Maya Rudolph, ‘Loot’ Creators on Making the Apple TV Billionaire Comedy – The Hollywood Reporter
Maya Rudolph wasn’t exactly seeking out her next television series. Then Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, with whom she’d made her last show, the afterlife dramedy Forever, reached out with an idea.
They’d been watching Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ longtime marriage to MacKenzie Scott implode when it came to them: What if they centered a series around the wife of a tech billionaire, who leaves her for another woman? The newly minted ex would need to start her life over, though without a prenup, she’d be doing so with $87 billion. Hubbard and Yang weren’t interested in making Loot, which debuts June 24 on Apple TV+, with anyone but Rudolph.
“Hubbard and I worked on shows like Parks and Rec and 30 Rock, and to unlock the chemistry between an ensemble cast in a workplace comedy usually takes time, it takes calibration in the writing and the performance, all that,” says Yang, “but when you have a No. 1 like Maya, who’s also a ‘glue person,’ a person who can make everyone better, it works. She’s also a singular talent, who can handle both hard comedy and emotional drama moments.”
Fortunately for Yang and Hubbard, Rudolph was intrigued by the theme of reinvention, particularly for a woman in her 40s whose life and identity had been so wrapped up in her husband’s. “And just how shitty it feels to have to restart your life,” she says, noting how many women she knows who, during the pandemic, have found themselves saying, “I want a change.”
Then the duo told her the couple didn’t have a prenup, and immediately Rudolph saw the possibilities. “I think I have this desire to do things that feel a little bit magical, and I felt like, ‘$87 billion? Oh, we can literally do anything,’” says the actress, who is also a producer on the series through her production company, Animal Pictures. “If you were sad, happy, depressed, interested in the environment, interested in any social or political anything, sky’s the limit, and I thought that was really, really exciting and felt good for right now.”
So, she signed on, starring as Molly Novak, the wife of tech mogul John Novak (played by Adam Scott), until he’s caught cheating with his assistant. She gets to keep the over-the-top mansion (for which the production used the 21-bedroom Bel Air property known as “The One,” which recently sold for $126 million), along with the many billions and a charitable foundation she barely knew she had. The series is considerably more comedy-forward than Forever by design, says Yang. Given the state of the world, he and Hubbard were eager to put out something that was “a little more positive, a little more fun to watch.”
Rudolph is joined by Nat Faxon, whom she’s known since her days in the Groundlings and recommended for the role, along with Michaela Jae Rodriguez (who runs said foundation), Joel Kim Booster (her character’s assistant) and Ron Funches (her cousin). Given the comedy horsepower of the ensemble, the actors would often start riffing once the scripted version had been shot. Take one particularly winning scene in episode three, in which Rudolph’s character appears on Hot Ones, the popular YouTube series that has host Sean Evans interviewing celebrities while they eat progressively spicier chicken wings. (Yang and Hubbard hadn’t yet seen Rudolph’s similarly winning Hot Ones sketch as Beyonce for Saturday Night Live when they proposed it.)
The writers had been toying around with a few ideas for talk shows that Rudolph’s characters could go on to address a recent P.R. crisis, but ultimately wanted to play it for big comedy. Yang, who had just met Evans, texted him with the idea. What made the final cut is an uproarious mix of what was on the page and what happens when you let Rudolph run wild. “I hate to use like a military metaphor,” says Hubbard, “but with Maya, you have the most powerful comedy gun in the world, you should fire it sometimes.”