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NPR Arts & Life

Janeane Garofalo And Lili Taylor: Returning To 'Marvin's Room'

Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo on <em>Ask Me Another. </em>
Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo on <em>Ask Me Another. </em>

Despite their similar career trajectories, Janeane Garofalo and Lili Taylor had never worked together before starring in the Broadway revival of the play Marvin's Room. "But it felt like it," Lili Taylor said, turning to her co-star on stage at the Bell House. Standing next to each other, Garofalo and Taylor seemed like they really could be sisters.

Set in the 1990s, Marvin's Room concerns a difficult family reunion. Taylor and Garofalo play sisters, Bessie and Lee, reuniting after being estranged for 18 years under difficult circumstances — Lee with her two troubled sons in tow, Bessie with the burden of a recent medical diagnosis. Though the subject is serious, the play doesn't treat its subjects gravely, and is frequently darkly funny. Taylor, a seasoned veteran actor, talked about what drew her to the story: "It felt very pure... there's an innocence to it." An innocence, she said, that might be lost if the play were to be modernized out of the 90s. And for two women whose big break came in the 90s, it can feel very comfortable — "Being in that world, it's like, oh my god... if only!" Taylor said.

Janeane Garofalo made her name as an "alt-comic," a scene she simply defined as "doing standup in a place that is an alternative to a proper comedy club. It's sort of stand-up-meets-storytelling." Garofalo's prominent role in that scene launched her into the cultural consciousness in the early 90s, including parts in the film Reality Bites and the TV series The Larry Sanders Show. Around the same time, Lili Taylor was quickly becoming the darling of the independent film scene and making her mark in Mystic Pizza and Say Anything.Since then, she has proved herself time and again to be singularly versatile, appearing in everything from dark comedies to horror films. So what does the woman who's played every role want more of, acting-wise? "I wish more women were in power, it kind of has to start there. We're a ways away from dealing with this bias. My [goal] is just to show all the different kinds of women that could exist. It's not just three types."

In a tribute to the many varied roles of Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo, we quizzed them on their own lines. We read a line from a work one of them starred in, and they buzzed in to tell us who said it!

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