Lyonne herself is nominated in both Lead Actress in a Comedy and Writing for a Comedy categories

By Tomás Mier
July 16, 2019 07:05 PM

Natasha Lyonne is basking in the moment after her show Russian Doll racked up 13 Emmy nominations.

“It’s creatively affirming more than anything to know how hard we worked and how scary it was to dive into the deep end on the show,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively on Tuesday.

Lyonne, 40, is up for the Lead Actress in a Comedy category and Writing for a Comedy alongside co-creators Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler.

Russian Doll — which Lyonne co-created and stars in — is up for Outstanding Comedy Series and 12 other categories including two nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

“Frankly, this is the first show that I’ve really created and seen through from inception to color correction,” she says. “The idea that this was well received instead of alienating for audiences, really makes me encouraged to continue along those lines to want to ask big questions about what it all means and what we’re all doing here.”

Other nominees in Lyonne’s lead actress category include Rachel Brosnahan for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep, Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag and Catherine O’Hara for Schitt’s Creek and Chrstina Applegate for Dead To Me.

Check out our full Q&A with the actress below!

Congratulations on the nominations! How are you feeling?

It feels very, I don’t know the word that keeps coming to me, but it’s creatively affirming more than anything to know how hard we worked and how scary it was to dive into the deep end on this show. It feels very encouraging to keep on that train. I’m just in awe of life and all its curiosities. Life takes on so many different rides, and today is a very good day, a very encouraging, good day.

Natasha Lyonne
Slaven Vlasic/Getty

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I think as a creator, as a writer, it feels huge knowing how hard everybody works at various phases of this. Amy [Poehler] and Allison [Silverman] as the writers of the show to be recognized — and it was such a beast writing this thing, and making sure that they’re all connected.

It’s a lot of fun FaceTiming Amy sharing the celebration. My dog Root Beer is over the moon. And, again, her respect is great.

And for Michael Bricker, our production designer, and Jen Rogen, our costume designer, and Chris Teague, the cinematographer. It really is beautiful to see everyone’s hard work be acknowledged.

What was FaceTiming Amy like?

Oh, yeah. That was the first FaceTime — me and Amy being pretty excited.

I’ll have you know that she was already out of the house, because it was, of course, almost noon in New York, so she was already doing things. We were really excited.

She was with her kids so I was trying not to curse in my excitement because I am a New Yorker. And I’m prone to very adult language in my excitement, but I controlled myself.

Definitely, where were you when you found out?

I was in bed reading a book with Root Beer, that same wild animal. I was directing on night shoots last night so it was one fun long never-ending day, very much in the spirit of Russian Doll.

How many nominations was it, 13?

I think so, which is good. Because 13 is a great number — 13 and 666: those are my two favorite numbers.

If you do happen to win, where would you put that award?

I would immediately donate it to science. I know that we’re all planning on moving to Mars very soon, because of environmental issues, so I want to make sure that the Emmy arrives there first. I’m hoping that other people are obviously considering that, you know, it’s important.

I feel like whatever this is, it’s definitely a heavily jinxing conversation so the superstitious person in me doesn’t really like this line of questioning, if I’m honest. I’m inclined to give you ridiculous answers because it feels too surreal to even consider.

Most inanimate object to find a home. I have my SAG Award from Orange is the New Black on the piano.

If it helps, I was crossing my fingers when I asked this, as to not jinx it for you.

Oh, that is a great relief. I’m so indebted to you, thank you for doing that. It’s a relief to hear.

Of course, anything for you, Natasha. About the show, you mentioned that this is such a big reassurance creatively. Talk to me a little bit more about.

Frankly, this is the first show that I’ve really created and seen through from inception to color correction. I think I wasn’t sure that I would ever get to do it again so I was trying to put a lifetime of things I wanted to say in this four-hour package. The idea that this was well-received instead of alienating for audiences, really makes me encouraged to continue along those lines to want to ask big questions about what it all means. I think that’s certainly what keeps me up at night.

Natasha Lyonne as Nadia in Russian Doll
Courtesy Netflix

I always think of young people, sort of the teenage version of myself asking those questions. I think now I feel more comfortable in the discomfort because I’ve had so much practice at being a person, thanks to all these years.

But as a creator, I think I’m often thinking of what would be helpful to watch and feel like life was less of a riddle and more of a worthy joy. I think that that’s important to me and it feels creatively stimulating to continue to question that.

What I love so much about Russian Doll is that all this kind of investigating and all this research that I get to do about things that are hard to understand, I keep my mind very active. I don’t specifically understand the ins and outs of quantum physics, but I’m endlessly fascinated by it as something worth studying.

I love big questions, just philosophically and spiritually, on some level. I love wondering about all those things. I can’t believe that I’m so lucky to get to surround myself with bigger thinkers than me to get to ask those questions and turn it into something that’s hopefully aesthetically charged and funny.

Give us a little preview of Season 2!

Well, unfortunately, I can’t do that because Netflix does a heavy duty spoiler-free zone. But, suffice to say, I think we’re going to continue to open up the various levels of that matryoshka doll!

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