“Abbott Elementary” stars Lisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti on playing 'at the speed of fun'

“Abbott Elementary” stars Lisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti on playing 'at the speed of fun'

Plus, "One Day" stars Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod look back on their adaptation anxieties and landing these coveted roles.

Lisa Ann Walter and her Abbott Elementary costar Chris Perfetti "could literally be family," she acknowledges.

"You better believe the moment Abbott says 'goodnight,' that'll be a top priority of mine," Walter continues on EW's The Awardist podcast.

"A show where we play relatives?" he asks. "I'm down a hundred percent."

There's an ease to these two during our virtual chat, something that comes with filming dozens of episodes of a TV comedy together. It's surely part of the reason series creator Quinta Brunson and the show's writers decided that Perfetti's Jacob should rent a spare room from Walter's Melissa after his breakup in the show's third season. It's one of the many things Abbott did to shake things up for these teachers during its abbreviated, post-Hollywood strikes installment, leaning more and more into the actors' strengths — and perhaps, along the way, starting to marry their personalities with the characters'.

<p>Gilles Mingasson/Disney</p> Chris Perfetti and Lisa Ann Walter on 'Abbott Elementary'

Gilles Mingasson/Disney

Chris Perfetti and Lisa Ann Walter on 'Abbott Elementary'

Related: Abbott Elementary's Chris Perfetti reacts to Drag Race queen Plasma comparisons: 'Love that!'

"It's so weird playing a character this long, which is something I never really sought out or expected.... The character is so close to us now that it's just so easy to go there," Perfetti says when asked how much of themselves are in Jacob and Melissa. "If you had asked me that a couple years ago, I would've said the percentage is infinitely smaller than it probably is now. One of the beauties of making something from scratch and being a part of something from its inception and development is you get to kind of trust that it is you. Quinta obviously had very specific, well-drawn characters, but she also leaned on us to be like, who is that? Who could this person be? So yeah, weirdly, the line where Chris and Jacob and Lisa and Melissa, it's all sort of blending together a bit."

"When I play Melissa, it's a little green umbrella-ish. It's a little method-y," Walter adds. "She dresses different than I do — except the hoop earrings; that's both of us. She's certainly got a lot more hair. She's more masculine. She sits different — when I get that wardrobe on, I sit different; I become more Melissa. And the accent also adds to that. What I find really gratifying is how shocked people are when they hear me speak, and I'm not Melissa accent."

One of the series' true gems is when the ensemble gathers for a fast-paced scene where the dialog volleys between cast members (above). In season 3, it's when they admit their various vices in the teachers' lounge after catching a student with cigarettes.

"We knew doing it how hard that was going to hit, and we loved it. We loved doing that, all of us together," Walter says of those sequences. "There was another scene that was similar and it was way at the beginning of the season. We hadn't worked together in a while, and it was like starting a cold car. You've been on vacation, the car takes a while to turn. Am I going to have to jump this bitch? No — it took a minute, but then we were cooking."

Related: Bette Midler wants to play Melissa's mom on Abbott Elementary: 'If you see Quinta Brunson, please tell her'

"I had a drama school teacher who used to say, 'This is when the play is happening at the speed of fun,'" Perfetti recalls. "It's really in those moments where I feel like we get to show all of the colors of our show. There's such an air of improvisation, and you're in that flow state. We're so lucky that we have the same camera operators from the first season who are truly brilliant artists, and there's this weird kind of symbiosis — it's not weird, it's beautiful — but they can tell where we're going and we can tell where they're going. So there's all of these gorgeous opportunities to catch something that you might not have otherwise caught, and to play the music very quickly."

Will it lead to a gorgeous opportunity to add to their Emmy nomination tally, currently at 15 — with four wins? Last year, Walter celebrated missing out on a nomination by eating her feelings. Quite literally. But, she assures, it was all in jest.

"First of all, it was an incredibly stacked category, and I loved everybody that was nominated. Everybody's got their little horserace thing of who should be nominated. [Jessica Williams] got nominated for Shrinking — we were kind of neck and neck on that spot. I love that show. I love her. There isn't any piece of me that's like, 'It should have been me,'" she says. "I had already ordered the cake, and it turned out that the thing that we had ordered it for wasn't going to happen — it was a thing for the cast — and then I literally was like, to hell with it then. I love cake. I don't drink anymore. Cake is my thing. So I just thought it would be funny to write, 'Eat Your Feelings,' and dive into it."

She adds: "Please don't get me wrong, I have had the speech planned since I was probably 15. I'm ready to go."

Related: Lisa Ann Walter worried women would 'hate' her Abbott Elementary character for becoming 'kind of a hoe’

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best in TV.

<p>ABC; Netflix</p>

ABC; Netflix

Also on the Awardist podcast, another duo — One Day stars Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod — look back on their rom-dram limited series. Based on the David Nicholls book of the same name (which was previously made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess), Woodall — a breakout star of The White Lotus season 2 — says he knew they were in safe hands with series creator Nicole Taylor despite the "great sense of anticipation" by fans.

"I'd only really been in one other thing before that I knew people were going to watch and that would have nothing to do with me," he explains. "There were many moments where I'd think, 'This is going to be really good. It just needs to have an audience.' So when the show came out and it got, honestly, a far bigger audience than we had anticipated, it was a really special thing."

Many in the audience knew how the story was going to go — and they recorded their live reaction for social media while watching a devastating moment in the series' penultimate episode, when Mod's Emma gets hit while on her bike just after she and Dexter have committed themselves to each other. A heart-breaking moment, without question — but Mod says a different one had a bigger impact on her while filming.

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in 'One Day'

Courtesy of Netflix

Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in 'One Day'

"The scenes of episode 14 felt much more gut-wrenching than filming that particular death scene because that death scene was so practical and there were lots of moving parts," she recalls. "There were dummies and stunt doubles and stunt drivers, and there were so many different things happening on that day."

Related: Inside the making of Netflix's poignant, beautiful One Day adaptation

In an Elle magazine interview released just after the series' debut in February, Mod commented that she didn't necessarily see herself in the role because, "People who look like me aren't romantic leads." She's still not sure if her work in the series has changed anything for herself or other actors of color.

"It's really hard to answer that because I don't really have any point of reference. I've not played romantically before. I've not done a show of this scale — a streamer show. So this feels like a step up from the work I've done before," she says. "It is really hard to tell what's coming my way and why that stuff is coming my way. I wonder with Emma specifically, I am not sure if it's so much the rom-com element of it, the romantic heroine element of it, rather than just the fact that both she and Dex are two incredibly complex, fallible characters over 20 years. Even if you take the rom-com out of it, it was just a brilliant platform for me and Leo to be able to showcase what we can do and to really dig deep."

She continues: "I hope that that is what people are noticing rather than the fact that like, oh yeah, brown girls can play romantic leads. 'That's nice. Now let's send her loads of romantic comedies to do.' More so what I am hoping is the takeaway [is] the fact that I want to be sent roles that are just as interesting, just as complex, just as challenging in projects that are on a similar level rather than specifically the romantic comedy side of it."

<p>Netflix</p> Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in 'One Day'


Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in 'One Day'

And while casting directors hadn't even seen Woodall yet on The White Lotus given he was still filming it during auditions for One Day, he still credits that HBO juggernaut for helping him land this role.

"I always just say that it did because I've had [casting director] Rachel Sheridan and producers tell me otherwise, and it's very sweet and I'm sure they mean it, but I also think that I'd hit a pot of fortune getting Lotus and One Day was just, I couldn't have timed it more perfectly," he explains. "So at the end of the day, I always feel incredibly lucky that it worked out the way it did. I think I earned the role. I think Ambika would agree that we got put through the ringer in our audition process.... I think the way this field of work can go is that it's a bit of a domino effect, and I was lucky to be riding one of them in that moment, but it was a whole other new challenge to come and do One Day."

Listen to the full interviews with Walter and Perfetti, and Woodall and Mod, on the Awardist podcast episode below.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.