Fans of Casey Wilson, a character actress with a cult following, have savored her delightfully idiosyncratic performances in offbeat comedies for years.
While she has led her own sitcoms—she played the goofy Penny Hartz on the cult series Happy Endings, starred in NBC’s Marry Me, and just joined the cast of a new HBO Max show called Delilah—Wilson has also acted in a collection of supporting “best friend” roles on TV and film (she played Noelle Hawthorne, a secondary but crucial role, in Gone Girl).
And that’s what makes it all the more enjoyable to see her pop up here and there on Mrs. Fletcher, HBO’s series adaptation of Tom Perotta’s novel of the same name about a middle-aged divorceé (Kathryn Hahn) who goes through, along with her son, parallel coming of age experiences in their sleepy suburban town.
On Mrs. Fletcher, Wilson plays Jane, a fellow mom friend of the titular character, who is relishing in the fact that her daughter has flown the coop and she can finally live her best life and give her best friend scented candles that instruct her to “Breathe.” Of course, though, Jane’s happiness with her newly empty nest can only last for so long, in contrast to Eve Fletcher, whose new life is only just beginning after her son leaves for college.
Like her closest friend and creative partner, June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson consumes so much culture that you would be hard pressed to find a true crime podcast that she hasn’t yet listened to, or a reality show she hasn’t scoped out. So, the actress and Real Housewives aficionado spoke to W about working with Kathryn Hahn, ranking her top 3 Bravo franchises, and singling out the one reality TV character with dignity in her Culture Diet.
How familiar were you with the story of Mrs. Fletcher before joining the cast?
Kathryn Hahn was my main draw, initially. Well, I had read the book, just as a civilian. I loved it and I was like, "Wow was this written by a man?" I had to look it up. I saw it was by Tom Perotta, but I just felt that I hadn’t read anything as beautiful as this small story—and I say small as a compliment—just an ordinary woman’s journey after her son goes to college. I feel like we think we know what that story has to be for a woman, and I felt like it was such a hopeful opening up of all of these different possibilities, and I was like, "Oh wow, a man wrote this, that’s interesting." Then I found out Kathryn Hahn was a part of it, and found out Nicole Holofcener was directing the pilot, and obviously Tom Perotta was involved, and it was HBO—I mean, I was thrilled.
Did you take inspiration from any outside sources when building your character?
I really started to think about a lot of friends of my mom’s when I was growing up. I remember kind of not understanding, because I didn’t have kids, what a loss it is when your kids go away. I remember I was really hard on my mom, and you kind of are left to reconfigure either the marriage or yourself, and in Eve’s case she’s truly alone. I felt like my mom really leaned on a lot of her friends because it really is the closing of a chapter. Mothering for at least 18 years is such an all encompassing job, and now that I am a mother I understand it. I obviously don’t understand children going to college, because mine are two and four—although they are gifted and are both in college. [Laughs.] No, I’m kidding. But I can only imagine how hard it must be just to see your kids go but also to have to reconfigure your own life, and keep your own life interesting and meaningful when it’s not centered around a kid. I just watched a lot of my mom’s friends do that, and I tried to tap back into them and that side of life. There were a lot of frantic walks around the neighborhood together. My mom was always holding a coffee cup and power walking with a different group of girlfriends, and I’d be like, what are they doing on those hour-long walks? I’d see them laughing, crying.
How did you toe the line between finding the humor and humanity in that character without caricaturing her?
I also think my character is more excited about the possibilities and the future. She doesn’t work, so for her, her entire life has been her kid. I think she is excited and a bit relieved, which is a different kind of color on that journey, which I think is also okay, to reclaim your life.
Getting into the Culture Diet questions, what's the first thing you read in the morning?
First thing I read is The New York Times online, and then—I cannot tell a lie—I will take a hop, skip, and a jump over to the worst publication we have on planet earth, which is The Daily Mail U.S. “Showbiz” section. Look, I’m going to be completely honest with you. That’s what happens. The New York Times for news, but then I’m bopping over to get some insight. I don’t want to just be caught up in the high brow, brilliant, you know.
What books are on your bedside table?
I just read a book by Robin Diangelo called White Fragility. That was great. I’m reading a book—go with me—by a psychic named Laura Lynne Jackson, it’s called Signs. It’s about how we can ask the people that have passed for signs that they’re still with us, and we will receive them. That’s a beautiful book that I’ve been, whether it’s true or not, tapping into to continue to feel my mom’s presence, who died like 14 years ago. And I’m reading American Kingpin. It’s fascinating. And I’m always listening to, like, 27 parenting books on tape. I listen to one chapter, and never it back on.
What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?
A big favorite one, and not many people follow, but I just found it, belongs to David Wain, the director. I just did a pilot with him and he has this account called @minorsignchanges, where he photoshops regular signs around, and changes them. Something might say “No Swimming On the Beach” and under it he’ll photoshop “But you can if you want to.” It’s so stupid and funny. I love Roxane Gay’s Twitter. She’s just always delightfully up in arms and hilarious and insightful and brilliant. I love my best friend June Diane Raphael’s Instagram. It’s both political and hilarious. And she promotes her work in such a hilarious way, tipping the hat at how insane it is when she has to post photos of herself. I don’t follow any mommy bloggers. When I see moms posting their kids lunchboxes, I wanna blow my head off. I find it unacceptable. Obviously, I’m very up on politics, but there’s just so much going on that I want to have a laugh.
What's the last thing you Googled on your phone?
It was something so random about an actor. I’m always very interested in famous peoples’ husbands and wives. Going down a rabbit hole of a person adjacent to a famous person, for some reason I can do a quick half hour on that. A quick deep dive on someone three people removed from a famous person is who I really love to plumb the depths on.
What TV shows have been keeping you up all night?
I obviously love Black Monday, a Don Cheadle and Regina Hall show that I am also on, but I really do love it. It’s on Showtime. I love PEN15, A Black Lady Sketch Show, and Arturo Castro’s sketch show on Comedy Central. I like Succession. Very into 90 Day Fiancé. Very into Love After Lockup, which is a hidden gem. It’s exactly what it sounds like. I’ll go dirty, I’ll even go into those real estate Bravo shows. I have no standards when it comes to a reality show. In fact, the more garbage-y, the better. I’m obsessed with Frederick from Million Dollar Listing. That’s a perfect example—I can go on a huge deep dive on Frederick’s husband’s family members back in Sweden. These are the type of things I get into that are important.
Can you rank your top 3 Bravo franchises?
I would say Real Housewives of Atlanta, Real Housewives of New York, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You know what I’m really starting to get into and I missed the boat on? I’m very into Captain Sandy on Below Deck Mediterranean. I feel like she’s the hero of our times. I really slept on Below Deck Med because I felt like I was going to be claustrophobic being in a boat all the time, and you know, below deck as they say. But I’ve actually found it quite liberating to be on the open seas. As long as Captain Sandy’s at the helm, I feel safe. I hope she hears this. She’s a stellar person. She’s the only person on reality TV with dignity.
Do you ever get tired of people asking you to bring back Happy Endings?
No, I don’t. I think everyone still very much wants to make it happen. I never get sick of people enjoying something that I’ve been a part of. And I love it too, I was sad when it was canceled. Again, I love the types of shows where you’re literally just getting laughs. It’s so cathartic. Like a 30 Rock or a Kimmy Schmidt. Pure humor, in these times, is so necessary. I do think in tough times you just want to put on a great comedy, and I think Happy Endings was that for many people, which is so flattering and wonderful.
What's the last movie you saw in theaters?
I saw the Linda Ronstadt documentary. I’m very cool. [Laughs.] It was amazing, she is the best. I saw that and the Hustlers premiere at TIFF, which was a dream come true. Somehow, someway, my girlfriend produced it so my husband and I found ourselves sitting essentially in the row behind J. Lo. That was thrilling.
Did she have popcorn?
You know, I’ll be honest, I didn’t see popcorn. But I was eating so much popcorn.
You host a very popular reality TV podcast called Bitch Sesh, but what other podcasts have you been listening to lately?
So many. I really got into Root of Evil, the story of the Black Dahlia killer. It’s essentially about the killer’s granddaughters excavating the life of their family and picking up the pieces after they discovered what their grandfather had done. It’s riveting and incredible. I really love Before Breakfast, which is an organizational, time management podcast. It’s five-minute little episodes, but it’s helped me so much with life. And I love Criminal and Homophilia, a podcast that has LGBTQ guests that my friend Matt McConkey hosts. I love How Did This Get Made?
What's the last song you had on repeat?
I just listened to Kanye West’s Jesus Is King album. I really liked it. Interesting direction for him. I’ve been listening to this song, it’s not exactly the most current, but it’s this Iris Dement song called “Let the Mystery Be” and it’s incredible. It’s kind of about what happens when we die, basically. And I feel like I am always listening to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston. It’s always playing in my car. And I’m also always listening to “All I Want For Christmas” by Mariah Carey, year round. I don’t feel like that song needs a season, it’s for any time.
What's the last concert you went to?
I think it was Dolly Parton. Maybe something in between, but I want to say Dolly. It had to be with June. Maybe I saw Vampire Weekend in between.
Last piece of art you bought or ogled?
I just went to The Broad. I saw a Rauschenberg that my son actually really liked. And I was like, “Wow” because my son is four and he’s just getting to a point where he’ll at least look at art and not just lie face down in a museum and scream, so that was nice.
Are you into astrology at all?
June Diane and I have had an astrologer that we’ve used for like 15 years. Her name is Heidi Rose Robbins. I want to first say her main great quality is that she’s normal. She’s a heart-centered astrologer and she’s absolutely incredible. Her father was a world renowned astrologer and she is the greatest. We’ve been seeing her and even gone on an astrology retreat with her. Once I moved to L.A., I was like, you know what, I’m doing it all. She’s predicted things that are staggering. It helps make sense of the seasons of your life. It’s hopeful when you’re needing hope, and affirmative when things are going well. I’m a Scorpio, which is the worst sign. I’ve had to learn how to harness when your sign is basically like “You’re an angry person!” You have to wrestle with yourself if you’re a Scorpio.
If you could do an astrology alignment chart for yourself with the Real Housewives, which housewives are your sun, moon, and rising signs?
My rising would be Sonja. My moon would probably be NeNe Leakes. My sun sign would be Portia, or Kenya Moore, also from Atlanta. Look, any way you slice it it’s not going to be great. I think Atlanta is the funniest one, and they give us the best looks. And they’re the most genuinely funny women. We’re laughing at them, but we’re laughing with them more than the other franchises, I think. I just can’t get enough of Atlanta, personally. I also love Potomac now, that’s a big all-star for me. They’re checking all the boxes and then some. You heard it here first. And I was on the bandwagon with 90 Day Fiancé way before anyone, so I do feel you can’t trust me for most things, but you can trust me with this. Get your eyeballs on Potomac.
What's the last thing you do before you go to bed?
I put my kids to bed. I do a very elaborate facial routine, I do my cleansing, my Retinol, that’s all very important. Then, I put on a show that I immediately pass out to. Sounds like it’s similar to most women in America.