Natasha Lyonne on Quitting Cigs, Being in Her 40s: ‘It’s so Much Cooler, It’s so Much Sexier’
When many think of the perennially-cool Natasha Lyonne — her take-no-bullshit attitude, her wonderfully deep, raspy voice that flavors several of the quirky characters she has played, her New York accent — her penchant for smoking has gone hand-in-hand (it even spawned an Instagram account featuring Lyonne relishing cigarettes in a series of photographs that might make an ex-smoker yearn for a drag). Now, the 43-year-old actress said she has quit, and along with turning over that new leaf, she talked about how her roles have expanded as she’s cultivated her career in a new story for Variety’s “The Power of Women” issue.
“It might be a symptom of being in a pretty decent place,” she modestly told the magazine of her reason for quitting. “In a way, I want to meet that artistically and emotionally. I want to return the favor and say, ‘OK, maybe I’ll sign up for life for a little bit longer.’”
Her “pretty decent place” is a career renaissance as Variety notes, having emerged from a string of Nineties indie films to then co-create and star in Netflix’s Russian Doll, the surreal comedy-drama in which Lyonne relives her 36th birthday (and also keeps dying) in the first of its two seasons thus far as she tries to piece together what is happening. She also stars as Charlie Cale in the murder mystery series Poker Face, which Peacock has renewed for a second season.
“People have suddenly become receptive to my eccentricity and idiosyncrasy,” she said. “It’s a real curiosity that when I turned 40, people were like, ‘We’re down for this.’”
She added that even after the series’ successes, people were still not knocking down her doors to work with her. She said it’s different when men are the ones who write, direct, and executive produce: “Everybody comes out of the woodwork to be like, ‘How many new roles can we give you?’”
But for a woman, “I think it’s the inverse. When women are doing a lot of those jobs, that can feel intimidating,” she told Variety. “With all the excitement of Russian Doll Season 1, [Knives Out and Glass Onion writer-director] Rian [Johnson] was the only person who came to me saying, ‘I really want to come up with something for us to do together’ — and then he followed through.”
Lyonne is also enjoying her growth beyond her career, and going for what she wants and deserves.
“Being in your 40s is so much better than being in your fucking 20s and 30s. It’s so much cooler. It’s so much sexier,” she said. “My romantic life is more happening. Back then, I was waiting to be selected. Once you’re in your 40s, you’re like, ‘Who am I attracted to?’ We’re all going to die, right? So I better get my living in quick.”