Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

When Jackie Hoffman auditioned for the role of Vice-Principle McGee in Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladiesshe tells Result“You were supposed to sing a modern pop song, and I don’t know any.”

So instead, she says, “I sang ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’”

It got her the role, and also speaks to the iconoclastic force she’s become as a character actor working in some of today’s most exciting projects, with high-profile roles in films and TV shows including Only Murders in the Building, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mysteryand The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. (You might also remember her from her role as Billy Eichner’s sister-in-law Rucchel from Hulu’s Difficult Peopleor as an accused arsonist in the 30Rock episode “The Funcooker.”)

While Hoffman has become an impossible-to-miss presence in film and TV in recent years, her career began in the 1990s with “a lot of commercial work,” before she began to focus more on theater, including several years with Chicago’s Second City and roles in the Broadway productions of hairspray, Xanaduand The Addams Family. Then, she says, “as I got more visibility in theater, I guess TV jobs and film jobs started to kind of creep in. So now they’re creeping in more, which I’m thrilled about.”

All this time, she hasn’t stopped auditioning, even for the smallest of roles — “all the outrageous shit that I had to audition for,” as she puts it, like her role as “Lady on Balcony” in 2014’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). “I had to scream, ‘Is this for real? Are you people shooting a film?’ I actually had to audition for that.”

From her hotel room in Los Angeles, the morning of Rise of the Pink Ladies‘s pink carpet Hollywood premiere, Hoffman says she first heard about the grease spin-off series while she was working on the off-Broadway play Fairycakes. “We’re backstage, and I was between two incredible great comedians — Ann Harada, who works all the fucking time, and Julie Halston, who works all the fucking time. I’m sitting between the two of them and they’re like, ‘Did you get this grease hearing? Did you see how much they want us to do? There’s a song, and a dance, and you have to dress this way — it’s like, what are they asking us?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, no, I haven’t looked yet,’ and I looked at it like, ‘Oh, geez, here we go.’”

The role of Ms. McGee originated in the first grease film, which featured Eve Arden as the principal of Rydell High; ace Rise of the Pink Ladies is a prequel, the show begins with the character as vice-principal, chafing at the fact that the actual principal leaves her to do all the actual work. “She’s the unsung hero when he’s completely impotent, but he gets all the glory because he’s the man,” she says. “You know it still happens.”

By cb2gp