Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Pamela Adlon on snorting fake coke, Louie, and the fate of her Vulcan ears

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Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.


The actor: Pamela Adlon (or Pamela Segall, for those who’ve been following her work from the very beginning) began her acting career when she was just a youngster, making her film debut in Grease 2 at 16. From there, she popped up in a variety of movies and TV series throughout the 1980s and ’90s, eventually carving herself a niche as a voice actor (Recess, King Of The Hill) while also continuing her work in the world of live-action entertainment. Although Adlon is in the home stretch with her role as Marcy Runkle on Showtime’s Californication—the series’ sixth season is now on DVD, with the seventh and final season premiering on April 13— she continues to serve as a consulting producer on Louie, which returns to FX on May 5.

Californication (2007-present)—“Marcy Runkle”
Pamela Adlon: I had actually been offered two pilots that season: David E. Kelley had this pilot called The Wedding Bells, and then Californication came around. Actually, [series creator] Tom Kapinos originally wanted me to read for Karen [Natascha McElhone’s character], and I read it and said, “No, no, no. I’m not right for that! There’s no way!” The pilot was so interesting to read, because it was so well written, but it was super dark. And I didn’t know what the tone of the show was, you know? It was one of those things that I remember reading when I was at my daughter’s gymnastics place, and I sat there and I closed it, and I was like, “What the fuck…?” [Laughs.] “What is this? This is not a comedy. At all.” It was so dark.

Besides that, I feel like the way a lot of television is now… I guess when they break it down to the silliest thing, which is awards season, they say, “This is a comedy, and this is a drama,” and I feel like with shows like Californication and another show I work on, Louie, they’re not. I don’t feel like you can say they’re comedies and not dramas. Do you know what I mean? I didn’t think I would be right for Karen, and I said, “No, I’m not gonna go in and read for Karen.” Then they just offered me this role in the pilot to be Charlie Runkle’s wife in this one scene, and that’s what I did. Then the show got picked up, and Tom Kapinos kept writing scenes for me. He ended up writing me into, I think, seven episodes of the first season. It was fun. He found a place for my voice, and I was able to start doing all this crazy shit. [Laughs.] And eventually I became a part in the show.

The A.V. Club: To say that some crazy shit happens on the show is actually an understatement, but you’ve literally been around Hollywood since you were a kid. How exaggerated is the show, or would it actually disturb people to realize how close to reality it sometimes hews?


PA: It’s not the kind of California that I’ve been coming up in. [Laughs.] At all! Yeah, it’s L.A., but it’s a heightened kind of L.A. It’s like when you watch Shahs Of Sunset or Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills, people think that’s Los Angeles. I think it is, but I don’t really know those kinds of people. It’s just… all the things, all the trappings that are in the show, are definitely there. I do go get waxed, and the lady who waxes me, I based my thing on her when they said, “Marcy’s a waxer.” I was like, “All right, well, let’s go see Cindy and do a thing with her!” [Laughs.] But all the money and the Hollywood-y stuff… I’m an old-school kind of a writer, we came from New York, and my dad’s from Boston, so we would come in and out of California, and then I became a kid actor and all that stuff. But in terms of what’s reality, I’ve been a mom for so long, just a straight-up soccer mom, that it’s not my reality. Like, my friends and I don’t walk around in dresses and makeup like that!

AVC: You said the role of Marcy basically evolved out of nowhere. That being the case, how quickly did you and Evan Handler find your chemistry? If they offered you the role outright, presumably you didn’t actually test together.


PA: Yeah, we didn’t actually test. I went in, because they wanted me to do the pilot, and the first time I met Evan and David [Duchovny] and Natascha [McElhone] and Stephen Hopkins, who directed the pilot, we met at that big Veterans Center place in Westwood. And we read through the script, and then when we ended up shooting, it was like, “Oh, this is fun! This is great!” I remember I had chemistry with David right off the bat, because we became buddies that day. Natascha and I never did a scene in the pilot together. But I remember David asked me what my last name was, and I told him. And he said, “Well, what’s your maiden name?” And I told him my maiden name was “Segall,” and he just looked at me and went, “JEWWWWWWW!” in a very high voice. I laughed so hard, and I was like, “Oh, my God, this guy is nothing like people would even expect.” [Laughs.]

I think Tom’s very organic, and he’s extremely prolific in the way he writes. When he’s inspired, it just comes out. And it was kind of this thing that just kept happening. I was like, “This is fun! Let’s keep doing this!” Hoping that the show was going to get picked up, and knowing I didn’t have a contract and that they may just go without me or whatever. But they just kept going with this character.


AVC: So what’s been the most awkward moment for you in playing Marcy?

PA: Oh, my God. Are you kidding me? How should I… [Starts laughing.] Shit! I mean, doing coke off a gross fucking table in a house in Hollywood… Like, fake coke that the prop girl came by with and just had a bucket of, and I was like, “What is this? What are we ingesting?” And she’s like, “I don’t know!” And then making out with Evan after I did it… like, close up with our mouths. That was probably the first awkward thing. And then just walking out in my nothing—just, like, no clothes—and sticking my ass out and going, “C’mon, let’s go!” Fucking on a sink, and then falling on the floor, and then the dirty water from the studio, freaking out that it was going into my vagina, because the sink broke and the plumbing was spraying.


Oh, there was this one where Natascha and I were… I think it was in David’s apartment in one of the episodes, and we were going to surprise him or something. And we walk into the bedroom, and there’s, like, a human totem pole of naked people on the bed and Charlie is at the bottom, and he’s eating out this young girl, and then David’s underneath her at the top. And we walk in, and she’s supposed to be a squirter. [Laughs.] So they had this rig that sprayed us, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Sea World, but it was like dinner with Shamu. Like, it was like a fire hose sprayed us in the face. And we shut the door, and they’re still rolling in the room, and Natascha and I sit outside the door, and she has to sit in a chair, because she had to get her bearings, and she looked at me and she said, “Oh, my God: We’re doing porn. We’re in porn.” And I was like, “Yeah, we’re in porn. We’re doing porn. We’re professional porn people.” So there was dealing with that, and you see, like, the boom guy holding the boom up over the naked human totem pole and yawning. And you’re like, “Yeah, this is really porn: They’re actually bored, because this is so just a job.” [Laughs.]

AVC: You probably can’t say much about what we’ll see in the final season of Californication.


PA: Yeah, I don’t want to ruin anything for anybody, but, like, Hank [Duchovny] is a writer on this show based on the movie he worked on in a previous season, and that’s this whole other storyline that my character wasn’t involved with. But my character, Marcy, got back together with Charlie. The previous season we got married onstage at the Greek Theater, which was totally insane, because we were really at the Greek! So the Runkles are back together, which is sweet, because I know a lot of people wanted to see Charlie and Marcy get back together and with our little son! And then Stu Beggs [Stephen Tobolowsky], who’s my ex-husband and a huge producer guy, can’t quite detach from Marcy. And he gets involved in our relationship. It’s always nasty. [Laughs.] It’s always nasty and fun. I don’t know what else to say without ruining it for everybody!

AVC: Are you comfortable with the show wrapping up at this point? Do you think it’s a good time to close up shop?


PA: Yeah. I mean, I could just keep going forever on everything, because I love working. It’s great, and it’s fun. If these guys are done telling the story, I definitely feel like we’ve told a lot of fun stories. It’s been amazing, but there’s only so much coke you can do and so many nasty sexual situations you can get yourself into. [Laughs.] So I think it’s a good time to move on. I think it’s been really fun, and I know that for everybody on the show it’s been a hoot.

Grease 2 (1982)—“Dolores Rebchuck”
PA: That was my first movie, and I couldn’t have been more excited, because I was obsessed with Grease. So being a part of that was amazing. For my audition, I sang “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” and I sang it really dirty. [Laughs.] I was this little dark, swarthy girl who came in and did this! My final audition was actually the table-read of the movie, and they did something so awful, something I think they would only do in the ’80s: There were two of us who were reading for the same part, and we shared a chair at the table-read. She would read one line, and I would read the other line. Then at the end of the table-read, they told me that I got the part… after we had both had a private audition with Maxwell Caulfield. That’s so fucked up! I can’t even believe it when I look back at it. I’m like, “This is so bad to do to young girls… or anybody!” I can’t imagine how the rest of the cast might’ve felt about that. Like, “Well, this is awkward. Don’t make eye contact—or friends—with either one of them, because they could be on the chopping block in five minutes!”


But I loved doing that, and I was really young. Everybody else was a grown-up. I was the only minor in the movie, but I had a ball. Then at the end of the movie, I got into a bad car accident and I couldn’t finish. So when everybody’s jumping into the air off these mattresses, I couldn’t do it, because I was in bed with a broken knee, nose, a concussion. It was terrible! To this day, it’s so funny, because there’s this certain group of women and gay men who are totally obsessed with me because I was in Grease 2, a movie that everyone was very ashamed of when it was made. [Laughs.]

AVC: Christopher McDonald said that, if pressed, he could still do his songs from the film. Could you?


PA: Oh, God, yes. [Laughs.] Are you kidding? Every single note of every song.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)—“Ket” (English version)
Princess Mononoke (1997)—Additional voices (English version)


AVC: You’ve done a lot of voice acting over the years, but it gets a little sketchy as far as trying to figure out what your first voice work was. Chronologically, IMDB suggests that it was doing the English dialogue for Ket in Kiki’s Delivery Service, but I’m skeptical of that.

PA: Yeah, that was a lot later. But I dubbed a couple of different Hayao Miyazaki movies into English, which was an amazing process because the director, Jack Fletcher, had found the perfect English words that would fit into the Japanese mouth slots.


Rugrats (1992-2002)—“Dean” / “Baby Drew”
Phantom 2040 (1994-1996)—“Sparks”
PA: I think my first animation jobs were, like, Rugrats and a show called Phantom 2040. We had this insane cast—Margot Kidder, Ron Perlman, Carrie Snodgress, Paul Williams, Leah Remini, Scott Valentine, Jeff Bennett—and we would just do this show, which was set in the future, and I would look at everybody and go, “I don’t understand what the fuck we’re talking about.” [Laughs.] And Charlie Adler would say, “Just say the lines! It doesn’t matter!” We would be saying things like, “Let’s rev down and eat some food tubes,” all this silly stuff.

But I remember doing my first Rugrats episode and thinking, “Oh, God, I really want to do this. I really want to get on one of these shows so badly!” Seeing E.G. Daily and Chris Cavanagh and all those guys, I thought, “This would be a sweet job.” Then I just started working in animation a lot after that. Before, I did a ton of radio, but when I started working in animation, I couldn’t get hired in radio again! It was, like, you’re good at one thing or another thing. So I started doing tons of Disney shows and stuff like that, and… it was my job! And then I became a mom, and the job that started out being a cool job also became something that my kids could later enjoy. I’m still working for Disney and Cartoon Network, doing stuff, and it’s just great. It keeps me going.


The Wacky Adventures Of Ronald McDonald (1999-2001)—“McNugget #1”
AVC: There’s one particular voice credit that strikes me as being about as random as it gets, which makes it a must-ask: On several occasions, you provided the voice of McNugget #1 for the video series The Wacky Adventures Of Ronald McDonald.

PA: [Long pause.] Oh, my God. Okay, you have just outed me so horribly, because I won’t even set foot in a McDonald’s. I’m so local and sustainable, and I can’t fucking believe you have asked about this! [Laughs.] I think I did those because a guy named Jeff Stein, who used to direct all the big videos back in the ’80s—he directed “Rebel Yell” and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and the Cars video where Ric Ocasek becomes a fly [“You Might Think”]. He also directed The Kids Are Alright, the Who documentary—he wanted me to do it. And Mark Mothersbaugh did all the music for it… so, yeah, that’s really my only excuse.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989)—“Oji”
PA: Yeah, that was crazy. I was a Bronze Age Vulcan. I was a Mintakan, and I was my people’s official timekeeper. I played Ray Wise’s daughter, and we didn’t have enough knowledge yet to have any technology. Then Picard fell through something called a “duck blind,” where I guess he beamed to our planet. And there’s something called the Prime Directive in Star Trek. You’re never supposed to break the Prime Directive, which is to keep people’s knowledge at the level at which they discovered them. So, yeah, all this shit. [Laughs.] I would go to work at four in the morning, and then I’d sit in a makeup chair, and then at six I’d be an alien. They would have transformed me. I had, like, a protruding forehead and Vulcan ears. I kept my Vulcan ears! I kept them in my apartment, and my housekeeper threw them away!


AVC: Who would do such a thing?

PA: I don’t know. Apparently somebody who saw them and went, “Ewwwwwww!” [Laughs.]

Sgt. Bilko (1996)—“Sgt. Raquel ‘Rocky’ Barbella”
PA: You know, I just actually did the last two episodes of Rake of this season— the Greg Kinnear show?—and John Ortiz is on the show. And he was in Bilko with me! I hadn’t seen him in 20 years, since we did Bilko, and we were just dying, because we were regaling each other with stories we remembered. We had to go through boot camp, and we learned how to assemble and disassemble an M-16, march in columns, and be Marines, basically. We were trained by Captain Dale Dye, a retired Marine sergeant who was a very well known and hard-working military technical advisor for movies. It was amazing. We had a hilarious time. We shot it here and in Vegas. But John and I were freaking out, because he’s got two sons now, and I have three daughters. He played Private Luis Clemente and I played Sgt. Rocky Barbella, and one of my daughters is named Rocky, and one of his sons is named Clemente. [Laughs.] We were, like, “Oh, my God, that’s crazy!” We didn’t do that on purpose for Bilko! But Necar Zadegan, who’s also on Rake, pointed it out. She was, like, “Oh, my God, your kids are named the characters from the thing!” And we were like, “Shit!”

Night Court (1984)—“Andy / Stella”
The Redd Foxx Show (1986)—“Toni Rutledge”
PA: This is craziness! Well, The Redd Foxx Show was funny because… It happened because they were casting this boy on the show that Redd’s character was going to foster. I had done an episode of Night Court not long before where I played a boy who turned out to be a girl, and I had just done an independent movie where they had cut all my hair off, and I literally looked like Bruce Springsteen at age 11. [Laughs.] So my agent at the time, Bob Gersh, said, “Why don’t you go in for this? Let’s see what we can do.” Then we came up with the concept that I would go in as a boy. The only people who were in on it were the casting people, and they introduced me to the producers as Paul Segall instead of Pamela Segall, through every single step of that show, up through the network level, where I read against five real guys. And they hired me! Then a few episodes into the season, they changed the character so that Rosanna DeSoto figures out that I’m really a girl, pretending to be a boy because Redd only wanted to foster a boy. That’s kind of what I did on Night Court: Bull, Richard Moll’s character, wanted to foster a kid, and I pretended to be a boy on that, too, with the big reveal that I was actually a girl. So that was part of my teenage years in ’80s television. Then I ended up playing boys throughout my life in animation!


AVC: Dare I ask what you learned from working with Redd Foxx?

PA: Uh, hang on to your money? [Laughs.] Don’t do drugs? He was an angel. I loved him. He was so sweet, and he was so funny. I still have a couple of things he gave me. I have this can of hairspray called NapSnap. And you know he made albums, but he also made greeting cards. I remember he had one that said, “Money’s tight and times are hard, so here’s your fucking Christmas card.” He’s part of my coming up, working with legendary comedians. I worked with him, and then I ended up working with Andrew Dice Clay on [The Adventures Of] Ford Fairlane, and Louie, of course. It’s been a big part of my career.

The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane (1990)—“Pussycat”
PA: Dice was completely taken with me because of my potty mouth. [Laughs.] And I got to say nasty shit in the movie. He just made feel so good, and he built me up. It was just an incredible experience, because he was just the kindest, funniest man. They made us these beautiful costumes out of pink leather, and I remember I really wanted to keep it, but we wore ’em one day, and that was it. And the guy who was our stalker in that movie, David Patrick Kelly, ended up working in the first season of Louie, playing his therapist! I was obsessed with him when we were doing Ford Fairlane, because he was in The Warriors. He was the one who clinked the Coke bottles together and freaked everybody out!


Wiseguy (1989)—“Tanya Medley”
PA: Wiseguy was amazing because I got to work with my hero, Debbie Harry, and all these incredible people. I played Paul McCrane’s underage wife, and I made him sing and play “Dogs In The Yard” [from Fame] for me in our hotel room. We all lived in this hotel in Vancouver, and because he wrote that song and sang it in the movie, I videotaped him singing it. That was so fun.

Jungle Cubs (1996-1997)—“Baloo”
101 Dalmatians: The Series (1997-1998)—“Lucky”
Pepper Ann (1997-2000)—“Margaret Rose ‘Moose’ Pearson”
Recess (1997-2001)—“Spinelli”
PA: Recess was great. I was the only grownup who was playing a kid in the series. I actually got pregnant and had my first daughter when I was doing Recess. And I was doing that at the same time I was doing Jungle Cubs, Pepper Ann, and 101 Dalmatians!

Squirrel Boy (2006-2007)—“Andy Johnson”
AVC: When we spoke to Kurtwood Smith recently—


PA: Oh, I love him!

AVC: He pointedly said that the reason he had so much fun doing Squirrel Boy was because of watching you and Richard Horvitz go nuts.


PA: I just love Kurtwood Smith. He’s the best. He was fabulous on that show.

AVC: And how was the Squirrel Boy experience overall?

PA: It was awesome. It was a series at Cartoon Network, and it couldn’t have been better. It was totally just all-the-time fun and a great job, but, you know, all the best shit that happens is between takes. [Laughs.] Just the things you say to each other. I loved it.


Out There (2013)—“Joanie”
AVC: Is there an animated series you’ve worked on that you wished had gone longer?


PA: All of them! [Laughs.] Although I just did one that was on last year called Out There, with John DiMaggio and Kate Micucci, and that was great. I thought that would have a shot, but you never know. There’s an alchemy right now—well, there always is—but for some reason, it couldn’t sustain. It was a cool show.

Say Anything… (1989)—“Rebecca”
PA: Oh, my God. You’re so weird. [Laughs.] The stuff you’re choosing… That happened because I auditioned to be another character, one James L. Brooks’ daughter ended up playing. So they basically created that third character for me because they liked what I did, which was wonderful, but I really didn’t have much to do. Her character had the bulk of it. But it was great. I call Say Anything… the best movie I’ve done, even though I’m in it for two seconds.

King Of The Hill (1997-2010)—“Bobby Hill”
PA: Well, that was just the greatest show that could ever happen to anybody. The writing was just out-of-the-park incredible. I learned so much, and I just loved it. Stephen Root is still one of my best friends, but we were all just pinching ourselves every day. It was like, “Are you fucking serious? Is this still going on? Are we even allowed to make a living having this much fun?” It was an amazing gift.


AVC: Is there a particular Bobby moment—or several—that you think back to as a favorite?

PA: I loved it when Bobby was a male model. [Laughs.] When he was a husky model! And when they thought Bobby was the Dalai Lama reincarnated. And when Bobby gets bullied. Oh, and the one where Hank and Peggy catch Bobby trying to smoke a cigarette, and Hank makes Bobby smoke an entire carton of cigarettes to break him of any want or desire. And then Hank and Peggy take a pack, and they’re both reformed smokers, so Hank would say, “Peggy, I left a tile in the bathroom you need to look at,” which was code for her to go in the bathroom and smoke a cigarette. Also, the one where Connie gets her period, and she’s staying with us because her parents had to go out of town, and we have to take her to the MegaloMart to find tampons. Any girl storylines are close to my heart.


AVC: The cast recorded most of their episodes together, didn’t they?

PA: We did the bulk of it together, and then as the seasons would come and go, people would be out of town or on movies or something, and we’d record our parts separately. But they really would always have us together whenever they could, which is not the way it is with your regular cartoon shows.


AVC: King Of The Hill always seemed to be sitting on or near the chopping block when it came time for renewal. As the series went on, did you and your castmates find yourself sitting on pins and needles at the end of every season?

PA: I never was, anyway. Whenever we got renewed, I was always just happily surprised.

Bad Manners [a.k.a. Growing Pains] (1984)—“Girl Joey”
Willy/Milly (1986)—“Milly / Willy Niceman”
AVC: Given you made a point of mentioning the whole “playing a boy” thing in regard to your early career, is there anything worth saying about Willy/Milly?


PA: I think that was really the first time. Well, I mean, the second movie I did after Grease 2, the one where they cut all my hair off, was called Bad Manners, and in the credits, they had to name my character “Girl Joey” because nobody knew I was a girl. In Willy/Mill, which they later named Something Special, I played this girl who really wants to be a boy. Seth Green played my best friend’s brother, whose name was Malcolm, and he had this magical shop where he could sell you anything. I bought this geode from him, which he said, “At the total eclipse of the moon,” or whatever-the-fuck, “Throw this and think about your deepest, darkest heart’s desire.” And then I wake up the next day, and I have a penis. [Laughs.] It just went on and on…

Down The Shore (1992)—“Miranda Halpern”
PA: You said that name, and I was like, “Who the fuck is that? Do I know her?” Down The Shore was amazing. HBO Independent Productions produced that, and I loved doing that show. It was the first time I was ever on a show where we knew we were going to go on a hiatus and then come back to work, so I asked all of the cast members, “Does anybody want to go on a trip on the break?” And Cathryn De Prume was like, “I will!” And I said, “I wanna go to Africa!” And she said, “I don’t wanna go to Africa… but I’ll go to Europe!” So we went to France and Italy! She was a Buddhist, and I’d have to wait 45 minutes every morning for her to chant “Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō,” and then go see, like, Notre Dame and all this shit.


Then we came back to L.A., where I was living with Anna Gunn—she was my roommate at the time, along with our other friend, Chris, from New York—but when we got back to L.A., the producers of Down The Shore called me and said they were firing me. And I was like, “Really? This sucks.” And Anna was devastated. I remember that. She cried so hard. I didn’t cry because, I grew up in the business and knew about that stuff. But she was just devastated. Basically, I think I was fired for not being, um, normal. Or sexy. Like, not enough of a girl. Phil Rosenthal, who was one of the writers on that show, said, “Yeah, they fired you, they replaced you with a lox with tits, and we got canceled anyway.” [Laughs.]

But then when Louis C.K. was talking to Mike Royce about Lucky Louie, he gave him the script, then they went to Phil Rosenthal and asked him, “Who do you think would be right for this character, to play his wife?” Phil said, “Pam Segall! She’s the one!” And he said the thing about the lox with tits and not being sexy enough or whatever, and… that’s how I got Lucky Louie!

Lucky Louie (2006-2007)—“Kim”
Louie (2010-present)—“Pamela,” consulting producer
AVC: Had you been familiar with Louis C.K. prior to auditioning for his show?


PA: No. I’d never heard of him. I looked him up on the Internet, and I was like, “He doesn’t even look like any human being I’ve ever seen before. He’s weird.” Then I ended up reading the script, and… I’ve said this before, but I felt like somebody had put a camera in my house, and it was just like my life. I thought it was the most perfect script I’d ever read, I couldn’t believe it, and then I ended up reading for the part, but there was another pilot that wanted me. Pamela Anderson was doing a pilot [Stacked], and I was kind of starting a test deal, but on Lucky Louie, they couldn’t commit to me. I remember Louie called me from a comedy club in Peoria, Illinois, and he said, “Please don’t do that other show. You have to play my wife on television. I need you to. This has to happen.” Even though I was married at the time, I remember hanging up the phone, thinking, “Okay, I think I was just proposed to.” [Laughs.]

I also said to him, “Look, I’m not saying ‘no’ to anything, but HBO wasn’t offering me a deal.” It was basically on blind faith. But the rest is history: I ended up doing the show. And Chris Albrecht, who was the head of HBO at the time, was talking to another studio head—I guess it was the head of the studio where I was doing Down The Shore when I got fired—and he said, “I think we got rid of her because she wasn’t sexy enough.” And Chris Albrecht said to him, “Well, she’s the star of my new show, so do you think I think she’s sexy enough?” [Laughs.] You know, everything comes around. Everyone’s got different tastes.


AVC: Lucky Louie was short-lived, but it had already begun to garner a cult following before Louie kicked off his next series on FX.

PA: Yeah, I always knew that would be the case. I told Louie and everybody that I knew that it was going to be impactful, the show, and that we were going to register, but it was probably going to be, like, a blip on the radar—as opposed to something that was going to have staying power. It was so edgy and different. We shot it on videotape, and it looked very rough, and people thought we pumped in laughs, and we didn’t. They had to turn down the laughs. It was just crazy. It was like doing barn theater. We did two shows every Friday, and we couldn’t get people to stop talking! Like, when we would do shit on stage, people would say, “No, she didn’t! Ow!” [Laughs.] They would be talking to us, and it was just infused with this incredible energy, and everybody was convinced that we were gonna go another season. I think we waited nine months to be told that we were not being picked up.

AVC: So how did you end up as a part of Louie? Not only do you play a recurring character, but you’re also credited as a consulting producer.


PA: We had written a pilot for CBS in between Lucky Louie and Louie, and, you know, everybody was approaching Louie. Everybody wanted to work with him, but then the second he would initiate some kind of professional relationship, people would be like, “We’re not doing that! We can’t do that!” So then we wrote this pilot for CBS, which was kind of a version of Lucky Louie, but with no F-bombs or nudity. I remember being on a notes call with the network, and it would be like, “Okay, on page 27, when he throws up, we’re not gonna show that.” I said, “Well, I don’t wanna see that, either. It’s just implied. People know.” And they were just like, “No, no, no.”

So then Dave Becky took the pilot to FOX, and they were interested for a little bit, but then they said no. And then Louie kind of tried to do a sketch show for HBO, which didn’t pan out. Then the whole FX thing happened, which was completely born with Dave Becky saying to Jon Landgraf, “Talk to Louie about this show.” So then he got the pilot deal, and he said, “You know, you’re going to be a producer on this show. You’ve got to.” He let me write on Lucky Louie, and it’s something that I was born into, being the kid of a writer and producer. So I started working on it from there, and then he said, “I’ve gotta put you in the show, and you have to play this character. Her name’s gonna be Pamela.” And I’m like, “Are you insane? It’s gonna be weird, because people know us from Lucky Louie!” He said, “It doesn’t fucking matter. It doesn’t matter!” So the rest is history on that one!


AVC: Your characters have shared several memorable moments on Louie, but one of the best has got to be his profession of love.

PA: Yeah, it’s so sweet. I love that. And I love when I’m making fun of him in the French restaurant, and just all the moments. I love the show. I think all the moments are memorable. Like I said to you before, it’s not just comedy or just drama. It’s just life. And people like different things: They like really dirty, or they like really emotional, and some people like stuff that makes you think, or that takes them outside of themselves. I feel like the show touches on all of that.


AVC: Can you speak to whether we’ll be seeing Pamela in the new season of Louie? Or would that be deemed a spoiler?

PA: [Hesitates.] I mean, I’m on the show as a producer and a writer again, and it’s not what people think, and I don’t want to spoil anything. There’s so many arcs and shifts and multiple storylines that go into places, but I’ve definitely been a big part of the show.