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April 10, 2008

Tina Fey on Top

Tina Fey, star of 30 Rock and Baby Mama, tells Amy Poehler what it's like to be a huge star — from ignoring underlings to playing pranks like Cloons and Damon.

tina fey posing for the cover shoot with marie claire

Tina Fey

Photo Credit: Ruven Afanador

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I am in 30 Rock — the building, not the show — trying to find Tina Fey, whom I'm supposed to interview. It's taken hours. After giving three passwords, I finally spot her surrounded by a phalanx of hip-hop dancers and bodyguards. Eventually Fey breaks from the group, mounts a Pilates Cadillac, and starts working out. I pull up a chair next to the machine and begin.

AMY POEHLER: I have a couple of things I want to ask you about. You were homeschooled, correct?
TINA FEY: Um, no. I was school-schooled.

AP: And you grew up in the North Pole?
TF: Pennsylvania. Did you Google me? Is that how you got your information?

AP: Yeah. Is your name Karen Felcher?
TF: Um, no, although I can see why you're confused, because that is my porn name.

AP: Okay, then I'm going to start again. We're in a movie together coming out this month called Baby Mama. Tell everyone what it's about. And please, do it right.
TF: It's about a lady — a business lady — who wants to have a baby, but her junk is broken, so she calls upon the services of another, healthier lady to be her surrogate. You play that lady, and your character is a little bit of a charming dirtbag, so complications and delights ensue.

AP: And we have some very great actors in this film with us. Who are they?
TF: Sigourney Weaver. Steve Martin. Gregorias Kinnear. This is going to sound like a lie and a fib, but those people actually are in this movie.

AP: Tell us about the fashion shoot you had to do for Marie Claire. How did that go?
TF: I was very unhappy with the clothing selections they had for me, so I ended up making most of the clothes myself.

AP: Amazing. There are a lot of stories about you peeing in corners when you go on a photo shoot to mark your territory. Is that right?
TF: Yes. Yes, it is.

AP: What are your beauty rituals?
TF: Some people work with a trainer, some people work with a stylist. I work with a celebrity fecalist. A fecalist is basically a person who comes and collects my stools, and then examines them to see if I'm eating right and if I should be drinking more water and what my moods should be.

AP: And you're producing your fecalist's reality show, right?
TF: Yes. It's called Eric Gurian: The Turd Whisperer.

AP: Okay, let's talk about when we first met — in Chicago, in 1993. What were we doing?
TF: We were probably eating Italian beef sandwiches and getting our hair permed.

AP: Actually, we met in class at the ImprovOlympic Theater. You taught me my first real beauty lesson.
TF: I was 22 or 23, and I had only recently learned that you can pluck your eyebrows or have a lady put hot wax on them and remove portions of them and shape them. So this was a big thing that happened to me, and I passed that information on to you.

AP: Back then, I used to get my hair dyed at a place called Big Hair. It cost $15. They just used straight bleach, so my hair was the color of white lined paper, and my eyebrows looked like they were done with a thick black marker. So tell us a little bit about a play you wrote while in Chicago in the early '90s, about Catherine the Great.
TF: Yes, yes. I used to take playwriting classes, and I wrote a one-act play — I can't remember the name of it, but it was really about the way women are perceived as leaders. In the play, Catherine the Great would say things like, "You know, John F. Kennedy had extramarital affairs and no one says anything. But I bang one horse and now I'm a horse banger for all eternity? That's it? That's what I am?" I think Hillary Clinton's got to be able to relate to that.

AP: Being a tough, capable broad has never been easy — look at us. Although we did have a lot of fun on Baby Mama. Boy, did we play a lot of pranks on each other.
TF: We love pranks. I mean, we're kind of like Cloons and Damon that way, doing a lot of, like, $250,000 pranks. I did a really funny prank where I got my assistant to paint all the cars in your neighborhood white so you would wake up and think it was snowing. That was a good one.

AP: I had an assistant fill your trailer with rats on Christmas Eve, and we laughed. Oh, the pranks.
TF: So much pranking.

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