Maya Erskine Thought She Was ‘Gonna Get Killed in First Episode’ When Donald Glover Asked Her to Be in ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’

Maya Erskine may be having a pretty strong run right now after the success of “Pen15,” her Hulu comedy series she co-created with Anna Konkle and Sam Svibleman, and now Amazon Prime’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” which is placing her in the awards conversation for drama, but this confident display of her talents wasn’t always a guarantee. In a recent piece for the Los Angeles Times, Erskine recalled how she was actually cut the first time she acted on a set.

“It was ‘Hart of Dixie’ on [The] CW,” she said. “I just had one line that was like, ‘Is this seat taken?’ And I swear to you — have any of you seen ‘The Comeback’ where Lisa Kudrow runs her line over and over throughout 24 hours? That’s what I did on Photo Booth. All night, [I] was like, ‘You gonna take that seat?’ I kept doing it, and then on the day [of shooting], I blanked. It was this huge machine that you’re just this tiny part of and I was like, ‘Oh, so there’s no rehearsal? We don’t do this, figure it out together? You just show up?’ And they cut it.”

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While Erskine has grown past this embarrassment, it may have caused some lingering anxieties, as when she was approached by Donald Glover for “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” she wasn’t quite sure how serious to take his offer.

“Donald [Glover, who co-created the series with Francesca Sloane] talked to me several times on FaceTime, and I didn’t know what it was, because I thought that it was him and Phoebe [Waller-Bridge, who was originally tapped to co-create and co-star in the series]. And so I was like, ‘Am I gonna get killed in the first episode? Like, what is my role in this?’” Erskine said to the L.A. Times. “And I really had no idea. And he was just kind of gauging my interest, gauging if I was the right vibe for this, and then by the third time, he was like, ‘Oh, no, you would play Jane Smith.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’”

Despite the uncertainty of shifting into dramatic territory, Erskine opened up about how she was ready to try something new. She said, “It’s always scary to jump into any role, it doesn’t really matter what it is, but I was excited to try it because I was ready to have a change from ‘Pen15.’ I was looking for that.”

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