SEATTLE — New comedy Late Night exists in an alternate universe, where a woman hosting a nighttime talk show isn't groundbreaking.
The Amazon Studios film introduces audiences to Katherine Newbury, a formidable character who’s hosted her own show for nearly 30 years. The role was written for and is played by Oscar winner Emma Thompson.
Mindy Kaling plays a young comedy writer who survives a cringe-worthy job interview and is hired to shake up the show.
The movie also marks Kaling’s screenwriting debut. It’s a whip smart, layered, contemporary comedy that pokes fun at everything from institutional norms to micro-aggressions.
Entertainment reporter Kim Holcomb talked to Thompson and Kaling in London.
HOLCOMB: "Based on your experience on this side of an interview, if you were a talk show host, which question would you never ask a guest?"
THOMPSON: “I'd never ask if they believed in God. I think that would be quite rude. Or their net worth, of course. Although I would really want to know.”
HOLCOMB: “You could just say 'ballpark?' Maybe that would be less rude?”
KALING: “Ballpark, how much do you make?” (laughter)
HOLCOMB: "You have done stand-up and you've done Shakespeare. Which is harder?”
THOMPSON: “Stand-up. Of course. Shakespeare's like going into a fantastic old boat and you know it's going to hold you up, and you know you can rely on the language, the language is there to hold you up, you just have to deliver it. Stand-up is just you and a microphone, and God help you – GOD HELP YOU if you die."
HOLCOMB: "Do you have a job interview or an audition in your past where you felt like you were crashing and burning but ultimately it resolved in a good way?”
KALING: “I auditioned for a Broadway Bollywood musical called Bollywood Dreams and I thought –“
THOMPSON: “I so want to see you in that.”
KALING: “I had to sing and dance – I'm an okay singer, I'm a reprehensible dancer. Like a dancer so bad, it should be seen by nobody. One of the most humiliating experiences. It was like American Idol, those early shows where they show all the people who are really bad for comic effect. That was my lovely dancing.”
HOLCOMB: “Does tape of this exist somewhere?”
KALING: “I think it does.”
HOLCOMB: “And how can I get a hold of it?”
KALING: “I would love to see it. To burn it.”
Late Night is rated R and opens in Seattle June 14.