Kate McKinnon knows her way around a hyper-intense lady.
On Saturday Night Live, the comedian has made a name for herself going all-in on characters that wouldn’t place at the self-awareness Olympics. (“Crazy eyes” is a nickname one could often use to describe her creations.) Now, she’s bringing that energy to Intramural, her first major role in a feature film.
Intramural, a send-up of feel-good sports stories, centers around a group of fifth-year college seniors, led by Caleb (The Office’s Jake Lacy), who attempt to relive the glory days by reuniting the old intramural football team and doubling down on a rivalry that runs deep. McKinnon portrays Caleb’s eccentric, demanding girlfriend-turned-fiancée, Vicky. “The film is so goofy,” McKinnon tells EW about the movie that’s screening as part of the Tribeca Film Festival this week. “I did this film with really great guys [including SNLers Jay Pharoah and Beck Bennett] and it was so much fun being in Austin for the summer [for the shoot]. It was like summer camp. It’s a wild romp and so fun.”
Read on for McKinnon’s thoughts about why so many of her characters could kindly be called clueless, her Intramural co-stars, and Saturday Night Live – because clearly we had to ask her about the already-classic musical sketch “Twin Bed.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What made you want to be involved with Intramural?
KATE MCKINNON: I just thought it was so funny and an opportunity to play a bitch which I’d never done before. One of my favorite things is to try and make an unlikable person endearing, so this was the perfect opportunity. The guys were really sweet and smart and really motivated in a way that was just so impressive to me so I just thought, ‘Yes. I’d like to be on this team.’
Tell me about working with Jake Lacy, who plays your fiancée.
He was a dream, I’m not exaggerating. He looks like he’s in a frat, you know, he’s so handsome and masculine, but he’s actually so tender and smart and hyper-verbal. I just loved listening to him talk – and talking back obviously – but he said way smarter stuff. [laughs]
What about this crazy character was so much fun to play?
I love people who are so insane and f—ed up but don’t have any idea that they are. She’s so happy, she thinks everything is great until she has a spontaneous meltdown. But then she’ll be trucking along again the next day totally fine, and she’ll just kind of forget about it. Those people fascinate me.
(As shown in the above clip) your emotional range really runs the gamut. Is there any mindset that you get into before going into some of those extreme emotional situations?
No, it feels so natural, which is very upsetting to me, I don’t know why. [laughs] I’m a very low-key person but for some reason, I like to act out. Maybe that’s where I get [the release], I act out…I just love weirdos.
Do you base the characters on specific weirdos you know in your life?
No, they’re really all me. Just with a different accent or something!
Are movies something you want to do more of in the future, or do you want to focus on scripted TV or stage stuff?
I would do anything just to get to be funny in any venue, but I kind of caught the movie bug while filming this one, so I definitely, definitely want to do more. I have a lot of plans. Lots of things up my sleeve.
This wasn’t an official Saturday Night Live movie based on a specific character, but there were a lot of SNL people in it. Did you watch a lot of SNL movies growing up? Was there one that influenced you?
Hmm…Mean Girls stands the test of time as one of the greatest comedies ever produced. I’ve seen it way too many times, and I just think it’s the most brilliant thing ever written. I love it so much.
Speaking of Saturday Night Live, has there been a sketch this year that you’re particularly proud of getting on air?
There have been a few. Definitely filming the “(Do It On My) Twin Bed” sketch with Jimmy Fallon for the Christmas episode was so much fun. I usually like to play characters that are frumpy or weird, and that was just getting to actually be as close to a music video that I’ll ever be in. That was real fun, because I do love to dance. [laughs]
Were you surprised at all by the overwhelming response?
I kind of was not surprised [laughs]. I’m usually surprised by the response to stuff, but that one, I helped write that with Aidy Bryant and these two writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, who are just such geniuses, and the moment the idea popped up we all just thought, ‘Oh, that’s so true. And that’s really relatable but no one has really done anything with that facet of the human experience yet.’ I figured people would like it because it’s just so true.
Oh, for sure. And then as a follow-up to that a few months later was the “Dongs All Over The World” sketch. Do you see any more all-female musical numbers happening in the future?
Uh, ye-ahh. YE-AHH. We wrote that again with Aidy, Chris, and Sarah, and we’ve got a process worked out about writing these songs so I think we’ll try to do more in the future.
Anything else you want to try and tackle this season?
I have a few things I tried earlier this season that didn’t really work that I might try and revamp and get on air. I’m not sure. I usually don’t think about this until like two days before! I probably should be thinking about it right now.
I really want to see you play Beyoncé! I realize that doesn’t totally work, but I loved that sketch you released with Lena Dunham. Your “Drunk in Love” moves were so great.
Well, thank you very much. Again, I just really love to dance [laughs] like a skank.
Does this mean you might be auditioning for a Step Up cameo?
Already have. Flat-out rejected. I can’t do choreographed movement. It has to come from my heart…and my pelvis.
Intramural will screen this week as part of the Tribeca Film Festival.