ANGELS – Known for her quick and wise delivery, Natasha Lyonne’s new role on the Peacock series “Poker Face” gives her the opportunity to play a character with a personality trait she’s never played before. Lyonne’s character, Charlie, loves people.

    Charlie still has zingers, but Lyonne says the character is partly inspired by Jeff Bridges’ famous character, The Dude, in “The Big Lebowski.”

    He’s “a somewhat withdrawn person who has the sun on his face,” Lyonne said. “I’m usually more of a city dweller and someone who avoids getting hit by taxis and running around on the subway.”

    Creator Rian Johnson adds, “Charlie is very open. She’s very sunny. This kind of stuff blew Natasha’s mind. She’s like, ‘Oh, this will be a new thing for me to play. I love people.’ Natasha’s natural kind of acidity and sharpness of personality, combined with a character that has a genuinely sunny outlook… I find it super watchable.

    “Poker Face” is a mystery series, so it fits Johnson’s wheelhouse, as writer, director of “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion.”

    Charlie has a great ability to automatically know when someone is lying. After the events of the first episode send her on the run from a mob boss and his enforcer – played by Benjamin Bratt – she sets off in her car to drive… away from trouble. In each standalone episode, Charlie encounters new people, murder, and, of course, lies, all of which make him want to figure out what happened.

    Johnson describes it as a howdunit and unabashedly procedural.

    “We follow the same format with every episode. We show the murder, then we go back and see where Charlie was during the murder. We catch up with the murder, and then she solves it. Keeping that procedural consistency was a big, big deal. .for me because when I watch TV, part of what I love is hanging out with the same friends over and over again It’s a heartwarming pattern to get a new thrill from something I know what to expect each week. joy in this… I completely embrace it.”

    As Charlie encounters a new mystery every week, there’s a revolving door of notable guest stars throughout the 10-episode first season, including Lil Rey Henry, Tim Meadows, Luis Guzman, Chloe Sevigny, and even Nick Nolte – who appears in an episode that Lyonne directed, which she described as a “sensational” experience.

    “Strong recommendation for literally everyone. Now, okay, this could get messy because Nick likes someone who’s pretty serious, but yeah, I’d say I’d recommend him to all fans.”

    Lyonne describes acting in front of so many guest stars as generally great and seems amused by those who were perhaps more difficult.

    “Sometimes someone walks in and it’s really happy. It’s like making music with this really cool musician that you didn’t know you were going to play so well with. Other times it’s like, “Oh, wow, so this person just doesn’t memorize their lines. OK, it’s going to be a long, long day.” It’s kind of a mixed bag sometimes. I’d say the caliber of people that we’ve been able to bring together is definitely, maybe like 99% really, really great. There were a few of them saying, ‘This is a sticky affair.’ You never know, you never know.

    Another reason Charlie is able to pick up on something that seems off is that she pays attention to those around her and likes outsiders, those who are ignored or rejected by others.

    “Charlie is always going to have his sympathy for the little guy, who looks like Columbo in some way,” Johnson said.

    It’s a trait that also attracts Lyonne, both personally and professionally. She has a production company, “Animal Pictures”, with Maya Rudolph; Lyonne and Rudolph co-produce “Poker Face” with Rudolph’s Apple TV+ comedy, “Loot.” The production company was also behind Lyonne’s popular “Russian Doll” series on Netflix. Lyonne says she gravitates around creative people, including her friends Jenji Kohan (who created “Orange Is the New Black”), Amy Poehler, Clea DuVall and Janicza Bravo, and there’s joy in creating content for “the misfits and strangers”.

    “We kind of go on a trip together. You communicate with the weird kids at the back of the class because, you know, they’re watching stuff too.”

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