A regular in the Christopher Guest repertoire company, the hilarious Jane Lynch first burst into many people's consciousness as the butch dog handler in "Best in Show." She followed up as a porn star-turned-folk singer in "A Mighty Wind" and a celebrity reporter in "For Your Consideration" before reaching an additional audience playing Steve Carell's sexually propositioning boss in "The 40-Year Old Virgin." ('I'm very discreet?but I will haunt your dreams.")
This Second City comedy vet now stars as the Glee Club's fiercest antagonist in the new Fox series "Glee," and does a turn this week as Julia Child's sister, Dorothy McWilliams, opposite Meryl Streep in "Julie & Julia".
Childs and McWilliams were way over 6 feet tall, as are Lynch and Streep (actually 5 feet 6) in the film. "Meryl had these special shoes created by Anne Roth, but they were like Herman Munster shoes," explains Lynch. "I stayed pretty much my own self."
This film is a paean to foodies. What's the weirdest thing you've tried recently?
My latest thing is sea urchin. I've been looking at that stuff for years and thought, "Who eats that?" I had my first taste six months ago. It's like scratching your teeth on the bottom of the ocean. It's fishy and sweet, and it has this ridiculous rubbery texture. I can't get enough of it.
What was the last script you read?
I read the Katherine Heigl movie that's going to be directed by Greg Berlanti ["Life As We Know It," a drama about two singles who become caregivers to an orphan girl]. It's something she's going to start in September. I can see her do it. They asked me to look at something and I am looking at it.
Are there any historical figures you'd still like to play?
Greta Garbo. I'd love to play her at the end of her life. I'm fascinated by Greta Garbo. My cat's named Greta and I have a framed photograph of her from 1949. I used to go to New York City and stand on her street and count the floors in her apartment building, and go "Greta lived there." She left the movies when she was about in her late 30s. She did not grow old. She spent a lot of time watching TV. She loved watching "Hollywood Squares." She loved watching Paul Lynde. She used to walk the streets of New York looking like a street person.
Any one you'd like to act opposite of?
I never thought I would work with Meryl Streep. I also love Cate Blanchett. I love Jennifer Saunders, the "Absolutely Fabulous" creator.
I would have thought you'd met her already.
We need to. I did a voice in the latest "Shrek." I hope she did too.
Who do you play?
An ogre named Gretchid. She walks the line between good and bad.
What's on your bed-stand table?
A book called the "Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class." I can fool people that I was educated. "I was schooled in England." It's 365 lessons. The first day is philosophy, then science. You can learn about Plato, then Cain and Abel, the Venus de Milo.
Weren't you actually educated in Illinois?
We didn't learn this ... in Illinois. I'm trying to round out my education.