It is probably safe to say that Amy Poehler is beloved these days, and I can’t think of many people who deserve it more.
Looking back at her early appearances on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” I’m not sure I could have predicted this sort of career arc for her. She always seemed so feral and loony and it felt like she was either going to deliver a killer punchline or stab somebody. That was what made it so amazing to watch her work.
These days, though, she seems to have completely transformed herself, growing into someone both more eccentric and way more accessible. Her “Parks and Recreation” character Leslie Knope has become a fantastic character for her, and no doubt because of her, and it is nice to see someone whose comic persona is almost entirely driven by a sort of misguided optimism, an over-the-top dedication to helping others.
In “Free Birds,” she plays Jenny, daughter to Chief Broadbeak (Keith David). They’re the original native turkey tribe who are working to avoid ending up as part of the feast planned by Myles Standish (Colm Meaney) and the rest of the Pilgrims. She finds herself smitten with time-traveling pizza-loving Reggie (Owen Wilson), a Presidentially-pardoned turkey who travels back in time to help prevent turkey from ever becoming a Thanksgiving staple.
Sitting down to talk with her, we got into “Parks” a bit, and we talked about her work on this film. She hadn’t yet announced that she and Tina Fey were definitely returning for the Emmys next year, but I asked her about it and tried to get a confirmation. She’s one of those people who is so easy to chat with and so enjoyable that four or five minutes simply isn’t enough.
I’m excited to see her work in “Inside Out,” the Pixar film currently set for 2015, and I hope “Parks and Recreation” runs for another 20 years.
“Free Birds” is in theaters on Friday.