‘Scream Queens’ star Abigail Breslin on Mean Girls, Ryan Murphy and Running in Heels

 

She earned an Oscar nomination as “Little Miss Sunshine,” but for her first starring role on as a television series, Abigail Breslin is showing off a decidedly darker side. As sorority sister Chanel #5 in Fox’s comedy-horror series “Scream Queens,” she’s snapping off gleefully wicked one-liners with aplomb.

How did you land the part?

I got a call saying Ryan Murphy wanted to meet with me. And I said, “Yes, sign me up, whatever it is. I’m such a huge fan of his.” I love “Glee,” “American Horror Story.” And my agent was like, “Settle down, you have to meet with him first and get the job.” I talked to him for an hour and a half, mostly I was just rambling about my life and boy drama. Then I realized I hadn’t talked about anything of importance. I thought, “I’m totally blowing this!” But then he said, “I’m doing this new TV show called ‘Scream Queens,’ I think you’d be great. What kind of role do you want to play?” And I said, “I want to play a mean girl.” He said, “I have a perfect part for you. There’s a group of girls called the Chanels. They’re fashionable and bitchy and lethal and they wear heels all day.” How much better can you get? Two months later, I got the call saying Ryan wants you to be in it. Everyone asks if it was nerve-wracking because I didn’t get the script until a few days before we came to set, but I knew whatever he was going to write was going to be funny. I had total trust in them, and it turned out to be what I’ve always wanted to play.

What do you have in common with your character?

In #5 I can see certain things that I’ve done and said. They definitely pick up on our personalities. Certainly things I say, people will be like, “That was such a #5 thing to say.” She’s a very heightened version of my freak-out tendencies. But she’s very neurotic and tightly wound which I don’t see myself as. It’s fun to be able to play such an extreme person and have fun with it.

What have you learned from working with Ryan?

You’d think that he’s so busy he’d be super stressed out, but he’s so nice and funny and personable. He comes on set and wants to talk to you and give you advice about your life. I emailed him about these sunglasses that I thought would be great on the show, and he emailed back, “Love those!” He really listens to you and what you have to say about your character. I’m such a huge fan of his in general so to get to be on a show of his and reading the dialogue that he writes is insane to me. I don’t know how he comes up with half the things that he writes.

How’s the cast getting along?

We’ve all become really close. They’re the funniest and coolest cast I’ve ever worked with. You have to up your game every day because everyone is so on point. The way they cast it, each person fits their role so perfectly that everybody is super attuned to who they’re playing. Everyone is on their game all the time. Off the set, we hang out all the time.We have group texts and go out to dinner and chill. One night, I got locked out of my house and I called Billie (Lourd): “Can I come over?” I’m the youngest on the set, so I’m always asking them for guy advice. They’re my big sisters.

What is it like working with Jamie Lee Curtis?

She’s the coolest person in the world! My favorite movie ever is “Christmas with the Kranks.” I’m a crazy Christmas person. She’s super chill. She’s always bringing juices for everyone and mothering everybody and wrangling everybody. “OK, everybody, we’ve got to film.” She’s iconic but doesn’t act all like how famous actors would act.

What have you learned while making this show?

I’ve learned a lot about clothing, most importantly — and how to run up stairs in high heels. I feel like I can conquer anything because of that! My worst nightmare is getting a new script and seeing “Interior Kappa house: staircase” and having to descend the stairs — which happens in every script. (Laughs.) For me doing a TV show is out of my wheelhouse because I’ve only ever done films. I didn’t think it was going to be that different but it actually is. When you’re doing a movie, you get to know your character by the end of the shoot. With this, you know your character fully. You get to dive into and figure it out, from episode one to now. This feels like a real person I know and have hung out with. That makes it so much more fun.

If you survive, do you want to come back next season?
Duh! This has honestly been one of the best times I’ve ever had making something. I love working with the cast and the entire crew. It can be really scary to go into a situation knowing you have to be committed to something for a long time, but this has been the best one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had in my life. To do it again would be so much fun.

 

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