Although she’s best known for her spot-on portrayal of the arcane, acerbic cousin Maeby Fünke on Fox’s widely adored comedy series Arrested Development (which returns early next year with 10 new episodes that will stream on Netflix and, later, a feature film), Los Angeles–based actor Alia Shawkat is also a painter whose visual art is heavily inspired by the work of gonzo illustrator Ralph Steadman. Following the May opening of her second group art show at the Brachfeld Gallery in Paris, the 23-year-old costar of this summer’s Ruby Sparks (written by and featuring actor Zoe Kazan, and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the duo behind Little Miss Sunshine) will appear in five other films, including The To-Do List, a bucket list–type sex comedy opposite Aubrey Plaza, and The Oranges, an awkward family drama with Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt. For this issue, we asked Shawkat to interview herself, which she says was “scarily easy.” Below is the complete transcript, even the part where she compares fans to anal protrusions.
So, uh, hi.
When was the last time I saw you?
I’m not sure. I don’t keep track of things like that.
No offense. I just, you know, need my space.
If I remember correctly, I saw you last at that weird party for Pharrell’s new alcohol, Qream.
Is that a combination of queef and cream?
Kind of, but I don’t know if they meant to do that.
In any case, it’s been a while since we talked. How have you been?
As good as I can be right now. I can’t remember the last time I slept in the same place twice. Every morning I wake up surrounded by a new environment, always with lots of blurry-faced people.
That sounds like a nightmare.
It is. I sleep to dream.
Have you been working on any cool projects lately?
Who told you to ask me that?
Well, uh, BULLETT. They asked me to interview you, so…
Wait, wait, wait. What the fuck is this for? What are you getting at?
That’s why we’re doing this, right? It’s publicity for you and your career.
Stop right there. My career is none of your business.
Okay. Well, what is my business? Has anything interesting happened to you recently?
Interesting to whom? Not long ago, I woke up in the bedroom of a Detroit busboy whose single bed’s spine was broken down the middle.
The busboy’s spine was broken?
No, the bed’s spine. Otherwise I would have called him a “handicapped busboy” or an “invertebrate busboy.” I waited out the whole night to get lucky with him. He was a beautiful African-American guy who liked Adult Swim and video games. I thought, I can keep up with this guy. So we spent the night playing video games and watching the Metalocalypse Christmas special. Then he fell asleep. I put in four hours of fake nerd talk for a dick I’d have to wait until morning to see.
“Oh boy” is right. Morning came and we finally fooled around until he said he had to feed his roommate’s pet tarantula. I spent the next four hours wading through the trash in his room, which was like an actualized ball pit, only to escape with an irritated vagina and a dead arm. I had to hop in a cab and get back to my hotel in time to shower and get picked up for work.
What were you doing in Michigan?
I was making a film called Cedar Rapids. I played a blond whore, so…
I liked that movie. Miguel Arteta is a great director.
That’s what all the girls say.
So, wait—why or how do you end up in a new place every morning?
When you live life without fear, you find yourself with many new beginnings. I don’t wait around long enough to see things end. Endings are mundane. Why stick around to see them happen?
To make deeper connections? To build relationships?
It looks like you were busy last summer making a lot of films that will be coming out later this year.
Um, okay: The Brass Teapot, That’s What She Said…
That is what she said.
Shall I keep going?
Don’t ever stop.
Ruby Sparks, The To-Do List, The Moment, The Oranges.
Goddamn, The! The! The!
Most movie titles start with The.
You start with The.
I am The Alia Shawkat. There’s also the ever-so-talked-about Arrested Development movie along with new episodes, right?
That’s the story of my life, people asking me why I look familiar and “Have we met before?” “Did you go to Pasadena High?” Do I look like I went to Pasadena High?
A little bit. People recognize you a lot, huh?
They expect me to run through my résumé for them instead of taking a second to think that my job might be one that lingers in people’s minds as memories of moments lived.
Are you high right now?
Photography by Luke Gilford