When Christopher Guest approached Jane Lynch about taking on the role of a lesbian pup teach in his 2000 improvised film Best in Show , the actress said she didn’t think twice about what it would mean to play a lesbian attribute on screen. For that, she says she had Ellen DeGeneres to thank.
” I never even thought of that ,” Lynch, who had been haunted with the filmmaker’s previous movie Waiting for Guffman , tells me on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast.” I never even thought about it at the time .”
For as large-scale a burst as Best in Show was for the then 40 -year-old actress, she had no idea how far the role of Christy Cummings would take her career.
” It wasn’t like,’ Oh my God, this is a Christopher Guest movie, people are going to know who I am after this !'” she says. “‘ And I’m playing a lesbian person, will they suppose I’m a lesbian person ?’ That didn’t even cross my subconsciou. So I’m glad for that .”
By that level, it had been merely three years since DeGeneres appeared on the cover-up of Time magazine next to the words,” Yep, I’m gay” and uttered the same declaration in reference on her sitcom. As the comedian spoke about at length in her Netflix stand-up special, coming out altogether derailed her job.
” For five minutes, it was really celebrated and then everyone changed their memories ,” DeGeneres says on theatre, joking darkly that “side effects” of being publicly lesbian at that time” can be applied in loss of household, loss of friends and unemployment .” When she started sloping her daytime talk indicate, she was told that” no one’s going to watch a lesbian during the day .”
” Well, they weren’t watching me at night ,” DeGeneres replies.” What time of day is good for a lesbian ?”
Watching all of this undo as an actor just trying to get work in Hollywood, Lynch was undaunted. It facilitated that DeGeneres proved the haters wrong and went on to be one of the most successful media figures of all time.
” It shaped my being a gay person in Hollywood a no-brainer , not a number of problems at all ,” Lynch says, looking back.” Because she basically took one for the team, if you will .”
If someone had asked DeGeneres when she was a little girl,” Do you want to be a gay icon who blazes a trail for everybody else ?” Lynch doubts she would have said yes.” But she did it. She stood there and took it and did it and was honest .”
” She’s right up there with Oprah and I think that’s a great thing ,” Lynch, who is currently hosting the popular game show Hollywood Game Night on NBC, contributes.” So I’m indebted to her for that, because I didn’t have to do any of that. I just got to be an actor playing a persona, which I’m really grateful for .”
Before DeGeneres came out, Lynch worried about what being lesbian would mean for her dream of becoming an actor. She recalls being around 25 years old and” laying in berthed at night thinking, What’ll I do if they find out? I haven’t even told my parents hitherto! Will I be able to do what I want to do ?”
She found solace in the group of comics with whom she performed sketch slapstick night after night at Second City in Chicago.” It didn’t matter that I was gay and anybody else was straight, it simply didn’t matter ,” she says.” It hasn’t mattered my whole life. That’s why it interrupts my centre that, especially for teenagers out there, it matters. And they are keeping a secret deep within themselves that they’re afraid will be disclosed .”
Unlike DeGeneres, Lynch never felt the need to make any big statements on magazine embraces or TV interrogations.
” I didn’t really have a’ coming out ,'” she says.” I just showed up and didn’t say I wasn’t .”
Next week on The Last Laugh podcast : Former Daily Show correspondent and host of ABC’s Holey Moley, Rob Riggle.