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Jane Lynch on Christopher Guest's 'Mascots' mockumentary, secret to improvising

Jane Lynch arrives on the red carpet for the film Mascots during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. The former "Glee" star says she logged scenes for her new Netflix comedy "Mascots" on the weekends, in the same way she shoots her hosting gig on "Hollywood Game Night." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
October 11, 2016 - 9:00 AM

TORONTO - Consider comic actress Jane Lynch a weekend warrior.

The former "Glee" star says she logged scenes for the new Christopher Guest mockumentary "Mascots" on the weekends, in the same way she shoots her hosting gig on "Hollywood Game Night."

It was because she was also working on her short-lived sitcom "Angel From Hell" at the time, and much of the rest of the sprawling "Mascots" cast similarly had competing jobs.

Perhaps that's why it took 10 years for writer-director Guest to again assemble his regular collaborators — including Lynch, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey and Fred Willard — who also featured in the farces "A Mighty Wind," "Best in Show" and most recently "For Your Consideration"?

"I have no idea," Lynch says during a whirlwind stop to preview the film at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

"That's always Chris's call. Every time we do a movie, he's always said at the end, 'Ah, that's it, I'm done. I'm not going to do it again.' And then two or three years later you'd hear from him. But we went 10 years this time. So I thought it was really over. I'm very happy we did another one."

In "Mascots," which premieres Thursday on Netflix, the action centres on the outlandish world of sports mascots, a surprisingly competitive arena of sweaty fur suits and giant wobbling heads.

Guest trains his lens on a series of top mascots from around the world as they prepare to compete for the World Mascot Association's prestigious top honour — the Golden Fluffy.

Guest himself pops up as Corky St. Clair, the flamboyant small-town theatre director from 1997's "Waiting for Guffman."

Lynch plays Gabby Monkhouse, whose alter ego Minnie the Moose was lead cheerleader for a junior college baseball team. Gabby has retired from the sport, but remains in the spotlight thanks to a bestselling inspirational book and a regular gig judging the high-profile championship.

There are some new faces in the pack, including "Silicon Valley" star Zach Woods and "Louie"'s Sarah Baker as a married mascots couple who squabble on and off the field, and "Bridesmaids" comic Chris O'Dowd, who plays an Irish lout now working in Winnipeg as a boorish hockey mascot known as the Fist.

Canadian regulars Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are notably absent from the cast, but that's only because they were busy working on their CBC-TV sitcom "Schitt's Creek," says Lynch.

Guest and longtime collaborator Jim Piddock provided the cast with a detailed outline of the story and characters — but no dialogue, says Lynch.

It's always risky to improvise dialogue, says Lynch, who adds that she and co-star Ed Begley Jr. did not speak before shooting their scenes.

For Lynch, preparation was key.

"The great thing about these movies is there's no obligation to get to the point. (Guest) really wants you to linger and don't feel obliged to talk or make anything happen. Just be firmly rooted in your character, so that's why our work is done before we even start shooting," says the veteran comic.

"We create these characters and their soul in their bodies ... because you can't improvise if you haven't made up your mind about who the character is. You have to really be specific and get it into your body and your heart and your mind and then you show up."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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