Do you enjoy photo shoots?
‘I never know what I’m doing, so I stave off madness by channelling characters from fantasy franchises. So yesterday, I was acting like a drunk Galadriel from Lord Of The Rings, shouting [adopts Cate Blanchett voice]: “In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen… Treacherous as the Seas…” And the photographer was like, “Stop talking, let’s take a picture”.’
That’s one good way to deal with any feelings of self-consciousness…
‘Yes. When on camera, pretend you’re an Elven wizard. I’ve got that classic American female thing of feeling totally great [about my body] and then hating myself. It comes in waves. Usually those waves last five to seven seconds.’
You star opposite Justin Timberlake [in Trolls]. Do you find it annoying that he’s great at everything?
‘Yeah. It’s really annoying when you’ve heard your demo track of a song and it sounds totally fine, then you hear his and you realise you should probably go home. Vocally, he’s not fucking around.’
At 31, you’re almost already a screen legend because you have such a wealth of material built-up over the years. You proved early on that you could do serious movies with Up In The Air, and now you have the freedom to jump into goofball comedies. It’s an atypical trajectory…
‘I thought you were going to say, “Because you’re just so full of wisdom and grace.” I had a realisation early on that some of these comedies are going to be for the next generation what Tommy Boy was to me. The only reason my brother and I knew how to communicate when we were growing up was through that movie, y’know? That felt like a more daunting prospect than something like Up In The Air. I’m not slumming it in comedy, it’s the opposite.’
You’ve been able to work with so many great actors. Meryl Streep, for instance…
‘Meryl and George Clooney [Up In The Air] are so good [at acting], better than they need to be, and both so normal. I’ve worked with a lot of famous actors who look batshit crazy compared to George and Meryl. They’re all living on another planet.’
Do you feel pressure to be funny?
‘No, and I’m also so grateful I don’t have to do the Miss America thing when I meet fans, like “Believe in your dreams!”, or “It was a dream to meet you!” I don’t know how to do that. I’m unstoppably awkward. That’s why I’m so bad in the post office. Am I in the wrong line? Did I fill out the wrong thing? I practise what I’m going to say before I go in.’
Does it help develop your sense of humour to feel a bit of outsiderdom?
‘Yeah, well-adjusted people are rarely funny. My dad has that black Irish humour, which was a big part of it. He took the family to see [play] The Beauty Queen Of Leenane, and my brother and I loved it. My mum looked at us and went, “You’re a bunch of sickos, that is not funny. It’s dark and sad!” So yeah, I see humour in eternal abuse.’
You’ve avoided the trappings of young Hollywood. How have you remained grounded?
‘My close friends are the same ones I had when I first moved to LA, who were totally cool with me being some unemployed, aspiring actress. So you keep them. The only thing that bums me out about fame is when I notice a behaviour I have that I wouldn’t have if I was in a different profession. Like when I went to Ikea to get the bins for my garage? I was cowering behind DIY shelving in a baseball cap as a family walked by. I don’t know if that’s cool, but it’s something I do.’
Read the full interview at InStyle UK.