20 questions with writer-director-actor Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture, “Girls”) in the latest issue of Playboy:
Playboy: How much do you enjoy making viewers uncomfortable?
Dunham: It’s not interesting for me to make art about things we’re all okay with. I make art to explore our darker areas. When what I’m doing begins to feel old and tired and socially acceptable, maybe I’ll move on to other topics. Maybe future interviewers will ask me about “the time you made an action movie” or “the time you explored Renaissance life.” But right now I feel I could say something about women forever. Each stage of being female and human brings new fodder—and there are parallels to be drawn to the male experience.
Playboy: Male writers are often criticized for how they write female roles. How careful do you have to be about writing your men, Adam, Ray, Charlie and the rest?
Dunham: Just as careful as when writing female roles. Saying that women have been written as sassy best friends or slutty girlfriends since the beginning of time so now guys deserve whatever comes to them is not an acceptable excuse—even though it’s amazing to me that Hollywood persists in writing these two-dimensional female characters who don’t really exist. No wonder it’s hard for actresses to find parts that are meaty enough to connect with. It’s important to me to create fully formed characters who don’t feel just like good guys, villains, creeps or sluts. I want it to feel real. I want my male friends to feel just as much of a connection to my work as my female friends do.
Playboy: You recently won two Golden Globe awards. Is there a downside to being critically adored and the object of great expectations in your mid-20s?
Dunham: Well, when you’re 26 you’re an adult, but you’re not exactly an adult. In medieval times I would definitely have been an adult, but I would’ve also been old and gouty and about to fall into a hole. But not now. The harder part is less about being adored; it’s more about being my age, having a real job and people who depend on me—and not being in service to someone else in their work. There’s a reason people are apprentices first: You get the bigger responsibilities when you’re ready for them. I feel I am ready, and fortunately I’m not drawn to behaving badly, which is good because I don’t have the option to disappear like some other 26-year-olds. If I did, you might find me eating a lot of cheesy carbohydrates, watching many episodes of a really shitty television show and sleeping in the afternoon. Of the seven deadly sins, I’m most guilty of gluttony and sloth.
For the rest of the interview, go here.