“There’s something really scary about a mild-mannered sociopath.”
It’s Martha Kelly talking about her performance as Laurie, the eerily quiet and incredibly dangerous drug dealer Zendaya’s Rue merges with in season two of Euphoria.
“I don’t watch a lot of crime documentaries,” the comedian-turned-actress said, “but the ones where he’s a likeable sociopath, the damage they do is really terrifying. So yeah, he’s a character scary.”
In order to gain access to Laurie, Kelly said: “Unfortunately, but fortunately, I had very limited exposure to a very disturbed real drug dealer, but a predator, so [I just thought] how awful and scary it is to be with someone like that,” she said during the recent SAG-AFTRA Foundation Emmy Awards panel of nominees in the category of Best Guest Actress, drama. “But mostly just in the script and Sam [Levinson’s] directing and Zendaya, who is very good at playing Laurie’s fear. [And] I think Sam may have known someone who looks like this character. But I met someone who has no conscience.”
Other nominees on the panel included Hope Davis (Succession), Marcia Gay Harden (The morning show), Sanaa Lathan (Succession) and Harriet Walter (Succession). Lee Yoo-Mi, who was not present, is nominated in the category for squid game.
Unlike Laurie, one of the scariest characters of the 2021 TV season, Kelly is humble and hilarious. Although she is undoubtedly a bona fide actress – in addition to Euphoriashe appeared in Baskets, gas flash and Grace and Frankie– she still feels like a stranger watching. “I’ll just say I was very intimidated by Zendaya because she’s such a powerhouse. And she was really easy-going and very nice. I know it was probably awkward having someone like that nervous around of her. But she was lovely and now my niece and nephew are finally impressed with a job that I had which is exciting. It was intimidating but everyone was really nice so it ended up being as fun as possible considering the subject.”
She added: “I’m nervous most of the time, including during this [panel]. But with stand-up, I always know what I’m going to talk about and with acting, because I’ve only been doing it for a few years, I just show up knowing my lines and I show up on time, in a good mood, and then at least I know at least I do everything I can. And then the acting part, the director will either say that was awesome or can you try different, or worst case scenario they might say, Sorry, you’re fired, but at least if that happens, this won’t be because I missed something I could have tried harder… And it’s also a group effort, which is really fun.”
Of the other women on the panel, she revealed, “I’ll just say I’m more of a fan of all of you than what I would consider a pair, and so I would really like the nomination to be over because then everyone everyone feels really elated… I have such admiration for actors and feel a bit left out so it’s wonderful to be with you ladies I’m a fan and never expected to something like that. I love you all and I’m really happy to be here.”
“I don’t think we could do what you do,” Walter offered of stand-up comedy. “It’s a big gladiator business.”
“Exactly!” repeated Lathan.
To which Kelly replied, “I kept quiet because my cat Gary was walking around screaming.” (See for yourself in the video below.)
She added, “I’m not trying to belittle myself, but it’s a big deal. If you can have a career and longevity, that’s really amazing. But let’s say you get three acting jobs all your life, anyway. an amazing thing to do and so many people want to do it and can’t.”
The Emmy Awards air on NBC and air on Peacock on July 12.