Difficult People’s Julie Klausner

Spoiler: Hulu’s Difficult People is one of our absolute favorite shows. Watching is akin to grabbing a cocktail-filled lunch with your best friends and really indulging in a gossip session. It’s easy to imagine the characters are your closest friends, which is why meeting up with Actress and Writer Julie Klausner was so surreal.

She’s one of our favorite funny women (not to mention that she is stunning and as hilarious in person as she is on TV). We love Klausner’s honest approach to mental health, dig her respect for the humble potato, and totally crave her ideal food day. Wondering which Housewife of NYC she’d get drinks with and who she’d invite to her dream dinner? Read below, and don’t forget to catch the show’s third season premiere tomorrow on Hulu; consider this your Monday pick-me-up…

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From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

I like the smoked salmon breakfast from Le Pain Quotidien, and I also deeply appreciate the pretzel croissants from City Bakery. My favorite flavor is “starch.” I like scones because they taste like baking soda. I’d say I have a carb problem, but I consider it a carb solution. 

Am I up to lunch? I like sushi, I like an avocado and kale turkey Cesar sandwich from Pret a Manger. In terms of the ideal, I flip my lid for any ‘80s food from Forty Carrots at the original Bloomingdales location on 59th and Lex. Give me a Zorba salad with a scoop of tuna fish and a coffee-flavored frozen yogurt chaser, and I’ve got the zazz and pep to purchase more things I don’t need at the makeup counter! 

Ok, dinner. This is gross, but I don’t care: my favorite food is spaghetti with salt, pepper and cottage cheese. It’s a poor man’s caicio e pepe, and I grew up eating it. I’m going to say a dinner of noodles and some bland cheese with limited seasonings, plus a mushy chocolate chip cookie with an outer crispness and the correct sugar to salt ratio, is my dream dinner. You know what? Fuck it, I’ll be honest, more than one chocolate chip cookie. 

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?

I get regular doctor check-ups, I stay on top of my back pain with massage and PT, and I monitor my depression. If I’m in too deep of a hole, mood wise, I can’t really do the work I need to do to help myself out of it, so I try to keep track of when I’m starting to get bluer than I should. If I stay atop that wave, I can work out. I see a trainer and do pilates, dance and swim, and I can maintain the right balance of being outside and inside, being alone and surrounding myself with people, and working and doing nothing. That life balance is essential for my well-being. Without it, I don’t stand a chance of doing what I need to do to stay healthy, productive, whatever. So yeah, the short answer is “anti-depressants” and that includes hanging out with my cat and talking to my friends on the phone, because that helps boost my joy. 

What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?

I splash water on my face in the morning and then, it’s sunscreen time. I’m so pale I am completely translucent. There are visible blue veins around the fat near my collar bone. Men like it, but only because it reminds them of steak. I use Murad Perfecting Day Cream, which has a 30 SPF. During the summer, when my skin is irritated, oily and generally just a cranky bitch, I use Murad’s Invisiblur perfecting shield, which matte-ifies my punim. I made up the word “matte-fies.” Punim is a real word; it’s yiddish for “face.” Then, I put on a lot of eyeliner and mascara, and, depending how much time I have and how hot it is outside, I’ll put on more makeup. I love makeup. I wish I had a bigger bathroom so I could spread out my makeup around my mirror and just layer all of my wonderful products onto my face until I look like a different person. 

At night, I wipe off my makeup with an oil-based removal pad, like one from Almay, or a moisturizing wipe from Neutrogena, but I’m trying to use less wipes for environmental reasons. You can’t flush those, either. Don’t flush those! After that, I’ll lather a bunch of Clinique’s Take The Day Off oil onto my face and remove the rest of my makeup with a hot washcloth. Depending on whether I’m in breakout territory, I’ll wash my face again with Clean and Clear blackhead eraser scrub and dab some prescription acne meds on whatever blemishes hath arisen, or else I’ll just put some night cream on and go to bed with my hair back. I use Philosophy’s Uplifting Miracle Worker because it has zero fragrance and has never irritated my skin. I also change my pillowcases twice a week because I’m a side sleeper, and zits love cheeks. 

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What is always in your handbag? What beauty products can’t you live without?

I always keep a travel size spray can of Coola sunscreen and Dr. Lipp original nipple balm, which is the only thing that’s ever worked consistently to remedy my hardcore chapped lips. I will always have a powder compact with me- I like Charlotte Tilbury’s products because A) they’re very good and B) Charlotte is a makeup artist who looks like me. So I have her powder in my bag right now. What else? Gum, liquid eyeliner and Q-tips for touch ups, keys, wallet, phone, earbuds, my moleskin calendar. A nail file. Sometimes, I remember to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste. Tissues, hand sanitizer, Klonopin.

What are some restaurants in Times Square that aren’t so square?

I really miss Cafe Edison. I don’t know where to go now! I propose we just embrace its squareness. Let’s all go to Guy Fieri’s American Grill for drinks before a Broadway show and Red Lobster for dinner after, and then, get dessert at the M&M store. 

We are huge Difficult People fans – can you share any secrets about season 3 with us?

The love scene between Vanessa Williams and Cole Escola, which is the most amazing 2 minutes of television I’ve ever borne witness to, only took them a single take for it to be perfect. We have a sexually-charged scene between Andrea Martin’s character and her former lover from the 70s, played by John Turturro – that, too, is perfect and amazing. They have some fabulous chemistry, which was actually a little tricky to edit because he’s supposed to be into her and she’s supposed to be uncomfortable. It was my version of the scene from Fargo when Marge meets Mike Yanigita at the Raddisson hotel for lunch, and he comes around the table to sit next to her. Only, in this case, you can still kind of tell that Andrea’s character is into it. It works for the scene, though. 

We have a big finale where Billy and Julie decide to make a major change; it backfires, as is the world’s wont on the show, but I won’t be more descriptive. Or maybe I will! I don’t know; call me in a week, let’s see how chatty I am! And we have a fabulous episode where all of us take ayahuasca and you get to see our characters’ individual trips on the show, which is enormously fun. Fans of the show will flip over that episode in particular. In my trip, I sing a song Aimee Mann wrote for the show, and James Urbaniak and I get to dress up as Jeff and Maude Lebowski in his trip. I re-watched all of the Coen Brothers movies after the election as a kind of cinematic comfort food, so there may even be more references to their work than usual in the show this season. 

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Who has been your favorite guest star to work with so far? Why?

Chris Elliott, because he made me laugh all day and he’s the sweetest, funniest guy in the world. I was obsessed with Get A Life and Cabin Boy, and then, later, saw his Letterman appearances on YouTube, so, I say, DO meet your idols, but only if they are Chris Elliott because he is absolutely wonderful. 

What is your go-to lunch on set? Your favorite on-set snacks?

I usually eat a slice of pizza and a plain salad for lunch on-set. I keep protein bars in my trailer, and I’ll get those little protein boxes with cheese and fruit from Starbucks to keep me going throughout the day. I eat a lot when we shoot, because these end up being 14 hour days. But I honestly don’t remember right now what I eat or how I get through it. It’s like forgetting the pain of childbirth so you can reproduce again: I forget how hard it is to make a season of TV until it’s time to do it again, but it’s wonderful and worth it because I love my babies (episodes of streaming television). 

How do you start your day? What is your typical breakfast?

I start my day with cautious optimism and a lot of bad ideas urgently racing through my mind. For breakfast, I’ll either have yogurt with pumpkin seeds and cranberries on top of it, or a bagel with cream cheese if I’m starving. Watermelon and iced coffee is another favorite. If I go out to breakfast with friends, I usually order an egg-based dish with some fun starch attached, such as grits. I like iced tea, I like peppermint tea. Fruit is a good breakfast dessert. 

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You’ve worked on some pretty spectacular shows and scripts, was there one in particular you looked around and thought “I can’t believe this is happening?” What was it? How’d the project turn out?

I’m overwhelmingly proud of the scripts for season 3 of Difficult People. As I already mentioned, each episode is like another child; I love them all for different reasons, so very much. As far as projects that have landed, I will always be pleasantly surprised or, I should say thrillingly shocked that there is an audience for Difficult People, because it’s just so personal and so specific. I made a show for me, and that other people connect and relate to it is something I’ll never get over. I’m so lucky. 

What’s the best advice you have ever received? The worst?

Poehler is an advice fountain, and please buy her book, Yes Please, not only because she’s standing behind me right now with what feels like a blunt object pressed up against my back and muttering “You know what to do, kitty cat” in my ear, but because that book is lousy with great advice. She has inspired me to spend time thinking about how to be more gentle with myself, and it makes life a lot easier. If I had to be specific for a Poehler-ism that’s helped me create the show, off the top of my head I can say that, when I was freaking out during season 1, about how on earth I was ever going to write 8 episodes of TV in 6 weeks, she said “Time never helped comedy,” and I think she’s right. SNL does pretty well with a week of lead time, and overthinking jokes doesn’t usually lead to better ones. That said, I don’t play to write 8 scripts in 6 weeks ever again, unless somebody sells me a mountain of cocaine and gives me a contact I can’t say no to- but that sounds like a deal you’d make with the devil, so I’d check the contract for a soul swap clause and I would probably say no, unless he threw in some chocolate chip cookies. 

Which Real Housewife of New York would you most like to take for drinks? Where would you go?

I’ve hung out with Sonja and Luann, and those two women are insanely fun. I would go anywhere they told me to. 

If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead who would you have over? And what would you serve?

I’d really like to have met Garry Shandling. I also love A Confederacy of Dunces, so I’ll say John Kennedy Toole as well. Fran Lebowitz, obviously. John Waters. And David Rakoff, because I miss him, and he would want to be a part of that party. 

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What issue do you feel most passionately about right now and why?

It sounds a little vague to say “women’s rights,” so I will be as clear as possible. I’m terrified right now about the world getting in the way of the agency women have over our own bodies and our reproductive freedom. I’m appalled at the violence incurred against women in other countries, including sexual slavery and genital mutilation. I think the conversation around removing coverage for birth control is absolutely inexcusable, and the coverage double standard around Viagra versus The Pill is infuriating. I am frustrated and sickened by the war against poor people in this country, and the ignorance and even animosity our society can have toward women’s pleasure.

Women and men can never be politically equal until women can decide whether or when to start a family in the same way that men can. Women deserve more opportunities in male-dominated fields, including television and film. We should be sharing more stories by, for and about ourselves to inspire female audiences and remind them that they are visible and essential. And also, women need to know that they deserve pleasure and learn how to find it, demand it and provide it for themselves. 

In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?

I’m going to confidently say that the new potato is, potatoes. I think they are delicious. I like steak fries, I like mashed potatoes, I enjoy a baked potato with cheese and broccoli nestled inside of it like birds in a damn nest. Potatoes are friendly, inexpensive, and they’re also a great subject of conversation if you talk about how much you appreciate them with Irish guys, to whom I am attracted. 

*Julie Klausner, photographed at Empire Diner in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. Julie wears a Ganni dress.

Read our interviews with Lily Collins and Neil Patrick Harris!