Busy tonight: Hollywood veteran and Instagram sensation Busy Philipps has found a new platform to have her say
Hollywood veteran and Instagram sensation Busy Philipps has found a new platform to have her say,
BUSY Philipps walks on stage for E! network’s international press panel, still glued to her mobile phone.
Answering questions about her new late-night talk show, Busy Tonight, on the backlot of Universal Studios, she answers in that rapid-fire, soundbite way it seems all Americans do.
Confident, yet slightly agitated as she fusses with the thigh-high split of her Rachel Comey floral dress, she looks, well, busy.
Her energy is hyperactive, while her candour about “the feast and famine” of her 20year career is refreshing.
She knows most people in this audience would recognise her from Dawson’s Creek, the teen series where she met her best friend and red carpet buddy, Michelle Williams, back in 2001.
Or maybe they were fans of Freaks and Geeks, her breakthrough role at age
19, which she put back on everyone’s radar recently, when she alleged in her new book, This Will Only Hurt A Little, that her co-star James Franco had physically assaulted her on set.
Perhaps they’d checked her Instagram stories, where for the past few years her
1.4 million followers have been entertained and engaged by her mix of reluctant workout videos; wine and whine sessions on everything from US politics to the seismic shift which has recently hit Hollywood; as well as hilarious parenting moments with her screenwriter husband Marc Silverstein and their two daughters – Birdie, 10, and Cricket, 5.
It’s these short social media films that helped Philipps find her tribe, and Tina Fey’s production company Little Stranger seek her out about working together on developing a TV project.
The 39-year-old didn’t much like what Fey first had in mind, but – as she writes in her book – believed she “was possessed by the ghost of latenight pioneer Merv Griffin,” and so pitched herself as host of her own show.
As she saw it, with all that was going wrong in the world, she wanted “to just chat about fun, dumb stuff and like, chill,” she says with a laugh.
“And to hear some celebrities talk about fun stuff,” she adds, making good on that with guests so far including Julia Roberts, Kristen Bell and Mindy Kaling.
“It’s not without its moments of having teeth … but it’s my goal to really put as much positivity out into the world right now as I can.”
The lounge room set was inspired by her love of ’90s sitcoms; and she often slips into a “fancy dress women in Malibu wear” which her children call “Mr Nightdress.” Oh, and there are spicy margaritas for stars to sip on as they chat.
But when I play devil’s advocate and ask if she risks being dismissed as the frivolous female in this timeslot – when her male counterparts have made some powerful statements on President Donald Trump during their “political deep dive” of the day’s news – she fires up.
“Actually,” she says, making rare eye contact, “my whole feeling about myself as a feminist anyway, is that my being a feminist doesn’t mean that I need to behave like a man. My being a feminist means I need to embrace the very female parts of myself and celebrate those. I sort of
rail against the idea that the only way to be taken seriously is to emulate what men do. And I don’t think it’s frivolous. I don’t think the things women care about are frivolous. I think it deserves its own platform.”
Finding her voice “predated” #MeToo and the Time’s Up movement, but she admits her own painful history has been triggered by the Trump era.
“I think there was a collective shift of consciousness and for me it timed more to Donald Trump taking the world stage as he did because with his election I felt, as a survivor of sexual assault, as a woman, that I was being given the message that there was a large part of this country that just doesn’t f---ing care about me. Doesn’t care about my experience, or they’re willing to set aside blatant misogyny and sexism for their own personal interest and to me that was my breaking point. I just couldn’t comprehend it. I didn’t think that that would be true,” she despairs.
With other viewers like her looking to escape at the end of the day, she quite literally is offering a soothing lullaby of a show – singing a song every night. “It’s OK to care about refugee children being held at the borders and then also do a face mask and like, have fun,” she says. “Otherwise your brain is going to break. We’re reaching a point where so many people feel so overwhelmed by world events that they’re having a hard time sort of unplugging from it. I wanted this show to be a little, nice moment at the end of your day where you can relax, have a glass of wine and chill the f--- out.” BUSY TONIGHT 10PM, MONDAY-THURSDAY, FOXTEL’S E!
Above, Busy Philipps wears her “Mr Nightdress” on the set of her late-night talk show Busy Tonight; below, with one of her high-profile guests Kristen Bell.