In The Little Hours, a bawdy 14th-century sex comedy about medieval nuns, Lauren Weedman plays the wandering-eyed wife to a dunderheaded duke named Bruno (played by Nick Offerman). She dutifully dines with him every night, pretending to listen as he describes his favorite torture methods, while gratuitously flirting with Massetto, a bare-chested manservant played by Dave Franco. Her affair with Massetto, while short-lived, is one of the film’s highlights and has led to praise by outlets like The New York Times, which wrote that Ms. Weedman “sucks every syllable dry.” It’s not a big role—Hollywood still doesn’t know how to fully utilize her acerbic talents—but when she’s on screen, there’s no denying her magnetism.
In person, Weedman is endlessly self-reflexive, prone to adding footnotes, addendums, and recriminations to her responses. You don’t have a conversation with her as much as you have a conversation about your conversation, with Weedman hopping off the field to narrate the game every few sentences.
When asked how she became involved in the film, roughly based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s book, The Decameron, she is characteristically self-effacing: “Jeff [Beana, the director] was so casual when he brought it up. He was like, ‘We’re going to shoot in Italy and John C. Reilly is attached and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m sure he is.’ He’s an independent film director so I thought this was never going to happen. And then it actually did.”
Forced to respond to a question about simulating sex with Dave Franco, she adopts the voice of a concerned friend. “Oh, I just felt so sorry for him,” she said. “You know, he’d recently gotten engaged to Alison Brie in Italy and now he was going to have to lay on top of his gym teacher or — I don’t know exactly how he saw me. But he did talk about how he thought I’d like his Mom a lot. I was like, ‘Your Mom seems cool.’”
Stream-of-conscious and brutally self-deprecating is Weedman’s M.O. As a performer, she’s made oversharing seem like a noble art and even a path towards self-realization (a path, it should be noted, that she’s ruthlessly lampooned in her one-woman shows.)
Gays know Weedman best as Doris, the fag-hag-turned-pivotal-character on HBO’s Looking. But even after that breakout role, it seems as though she hasn’t been given her due. As it stands, she’s a cult favorite character actress—like Margo Martindale, but only known to a small cadre of fanatics.
Her first role in a big, mainstream comedy was playing “hysterical woman” on Reno 911! A long stint on Hung (as Horny Patty) followed, as well as bit roles on shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development and 2 Broke Girls. Most recently, she was booked opposite Nick Nolte on the show Graves.
But it’s her one-woman shows that have earned her raves. Weedman, ever the intimate observer of human behavior, won a Macdowell playwriting fellowship for her show, BUST, about volunteering in L.A. county jail. Currently, she’s touring a cabaret show called Tammy/Lisa featuring themes from her divorce (which she also details in her book, Miss Fortune.)
In that relationship’s disintegration, Weedman learned that her husband had been cheating on her with their babysitter. It wasn’t that much of a stretch to imagine the life of a woman in Boccaccio’s Italy shackled to a fool. “Jeff told me, ‘You’re going to be sitting across from a blowhard,’ and I was like, ‘Stop right there, the part is mine.’”
During filming, Weedman says she was awestruck by how much Offerman had prepared for his ad libs on medieval torture methods. “I had many moments where I felt like, ‘They flew me all the way to Italy and I’m not doing shit!’ I knew it was going to be a period piece and that I would wear an old dress like they did at the opera in Rome, but I didn’t look into—am I supposed to be speaking in ye-old something?”
Weedman shines when given free reign over her character and a loose outline for a script, which means she’ll probably continue to chug along in lower-budget indies that aren’t under tight control of the industry’s largely straight, white, and male juggernaut. But that’s probably a good thing because it means we’ll get to enjoy her at her purest, most Weedman-esque self.