Kathryn Hahn on Relating to Tiny Beautiful Things Character, Finally Being Picky in Her Career and Genres She Still Wants to Conquer
Kathryn Hahn hadn’t read Cheryl Strayed’s book “Tiny Beautiful Things” before signing on to the Hulu limited series. But she knew from the moment she got to know the lead character that she wanted the role.
Clare is a writer whose life is in shambles — her marriage isn’t in a good place, she’s still grieving the death of her mother and she’s struggling to connect with her teenage daughter. When a former colleague offers her to be come Sugar, a popular, anonymous advice columnist, she reluctantly takes a chance.
“Clare doesn’t know all the answers and is a work in progress herself, like we all are. It’s through her shame, and grief and depths of self unworthiness, she finds this shockingly awake and honest voice that she doesn’t know that she has. But I think it’s so pure and hilarious,” says Hahn. “It was impossible to say no to.”
The series filmed in Los Angeles, allowing Hahn to be close to her family — something that goes into all of her choices now. Now, she can completely trust her gut. But that wasn’t always the case.
“I couldn’t afford to not say no. I would audition for everything and it was just like a game or a pinball machine — whatever ball went in whatever hole was the part I was doing,” she says. “There was no rhyme or reason. It was just like, if I got cast in it, that was a yes… If it fits, I’m wearing it. And it was just like, I’m gonna do it, I can’t pay for alterations.”
She adds that “only very recently” has she found the luxury of being more picky. With “Agatha: Coven of Chaos” around the corner, she knew she’d be out of town for a chunk of time, so staying close to home when she can is important.
Plus, Clare in “Tiny Beautiful Things” was a character she could tap into.
“I 100% relate to Clare and I think that’s why she was so hard to play in a lot of ways,” she says. “It’s that feeling of trying to put a face on something that is really, really painful for so long. Everyone told her ‘she’s the good girl’ or ‘smile through it, smile through it.’ At a certain point, the dam is going to inevitably break. The Jekyll and Hyde of it, to be a woman, becomes impossible. For Clare, she’s given this incredible outlet, which is this gift of this colleague that she had asking her to write this anonymous letter. She gets to channel some of this and not a lot of women are given that opportunity.”
Hahn feels blessed she’s received the opportunities she has — and there’s still a great deal she wants to do as an actor. Plus, she’s hoping to direct.
“I am so inspired by the passion of young actors, especially in the theater, like I can’t believe that kids are going through school to become theater artists in this post-pandemic world. I want to do something with all those young humans that want to tell stories like that,” she says.
There are also “so many genres” Hahn wants to dive in to: “I would love to do straight-up horror in some way.”
One question asked in Hulu’s new series is “What would you tell your 22-year-old self?” For Hahn, the answer is pretty straightforward: “I thought I was supposed to be something — I was trying to be something that this business that is Hollywoodland wanted me to be, instead of just being who I was. Not realizing that your authentic self is the thing that is going to be the most attractive, that people are going to be the most interested in. Don’t play to any executive. Just, tell your story.”
All episodes of “Tiny Beautiful Things” are now streaming on Hulu.
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