept to stop participating. I think, especially in putting together these final episodes, it started to crystallize in a way that the show is commenting on just that. From the end of six through the end of eight, it almost becomes a show saying, "Hey, kids, don't take yourselves out. Give yourself a chance." Emotionally, Nadia and Alan were two characters who were very self-destructive in very different ways, but find this common ground in each other of a reason to continue to show up for life, if not only for themselves then for each other. I think that that was very much not even something that necessarily we set out to get to, but that the show revealed itself to be.
That image of Nadia taking up the torch, is that to you part and parcel with this idea of not taking yourself out? Of participating in whatever strange parade life sends your way?
Lyonne: I think so. In a vague sense, sure. It's a way of saying, "And on we go." And so we march forward into the next unknown, even if it is a second abyss, we continue. You know? Now we sort of do it together. So, sure.