Writer and actress Paula Pell knows it’s ridiculous: a dingy, disconnected suburban woman with a bit of a British accent – or Irish, or Something Euro – who solves murders in his quaint town. But the winner of an Emmy, who wrote for Saturday Night Live for almost 20 years and recently did a dildo assisted splash on camera as Val in the original Netflix movie Wine country, ate every piece of The murder she wrote. So playing a horny, gay Jessica Fletcher? This is the kind of role she would kill for. Or just a writer herself… which is exactly what she did.
Actor and 30 Rock Actor John Lutz asked Pell if she would be interested in playing an amateur sleuth. She said absolutely. And now, for 12 short episodes on Quibi, she is. In hilarious satire Mapleworth MurdersPell’s Abigail Mapleworth solves insanely silly murder mysteries on her own terms, with the help of her selfie-obsessed millennial niece (Hayley Magnus).
Recently, Pell called to talk about the show’s shenanigans as pandemic balm, why she thinks Angela Lansbury would be on the show, and this time around, she accidentally sent her parents a dildo.
– Chris Azzopardi
Dallas Voice: I don’t think there could be a better time for this show. I needed to laugh. Paula Pell: It makes me so happy. I hope that’s true for a lot of people, and I hope a lot of people watch it, because we loved doing it so much. It was one of those times, and there are so few. Wine country was one of them. But those real things you do and you think to yourself, “If I was able to do this like my job, I would do it all the time.” It was just such a frolic of joy.
You know, we didn’t know what date we were launching because of everything that happened, and the schedules were so screwed up. It was getting so… like, my God, when is it going to come out? And I’m really glad he came out when he did because we feel like our souls are so exhausted that we just need something to laugh at. Something weird is do not creepy.
Are you excited to hear what Angela Lansbury thinks of this show? Because I am. I am! At first we were talking about maybe having a little cameo or something if she was able to. I mean, in the second season we would like to have something where I’m having issues with my niece and then I call my aunt and that’s her; we are all connected. Because we’re so dirty in it, I was a little afraid that if we called her up and she saw part of it, she would say, “Oh, that’s gross.” But then I remembered, of course, that Angela Lansbury is such a wide theater and she played Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney todd, which is just my dream role. And I say to myself: “She can be very dark. “And very sweet, I’ve heard, from anyone I’ve spoken to who has ever met her. I’d love for her to see it or look at it or know it’s just a tribute. , because there is so much love behind for her and for this show.
What was it like bringing Abigail to life? So much style made me so excited because the style is so specific. We wanted her to be really eccentric and mix all these different patterns. At the end, everyone on set was so funny because they were like, “I’m obsessed with the Mapleworth style, and I really, really want to dress like Abigail Mapleworth.” The bobs, the trenches, the scarves, it reminds me so much of all those old kids in my family: those great aunts, the grandmothers and my mother, who is now 80 years old. She’s hilarious, and she’ll just put her pants on with her little Chico jacket and scarf and earrings and lipstick and then she’ll come home from church and go and sit in her bra with it on. her collar still on and eating potato salad and a burger. Ha! Very strong women who are this delicate are my favorite of all. I have always liked matrons. I was born at 50 years old. And like, is there anything better than Golden girls? I mean, you just wanna live with them.
How did you end up on this wild posting for Abigail? It was a bit like this actress I worked with, Anne Meacham, when I was in university. I have studied little; we had a pro theater group at the University of Tennessee. They brought in people from Broadway and soap stars. I worked with Melissa Gilbert and all these people who were on those shows in the ’80s. And that woman was Anne Meacham. She was a Broadway stage actress who performed many Tennessee Williams plays. She was also on Another world, the TV series. And she was just that old, wide theater with dyed red hair pulled back in a tight bun. She was really skinny, and she was blind, and I had to take care of her all the time because in The lion in winter she played the queen. And she was so eccentric: “I love you! I hate them all! But I love you! “She would take my dog and put my dog’s face in her makeup mirror and she put her face there for him to look at himself in the mirror. She was the ultimate wide theater. And I have her. ate! I was so obsessed with her.
I often thought about doing a one-woman show where I was just her and had a bunch of adventures that happened during that time. So all these years I’ve had that voice in me. So Abigail has a bit of that delicacy but sort of “Is she British?” No “vibe. You say to yourself,” They were born in Wisconsin but they talk like they’re European. So I love these delicate ladies who have a home of trinkets and lots of dogs. And a ‘handyman. “.
Speaking of a handyman, I had to take a double take because it’s your fiancée Janine Brito as Junie. Ha! When she kisses me and pulls my earring out of her mouth.
Whose idea was that? It was his idea. She was like, “I think once I whisper to you, I should come back and have your earring in my mouth.”
Did you do it in one take? No. We did a bunch of different versions of that, because there were some where she was whispering a lot of things and I was like, “Oh, well, we can do this together. Or separately and look at each other. “But we want to do more Junie. We want Junie to always be there, like cleaning my pipes, or under the floor, under my bed doing something. Just always working.”
Your characters in both Wine country and Mapleworth Murders are somehow involved with dildos. What made me think: Dildos really are as erotic as they are completely silly. Is that why they are found in your projects? Ha! I spent a lot of time alone! There were times, like after my divorce or even before I got married, you had to have this little drawer. You must have something in this little drawer.
I have to tell you something funny about a vibrator. I bought a very random vibrator from Amazon – ha! – not so long ago. It was Christmas time that I ordered this vibrator and I was like, “Oh, I’m going to order this very basic one. I ordered it, then I went home for Christmas, then I returned home to LA after Christmas. It was January 15th and I looked on my phone. He would say “Your package has arrived” and show the picture of the vibrator and I was like “Oh, have we received a package?” And I’m looking at my house in LA and haven’t received a package. Then I looked, and you know how they show you where they delivered it? It was delivered to my mom’s porch, like, with its poinsettias and little beagle statue that says “Welcome”. So next to that is a box with a basic Amazon vibrator and it made me laugh so hard. I called my mom and I thought, “There’s a package over there, it’s something for me, send it back to me.” Of course, they opened it up and then repackaged it with the Orlando newspapers.
It sounds awful. Well that was really fun talking to props from two different projects on my vibrators and dildos and having them chat with you, like “Now this one, you’re gonna have to push this” – like, the department of the accessories is shows you! In Wine country, too much. It was like, “Now, this thing, this button is sort of… it kinda sticks.” So you have to shoot this here.
Would you be good at solving a murder? I’ve always liked the idea of being a detective, but I’d like to be the one in the office, or go to people who aren’t scary and dangerous to ask them questions. I would love to be part of solving something that has helped people shut down or find the wrong person. Like, I would love do that. But I’m also afraid of this kind of repercussion from the criminals. When I was young, I was always afraid that someone would stalk me because I reported him. So I would love to sit down and talk about human nature and try to interrogate someone and make them admit something and be a good cop, bad cop. This part is really interesting. But the rest would scare me. I wouldn’t want to be the one in danger. I am a chicken like that.