Kristin Chenoweth knows a thing or two about show business. The Tony Award-winning actress is a magnet on both stage and screen, appearing in everything from gritty dramas (2009’s Into Temptation) to laugh-out-loud comedies (2010’s You Again) and of course memorable TV stints on The West Wing, Pushing Daisies and Glee. Oh! Did we mention she originated the Glinda role in Wicked? Casual.
Chenoweth’s new film Hard Sell features some of her boldest work to date. She plays Lorna Buchanan, the unstable, reclusive mother of a high school senior (Skyler Gisondo) who finds an, erm, unorthodox way to profit off his classmates.
This brand of dark dramedy is not uncharted territory for Chenoweth, but it certainly isn’t as common as her comedic work. “I love the aspect of playing the mom who’s really the child, and the child takes care of [her],” Chenoweth told VH1 when we caught up with her Tuesday (May 18). “I think that’s a common issue that happens more often than we think.”
So is addiction. Lorna’s substance abuse is a key component to her heartbreaking character, and Chenoweth reveals stepping into these stormy shoes was–wait for it–easier than people would think. The reason? She’s an addict herself–well, kinda.
“I guess I do have an addiction, and it’s to being an artist,” Chenoweth said. “…I’m an addict so far as I have to [perform] for a living. And I think an addict of substance abuse– it must be very difficult to feel like you can’t live or you can’t breathe until you get your next high.”
But don’t think Chenoweth is about to abandon her splashy musical theater roots for arty indies. This is the woman who played the boozy, operatic April Rhodes on Glee, after all! Speaking of Ryan Murphy, Chenoweth has her eyes on the ubiquitous show runner’s upcoming anthology drama Feuds, which will chronicle the riff between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange are slated to play Davis and Crawford, respectively.)
Chenoweth excitedly said Feuds when we asked her what Murphy TV show she’s dying to get in on. “Ryan continues to push the envelope–I just hope he never stops,” Chenoweth said. “When I heard about Susan and Jessica doing that, I was like, ’Oh man. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’ I think it’s a great idea.”
Another great idea? A Wicked film. Talk of a movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical has been rampant in Hollywood for eons. Obviously, the dream is for Chenoweth and Idina Menzel to reprise their Glinda and Elphaba roles when Wicked hits the big screen. However, if they can’t, who has shoes sparkly enough to succeed them? Chenoweth has some ideas.
“For someone in their 20s, I would go for Dove Cameron [as Glinda] and Lea Michele [as Elphaba],” Chenoweth said. “Someone in their 30s, I would go with Beth Behrs [as Glinda] and maybe Zooey Deschanel [as Elphaba].” Get those wands ready, ladies. You have the OG good witch’s seal of approval.
Hard Sell hits theaters and VOD platforms this Friday (May 20).