Annie Murphy is a lot more stylish than she gives herself credit for. When the 29-year-old actor arrives at Toronto's Soho House to meet with Dan Levy, who plays her older brother on the CBC comedy Schitt's Creek, she immediately starts mocking her outfit – a fitted black T-shirt, ripped, high-waisted jeans, minimal makeup and a topknot – as though sporting every model's go-to off-duty look is a bad thing. Unsurprisingly, Levy joins in on the wardrobe critique, and the duo's real-life dynamic reveals itself to be even more sarcastic (and far less PG) than it is on the show.
Playing rich-girl-gone-broke Alexis Rose on the sitcom, Murphy has quickly established her place amongst Canada's top actors. She brings vulnerability, moxie and plenty of laughs to a role that could easily have ceded the spotlight to her on-screen parents Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara. But that's not Murphy's style. For as self-deprecating as her humour is IRL, in character she's certainly larger than life.
Just a few weeks after wrapping the filming of season three (which premieres in early 2017), Levy resurrected his MTV-honed interviewing skills for a casual Q&A with Murphy. The two met over mint tea (her) and coffee (him) on a Saturday morning in July to talk fame, fashion and working as a woman in comedy.
DAN LEVY: First of all, thank you so much for dressing up for today. I know that this is a style article so I really want to thank you for bringing your A-game.
ANNIE MURPHY: Mmm, thank you for the compliment right off the bat.
DL: Let's take it back to the first time we met, which was, I would say, a life-changing experience for you.
AM: I was going to say the same for you. I was in L.A. for pilot season and it was a total disaster. I had blown a really big screen test. I hadn't booked a job in a year and a half. My house had just burned down.
DL: Do you think any of these things had anything to do with your personal style?
AM: That is so irrelevant right now. Well, actually, maybe yes, because all of my clothes had burned in the fire. When I met you, it was just me piecing together what I could in a desperate situation.
DL: See! Because I remember what you were wearing.
AM: I was wearing this little black, embroidered, short summer dress and black tights and these huge awful black shoes with giant heels that I was not comfortable walking in. I had bought them at Target the day before and they had already given me blisters.
DL: So dressed to impress? The reason you stood out was because you looked like that.
AM: Aww…I was doing my spin on a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen look.
DL: What do you think is the biggest difference between you and Alexis aesthetically, in terms of who you are as people and what you present to the world?
AM: Alexis commits so much time and so much energy to choosing what she wants to wear – and doing her hair and her makeup and then dressing herself and doing her hair again. I sometimes can't be bothered, dare I say, to spend a copious amount of time on my hair and my face before I go out into the public eye. But I think that's changed a little bit since being on the show – don't look at me now.
DL: I think you look totally fresh and gorgeous.
AM: Thank you.
DL: We're in a wonderful time for comedy, specifically for women and comedy. You're a woman in a comedy. How does that feel for you?
AM: I feel really, really lucky and proud to be a part of a successful television show that rests for a large part on the shoulders of a group of very talented, very funny women. Obviously, it starts with the writing, but every woman on the show has really just taken the reins and made each of those characters so unique and so funny and so beautifully layered. They're fully-formed people.
DL: Have you noticed things have changed in terms of a general awareness of you and the show? Is there one experience that stands out as being sort of like, "how did I get here and what is going on?"
AM: Yeah, big time. When we were in New York for press – a year ago maybe – it had been a big, amazing day. I was crawling into bed and I got a phone call, and it was you, and you were like, "Hey I'm upstairs we're just about to…" 'cause you and your dad had just taped, um…
DL: Seth Meyers.
AM: Seth Meyers! So I went upstairs and I knocked on this door and the door opened and it was Martin Short. He was dressed in a tuxedo and had a tray with champagne on it and was like, "Annie!" I'd never met him before. We were in this beautiful penthouse suite at this gorgeous hotel in New York. He hands me a glass and then you and your dad and Marty and I sat drinking champagne and watching you guys on Seth Meyers in New York City while it was snowing outside.
DL: That was a trip.
AM: It was. I just kept looking at you and making these amazed faces and you kept mouthing, "Stop it. Stop it!"
DL: How would you describe where we left off with Alexis at the end of season two?
AM: Very conflicted. She definitely had her heart broken a little bit by Mutt and she also had her heart broken by the fact that she had to break Ted's heart. These are two broken-heart experiences that Alexis has never really dealt with before. All of her relationships prior to Ted and Mutt have been very whimsical and full of lust and frivolity. That threw her for quite a loop.
DL: And what can we look forward to in the third season?
AM: There's actually a lovely independence that Alexis finds in season three and I really like that both guys are still kicking around to a certain degree. But, in season three, Alexis does Alexis. And I'm really proud of her for that. I'm proud of you for writing that for her.
AM: You're welcome.
DL: So on a scale of one to 10, how good am I as an interviewer for The Globe and Mail?
AM: Are we done?
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Hair and makeup by Taylor Savage for M.A.C Cosmetics/judyinc.com. Manicure by Wendy Rorong for Essie/Plutino Group. Photographed at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
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