With a best-selling memoir, a beloved podcast and an insanely popular Instagram account, Busy Philipps was ready to quit acting for good when Tina Fey came along and offered her one of the four lead roles in this summer’s breakout comedy hit Girls5eva.
On this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, Philipps opens up about two decades in the entertainment industry that haven’t always been easy, from the intense pressure that came with her early days on Freaks and Geeks and Dawson’s Creek to her prematurely canceled late-night talk show Busy Tonight on E!
She also explains why her best friend Michelle Williams stays far away from social media, shares her reaction to Seth Rogen’s decision to stop working with James Franco and explains why she doubts any of Hollywood’s predators will ever “fuck with” her again.
Philipps can pinpoint the moment she didn’t want to be a professional actor anymore. It was 2017 and NBC decided not to pick up a Tina Fey-produced pilot she was starring in with Casey Wilson and Bradley Whitford. “That was when I was like, I’m done. I don’t want to act anymore,” she tells me. “It was just, like, ‘Enough! What is this business?!’”
“I did feel like I hit the end of the road creatively,” the actress, who turns 42 this week, admits. “I really struggled with this industry and the systems in place and so many things that just felt fundamentally stacked against me from the beginning.” It wasn’t that she wasn’t getting the acting jobs she wanted so much as that “the jobs didn’t exist,” she explains. “What jobs? Like, oh, three lines as Jennifer Garner’s best friend?”
Philipps had stopped auditioning altogether when she got the offer from Fey to play Summer, one fourth of a ’90s girl group attempting a comeback in their forties alongside two musical superstars in Sara Bareilles and Renée Elise Goldsberry and certified comedy genius Paula Pell.
It almost sounded too good to be true, like a parody show that would have existed within 30 Rock, she jokes. “This is a dream,” she thought to herself before jumping at the opportunity.
Turns out, she wasn’t done after all.
Listen to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.