Kathryn Hahn On 'Private Life' It's Tuesday: Sam talks with Kathryn Hahn — best known for her work in "Transparent" and "I Love Dick" — about her new film 'Private Life.' She stars alongside Paul Giamatti in the film, which is about a couple struggling to have a baby, and what happens when your life doesn't turn out the way you thought. Email the show at samsanders@npr.org or tweet @NPRItsBeenAMin with your feedback.
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Actress Kathryn Hahn Talks Film 'Private Life' — And Her Own

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Actress Kathryn Hahn Talks Film 'Private Life' — And Her Own

Actress Kathryn Hahn Talks Film 'Private Life' — And Her Own

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SAM SANDERS, HOST:

From NPR, I'm Sam Sanders. IT'S BEEN A MINUTE. Today on the show, an actress whose work I have been bingeing for the last few years, Kathryn Hahn. You've seen her in "Transparent." You've seen her in "I Love Dick." You've seen her in "Parks And Recreation."

And Kathryn Hahn is out with the new film on Netflix called "Private Life." In this movie, Kathryn stars alongside Paul Giamatti. It's directed and written by Tamara Jenkins.

And this movie, "Private Life," it is this captivating slow burn of a film. Kathryn and Paul play this couple in their 40s in New York trying to have a kid. But as they try and try and try to have this baby, you also see them grapple with what you do when your life just doesn't turn out the way you thought it would on several levels - not just parenthood - and how you deal with that.

Kathryn and I talked a little while ago here in LA. And we talked about a lot, her past work and some of the overriding themes I see in all of the stuff she does. We talked about her childhood growing up in Cleveland and we talked about this really interesting thing that we both have in common as former church kids. All right. Here's me and Kathryn Hahn. Enjoy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: I'm researching you, getting ready for the interview. And I find out that we have a thing in common, a very strange, weird thing in common. We have both played, in our youth, Psalty the Singing Songbook.

KATHRYN HAHN: I'm going to burst into hysterical tears right now...

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yes.

HAHN: ...Because I was under the impression all these years that that was written strictly for St. Ann's elementary school.

SANDERS: No, ma'am. I played it at St. James Catholic School in Seguin, Texas.

HAHN: What are you talking about?

SANDERS: Yes (laughter), yes.

HAHN: I have never met a Psalty - P-S-A-L-T-Y. What?

SANDERS: Do you remember any of the songs?

HAHN: No.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: But I mean, I am a recovering Catholic. Like, I don't remember, really...

SANDERS: Everyone is, really.

HAHN: I used to think...

SANDERS: I was raised Pentecostal, just went to Catholic school.

HAHN: Yes, 'cause it, like, good, cheap, private education.

SANDERS: Exactly. And they - so my mother went to Catholic school because they would take the black kids...

HAHN: Total - yes.

SANDERS: ...When no - when the public schools would not, you know?

HAHN: In Texas.

SANDERS: She was from Birmingham. It was a good experience.

HAHN: Were you taught by Jesuits...

SANDERS: No, I wish, the cool ones.

HAHN: ...The priests?

SANDERS: No, we had nuns...

HAHN: Yeah, we have nuns, too.

SANDERS: ...Who were not F-ing around.

HAHN: Actually, I like the nuns better than the Jesuits.

SANDERS: Well, the nuns get stuff done.

HAHN: The nuns get stuff done. They're good educators and pretty progressive, actually.

SANDERS: Yeah. And they take no guff. We've talked about Psalty. To segue into your work - so you started out doing plays.

HAHN: Not that that's not my work.

SANDERS: (Laughter) That is your...

HAHN: That is the birth.

SANDERS: When they give you the lifetime achievement Oscar, there's going to be a clip of you as Psalty.

HAHN: They're just going to start and end, just slow motion on that dog...

SANDERS: Yes.

HAHN: ...And then just pan.

SANDERS: Yes.

HAHN: Yeah, I started - I did actually fall in love early, early, early, early.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: It was, like, around that time. And it was around - in Cleveland, there was the Cleveland Play House, which was like the sacredest (ph), most holy space for me...

SANDERS: Wow.

HAHN: ...More so - no offense - than the Catholic Church.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: I loved the bubble, like the holy bubble that it created. Like, when it was, like, me and a bunch of scrappy actors all barefoot with our long toenails just, like, making something out of nothing, there was like a holiness in it that I - and a safety, especially because - just always, like so many of us, I just never felt like I was in my skin. Or I always felt like I was like kind of not sure who my true self was. And I was always trying on something on the outside, like we all do.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: And yeah. And so I did theater there all through elementary school. And I was like that was...

SANDERS: And you stuck with it.

HAHN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Do you find the same holiness and community doing TV and film?

HAHN: It has taken a second. It's easier to find in the theater...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...I think, because of a lot of factors, I think, because of the idea of an ensemble. I love a backstage. It pisses me off to such a profound degree when an actor doesn't pick up their clothes, hangs - and doesn't respect their costumes, like...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...Doesn't respect their props, doesn't respect the crew, doesn't respect, like, that we're all - that doesn't respect the...

SANDERS: You don't have any of this without craft services...

HAHN: No.

SANDERS: ...Without costumes, without - it's all together.

HAHN: And in fact, these people are there hours before you are and stay hours after you leave. I just don't understand how, like, real, true empathy-building work can happen when it doesn't happen in that - within the world that you're making it.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

HAHN: So anyway...

SANDERS: Do you think that theater has more of that community than, like, the film crew?

HAHN: Not always. But in my...

SANDERS: I can imagine film crews being, like, the big-name actor comes in and then leaves. And it's, like, no connection.

HAHN: Yeah, a lot of it. And that's why I think I felt so disheartened when I first came out to - when I first started getting work in this medium...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...I guess, or out here. It was like there was a weird divorce between the work I was being asked to do on camera and the work that I wanted to be able to do.

SANDERS: How did you deal with that?

HAHN: I don't know. It was like - just there was a - I was dissatisfied for a while. I don't know exactly what it was. But it took a second for me to realize that I could marry the two, that I didn't have to pretend to be something I wasn't for this weird...

SANDERS: This weird place, yeah.

HAHN: ...Business that - I was trying to fit - it was like I was doing, like, two different jobs. I was trying to, like, not just do my work, I was trying to, like, do what I thought they were supposed to be. So...

SANDERS: Yeah. You were trying to be yourself and them at the same time...

HAHN: Yeah.

SANDERS: ...Which is too much.

HAHN: Too much.

SANDERS: You know, but it feels like, with "Private Life" especially, that what you want your work to be and what your work is kind of come together, no? This feels very much like - hearing you talk about the movie and hearing you talk to me just now, this seems like art and work that is closer to your vision of what you want your career to be than some of the stuff before?

HAHN: Oh, yeah. For sure. I mean, there's been some projects before it, too, that I would say, like, kind of paved it. But yeah, this for sure. The experience of it, the ease of it, the chemistry, the - yeah, the everything of it was just, like - ah. For sure. And Tamara's voice, also.

SANDERS: This is the director. Yeah.

HAHN: Tamara Jenkins, who wrote and directed it. Yeah. And Paul Giamatti, who is like...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Still, it's so strange. I just saw him recently for the first time in a while. And it's so strange to talk about this movie without him or the experience of it without him because I really and truly, like, don't remember much of what - it's hard for me to remember much of what I did. I just remember, like, his face. Like, I just was so - we were so clued into each other.

SANDERS: Well, a lot of the movie's the two of y'all working stuff out.

HAHN: Yeah. She shot it like a two shot. We rarely see either of us in a close-up. It's, like, usually we're in a two shot, which is also really rare and I love.

SANDERS: That's good. We should say, for those who haven't watched it...

HAHN: Oh, yeah.

SANDERS: ...This movie, "Private Life," it's on Netflix now. It's getting some awards buzz. But it's you and Paul Giamatti. You're playing this couple in their 40s trying to conceive, but there are complications.

HAHN: Yeah.

SANDERS: And like, it's funny. In talking about this movie with other people, preparing for this interview, I realized, as someone who is not trying to have kids right now, is single as hell, can barely take care of a dog.

HAHN: Yeah. You're a baby.

SANDERS: I'm a little baby.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: But a lot of people in my life, a lot of people that I work with, that I know, they deal with this stuff, and you realize, unless you ask, they're not going to tell you about it.

HAHN: Yeah.

SANDERS: But a lot of people deal with the difficulties of trying to have a kid.

HAHN: Well, no. It's interesting. I was - you know, in my 20s and 30s, I didn't have health insurance. You know, I had my long-term boyfriend, but I wasn't - like, there was - like, babies were nowhere - like, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: I was kind of raised to think, like, I was somewhat in control of my fertility and my decisions, and that it was my body and my - you know, and I was - the 20s were about figuring out who I was and my - all those good things, which are - and valid. And I'm so glad. I would never have been ready to be a mother in my 20s, and even into my middle 30s, like, there's no way. But then, what I think is the pickle is that our biology is just - that's our most fertile time as women. So it just sucks.

SANDERS: It's like your spirit's not ready, your body is.

HAHN: Yeah, it sucks.

SANDERS: Then the spirit gets ready, the body is like, tap out.

HAHN: And it's like - it's not in everybody's cards, and it's not for - and we're just strictly talking about, I think, right now, like, women. I think people are waiting later and later to start families. And with all of this technology that's available, which is - you know, in assisted reproduction, which is incredible. But then for - people then I think also rely on it a lot now as a choice. Like, I'm going to wait because this and this and this is available.

SANDERS: Yeah. Because the technology is there. And does that give folks false hope sometimes?

HAHN: I think maybe it does. Because it's - you know, you look at a People magazine, and there's, like, someone on the cover with, like...

SANDERS: I was 73, and I had a child, you know? And it's like...

HAHN: Yeah. And you're like, you don't see all the story behind it. And you know, Michelle Obama just recently talked about having IVF with her kids, and it was, like, a big deal in the book. And it was so awesome that she wrote about it. It was so beautiful that she - but so I think more and more people are, like, shining a light. But...

SANDERS: And this puts it out there. Like, the very - and what I found eye-opening about the movie and the way that your character and Paul's character go about the hard business of trying to have a kid, it's like, you'll make a decision and say, well, this is the way we're going to do it, and then you'll second-guess it. And then you'll make that decision and say we're going to do it this way, then you'll second-guess it. I think, on the outside looking in, I was assuming, well, my friends who are trying to have babies, they've decided on this route, and they go down this path. But in actuality, there's turns all along the way.

HAHN: All along the way, that we kept calling it the baby carrot that would be dangled. Like, you'd think that there was this line in the sand, like, I'll go up to - like, we'll do up to this point, but this is where I draw the line in the sand.

SANDERS: And then you go further. You want a baby.

HAHN: And then you go further because there's so many other options, and then you - and then how do you tell somebody to stop? Like, how do you tell somebody if it just takes one more egg or just one more round of IVF or one more, like...

SANDERS: Yeah. Why would you not do it?

HAHN: Why would you not do - well, I mean, financially - A. But like, it is - it's an impossible rollercoaster to get off. And I think that's why Paul, at some point during it, said to me, this - said to both Tamara and I, like, this is "Waiting For Godot," and we were like, totally.

SANDERS: But Godot's a baby (laughter).

HAHN: Yeah. Because it really does feel so existential. Like, it's just this constant, like, loop that they're on, that they've even forgotten what they want. Like, what the endgame is.

SANDERS: Is it really about the baby anymore?

HAHN: No, it's not even about the baby. Like, they forgot who they were before this baby project. They're just existing - because if they stop and examine, like, actual grief and actually where they are in their life - they aren't where they thought they were going to be when they were going to be in their 20s. Their dreams - you know, they're in the same apartment. They thought they were going to have these careers that they - you know, it's all those things that we, like, are running - it's life.

SANDERS: It's life.

HAHN: Like, stuff we're all doing. Like, running away from what we thought we were going to be.

SANDERS: And thinking a baby can fix it.

HAHN: And the fear - yeah - of actually confronting it and thinking, like, woo (ph), looking down the barrel of that final chapter. And like, OK, who are we now? Who am I now? What do I want? They think it's this baby. But I don't know.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: All right, time for a break. When we come back, Kathryn Hahn on #MeToo and the struggle to stay focused on her work. BRB.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Did you bring any of your, like, theater training - I'm assuming you always bring your theater training. But like, was there a certain part of you and your theater work that was brought to this film? Because it does feel and it breathes in a way that, like, a really good stage play does.

HAHN: You know, I had been doing - I think, before this, the work that I had been doing, there had been an element of improvisation. And I love that. It can get tricky, but this - because the script was so baked, fully-cooked by the time we got it, and it was, like, there was really - she did not want any improvising at all, which was actually, like, a huge relief, I think.

SANDERS: Really?

HAHN: Yeah. Because I could just focus on it.

SANDERS: Yeah. And living in that moment. Yeah.

HAHN: So that felt like all I had was in this beautiful piece of writing. I didn't have to look outside of it at all. So that was on the script level, I think, on the work level. And then on the - you know, the back - the backstage level, like, we all - you know, we shot in an apartment building. We all shared the same - Paul had one bedroom. I had another bedroom. And we shared a, you know, toilet in the middle. And like, with - so we basically had, like, a backstage area, and then they'd call us to set, and we'd walk upstairs and go into the apartment. So it did feel like theater in that way.

SANDERS: Yeah. It was a cool set.

HAHN: Yeah.

SANDERS: I read that to prepare for this role, playing a woman who's struggling to conceive, that at night, after shooting, you would go to where you were staying and watch YouTube videos of couples trying to do IVF?

HAHN: Mm-hmm.

SANDERS: Wow.

HAHN: Mm-hmm. I was drawn to these testimonials, these video testimonials that are on YouTube. And there are many of them.

SANDERS: Which I had no idea.

HAHN: But I mean, there's anything, you know, on YouTube, says the parent of a 12-year-old boy.

(LAUGHTER)

HAHN: But they - for some reason, it was like - it just became my little ritual every night, is that I would just kind of, like - before going to bed, I would just, like, watch - not even, like, really consciously. I was just, like, hungry to see them. So many couples would just kind of tell their stories and set them to, like, music.

SANDERS: Oh, wow.

HAHN: And it would just be these stories of their fertility journeys, with either positive or, you know, heartbreaking outcomes. And that's kind of how it seeped into my bones, I think.

SANDERS: Yeah. This is the kind of movie that you do, and it inherently leads to conversations about your own life and your own fertility and your own mother-whatever issues. And you've talked about that before in relation to this movie. But it's like I was thinking before this interview, do we expect women to talk about stuff like this when it's tied to their work in a way that we don't expect men to? Like, should I ask you about fertility or not? I would never ask a man about it.

HAHN: Yeah. I was going to ask you, would you ask a man about it?

SANDERS: I don't even think I've ever thought about fertility as a man thing.

HAHN: Interesting.

SANDERS: You know what I'm saying?

HAHN: Right.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Well, you know, it's interesting you bring this up. Like, I have done - in walking around for this movie and in these discussions, there's been a lot of, like, you know, the #MeToo movement discussions and all these things. And it is so interesting to think, like, you wonder how many of, like, the men have been asked this question about how they feel like things have changed since last year. Because I feel like I've been asked that question so many times, which is such a weird question, just to feel like one human with a vagina can speak...

SANDERS: (Laughter) For the women.

HAHN: ...For an - right. It's just a very interesting - anyway, it's a very interesting time, is it not?

SANDERS: Yeah. Do you get tired of that question?

HAHN: I don't know if I get tired of the question because it certainly is - I'm glad that conversations are still happening. But I just still want it to feel - I hope that it still feels fertile...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...To bring it back into this conversation.

SANDERS: Yeah (laughter).

HAHN: I just, I - you know what I mean?

SANDERS: Yes. Like...

HAHN: It starts...

SANDERS: Are we still paying attention? Are we still feeling this movement in this moment?

HAHN: What's the, like, thriving, living, changing heartbeat in it? You know what I mean? Like, what's actually being discussed, rather than, is it just because you're a woman and happened to be in front of the camera...

SANDERS: I feel obligated to ask you the #MeToo question and - yeah.

HAHN: And what does that mean? Yeah.

SANDERS: Well, and then it's like, you have all of these thoughts about the world and your industry, but you've still got to just go to work.

HAHN: Well, this is what I think. This is an awesome segue, Sam.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: It's hard because you can't really bring it to your gig. Like, you have to walk in. I mean, at least in this gig, I have to walk in...

SANDERS: In the role.

HAHN: ...Into the - yeah - into the room and not have - because if I'm conscious of any of that then that's like a - that's an inhibitor to me that gets in the way. Like, I can't walk in thinking about a big picture. Or, like, it can't be, like, an issue movie. Otherwise, I also don't think it works.

SANDERS: No.

HAHN: Like, it has to be humorous.

SANDERS: How do you separate? How do you turn that switch on and off? 'Cause you're an activist. Like, you are involved in politics outside of your work, and you...

HAHN: We all are.

SANDERS: But, like, do you have a problem, like, leaving politics at the stage door, I guess?

HAHN: No. It's maddening. I mean, that is an understatement of the century. Again. Like, I can't even, like...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: ...Like, I can't even say it. Like, maddening. What are you talking about?

SANDERS: Maddening.

HAHN: It's a hell state.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: Like, everywhere you turn. Like, it's like you can't even...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: I can't (laughter). I can't even turn anywhere. It's like, even just on top of everything else, there was that, like, climate change report that was, like, and then that's around the corner.

SANDERS: The smoke just cleared from the fires.

HAHN: Yes.

SANDERS: You know? We're waiting for mudslides.

HAHN: Like, we might not have that as long as we thought.

SANDERS: Yes. Yes.

HAHN: I mean, I look at my children, and I'm like, how do I protect them from, like, crippling anxiety? (Laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Like, cause it is - it's bananas.

SANDERS: Yes.

HAHN: So anyway, work is, I would say, at this point...

SANDERS: An escape?

HAHN: ...Soul food. Yeah. I mean, it's always been the place where I feel like, I think - like I articulated at the beginning of this - the place where I've always felt the most, like, (sighing).

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: For sure.

SANDERS: All right. One more break. Do not go away, dear listener. In a minute, we're going to talk about a show I love, "I Love Dick," and also a place I love, where that show is set, Marfa, Texas. All right. BRB.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Talked about private life, which I just enjoyed thoroughly. But I want to talk about, like, your other work 'cause you've been busy the last few years. And one of the things that I've actually watched two or three times now is "I Love Dick."

HAHN: You have?

SANDERS: Yes, I have. Can I tell you why?

HAHN: Please.

SANDERS: I'm obsessed with Marfa, Texas. I'm from San Antonio.

HAHN: Yeah.

SANDERS: And for the third year in a row now, I stop in Marfa for, like, five or six days before I go home for Thanksgiving. So I was just there a few weeks ago, again, with friends. And in the Airbnb, I made us all watch "I Love Dick."

HAHN: Oh, my God.

SANDERS: I've watched that show a lot.

HAHN: That's awesome.

SANDERS: It's a good show. And I've walked through some of the places where y'all have shot.

HAHN: Yes.

SANDERS: I have friends at the station there, public radio.

HAHN: In the old gas station?

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: I had to get changed in there a few times.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: That was, like, a - that was a little makeshift dressing room.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Oh, my God. That's beautiful. I love - I just had a sweet email exchange with Rob Weiner, who's, like, the head of Chinati.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Yeah. I loved Marfa so much, and I loved that show. So it was a...

SANDERS: It is...

HAHN: Yeah. Yeah.

SANDERS: I love the way that you - and you bring intensity to every role, but something about the character you played in that show, the entire time, you are this volcano waiting to explode. And there's such intensity in every movement, in every eye roll, in every whisper. And it's this beautiful expression of how everyone, whether they show you this or not, everyone in that same way is barely holding it together.

HAHN: Aw.

SANDERS: Everyone has, like, the stove - hot top on top of the boiling water. And you do that in that show so well.

HAHN: Sam, that is really sweet to hear.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: Oh, God.

SANDERS: I sort of liked it.

HAHN: I love it. I'm seeing Sarah Gubbins tonight, who was the writer of - anyway, I can't wait to tell her. Yeah. We - that means a ton.

SANDERS: Man. I'm telling you, I loved it.

HAHN: God. I love it.

SANDERS: You did that.

HAHN: Aw. That means a ton. Yeah, that experience, I'll hold very dear. It was a really tough one.

SANDERS: It seems tough.

HAHN: It was a hard place to live for that - yeah.

SANDERS: How did you get to that place and stay in that place? Because you're in that mode for the whole arc. And you have to just be there. Like, how long was the shooting?

HAHN: (Laughter) I had, like, three hairs left in my hair - on my head.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

HAHN: No, it was - how long was that shoot? It was about three months - three or four months.

SANDERS: Oh, wow. So you lived in that for three months?

HAHN: No, we only lived there for - we shot at Sunset Gower, out here, for the bulk of the interiors. And then we were there for, like, three weeks at the end.

SANDERS: Oh, OK. Got you. Got you.

HAHN: And we shot the entirety of the pilot out there. But I did love it, and I loved that source material. And - I mean, Griffin and Kevin and Roberta, the whole cast is phenomenal. But oh, thank you for saying so.

SANDERS: Of course.

HAHN: It's weird, too, because people always - if people say, were you expecting another season? Or were you - I, you know, of course, would have loved - but I think it also kind of exists perfectly as an eight-episode thing. I would've been fascinated to see where it would have gone. But I think it also kind of is, like - the cord kind of - it's kind of, like, perfectly...

SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah.

HAHN: ...You know, I liked how it ended (laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah. I mean - but also, it's like - one of the things that I noticed about, like, that role and your role in "Private Life" and your role in "Transparent" and other stuff - it's like so many of the characters you play, everyone thinks they're crazy. But actually they're just right, you know?

HAHN: Oh, that's awesome to hear, yeah.

SANDERS: Everything your character thought about Kevin Bacon's character was true, you know? All of the angst that your character in, like, "Private Life" feels is true. But no one, like - and so like, what seems to be irrationality is just you being radically right. And no one gets it, and then they think you're crazy. It feels like this is a thing women characters in film do because it feels like a way that women in the real world are treated a lot.

HAHN: Sam, well - I mean, that's - well, what's deep about what maybe you just latched onto there is that - and something I had never thought of - and I don't know if I can, again, speak to it globally, womenwise. But there is certainly something that I had never thought of is that a lot of these women are really, really trying to be heard. That's something that I, as a human, can completely recognize for myself.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: That was something, growing up, I always felt like I was trying to be heard, to be really seen.

SANDERS: You thought you weren't seen or heard growing up? Why do you think that is - or was?

HAHN: I think for a lot of reasons, personally and family-of-origin-wise (ph). And there's a lot of attention and a lot of other things going on in my family of origin, and so I think I was always constantly, like, the tap dancer of the family, if that makes sense.

SANDERS: (Laughter) OK, yeah.

HAHN: So I was always, like, on the outside of myself. Like, I felt like I was - what's that expression? - the extroverted introvert. So like...

SANDERS: Like, you felt the need to perform almost? Like, you had to...

HAHN: Oh, for sure. Like, all I wanted to do is be reading a book. Like, I never look at a monitor. I really don't like photo shoots at all because I hate being still and captured. I just get very self-conscious.

SANDERS: OK. I can see that.

HAHN: I just like - just like...

SANDERS: You're moving. You want to move. You're a shark (laughter).

HAHN: No, I get - not even in, like, a dramatic way.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: It's just like, I feel like - oh, now I have to, like, be something that I'm not.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Like, I have to be like, oh.

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: Like, it goes back to that, like, you know, trying to fit into, like, the Hollywood-y (ph)...

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HAHN: ...Actor thing...

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

HAHN: ...Or just, like, to present for somebody else's gaze...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...Just makes me feel, like, sick. I can't describe it.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Does playing these roles, these emotionally intense roles - in different ways - "Private Life" is emotionally intense in a different way than "I Love Dick" in a different way than "The Romanoffs" in a different way than whatever - do these roles give you something? 'Cause I can see you giving so much when I see you in these roles. But do they - like, do you come away from a performance or a role and say, I got something from this? And if so, you know, what is it?

HAHN: Always, especially when it's something that is - like the ones you describe, that feel this - that are this rich, that I'm asked to bring my full self and that I feel like I'm challenged to bring, like - to, like, push myself in ways that I haven't before or that I'm able to, like, dig into icky crevices...

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...Or things, like, that don't feel as, like, pretty in the light. Like, that's being a human being. Like, that is - I hold those so - like, you know, going back to the beginning of our conversation about, like, just, like, being in a church somewhere - like..

SANDERS: Yeah.

HAHN: ...That's where I feel like I've learned something about myself and about what it is to be a human. Like - well, I have more wisdom...

SANDERS: You know yourself a little bit more.

HAHN: ...Of myself, yeah - if that makes sense.

SANDERS: Yeah. I love that.

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SANDERS: Thank you, Kathryn Hahn.

HAHN: Thank you so much for this.

SANDERS: Oh, my God. Thank you. Thank you. Keep this work coming because, I'm telling you, if Kathryn Hahn's name is on it, I'm eating it up. I'm eating it up. I love it.

HAHN: Oh, honey. Thank you, Sam.

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SANDERS: Thanks again to Kathryn Hahn. Her movie "Private Life" is on Netflix. And a lot of her other work is all out there in the culture to be consumed. Everything she does is really good. Go watch her stuff. All right.

Listeners, do not forget - today, tomorrow, whenever - share with me the best thing that's happened to you all week. Record yourself. Send that file to me at samsanders@npr.org. That's samsanders@npr.org. You might hear that in our Friday show. You might hear it on the radio. Until then, thanks for listening. I'm Sam Sanders. Talk soon.

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