Dunham says she was once "sweetly dismissed" by HBO before hitting it big with Girls

By Emily Strohm
February 21, 2014 05:30 PM
Jason Merritt/Getty

When it comes to getting second chances, Lena Dunham lucked out big time.

In a recent interview with Grantland’s Bill Simmons, the Girls star says she was let go while briefly working on HBO’s 2011 miniseries, Mildred Pierce. “I got fired off the one day I did,” she says. “Fired might be a rough word but I got sweetly dismissed.”

The actress played a nurse set in the period drama, but she didn’t quite prep enough for her role.

“I didn’t practice. I looked over the script with my mom and since the project takes place in the ’30s I was like, ‘Am I supposed to do any kind of accent?’ My mom was like, ‘They are hiring you to be you. Just go for it.’ ”

The result?

“You could just see everybody’s face drop,’ she said. “It was like Ricky Gervais in Extras. They were like, ‘This is a f–––ing disaster.’ ” Still, director Todd Haynes, “could not have been sweeter” about letting her go, she says.

Just a year later, Dunham was back on top at the premium cable network with her hit show, Girls. But even with her newfound success as Hannah Horvath, the memory of her Mildred Pierce gig still comes back.

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While shooting this season of her show, Dunham had to hire a dialect coach for a scene. To her surprise, it was the same coach she had worked with on Mildred Pierce.

“I had like a full P.T.S.D. reaction,” she says of the surprise run-in. “I couldn’t take it because she was the bearer of such negative memories for me.”