Jane Lynch looks fresh, well-rested — a surprise, given she seems to have appeared in, well, what seems like every film and television show this year.
She’s logged at least a dozen 2009 screen credits, perhaps the highest-profile role as Sue Sylvester, the diabolically funny cheerleading coach in Fox’s high-school musical series “Glee,” and as “French Chef” host Julia Child’s towering sister Dorothy McWilliams opposite Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia.”
Starting Friday, Lynch appears in the coming-of-age comedy “Post Grad” with Alexis Bledel, and next month, she’s in the season opener of the CBS’ sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Lynch is busy, in the way character actors used to be in the movie-a-week studio-system heyday.
But she bristles at the suggestion she’s the hardest-working woman in Hollywood.
“You know, I’m not crazy-busy,” Lynch said. “The nature of what I do, I only work two or three days at a time. ... I kind of pop in and out of things. So it’s three days here, maybe a week there. Then I’m left with myself and my horrible thoughts.”
She doesn’t elaborate, but getting in touch with her dark side has clearly served Lynch well, especially with her work on “Glee,” where the character is, essentially, the school’s Darth Vader. She’s protecting her evil empire from — and here’s what makes it so hilarious — the loser kids in the new glee club.
“I don’t mean to be a psychologist in this, but I think we all have that in us, that part of us that wants to control our environment,” Lynch said. “‘This is black, this is white, there’s no gray area.’ And I think that’s what people are entertained by, because it’s within us, we all have that.”
And, yes, that includes Lynch herself.
“I was talking to my therapist about people passing on bikes on the right and how it’s wrong,” she explained. “‘You’re supposed to pass on the left.’ And she started laughing. She said, ‘You have to do a character like this.’ And instead of being insulted, I actually created a character of someone who just is very angry because there’s a way to do things, and when people go against that, it ruins it for everyone.”
Lynch, 49, has been doing screen work since the late ’80s. But her breakthrough didn’t come until 2000, when she stood out in one of director Christopher Guest’s traditionally crowded ensembles, playing a domineering personal dog handler in “Best in Show.”
“Julie & Julia” offered a rare chance for Lynch to not only get dramatic, but also do it on-screen with no less than Streep.
“I did my best to hold it together inside, because you’re working with someone who is not only a legend, but somebody who has been a hero of mine for a long time,” Lynch said. “So you kind of have to let that go and just do your job. ... We were shooting in a restaurant in Brooklyn, and we were waiting for the light so we could cross into our trailers. And she slipped her arm in mine and we crossed the street together, and I — aaach! — it was wonderful.”
She seems to have everything but a leading role.
“No, I love what I’m doing,” she replied. “No, really, I’m truly satisfied. I love the area I’m in, I think it speaks to my strengths and I’m able to grow within it. I don’t really have any desire to be out-there or over-there or doing-that.”