Anna Chlumsky on “Inventing Anna” and fighting against algorithms

If you ask most New Yorkers, they remember where they were when the infamous New York magazine article about Anna Delvey (née Sorokin), the fake German heiress who conned the city’s elite and ended up in a cell on Rikers Island. But Anna Chlumsky, who plays the journalist who wrote this article, is not one of those people. “I came fresh,” she said O of his role on Invent Anna, the Netflix series that chronicles the saga of the writer chasing Delvey.

Most of the characters in Invent Anna closely match their real-life counterparts – Anna’s friends, her lawyer, etc. – but Chlumsky plays one of the game’s most invented players. As Vivian Kent, the proxy for journalist and live-action series producer Jessica Pressler, Chlumsky falls down the rabbit hole of Anna Delvey’s many tricks and manipulations. , reporting the story for fiction. manhattan magazine, while getting a little too close to the SoHo crook.

Chlumsky called O a few days before Invent Anna premiered on Netflix to discuss portraying one of Anna Delvey’s seemingly closest confidants, and the most surprising fact she learned about journalism playing someone who reports stories for a living .

How did you get involved in Invent Anna?

I was called in for what I thought was an AGM with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, while I was in Los Angeles for a day finishing up press for Veep. I read enough of the script to be absolutely intrigued and in love with the character and in love with what Shonda was doing with this story. She decided to let each character take her on a path of questions, a path of societal investigation. She left it messy and tied nothing to a bow, to allow anyone to be good or bad. I loved the facets she was engaging in and after that encounter I desperately wanted to play Vivian.

Have you read Jessica Pressler New York magazine item before this meeting?

I had not done it! I’m discovering, slowly and copiously, that I’m probably the only person who didn’t know the story before I got my hands on this material. [Laughs.]

Did it allow you to not bring preconceived ideas about these real people to the characters when preparing the series?

I felt lucky to have been able to discover everything as my character does.

Did you meet Jessica Pressler in real life and compare notes before filming?

That’s exactly what we did. She is a co-producer of our show. Some of our characters describe the match of their real-life counterpart very well, and some of them are fictional. Mine is fictional, but definitely inspired [by Jessica] because my character is the author of the article. The item is the match – we matched the item almost exactly. Jessica and I met at table reads, and I always thought it was really important to give her space to produce, but she really made herself available to me. I felt like I had the freedom to step in, to read his notes and his published works, so I could understand the voice. That’s how I got to jump into Vivian, because she cares so much about the written word and expresses herself through the written word, so I thought that would be my best conduit, and then I could check with Jessica.

When you and Jessica compared notes about being a journalist, what was the most shocking or intriguing fact you discovered about the occupation?

On a very practical level, with the algorithmic world that we find ourselves in, the content-dependent society that we find ourselves in right now, I hadn’t realized how difficult that makes those who love the profession of journalism. Because I had never done it, I didn’t even know what Chartbeat was before that, and I didn’t realize it could be so mind-boggling.

After watching the show and reading the article, why do you think Anna did what she did? What were his motives?

As we go through this show, our ideas and speculations often change. People call it a trick because that’s how it is, you’re emotionally wobbling all the time. It would be madness for me, Anna Chlumsky, who have never met Anna Delvey, to try to pretend to know. At the same time, as Anna Delvey would say, it’s a bit basic. [Laughs.] People want to be seen. It’s a real human thing! If you go to one of the sacred texts, the discipline of psychology, the myth, all of this is to be seen by the other. We can start there.

What was your favorite part of filming this series?

It’s hard to discern all the things I enjoyed about this project because I think they all worked in tandem. I just loved waking up and going to work on it every day. Professionally, we felt like we all knew everyone was good at what they did and nobody had to prove anything. Everyone was just there to do their best and to enjoy working together. Shonda and Shondaland lead in every way we hear they lead – they treat their people like people. They know they have lives and they respect that, and they know they get better work from their employees because of it. And I loved that it was in New York. It’s the first time that I don’t have to travel a huge distance for my job. I have to tuck in my kids!

You started acting as a kid, took a break to go to college and pursue other careers, before returning to acting, which found success on shows like Veep and Stop and catch fire. What do you think of this current period of your television career?

It is extremely gratifying. I love this job so much. It’s really interesting to start navigating the quarantine. 18 years ago I had a list of all the different Chekhov roles I was going to play. Now that I’m entering a different phase of my life, you’re starting to say, well, those Chekhov roles won’t be appropriate now, but now I can play those Roles of Chekhov! [Laughs.] It’s something I’m starting right now, because I’m in my early 40s. It has to be part of the human experience and the human condition, so I can’t wait to find out with the jobs I’ll have to do, and I don’t know which ones yet.

You were a teenager in the early to mid-1990s, so I have to ask you – did you watch yellow jackets again?

I have not done it yet ! I’m curious. Everyone I talk to loves it, so I guess I have to check it out! There’s so much to look at, that’s my problem. It was Academy season, so I burned movies, but people are going to come up with new shows, and I’m like, Oh my God!

What recent movies have you watched and enjoyed?

I loved Cathedral Squarethe Panama Academy submission, and I loved it Macbeth’s Tragedy, Are you kidding? I loved Cyrano! I didn’t expect it to be a musical and I let it take over me. I thought it was beautiful, and sincerity was the main idea – we need more sincerity. And Mass. I’m so proud of Fran Kranz and everyone involved. I recommend it to everyone.

Sharon D. Cole