In the new comedy Goodbye to All That — which, thankfully, is not based on the classic Joan Didion essay — the charming, handsome Paul Schnieder (All the Real Girls, Parks and Recreation) plays a hapless recent divorcé diving into the brave new world of contemporary dating, from Facebook to women looking for hookups. It’s the directorial debut of Angus MacLachlan (who also wrote the screenplay), who may be best known as the writer of 2005’s Junebug, one of the best films of that decade, and the one that introduced Amy Adams to the world.
Goodbye to All That, now playing at IFC in New York and available on VOD, is a small film about one man’s life, rendered in familiarly human terms — a quality that’s in tragically short supply on the big screen these days. It features a lovely ensemble cast made up mostly of women, from Melanie Lynskey to Anna Camp. I had the chance to talk to one of them, comedian and character actress Amy Sedaris, about her role in the film and her many other pursuits, from her line of dinnerware to whether we’ll see her character Pam again on Broad City.
Flavorwire: Your role in Goodbye to All That is short but potent. I hope there was a really extensive backstory that you brought in for your character. What kind of research did you do?
Amy Sedaris: It was a very well-written scene, and Angus, who directed the film and wrote it, he knew the character inside and out. I don’t even think I improvised at all. And then I had to be in that tight closet with Paul, who’s amazing. I’ve never gotten to work with him before, and we just did it a couple times.
I love when I get to work in an office [in a role] because I’ve never worked in an office before. Anytime a job comes up and it’s where you work in an office, I just get so happy. I love it because I have no idea how an office works.
You’ve never worked in an office?
I’ve never worked in an office, I just get to play in one. And I played in many offices, it’s fun.
Wow. Well, it’s true, life in an office means you could be a real boss lady and wear pencil skirts.
I love it when people in an office act all bossy and like you don’t even know what you’re doing, you know?
So you played up being a boss in your role?
I had a lot of fun. These are my favorite parts, where you go in, you work [one] day, you get to go home, then you get to see the movie, and sometimes you’re still in it and sometimes you’re cut out of it. It’s fine with me.
What was it like having a scene with Paul Schneider? He was amazing in Bright Star, and he has this lovely, lackadaisical presence that I think the movies lack in general.
He told me once he wanted to get into detective work, investigative forensics. He’s a good ol’ North Carolina boy.
Not a lot of films talk about Internet dating and how weird it is, particularly these days, and especially if you’re not a millennial.
I don’t know about Internet dating! I just did another web series, and I was supposed to be into Tinder? I had no idea what that was. Have you ever done any online dating before?
I got out of the game right when texting started to be a thing, and people would break up by texting, so it’s all a mystery to me.
Hey, I still don’t have a phone, I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t have a cell phone. I’ve never had a cell phone.
There’s a trend on Tinder for dudes to post pictures of themselves where they’re in front of a lion. If you were to post a Tinder photo with an animal, would it be a lion?
I think it’d be a bunny. I have a rabbit, you know, that’s my animal of choice.
What else have you been doing lately that you’re excited about? Your cameo on Broad City might have been my favorite cameo of the year.
I love working on Broad City. Those girls are so funny, and I love their show. When I went into wardrobe — I wear a size 5 shoe — the wardrobe girl handed me a size 9 shoe, and I thought, this is going to be fantastic. I’m going to wear these shoes, these are perfect. It was so much fun.
Are you coming back to Broad City? Because in New York, someone will always need an apartment.
We talked about it, and were shooting around the idea that my character Pam would always has a different job, whenever she appeared. But it didn’t happen this [second] season.
Since it is Christmas and you were in the best Christmas movie ever — can we talk about Elf? What is it like being in a movie that’s become a perennial favorite?
I haven’t seen it in so long, and my godson, who’s three years old, had it on. He couldn’t wrap his head around me being in that movie. Now I’m like, “Yeah, I know Santa Claus, so if you just tell me what you want…” Now he’s even crazier about me, which works to my advantage. Elf is such a great movie, and I love Christmas movies. I was happy to be in that one.
Are you crafting right now?
I’m going to London for Christmas, so right now it’s just about me making a million lists and getting stuff for the holidays. I have a line of dishware at Fish’s Eddy, so Sunday I’m going to go by and gift-wrap and talk people into buying my stuff, so that’ll be a lot of fun. [Ed. note: Sorry, Sedaris fans — this interview was conducted last week, meaning the Fish’s Eddy event took place this past Sunday.]
A line of dishware!
That’s gonna be great. I love that stuff, so I’m happy to get behind it and sell it, it’s really pretty, they do such a nice job there. Then I’m doing voice-over for Bojack [Horseman, the Netflix cartoon], so I’m kind of working and then just focusing on Christmas. Not too much crafting, other than my potholders, and I don’t think I’ll get a chance to do much baking either.
It sounds like you are constantly working in a variety of ways.
Yes, sometimes, and sometimes I get a nice stretch of time off and it’s nice to have that too. Right now it’s perfect, getting ready for Christmas and doing voice-over and going to do the Samantha Bee [pilot]. It’s busy. I like to stay that busy.
Well, have a wonderful Christmas! Thank you for the laughter and giggles.
Laughter and giggles are always good for the soul, aren’t they?