Who’s ready for a whole new season/reason to be singing that catchy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song? With season 2 of the hit Netflix show bowing at midnight on Friday, who better to check in with about the impending season than star Ellie Kemper?
PEOPLE recently caught up with Kemper to discuss a number of important subjects like which of Kimmy’s outfits she’d like to keep and/or toss, plus her surprising and endearing memories of high school drama teacher Jon Hamm.
Is there one Kimmy outfit you wish you owned yourself?
I’m going to tell you one I wish I didn’t own, start off on the negative. Those pink pants. It’s the one I wear with the yellow sweater. Those pink pants molded to my legs for a few days there. They are not high end pants, they are not well-made and I don’t like wearing hot pink pants. They are very bright, so those are the ones I would pitch. But the one that I love, she has a lot of especially this season, sweatshirts of cats and a cow saying “moo,” and I think they’re a little obnoxious because they’re kind of hipster-y but they’re actually kind of cool. I would take any of those. I like her more relaxed looks which are maybe not as vibrant.
What are the rules for a performer and wardrobe? Can you make a deal with your costume designer at the end of a season?
I have not wanted to yet but I bet that you can. If I were Jane [Krakowski], I would be making one because she wears beautiful, beautiful clothes.
I love the fact that Jon Hamm was your acting coach at one point. Did he remember when you reunited or did you have to remind him?
I did not have to remind him. Years ago I came out to Los Angeles, I was doing my one woman show and I think it was his first season of Mad Men and I emailed him on the off chance – because everyone was already buzzing about him like, ‘Wow, our hometown hero is making it in Hollywood,’ so I was trying to get people in the seats and I emailed him to come and he showed up! He has been so supportive of, our high school is called John Burrows, any Burrows people who come out to try to do it. I’ve heard multiple accounts of him sitting down with people for coffee, he really wants to help people which is the mark of a good person.
Was there one thing you learned from him?
Yes, because he taught the improvisation class. He introduced the concept to me of “Yes, and,” which is all about agreement and building on a scene and agreeing with the reality of a situation, so I think that’s a profound concept and he imparted his wisdom.
How nice when people are lovely and down to earth.
He is. When he won his Emmy, I was weeping. Michael, my husband, we were watching and he was like, “Why do you think you’re crying?” and I was like, “I’m just so happy!” It’s so nice when good things happen to good people.
Have you seen Room and have you enjoyed the fact that you get to play the comedic side of it?
I know! When I read the stuff leading up to it, reading about Room, I thought, “Wow, that is what our show is about.” Of course it’s as different a side of it as it could be, but I think what’s interesting about both of these is how much of the focus of the story is on what happens after. Not to spoil it but half of Room is about going up. It’s not an easy adjustment, but she has a really low moment where she really gives into despair and Kimmy hasn’t experienced that and I hope that she doesn’t.
Might there be a moment that tops Peeno Noir?
I will tell you yes, because people have to tune in and it only gets better but there is a lot of, no exaggerating, a lot of music, a lot of songs in the second season. I love it because the cast, Jane, Carol [Kane], Titus [Burgess], are all actual Broadway performers. Jeff Richmond who composes the music is a genius, so it’s great that there is that much singing. And those guys know a lot of people in Broadway, so a lot of people come back.
What has been your favorite meme to come out of the show?
You know what, because I do like Soul Cycle, I saw one where she’s squeezing her hair into Jacqueline’s mouth and I think that is so over the top and crazy funny that I like that because it’s good to make fun of things. But yeah, there are a lot.
It’s so funny when you’re filming it, you have no sense of what is going to happen once it’s released. I feel like it was very casual, like they filmed it in an afternoon and it just exploded. It’s so funny.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of filming in New York?
The circumstances in New York are not always as easy or as accommodating for making TV, so there is a lot of rain and foot traffic and real traffic and snow and wind. There’s a lot of aggressive circumstances and I’m so impressed by our crews there because they are unflappable, they just get through it. We’ll be in three or four locations in a day and it’s exciting, it’s New York, you do feel energized by it.
I also love how New Yorkers do not care.
At all. There are so many takes where a woman is like, (mimics a New York accent) “Excuse me, I live there,” just trying to get through. So they’ll just walk through the scene. I love it, nobody looks twice.
Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is available Netflix on Friday at 3:01 a.m. ET/12:01 a.m. PT.