‘Russian Doll’ Star Natasha Lyonne on How Show’s ‘Autobiographical Roots’ Were ‘Deeply Helpful’

TheWrap Emmy magazine: “I don’t know if really I could have pulled it off if I hadn’t been the architect, in a way,” Netflix comedy’s star says

Last Updated: August 14, 2019 @ 6:59 PM

This story about Natasha Lyonne first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine

If Natasha Lyonne hadn’t co-created “Russian Doll,” there’s a chance she may not have been able to star in it, due to the amount of time and effort that was put into keeping track of the comedy’s time-loop story, both in front of and behind the camera.

“As an actor, it was a lot of work, and I think that I was lucky,” said Lyonne, nominated for an Emmy for lead actress in a comedy for her part in the Netflix series. “I don’t know if really I could have pulled it off if I hadn’t been the architect, in a way. I’m not sure that I would have been able to wrap my head around it if I had just met it in the abstract as a joiner or a visitor. I think that because I structurally mounted the ins and outs, I was able to navigate the subtext in a much more lived, experienced version of a ‘Method’ way.”

“Also, on some meta level, ‘Russian Doll’ obviously has a lot of autobiographical roots that were deeply helpful as well,” added Lyonne, who has said she thinks of the character of Nadia as her superhero alter ego in the fantasy world she inhabits.

Co-created by Lyonne, Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler, the series follows a young woman named Nadia (Lyonne) on her journey as the guest of honor at a seemingly inescapable party in New York.

Nadia suffers through multiple time loops that end in her death throughout the eight-episode first season, and that’s the aspect of “Russian Doll” — which was nominated for 13 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series — that Lyonne calls “the detail-oriented, big-boy work of our show.”

She gives particular credit to the show’s production designer, Michael Bricker, who was also nominated. “For us in the writers room — for myself and Leslye and Amy and Allison [Silverman] — it was a huge undertaking, and it looked like ‘A Beautiful Mind’ in there,” she said. “And by the time it got to Michael, it got those red threads that make it look more like a serial killer had gotten involved with ‘A Beautiful Mind.'”

Read more from the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine

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