19Danielle Macdonald and Bridget Everett star in Patti Cake$
A fixture of downtown Manhattan, Bridget Everett has steadily made a name for herself with some hilarious performances you wouldn’t want your mother to see. A frequent performer at Joe’s Pub, she’s made memorable appearances in Lady Dynamite, Inside Amy Schumer and Trainwreck. A bold lyricist, her songs are known for their outrageous nature.
Her latest film takes the actress and singer out of her element for a slightly more dramatic role with depth. Stripping away the crude humor of her previous roles, she embodies the pain and passion of an artist and a mother. It’s a raw performance that puts Everett on a whole new playing field.
In Patti Cake$, she plays Barb, the mother of a young woman who rises above her Jersey roots to chase her dreams of being a rapper. Having left behind a music career herself, Barb takes to the drinks and the karaoke at the local dive bar. As her daughter fights for her shot, a spark begins to reignite in Barb.
We recently spoke with Everett about the New York arts scene, Sister Act and her maternal instincts.
Danielle Macdonald and Bridget Everett star in Patti Cake$
You’re a Kansas girl but you’ve lived in New York for a while. Did the Jersey accent come easily?
Not at all. They gave us a dialect coach, and he was very patient and sweet. So, I just listened to those tapes on repeat.
Did you hang out with the locals to get to know what the town was like?
I would say that while the accent and geography were similar to New York, it was really more like being from a small town in Kansas. You know, a small city bar is a small city bar. In a small town, people are trying to get ahead. And the pain you see of the people in those bars is universal I think.
You’re known for your very outrageous comedy. What was it like doing such a serious and dramatic role?
It was really cool. It’s nice to shake things up but it’s also very challenging. I’m not a trained actor by any stretch. Geremy (Jasper) saw me singing on Inside Amy Schumer, and I’m running around the room, motorboating people. And he’s like, “Hey, I think you should play the mom in my movie.” (LAUGHS) If that’s what you think, who am I to tell you no? So, I did it. She’s definitely a hard-drinking, given up on life, had some real hard knocks, and doesn’t always know how to communicate love, and that’s something I can relate to.
As a singer, did the struggle hit a nerve on a personal level?
Yea, a hundred percent. The feeling of not believing enough in yourself to go for it all the way, as far as she’s gotten is being a good singer at a karaoke bar. I can relate to that. I didn’t really start having real success until about two years ago. So, I have been in her shoes, and I know how it feels. Sometimes singing is the only thing that can lift you up.
Danielle Macdonald stars in Patti Cake$
You had such an amazing chemistry with Danielle Macdonald. What was it like working with her?
She is so warm and open, and I instantly felt maternal with her, which is so crazy because I’m not a mother. I’ve been pregnant many times but I am not a mother. (LAUGHS) She just put me at ease, and it was hard being mean to her because she’s so lovely. It’s easy to disappear in her and with her.
Have you had any mentors or maternal figures that have helped you in your career?
Yea, I had a college voice teacher who meant the world to me. I felt like I was trying to figure out what kind of singer I want to be, and she had a great deal of faith in me. There has been a great deal of gay men along the way. Michael Patrick King, I consider him my mentor. It’s just really nice when somebody believes in you when you can’t find it in yourself.
Having come up in the New York creative scene, have you learned something that you feel you can’t really learn in LA or Hollywood?
One hundred percent, if there was no New York, there would be no Bridget Everett. And I mean that as Bridget Everett, the performer. There’s just a sort of lawlessness that exists in the downtown performance scene that is just inspiring you and pushing you to really go to the extremes to find yourself as a performer. When I first came to New York, I would see Kiki & Herb and Murray Hill and Sweetie, my favorite drag queen who recently passed. Everybody was sort of wild but completely themselves in this large, sort of off-the-rails, kinda of dangerous way, and I knew that was where I wanted to be and how I was gonna find myself as a performer.
Patti Cake$ is a very inspirational, follow-your-dreams kind of movie. What’s something you’d tell young actors or singers who might need that inspiration?
I would say trust your instincts and trim the fat. If you have anybody out there that doesn’t support you 100%, move on. Find a great support system, and keep giving yourself shots. Fuck up, fail and get better.
Is there a follow-your-dreams movie you love to watch every now and then?
Well if you’re asking if my favorite movie is Rudy, then yes. (LAUGHS) I think people love that movie and they hate it. He’s a dreamer. And it’s the same thing with like Sister Act. In that movie, she just goes against her wishes because she’s got to sing. These are my favorite kind of movies about dreamers and people going against the odds. I could watch those movies on a loop, and I do.
Patti Cake$ premieres Friday, August 18. Watch the trailer below: