Jillian Bell finally gets a long overdue starring role in a major festival release, Brittany Runs a Marathon. It feels safe to call Bell a comedy veteran by this point (not to mention she’s been in two Paul Thomas Anderson movies, which she discusses ahead), but Brittany Runs a Marathon, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week, feels like an important point in her career – a funny and surprisingly poignant film about self-esteem and body image.
On the day I met Bell off Park City’s Main Street, we had both been out maybe a little too late at the afterparty for her film. (For the record, she had everything to celebrate.) What transpired was perhaps the slap-happiest interview I’ve ever been a part of. There were moments where we were both just incomprehensibly giggling (to the chagrin, I think, of the publicist in the room). So here’s how that all went.
I went to your party last night and I stayed too late and now I’m really tired.
I did the same thing.
Well, you had a reason to do that. You were celebrating your success and I was just there mooching.
Oh, but you did Starbucks this morning, though.
But I poured half and half into it instead of skim milk.
Oh no! I’m not a coffee person.
I don’t know what half and half even is, except I know I don’t like it.
So you’re having what we call a rough morning?
I’m drinking it anyway.
Yeah, it doesn’t look great. I don’t drink coffee though so I wouldn’t know.
I only drink iced coffee.
I made a decision I had to stop drinking Diet Mountain Dew to wake up. But on a day like today people always want to comment on me drinking iced coffee in winter.
Oh, god, they love to comment.
I have this dumb line I always respond with like, “Oh, you wouldn’t drink hot Pepsi in the winter, would you?”
I think if you drink hot Pepsi, you’re a murderer. Correct? You have to see if there are bodies.
No one drinks hot Pepsi.
I hope that’s the title of this article. “No one drinks hot Pepsi.”
“If you drink hot Pepsi, you’re a murderer,” that’s a direct quote from you.
You think there are hot Pepsi fans?
I don’t know. But we are going to find out.
Let’s hope. Hashtag, hotpepsi.
Last night, people were trying to give you accolades and you didn’t seem to like that.
I’m not great with compliments. It’s hard to take compliments. Anyone who takes compliments too well is also a murderer. They drink hot Pepsi.
There’s going to be one person out there reading this who both loves receiving compliments and loves hot Pepsi.
That is so true. I’m offending one very specific group. But I think it’s difficult. Especially because, the people in this movie, the cast, is so incredible. And I just want to praise them as much as I can.
I live right off the New York City Marathon route. It’s one of my favorite days. So, of course, I’m going to love a movie about someone trying to run the marathon.
Do you bring a sign?
I don’t bring a sign.
What would I write?
So you are anti signs?
I’m not anti sign.
There has to be someone you could have made a sign for?
Teri Hatcher ran in it this past year. I guess I could have made a Teri Hatcher sign.
You should just pick a name. Roy.
Yeah. Roy Smith.
Oh, so both names? Like Frank McGillicuddy?
Frank McGillicuddy? Do you think there’s a lot of Frank McGillicuddys?
It’s Lucy Ricardo’s maiden name.
Well, if you make a Frank McGillicuddy sign, how special will that person feel running by?
Did you actually film during the marathon?
Am I allowed to talk about that?
Wait, is this a secret?
I think the film is about a woman who sets a goal to run the New York City Marathon and whether that happens or not…
But it’s literally the title. Brittany Runs a Marathon.
Well, but does she? Maybe she doesn’t. We don’t know.
We should just make up spoilers then.
Did you love the hula-hoop scene? Was that your favorite thing in the film?
Oh, yes, the famous hula hoop scene. My friend who ran the marathon said the worst thing is you train all year, you think you’re doing great, then at like mile 18 someone in a full Chewbacca costume, or whatever, will run right past you.
And you feel like garbage. Those people who get so dressed up like that…
Mikey Day is in this movie. I mention that because I once saw someone dressed as David Pumpkins running the marathon.
He was waving at everybody.
It’s people who are enjoying their lives and being fun, being silly.
I did love the scene too when you’re training by running down a New York City sidewalk and there’s a clown coming at you. That sums it all up really well.
I have a friend who went and dressed in a full elf costume like Will Ferrell in the movie Elf. And he was walking around New York City and he said nobody even said a thing or looked at him.
That sounds correct.
And it’s funny actually, that was one of the first days Tobey Maguire, who produced the film, came to set and it was such an odd scene we were doing and I was like, “Does he know the rest of the film?”
So he’s putting his money into this, and he shows up and is like, “Let’s see what my money’s doing?” And you’re running to a clown.
Yeah. I’m running towards a clown and it’s just so funny, such a perfect New York City moment.
Did you know him at all before this?
I didn’t actually. I was a huge fan of his. And I actually told him, too many times I think at this point, that I loved him in Brothers. I don’t know if you saw that?
I did. About a soldier back from Afghanistan.
I think he’s unbelievable!
Now did he poo-poo it like you do to other people when you gave him a compliment?
He did that thing, he said, “thank you” and bowed his head like we all do.
And then he took a sip of his hot Pepsi.
Exactly. He drank a hot Pepsi. Gosh, he loves hot Pepsi!
You’ve also been in two Paul Thomas Anderson movies.
Oh, that’s true. Yes. I was only on Inherent Vice for one afternoon. But for The Master I was there for two months I think. I didn’t go to college. I went for a semester and then I moved out to Los Angeles…
Where did you go?
I went to UNLV because I’m from Las Vegas.
My girlfriend’s parents lived there for a long time. This doesn’t matter…
Yes, it does. You have a relation to Vegas.
When I went I got to experience the Vegas not many people get to experience unless you live there.
I know. It’s real exciting, right?
A lot of strip mall bars with video poker machines though.
Oh yeah. When I left Las Vegas I was shocked when I found out there weren’t slot machines in every CVS. And grocery stores. And airports. I thought that was a thing. I totally thought that was a thing. I don’t remember what we were talking about before that.
I think it was about Paul Thomas Anderson.
But to me, being on that set was like going to college. My professors were Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams and Laura Dern and Paul Thomas Anderson. Because I would just sit back and admire them and how they worked. And they worked in such different ways and it was incredible. I couldn’t believe I was there. There was a few of us that were sort of like in smaller parts and up and coming people, Rami Malek and Jesse Plemons.
He’s very good about doing that. I just watched Hard Eight recently and Hoffman is in that movie with a really small part and just kills it.
Oh, I’ve never seen it. He probably sold the whole movie.
[The publicist says we have time for one more question.]
What should we talk about with our last question?
What’s your favorite Tim Curry film?
I guess I want to say Rocky Horror but I don’t think that’s true. But no one cares about my favorite Tim Curry movie.
Why’d you mention Tim Curry?
Because he’s my favorite actor. So I always just wonder what people know him from or love him from. I love Clue. That’s my favorite.
They’re remaking it.
I know! I heard.
You should get in that.
God! I would love to. Will you put in a good word?
I have no influence on anyone whatsoever. Who’s making the new Clue?
I think the writers of Deadpool are writing it. Do you know them?
Oh, I actually know their publicist.
Oh man. Put in a good word. Can I just watch it?
There’s the headline. “I want to be in Clue.”
Oh, I’ll put out there. I want to be in Clue!
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.