When you're Natasha Lyonne—and the co-creator, showrunner, executive producer, director, writer and star of Russian Doll—it's essential to have a few good mates along for the ride. As Netflix drops the second season of the hit, emmy talks to Lyonne, her friend and co-creator Amy Poehler, and real-life bestie and costar Chloë Sevigny about the decidedly different focus of the new season. The award-winning, official publication of the Television Academy on newsstands now.
In the first season of the acclaimed series, Lyonne's character, Nadia Vulvokov, lived and died on her 36th birthday 22 times. "I think that season one was much more of a direct conversation with that self-destructive nature of 'we live, we die,'" says Lyonne. "Then in season two, essentially my question was, 'Okay, now that we figured out how to not die, how do we go about living?'" The new season, set in 1982 in Brooklyn, also sees the characters traveling to Eastern Europe with the subway serving as a time machine.
Due to COVID production delays, the second season took nearly three years to produce, so Lyonne is excited that viewers will soon get to see it. "Everybody came together and fought to make the best show we could," she says. "It's going to be out there; and I feel like thank God it's out of my brain and on the screen."
Poehler first met Lyonne in the '90s when she attended improv shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, which Poehler co-founded. She was drawn to Lyonne, whom she recalls as a "very scrappy New Yorker, self-sufficient and tiny and who talks like a gangster." In "Above and Beyond," Poehler reflects on the intention of the series. "We did have a lofty goal, which was the idea of allowing this female character to take up as much space as she could and allowing Natasha to play a person who was unapologetically herself throughout." She also observes that while dealing with tough subjects, Lyonne adeptly employs humor. "There are people who take on big emotions in their lives or in their characters but don't have the other piece, which is the levity," Poehler says. "That's why Natasha is such an interesting actress."
Sevigny, who has known Lyonne since 1997, describes their first meeting: "She was a kindred spirit. We had very similar interests in music and lifestyle and attitudes toward the business, toward life. We really clicked." The enduring friendship elevated her role as Nora, Nadia's single mother who suffers from schizophrenia. "In season two we really lean into the connection that Chloë and Natasha have in real life to talk about the relationship of Nadia and her mom," says Poehler. "It was pretty amazing because, like most strong female relationships, your friends are sometimes your mom and sometimes you're theirs, and sometimes you're kids together and sometimes you're sisters."
Russian Doll will begin its second season April 20, and Lyonne doesn't take the show's success for granted. "I get washed with this wave of gratitude. Things do not always turn out the way we want them to. But I am really trying to accept and be grateful that this moment is one of those rare and very good moments."
Additional feature highlights from the new issue include:
- As Better Call Saul kicks off its final season on AMC, the cast of the beloved series looks back on their signature roles. In "Last Call," emmy talks to Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Giancarlo Esposito and Rhea Seehorn about the journey of their respective characters.
- In "Backstage Pass," emmy talks to writer and innovative documentary producer Bill Simmons about his new HBO film series Music Box, which offers fans extraordinary insight into some of their favorite artists and musical eras.
- It took nearly 10 years to bring Walter Mosley's novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, to life as a limited series on Apple TV+. In "Defying Destiny," Mosley, an executive producer, along with star and executive producer Samuel L. Jackson, talk to emmy about the making of the series centered on a 91-year-old Black man with dementia.
Emmy, the official publication of the Television Academy, goes behind the scenes of the industry for a unique insider's view. It showcases the scope of television and profiles the people who make TV happen, from the stars of top shows to the pros behind the cameras, covering programming trends and advances in technology. Honored consistently for excellence, emmy is a six-time Maggie Award winner as Best Trade Publication in Communications or the Arts and has collected 52 Maggies from the Western Publishing Association. Emmy is published 12 times per year and is available on selected newsstands and at TelevisionAcademy.com for single print and digital copies as well as subscriptions.
Download the press release here.
For issue/coverage contacts:
breakwhitelight for the Television Academy