Lennon Parham tells IndieWire about his favorite moment from HBO Max’s “Minx” Season 1.
welcome to My favorite moment ! In this series, IndieWire talks to the actors behind some of our favorite TV performances about their personal best moment on screen and how it came together.
If Lennon Parham is on TV, fans will laugh.
The actress was a scene stealer for years on everything from “Veep” to “Playing House.” In HBO Max’s “Minx,” which premiered in March, Parham is more hilarious than ever, but also unexpectedly moving as Shelly, a stay-at-home mom turned porn magazine/discussion editor/ versatile supporter. Season 1 centered on Shelly’s sister, Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond), and her decision to partner with a publisher (Jake Johnson) to print her feminist manifesto/porn magazine, Minx.
Parham’s arc was a real high point for the show, allowing the actress to be vulnerable and hesitant while showing Shelly’s growing confidence throughout the season as she explored a sometimes outrageous new world. . In a comedy full of shock cutaways and big gags, it was often Parham’s truthful performance that kept everything grounded in reality. This reality could go in some really fun directions, though – including Parham’s favorite season 1 moment, when the mother-out-of-water storyline took a turn in episode 9, and Shelly falls into it. a date with fellow Bottom Dollar worker Bambi (Jessica Lowe).
“Bambi tries to help Shelly feel her sexy side and dresses her up for a boudoir photoshoot at Bambi’s little cottage,” Parham said of the scene. “Shelly feels so into herself that she ends up having an affair over the weekend with Bambi. It leads to sweet, sweet, sweet caresses, etc.”
Parham spoke to IndieWire about how this scene was the perfect climax to Shelly’s Season 1 arc, as well as exactly where to look for 1970s lingerie inspiration. interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
IndieWire: Tell me what you thought when you first read the script at this time.
Lennon Parham: So I had some preparations because [creator] Ellen [Rapoport]…to make that kind of leap, it has to be in place throughout the season. So we found it very early and I was so excited. I think the writers and I really wanted to follow Shelly’s transformation and her openness from the person we meet in the pilot to the person we see in episode 9. I think there has to be a pretty deep change even if it happens on the inside.
How was the rehearsal process for this scene?
I requested a meeting with Jessica Lowe who plays Bambi, and the director and intimacy coordinator. I just wanted to know what [director] Natalie [Leite] had in mind, what they were going to see, how it was going to happen. And so we read the board, on the right, which was still on Zoom. And I guess I really wanted to do him justice. Like, I think I’m kinda in love with Shelly. [laughs] I really like it and wanted to make sure it was really grounded and beautiful. Natalia also spoke [about] the fact that she wanted it to be passionate and not too sweet. She wanted it to go through a woman’s lens and what it would really be like right now for Shelly to take that leap.
Is there anything on the set that helps you get into the right headspace? Is there a prop, costume or co-star?
Oh yeah. We honestly spend two hours doing our hair and makeup which really helps. Also the costume in that scene was very particular and I think Ellen really wanted me to feel beautiful and kind of left it up to Beth [Morgan, costume designer] and me to decide what that would mean.
It was described in the script, but at the end of the day, I think we both had something in mind, and then we started searching Pinterest for 70s boudoirs and teddy bears and the like. We found some great images. I texted [Beth] all these photos – real vintage Etsy and eBay screenshots [clothing], because it was all vintage. And so she based the costume [off that] and they built a teddy around what I considered my strengths, physically! To make me feel really beautiful and sexy, to be able to go from being so in her head to being really in the moment and really going for it.
Your character and Jessica’s character together is such fun and unexpected fun because the characters are clearly opposites.
I think Shelly is just totally in love with [her] from the start. [Bambi is] so much in her own body and 100% herself all the time. And I think it’s probably tough being a Pasadena housewife on the country club circuit. In a way, you have to fit into a mould. And Bambi just does it. Like you, you know?
I think it’s really exciting to be with a woman like that and also having never been with a woman like that I think she’s breaking everything [these] stereotypes maybe Shelly might have had about the kind of woman who would do this job. And Jessica Lowe, it’s not hard to fall in love with her. She’s incredibly, incredibly talented. And incredibly gorgeous and also radiates that beautiful light from within and everyone wants to be in its orbit. She always makes things lighter on set and cracks a silly joke. We all went to her wedding after packing. She is very welcoming. She looks a lot like Bambi; she is just with open arms.
How do you think this moment fits into Shelly’s biggest journey this season?
I think right off the bat, we see Shelly dipping her toe into this world that she wouldn’t otherwise have access to if it wasn’t for her sister. And I think that kind of exposes some things that are missing in his life. [What is she getting from] relationships with those Bottom Dollar people that she doesn’t have in her life as a mother?
I thought it was such a beautiful arc the way they folded it like, Oh, she’s just showing up with her son because her son set somebody’s ass on fire. He got kicked out of summer school and she was already bringing those files to her sister, but now that she’s here, oh, maybe she’ll stick around and help. It’s good to be around these people and exciting to be in this world. We then see her at home, and how hard it is to have teenagers and a toddler. Quite dissatisfied, I think, and angry about it. So it’s this little secret thing that’s just for her, which I think for a mother can be really decadent and exciting. And then she’s just part of the team and she’s also Minx’s reader. She is exactly the target audience of the magazine. And so I think from that perspective, she brings big eyes to what women want.
Her confession that she used a vibrator is excellent. I loved it when she talks in Minx’s offices about magazine headlines and things like that and viewers just see, “Oh, that’s exactly how she fits into this world.”
Yeah. And that scene, that was another one of my favorite scenes, because clearly the culture set up at home was not to talk about that stuff. As if it were your private matter. We’re not talking about sex. We are not talking about fun. You get married, you have a family. It’s your job. I remember we were rehearsing it before we started filming and Ellen was like, “It should be really hard for her to share that.” And then when she shared it, she’s in! [Her sister is] the one who suffers from it. It also subverts what we expect from this path of being a housewife.
Do you have any thoughts on why, what audiences find appealing about the 1970s on TV right now?
I will speak specifically for “Minx”. … I think it’s just a great, beautiful time of escapism. I mean, maybe we get the same thing from Minx that we get from a “Bridgerton” or “Gilded Age” – we don’t want to be where we are in this real world right now because he there’s a lot of backlash and darkness and scary things going on in the world. And so for half an hour to leave in the early 70s when literally people had their shirts open up to their navels. It’s not just the 70s, but it’s that world of porn production. [It’s] totally so exciting to be able to see behind the curtain. And to see, you know, full bushes.
Did it feel different to be on set with so much male nudity? Because male nudity on TV is still very rare.
Yeah, I mean, it feels like we’re introducing it… I’m a comedic actor, so I haven’t been on a lot of shows with nudity, period. I wasn’t on “Game of Thrones,” so I’ve never really been on a show with nudity. It was shocking at first and exciting, then we all really got used to it. I think everyone was there for the love of the game, and everyone was really committed to delivering the comedy but also the reality of the situation.
Everyone was really professional from top to bottom about how it was all handled and everyone felt really respected. And, I mean, even the initial edit in the script said, “Yeah, that’s a dick edit,” and I burst out laughing. But I had no idea that when Rachel [Lee Goldenberg, director] turned she was going to shoot such a beautiful [moment]; the way they shot that edit with the clear glass behind and the close ups and the way they all appear on screen and they all do tricks and everyone feels respected… It also felt very educational to me .
I read that the makeup trailer had Playgirl magazines in it. True?
Totally Carleigh [Herbert, makeup department head]. Carleigh ordered I think on eBay a bunch of Playgirl magazines and they weren’t like [on display]. But yes, they were Playgirl magazines. They were under the makeup station. So if you wanted to walk through before shooting your scene, you could enter the space. I thought that was a very good idea.
Season 1 of “Minx” is available to stream on HBO Max.