‘Loot’ Let Maya Rudolph Make Her ’73 Questions’ Dream Come True

Welcome to My Favorite Scene! In this series, IndieWire speaks to actors behind a few of our favorite television performances about their personal-best onscreen moment and how it came together. 

Maya Rudolph admittedly has a hard time choosing her favorite scene from the second season of “Loot,” the Apple TV+ series where she plays a woman named Molly Wells who becomes one of the richest women in the world after divorcing her philandering futurist husband, and then decides to use that fortune to amplify the efforts of her charity foundation.

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It could be the scene in the premiere where Wells discovers her cousin that she works with, played by comedian Ron Funches, has been living in her new house for weeks. “I like the two worlds crashing into each other. I love that she has a house so big that he’s been living there and she doesn’t know,” the Emmy-winning star told IndieWire over Zoom.

Another option was Wells having her modeling debut go south when an unknown drug kicks in right as she gets to the end of the runway. “That was the most improv I’ve ever done on the show, that whole day. And the audience kept clapping for me,” said Rudolph.

Ultimately, the scene she keeps coming back to happens to be the Season 2 opener, where a refreshed Wells brings cameras into her new home for a round of “73 Questions.” The clip conveys how “Loot” better showcases Rudolph’s range, playing into both the comedy of having obscene amounts of money, and the familiar experience of having to start over.

“I wanted to make sure that we established Molly as a character that was human and relatable, but also being allowed to play the arch elements of how insane this world might be at times is the fun and the comedy,” she said. “I don’t think anyone can really relate to her fortune, but her as a person is what matters, and what I really wanted to figure out and establish for her and this show.”

The following interview has been condensed for length and clarity.

IndieWire: It seems like “Loot” is a show that more people hopped onto in its second season, since it premiered earlier in the year, when a lot of Emmy contenders start airing, whereas Season 1 flew a bit under the radar, premiering in the beginning of summer 2022. Was part of wanting to do this “73 Questions” scene an idea of “Hey, in case you missed us that first time around we’re back and bigger than ever.”  And it being the opening scene was there pressure at all of “We’re back, let’s see how we can hook the audience in, in a really fun way.”

Maya Rudolph: There’s so many opportunities to have fun with this world, so I was dying to do this. I’ve always wanted to do “73 Questions.” It’s such a fun game and I love the turning and talking to camera, and the acting. All of it is just my favorite goofing off. We just have so many opportunities to go in different directions because of the nature of the show, because of this character that’s got endless amounts of money. It really feels like a little bit of a magic bullet. You can kind of go anywhere.

I had a lot of fun talking with our showrunners about Molly taking wellness seriously. We talked about her deciding that in the beginning of the second season, she’s swearing off men and she’s focusing on herself, but she’s taking it so literally, and everything she’s doing is so extreme, and feels very fad-oriented. There’s so many things in wellness to talk about, in so many different directions, that I felt like we could throw all of that stuff in there. It’s just knowing that we have this great platform for all of these opportunities.

Do you think it instantly conveys the message that Molly has taken both one step forward and one step back? Being like “I’ve downsized. I only have five pools now.”

And she really believes it. The fun part is that she really believes that she’s taking these measures, but her world is different from ours, and her world is changing, and she’s trying to be down to earth, and to be approachable. She’s making a huge effort at the beginning of the season. She’s going to do this, she’s going to clean her life up, she’s going to get healthy, but she’s going to the extreme to get healthy, trying all these cleanses and things, and changing her house, but within her own reality.

So even though her reality looks different from mine and yours, I do think she’s trying, but that’s what makes it fun to watch. Her reality is so insanely different from one that we can relate to. I do appreciate that she’s a character that tries to bridge that gap, that really tries to connect. She tries to make that effort, but that’s where you see the two steps forward and one step back, and because we know her vulnerable points and the things with her ex-husband, you can really see where the cracks are, and where she’s just human. Those are also the places where you get that she’s trying so hard, and then she comes back down to reality.

‘Loot’Apple TV+

Was this parody of Vogue’s “73 Questions” video series something that you had pitched the showrunners on doing? Did they pitch it to you? Was it you saying, “Ok, we’re back for Season 2. I have this parody fully formed in my head, ready for us to execute.”

Oh, yeah. I had my list of stuff and cleanses and things and getting healthy and what that looked like. And we all couldn’t stop pitching on what that was going to look like. But yeah, there were a couple particular “73 Questions” that I loved, and I was studying.

Which ones?

Well, Donatella [Versace]’s is wonderful. And I also like that they can get staged. Madonna doesn’t have a “73 Questions,” but she did her own one where she goes to see her horses, and goes through her whole property, and you just see the vastness, and she’s really into it. She’s really putting on the drama and displaying it.

The first “73 Questions” I might’ve seen was maybe Sarah Jessica Parker’s, and it was just so fluid and so perfectly done, and delivered so beautifully. But it is also choreographed beautifully. Once we started talking about this one, then I started just watching a bunch of them. And some are better than others, and some are weirder than others, because it’s weird to have cameras in your home, I’m assuming. I would not be that comfortable with it, to [it] and say, “Oh, that right there, that’s my plant from my grandma.” But it’s also this element of what I liken to a show that we had when I was a kid called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Robin Leach.” You got to see the insides of these amazing homes. Or “MTV Cribs.” I remember seeing Shaq’s bed, and it was a custom round bed. It was wild. It was wild.

From a production standpoint, does it at all feel like you’re preparing for a show within a show? Those segments can be so performative that I wonder if it was like doing a comedy sketch as Molly.

No, it didn’t feel like a show within a show. It felt very in line with Molly. It was Molly putting on a show. And it was also a great way to introduce the new house, and introduce the new season. That notion of “Look at me now. I’m all better. I’ve survived my divorce. I’ve survived—whoopsie—sleeping with my ex-husband. Look at me now, I’m cleaning up. I’m doing a cleanse.” That idea. It was a great way to bring the story in. And then I had so much fun with it. The choreography alone of the scene was probably my favorite part. Not to mention that there’s no more fun of a game in comedy than giving a one word answer to something that’s ridiculous. So knowing that we had options to turn and say “A monkey” or whatever it is and keep moving was the excitement of getting to do the scene.

Did you or the writers seek any advice from the Vogue team on how to make your own “73 Questions” video?

I don’t know if anyone reached out to Vogue. I was assuming that we would do the guy’s voice, but I don’t know that we did. I know that we were really happy with the “Hot Ones” scene, and then that had a weird viral life of its own, because people didn’t really pay attention to the fact that I said my name was Molly, and that it was from a show. So people really thought that it was me on “Hot Ones,” which I’ve never been on. And the reactions were obviously so insane and so ridiculous that people were talking about how crazy it was, but they didn’t realize I was acting.

But anyway, we loved that element in the show, and there are so many options these days with online content that you can parody and stuff, so that was just one of the ones that we knew was going to be great.

These YouTube video franchises that you’ve parodied on “Loot,” are they similar to sketch comedy at all?

Yeah, they’re all performances, obviously “Hot Ones” has the element of people trying to survive, and fight for their life, which is why I will never be on the show. And I love Sean [Evans], the host. I met him when he came on our show, and he’s so wonderful, so lovely, and was so cool about doing our show as himself, and parodying his own show. He was incredible, and I just kept apologizing to him saying, “I’m so sorry, but I will never do your show because I won’t make it. You’ll have to call an ambulance.”

But maybe more so with something like “73 Questions,” because it is so performative and you have to memorize your answers, they’re not just off the tip of your tongue. They’re memorized and choreographed answers. And so what I fell in love with about the performance of it was the idea that the person that’s doing it is performing, and so they’re not really acting like themselves, but there is also a nice cadence to it. There’s a little melody to it that’s very lovely and presentational, sort of like a hostess. And I thought that was a fun element to it too.

Another fun part is that you get Joel Kim Booster as Molly’s assistant Nicholas in for a cameo. Did it feel just right to have him as a part of the 73 Questions as well?

Well, if it were the real world, he would be lurking in the corners, making sure she doesn’t stick her finger in a light socket.

‘Loot’Apple TV+

One thing that we like to ask when we’re doing this is “Was there any special prop, costume, etc. that helped you nail this scene?” I imagine the house itself was really important, because it is such a massive new set.

That house was crazy. It was in Malibu, and we had just come from the first season where there was this huge Bel Air mansion that had a nightclub in it, and this was her thinking she’s getting close towards the ocean, so she’s getting healthy. And we couldn’t believe it. When you walk in the door, it’s really what you see on the show, there’s an actual moat, and it’s indoor-outdoor, and there were a lot of wall plants. It was just a fascinating house. We shot a lot of it there. We shot the screening room there as well. That was the real screening room and the elevator taking you upstairs. Any house with an elevator is shocking and exciting. Anyone is floored by a house with an elevator.

But it was really just this stunning view, the whole thing, the perimeter of it. You just didn’t really feel like you were in Los Angeles anymore. It was pretty cool. But yeah, it absolutely helped with that feeling, getting you in the mood of, “Welcome to my palace, welcome to this place.” The house really is the co-star in that. Absolutely. I don’t think we could have done it any other way. That and just the backdrop of the ocean right there.

Was Molly moving from the house in the first season to this new second season house for story reasons, or was it a more practical production reason?

Well, it was for story reasons, but it was a good thing. I believe the house we first shot [in Season 1] was sold. But we always knew that Molly was going to get her own place. I mean, that’s where she lived when things went south, so if I were her, I would’ve told her to move right away.

Clear the ghosts.

Yeah, burn some sage or get out of there.

“Loot” Season 2 is now streaming on Apple TV+.

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