I’m a funny contradiction because on the one hand, I’m fairly reserved in real life. When I was a kid, I never did anything wrong; I always colored in between the lines, never broke anything. My mom—who just turned 95—was a pretty conservative person, not in a political sense, but she was a lady. She raised a proper little girl. Although, whereas my mom would always be dressed to the nines, looking smashing, I always dressed like Ellen DeGeneres. These days, I dress like a ’90s beatboxer. No one would ever know what my body looked like unless I’m playing a character who’s been shoved into a tight dress. I didn’t even know I had cleavage until Will & Grace. One of the creators of the show was adamant that my boobs be front and center, so they became like the fifth and sixth characters.
I was such an inhibited person that in my freshman year at Northwestern University, I transferred out of the theater department because in the acting classes, the other students would be running around and rolling on the floor and screaming, but I was embarrassed and shy, and feeling like I could never be that extroverted. I don’t feel inhibited now. If I’m on a set getting a paycheck, then I will pretty much do anything if I think it’s funny. In Why Him?, I was doing a scene with Bryan Cranston and I just started twerking. It wasn’t in the script; it was just something that came out. I did that a lot with Nick while we were doing Parks and Recreation. I’d always try to bait him.
New York City also has a tendency to make me a bit more uninhibited. I once had a gay boyfriend in New York. He was literally a full-on gay man, but he was my boyfriend. And we would wildly make out in a cab—I mean, really go to town, throwing ourselves around the back seat of the cab for the whole length of time it would take to get to his apartment, and then he’d just run out of the cab and go home.
But like I said, I’m usually fairly reserved in real life.