Jenn Lyon has traded in her shotgun. The Justified actress - who broke Raylan Givens' heart as duplicitous bartender Lindsey Salazar last season - is now starring as Mackenzie Bradford-Lopez on freshman sitcom Saint George. BFTV chatted with Jenn last week about being on her third series with the same network, and what it's like to go from dating Timothy Olyphant to being the ex-wife of George Lopez.
"They've drawn up adoption papers now," she joked of her relationship with FX (she was in an episode of Louie before Justified). "I'm just glad to be working. It's kind of weird because Saint George shoots on the exact same lot that Justified did, and actually the exact same soundstage too. Lindsey's bar is the same place that George's living room [is]."
"It's interesting," she added. "Playing on Justified, those girls are like really badass, really tough, very little makeup. And then you go to play [this part]...there are these heels, clip-in extensions, eyelashes, shopping at Barney's. It's just absolutely different worlds. And I'm definitely more of a Justified girl. I've actually never been into Barney's!"
The ex-wives in sitcoms tend to be of the over-the-top, insufferable variety, so we asked Jenn how she's avoiding that trope with Mackenzie. "I think at times you might want to slap her," she laughed, "but I think what's important to remember is that she's coming from a place of love. They have a son together, and she wants to co-parent.
"She and George got together before they had two nickels to rub together, so it's not like she's just some Beverly Hills housewife," she continued. "They came up together. She helped him start his business. They have a real love for each other - and she really does find him funny. They love to joke with each other. Even when they fight each other, they take a delight in it."
What should we look forward to in the rest of the Saint George season? Jenn told us about an upcoming installment that she loved. "There's an episode where George starts dating this really rich woman, and there's an auction that I really want her to attend," she explained. "Mackenzie gets involved in all of these auctions for diseases such as anaphylaxis, and gluten allergies, and stuff like that. She has a tendency to funnel her anxieties into things that are not like earth-shattering at the moment, but little annoying things."
You might not have guessed it from her previous work, but comedy is actually right up Jenn's alley, as she belongs to a sketch comedy group. Check out their latest viral video, 'Movie Title Breakup,' in which she plays a woman ending a relationship using only movie titles, at the top of this article.
"I'm a really gifted physical comedienne. I write and produce a lot of sketch comedy," she told us. "My idols, I have a picture of Madeline Kahn, Judy Holliday and Bill Cosby in my bathroom. Judy, she won the Oscar for doing Born Yesterday, which is a play I've done twice. Madeline Kahn is my comedic idol and Bill Cosby is my other comedic idol."
She's also recognizable from having played Georgia, the sister of Dallas Royce (played by Cheryl Hines), on ABC's Suburgatory. Did Jenn have to study what was going on with Dallas in order to play her sibling? "I tried to," she said. "As soon as I found I was playing her sister, I wanted to watch the show and figure out what's going on. That's my jam and my privilege.
"I'm such a fan of Cheryl's," she continued. "I think she's so badass, and such a great actress and comedienne. I was just so honored to work with her. And the show's so good. Emily Kapnek's such a great writer, producer, creator. It was a gift to have that material."
Having successfully transitioned from untrustworthy barmaid to high-strung ex-wife and mother, Jenn is showing off her versatility on the small screen. And there's a lot more that the theatre veteran can do. "I'm kind of a jack of all trades. I have played all kinds of roles in the theater," she said. "I have a tendency for Southern women, like the Tennessee Williams type, but I also can play anything from a high-powered lawyer to a nervous 1950's housewife."
Right now, she's enjoying her TV success. "This is a real dream for me. I don't take it for granted at all. I've been at it for a decade, and to be able to build upon that theatre work, and to have some film and TV work under my belt now, and keep it going would be fantastic," Jenn told us. "I just hope I'm allowed to stay in the game and be funny."
Saint George airs Thursdays at 9 PM ET/PT on FX. For more on Jenn Lyon, be sure you're following her on Twitter (@missjennlyon).