Emily Hampshire, star of the mega-hit Schitt’s Creek and Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, has just reached a new milestone. She appeared alongside Charlie Day in one of this year’s high-profile Super Bowl ads. We recently spoke to Emily about Schitt’s Creek, her Super Bowl commercial, and what’s next for one of Hollywood’s brightest stars.
By Keith Langston
You’re in Schitt’s Creek, which is a huge show right now. The series also stars comedy legends Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, what was it like arriving on set the first day, knowing you’d be working alongside them?
Well, I’m the biggest Christopher Guest fan. Waiting for Guffman was just everything to me when it came out. It’s the kind of comedy I felt I fit into. So, being able to work with Catherine and Eugene (who appear in many of Guest’s films, like Best in Show) was just amazing. Catherine is just so nice…she’s the kind of person, where, if someone grabs her a coffee, she’ll make sure that everyone gets a coffee. Really, it’s just been the greatest. I can’t imagine a better cast to have.
The show (which is actually Canadian) flew under the radar here in the States for a long time. Then suddenly, it got really big in the gay community, and then it blew up into a cultural phenomenon. What do you think made that happen?
Well, yeah, it’s been a wild ride. I remember I used to come back to LA before the show, and it was like nobody knew me. But you know, there was a lot of bubbling under the surface going on. Lots of Hollywood people were catching wind of the show and starting to become fans. And word of it starting spreading from there. Last year when I came back to LA, it was just nuts. People actually recognized me, and now my life is wayyyy different!
But I think a lot of it has to do with politics in America right now. I think lots of Americans don’t exactly feel like this is a very….umm…let’s just say “awesome time” right now, and I think Schitt’s Creek is a safe place. It’s like an escape to a better world, and I think people come to Schitt’s Creek for something good-hearted, but that doesn’t sacrifice wit and humor to be good-hearted. The show is both funny and compelling, and that’s what’s so special about it.
I would imagine the late bloom of the show might have even been for the best because it allowed the series to grow organically, rather than follow what fans were demanding.
Oh, yes. I really think it helped us be ourselves and make the story we wanted, and that’s made all the difference.
You have a tweet that says, “Way back when we shot this scene (referring to a scene in Schitt’s Creek), I didn’t know what pansexuality was. Cut to 5 years later and I find myself regularly explaining my own pansexuality with it.” Can you explain how you blossomed into the realization that you were pansexual?
Well, yeah, so I have to admit that when I filmed that scene with Dan Levy, I had no idea what pansexuality was. Then, five years later, I found myself falling in love with a trans woman. I had previously been married to a man, so at that point, I was very confused. I didn’t know what I was. You know, it was like, I don’t fall for people because of their bodies, I fall for them because of who they are. Then Dan was like… “You’re pansexual! We did a whole episode about it!” He yells at me all the time for forgetting that! One of the best lines from the episode is when Dan says, “I’m just into the wine, not the label.” And I absolutely loved that. I think that’s the easiest way to sum it up!
Do you think being on the show during that time helped you discover who you were?
Oh my God, yes! The cast is so open and loving, and I learned so much about new things while filming. Honestly, I think the show changed me the same way it changes fans. It’s actually really interesting, the series has changed me the way that my character, Stevie, has changed on the show. You know, I don’t even think I was in the closet. It was more just like…I didn’t know any trans people. I didn’t know anyone who had different lives. But then the show started expanding my world, and it’s definitely been for the better.
You were also just in Tide’s Super Bowl commercial this year. As everyone probably knows, these cost millions of dollars and are the most coveted time slots of the entire year. How exactly does one end up in a Super Bowl commercial?
Honestly, I still can’t believe it. The writers had literally written the role for me. It was crazy! I had never been in a commercial before…not because I didn’t want one, but simply because I literally can’t sell anything. I’m a horrible salesperson. But the whole point of the commercial is that the best time to do laundry is…later. So it really helped legitimatize a level of procrastination that I excel in (laughs). When I told Dan Levy about it, he said that it was so “on-brand” for me.
Plus, I got to co-star with Charlie Day, which was amazing. I was such a huge fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. To be able to work with him was amazing. And not just to work with him…but to know that people saw me on the same level as him was just everything to me! Also, they’re giving me a lifetime supply of Tide, so you know…commercials have their perks!
Were you more nervous or more excited for Sunday?
Oh, super excited…in fact, I hadn’t even thought to be nervous until you just mentioned it! But no, Tide had already shown me the ad, so I was confident about it. There was a really funny moment though. During filming I told them I wasn’t really a football fan and didn’t know much about football, and they said, “Yeah, we realized that when you called the uniforms costumes.” So, really, I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, and I’m hoping this will be a memorable one!
Looking to the future, later this spring Shitt’s Creek will have its series finale. What’s the legacy you hope the show leaves, and what’s next for you as an actress?
The best thing about the show is its heart. And that’s really the legacy. The show never tried to teach anyone a lesson, it wanted to lead by example instead. The show mattered to us so much, and I’m hoping that stays with audiences. Dan is a really great guy, even though he has a resting-bitch-face. He’s actually really sweet, and he wanted this show to be like a better world. And I think we achieved that. So that’s what i’m hoping the legacy is.
As for me, I have this other great project coming up…but actually, I’ve been told I can’t talk about it yet, so I guess (gets in a very serious voice) we have nothing further to talk about!