Tina Fey

Actress, glasses-wearer

Do you miss the variety of Saturday Night Live now that you write for the same characters each week?
Tina Fey: I don’t feel that way yet. If we do a second season, we’ll see. The bench is pretty deep here. It’s a very large ensemble, with a lot of good different people and different combinations. Also, we’ve found a way for this show to respond to things topically within our story. So I still feel, like I felt at SNL, that if something happens in the world, we can bring it into our stories. We did an episode about Tracy calling Toofer the n-word—which we’d written before the Michael Richards thing, but it became more topical. Or the hip hop boycott of Cristal.

Has the show evolved over the course of the season?
Tina Fey: In a good way, I think it’s gotten a lot looser. And warmer in some ways, now that we’re starting to feel like we know these characters, and it’s more playful.

Was being warmer important to you? Were you worried that people wouldn’t like Liz Lemon enough?
Tina Fey: It was more a matter of warmth between the characters—like after ["Black Tie"], you can see that Liz and Jack have some warmth. I want to keep the emotion of the show truthful at its core. If it’s all jokes and no truthful relationships, you flame out really quickly.

You’ve vowed in the past that you’d never do a kissing scene, but on ‘Fireworks’…
Tina Fey: I know! I know, I’ll never do it again. [Laughs] It’s not worth it. But it was the simplest way to tell the story. And it made it easier and harder that it’s Jason Sudeikis, ’cause he’s like a brother to me. It was exactly as mechanical as I expected. [Laughs] I’m trying not to be crude.

No, go for it. Be crude.
Tina Fey: It was the difference between having sex and having a pelvic exam. It was clinical and professional. And it all turned out to be disease-free!

Did you get rid of Liz’s glasses? She hasn’t worn them in the last few episodes.
Tina Fey: We backed off them for a while, but it was a costume-design thing. They wanted me to wear earrings, and I can’t wear earrings and glasses. Then I look like Tootsie.

So of all our heroes, if any of the pasty, white-ass writers here could have a drink with anyone, it’d probably be you. Thoughts?
Tina Fey: It seems funny that anyone would call me a sex symbol. It feels like an elaborate prank. I keep looking up for the bucket of pig’s blood.

Fey’s 30 Rock airs Thursdays at 9:30 on NBC.

Note: This interview originally ran in Time Out Chicago in April 2007.

Next: David Remnick >

The New York 40:

Adam Rapp
Amy Sedaris
Anderson Cooper
Basil Twist
Christine Quinn
Christopher Wheeldon
Danny Meyer
David Cross
David Remnick
Derek Jeter
Dick Zigun
Elizabeth LeCompte
Elizabeth Marvel
Eliot Spitzer
Gavin Brown
James Murphy
Joe Torre
John Zorn
Jonathan Lethem
Junot Díaz
Kelly Reichardt
Kiki & Herb
Liev Schreiber
Lisa Phillips
Michael Bloomberg
Nellie McKay
Pat Kiernan
Patti LuPone
Peter Gelb
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Richard Serra
Sarah Michelson
Stephen Colbert
Tim Gunn
Tina Fey
Tony Kushner
Upright Citizens Brigade