“Jean, every day that I get to wake up and look into your eyes is paradise,” Einbinder, 26, began. “I love laughing with you, I love yelling at you, I love crying with you. Every day with you makes me better.”
Then she looked confused, shuffling her papers around on the podium.
“Oh, these are actually wedding vows, sorry. That’s my bad,” she said, as Smart, 70, cracked up beside her. “You know what, the 'wedding vow' file is next to the ‘Jean gets a star’ file in my filing cabinet.”
In HBO Max’s “Hacks,” Einbinder plays a young comedy writer, Ava, who’s hired to revitalize the fading career of legendary stand-up comedian Deborah Vance (Smart).
In her speech, Einbinder gushed about her co-star and mentor.
“What can I say about Jean Smart that hasn’t been type-screamed in capital letters by every lesbian with an internet connection?” she said. “Well, there’s actually a lot I can say about Jean Smart because whether you’re with her for a day or a couple years, like I’ve been, you’re sure to leave carrying something she’s given you. Everyone knows that Jean is an enchanting performer with a God-given gift for storytelling. What I’d like to focus on today is how beautiful a human being she is.”
She told the story of how Smart called her the day before her final “Hacks” callback audition to help put her at ease.
“Jean introduced herself. She told me that she loved my audition tape, and she made me laugh and made a point to ease my nerves and assure me that the two of us would have a lot of fun,” she said. “The next day, I met her in person, and she radiated warmth."
Einbinder also shared anecdotes about Smart’s generosity during filming, from delivering thoughtful gifts to her co-stars to making sure the extras on set felt comfortable.
“In between takes, whenever we’re shooting the scenes where Deborah’s doing standup, Jean is riffing, she’s doing bits, she’s talking to the background actors sitting in the audience because she knows it’s tough work and she wants them to have fun,” Einbinder said.
Einbinder also revealed that when she contracted E. coli, Smart cared for her around the clock.
“She brought me breakfast, lunch and dinner to my hotel room,” she said. “Whenever I have an allergy attack on set, which is weekly, she is the first to scream out for the medic. Jean has taken such extensive care of me and everyone she holds dear. It’s just who she is. She is generous and accommodating and patient and level-headed.”
For Einbinder, Smart’s kindness and generosity set her apart.
“Her humor comes from the light within her soul, not the darkness. It comes not from her ego, but from her desire to make others feel good,” she said. “I can’t tell you how rare that is. … I am blown away by the rarity of a person so talented who is equally as kind."
Both Smart and Einbinder received Emmy nominations in 2021 for their work on “Hacks,” with Smart winning for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series. The show’s second season will premiere May 12 on HBO Max.