Natasha Lyonne Told Us Why She Reckons Mystery Fans Will Fkn Froth Stan’s New Series Poker Face

“That really is what makes me happiest, thinking about storytelling and how to do it in new ways and how to pull stuff from the old ways,” Natasha Lyonne tells me about stepping behind the camera.

The actress who’s been blessing our screens with iconic roles for years has just released her latest banger, a Stan Original Series called Poker Face in which she plays the lead role and also serves as Executive Producer.

Poker Face is a 10-episode mystery-of-the-week series that follows Charlie Cale (Lyonne), a gritty gal with a remarkable gift for sussing if someone is lying. She embarks on an epic road trip and with each stop, she meets a new cast of characters and kooky crimes that she feels compelled to solve.

In addition to Lyonne, the series stars a fuck ton of icons including Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Chloë Sevigny (American Psycho), Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality), Ellen Barkin (Animal Kingdom), Nick Nolte (Cape Fear), Cherry Jones (The Village), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer), Judith Light (Who’s The Boss?), Lil Rel Howery (Get Out), Jameela Jamil (Stan Exclusive series Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin) and Australia’s Danielle MacDonald (Stan Original Series The Tourist).

Prior to the release of the series (it’s out now, btw!), I jumped on a Zoom call with the raspy voiced legend to chat about everything from this absolute slay of a show to her future career goals.

On the creation of Poker Face

Riann [Johnson] and I started kicking around ideas and one thing led to another and these conversations kept happening and then eight months later he actually sent the script to me. That’s the greatest love letter you can receive because that means it just got serious!

“It was so much better than everything we talked about because it was completely original. And by that point we were friends because we spent a year kicking it around and talking about our favourite things and what this show could be. Then we spent another year working on it and figuring out who’s gonna be in it and all the other directors. It’s been a beautiful experience to get to work with him in this way.”

Natasha Lyonne in sick new series, Poker Face. (Credit: Stan)

On why fans will fkn froth it

“Riann has established himself as the master of the puzzle box and I love when he says, “It’s a how-catch-em, not a whodunnit.” And I just think that format is really fun and satisfying for an audience. It’s almost like a card trick where you’re saying, “Hey, look! This is your card, right? It’s all right here, you can see everything.” And then all of a sudden, a piece of magic comes out and it just is a really fun feeling.

“It’s a bit like being on a rollercoaster or something, you know? Because it’s all right there. You can see it before you sit down in the seat and you sort of know something wild is gonna happen. But it’s not until your stomach drops out that you really have the experience of having lived through it.”

On working with Riann Johnson

“It felt like we were at the beginning of what could become one of those 20 year artistic collaborations, I hope. I just felt really safe and inspired by him. He’s such a beautiful writer and director and exactly the kind of guy I want to spend time with in that capacity.

“I think it’s about who you’re getting to do it with more so than even which particular job you’re doing at the moment. Because, for example, Rian came to the edit on Russian Doll to give me notes. And then I had the opportunity to see an early cut of Glass Onion and I also, of course, make a brief cameo. And so it all starts to feel like a body of work.”

On working with Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph

“Amy is such a funny person. She’s such a deep person. And [working with her], I really discovered it was a shift from almost being like a dark, rebellious teenager to somebody who also was enjoying the possibility of light in all that darkness, you know, and in starting the production company [Animal Productions] with Maya Rudolph, it was the same.

“Those are two of the most heavyweight human beings you’ll ever meet. But when we laugh in the middle of a high stakes budget conversation, it’s just so joyous, and it feels like, surely there’s something about the meaning of life or like, we’re in the right place right now. There was a beauty to that collaboration that felt really safe.”

Natasha Lyonne is literally the coolest person on earth. (Credit: Stan)

On stepping behind the camera

“It really has been a happy and productive creative time. I think I was always this person, I just didn’t really have the opportunity. I’ve been acting since I was five years old and then I was at film school at Tisch in the Film and Philosophy programme and I was a double major and I wanted to read all these philosophy books, and then write and direct movies about them that would be sort of [Ingmar] Bergman-esque but still funny and, you know, maybe still act? But mostly, I think I really felt like I’d done a decade of acting and it was time to get behind the camera.”

[Editor’s note: Ingmar Bergman is a Swedish filmmaker.]

On reaching icon status

“Oh, does that mean I’m getting old?

“[laughs] I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding. Listen, first of all I’m just grateful to still be working. [Being an icon] is not bad. It’s funny. Mostly, it’s funny. As somebody who’s been around for so long, it’s funny that when people have decided that they do like you and you’re having kind of a streak, then all of a sudden, all the things that they previously didn’t like about you are celebrated.

“So it’s just sort of funny to watch, you can’t take it too seriously. But my real goal is to end up like an ancient Bette Davis on The Dick Cavett Show. So hopefully this is helping me land there.”

The first four episodes of Stan Original Series Poker Face are now streaming only on Stan.