For its new season, "Mozart in the Jungle" is sending Lola Kirke's Hailey into the wilderness across the Atlantic, where the notes she strikes may not be as harmonious as she's used to.
Following its surprise win at last year's Golden Globe Awards where it took home the trophy for Best Television Series – Comedy as well as a Best Actor win for star Gael Garcia Bernal, Amazon's acclaimed, alternately classy and messy look inside the world of a New York orchestra returns for a third season, shaking up the status quo by sending several of its characters to follow their muses on intertwining treks through Europe, while the remainder battle out a dispute between the union and the symphony back home in the Big Apple.
Hailey's journey as an oboist abroad is central to the new storyline, of course, as she joins the brilliant but egotistical Andrew Walsh (Dermot Mulroney) on his tour across the continent, encountering her mentor and brief paramour Rodrigo (Bernal), who's staging the comeback for an alluring but troubled opera diva (Monica Bellucci).
Kirke joined Moviefone for a disarming chat about Hailey's upcoming excursion, as well as the effect of the symphonic series on her own musical mode.
Moviefone: This season really blows up the show's established format, and you guys get to take a lot of creative risks this time around, coloring outside the lines. Tell me what the fun of that was for you.
Lola Kirke: I think it's always fun, in life and in art, to be able to be yourself a little bit more. I don't think that Hailey and I are definitely that similar, but to graduate or evolve from being just afraid that you're messing up all of the time, and nervous around great people, to being more comfortable with yourself, I think that arc has been really fun. I think that does, as you said, blow up the format a little bit.
To get out of the typical New York setting and explore, geographically, some new places for her, what was intriguing to you about putting her in different contexts?
What was fun about putting her in a different context is a little complex to explain, I suppose. I'm deceptively British. I was born in England and lived there until I was five. I actually had spent a lot of time out of the country to visit my family, and so on and so forth. But Hailey is a person that I imagine hasn't.
I like to think of Hailey as a vessel for all these experiences that I'm jealous of having, like seeing new places, because your art has taken you there, and not because your family or any kind of previous privilege has taken you there. So I think it was really fun to put Hailey into a new world and have her be completely lost there, and have her really just rely on her luck -- which, thankfully, according to the writers of the show, always comes through for her.
Of course there comes a point where she does get back to the old stomping grounds and reuniting with everybody, instead of being a little bit off on her own storyline mixed in with appearances by the rest of the cast here and there. What was it like to get back with the group and get back to the familiar ground after almost half of a season?
It's amazing. I think that it's interesting: I don't know what year "Mozart in the Jungle" is really meant to be taking place in anymore, because you start a show, I think that this happens in TV time, like for most shows, or all shows that are on TV. They run in this kind of, they start out like in the time that it is, and then they just stick -- they don't evolve in real time like everything else.
So "Mozart in the Jungle," though it is shot in New York, for the most part, lives in its own world, in its own time, and it's always just a pleasure to be able to get back to that group of people.
What did you love about Hailey when you first signed on to play her? And what do you love specifically about her now?
What I loved about Hailey when I first signed on to play her was this kind of deceptive boldness that she has always had. I think I also really related to being a young person with creative ambition, and being surrounded by people that you never thought that you'd be in the same room with, and being recognized in whatever way for your talent, and being really scared that that was going to be taken away, and wondering.
I think that I really connected to Hailey on the level of what it was to be a young artist. Our creative and professional paths have definitely evolved along the same lines. I'm very happy for her to get more confident, as I do, and to feel more comfortable in making choices that are made for her own artistic integrity, rather than for what she thinks she has to do.
Like the decision for her to become a conductor is, I think, something that speaks volumes of where she's at, and the kind of agency and independence that she is carving out for herself.
Tell me about playing the will they / won't they aspect of Hailey's relationship with Rodrigo.
I think that there is something very fun in playing a dynamic relationship with somebody, one that exceeds just romance and that is a mentorship relationship, a deep friendship. I think that romance, even in a romantic relationship, is just a part of that kind of a relationship. I think that there are so many other levels that come in to that. So it's very fun to explore all of the different levels of a relationship between two people. I felt it just very fun to work with Gael. I love working with Gael.
Tell me about your own relationship with music. How do you define your connection to the musical arts?
I think that relationship is one that is still being defined, that is constantly growing. I spent a lot of time just admiring music, and a certain kind of music, which was typically rock and roll. Then I started playing my own kind of music, but wasn't too confident with it, and then this show kind of came and turned music on its head for me -- or my conception of music -- and continues to do that, because I think I have a really naive relationship to classical music, and I have a very learned relationship to other kinds of music.
I feel like classical music is a language and a world that I don't understand, and that I try to understand. It's its own beast, so it's really fun to get to play, to get to be in the show, and to be an expert on something that I'm definitely not an expert on in real life.
But then I think that this season, getting to conduct, weirdly, once again became another parallel in my own life. I started taking my own music that I make -- in real Lola Kirke-life, not Hailey Rutledge-life -- more seriously, and getting to use or employ some of the things I learned -- just in terms of talking to musicians and how to do it -- from Hailey has made my life a little bit easier when I'm talking to musicians who I respect and don't feel that I should be directing, but I am.
There's a great scene in the beginning of the season where she has an issue in the middle of a performance.
Yeah, I love that scene!
Has anything like that ever happened to you in the course of your creative life? Have you ever had that, this is just what's got to happen right now?
To vomit in the middle of something? [Laughs] I'm trying to think. I'm sure, but no, surprisingly not. Let me get back to you on that -- when it does happen, you'll be the first to know!
This show was obviously something special from the get-go, but tell me what it meant to you, your cast mates and the creative team to get that acknowledgement with the Golden Globe win and to get that extra push in front of eyes that might not have seen the show at their first opportunity, and have come to it since.
I think it meant that we could say, "Oh, I do this show called 'Mozart in the Jungle'" and people would actually be like, "Oh, yeah!" instead of, like, "What the f*ck?" That's a nice feeling.
What other kinds of opportunities have opened up for you as a result of the exposure that this show has given you?
Oh, lots of opportunities, I suppose. My whole life has changed, and in a really nice way. I think, also, the opportunity to work with actors that I love and respect, and to have had a stable situation, professionally, for the past three years has been amazing. That's a real privilege as an actor, and luxury.
It always takes a certain impulse to put yourself out there as a creative artist. I'm curious: how early in your life did you recognize that ability in yourself? What was your path to enabling yourself to put yourself out there like that?
I don't really know that I saw it as a choice. I come from a family of artists, and we exist in a bubble of privilege in which thinking about things, like how you're going to live practically, is not something that was generally done. I don't say that in a way that is elevating that way of thinking. It's just how it was.
So, from a young age, I think I thought, well, how am I going to communicate my individuality to the world? That's a bizarre thing for a small child to be thinking about, but it is also something that I feel really lucky to be able to do. Yeah, it wasn't some kind of origin story of me coming out to the world as an actor when everyone thought I was going to be something else.
"Mozart in the Jungle" Season 3 premieres Friday, December 9 on Amazon.