Kat Dennings on Being Hollywood's Go-To Sad Girl

"I've had a storied love life and a somewhat interesting upbringing, so I feel like I relate to those characters."

Kat Dennings
Photo: Benjo Arwas/Getty Images

There’s no one in film or television that can play an emo girl like Kat Dennings. Loved for her roles in Two Broke Girls, the Thor movies, and fan favorite, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the badass actress takes her ennui to a whole other level in Hulu’s Dollface, a brilliant new series which deals with breakups, female friendships, and navigating the very relatable roadblocks that come along with both.

“Don’t we all relate to the sad emo character?!" she joked during a phone interview with InStyle. “I am attracted to roles I feel like I can bring a real aspect to, you know, like I can actually draw from something. I’ve had a storied love life and a somewhat interesting upbringing, so I feel like I relate to those characters.”

But that doesn't mean she's taking her onscreen angst home with her all of the time.

“I have a real disconnect between me and my work. I really love acting, I am a really big movie and television buff. I just love being a part of it. But I kinda feel like when I am done working, then I’m done; like I am going home to be me. I feel kinda distant from that world in my real life.”

Dennings, 33, is that rare actress who mesmerizes with an old-Hollywood look she’s stayed true to rather than hemming to each passing trend. Her espresso-brown hair won’t be the next chopped into a bowl cut, for instance. Nor will she soon set aside her signature red lipstick look, which she notes has taken “decades of practice” to perfect.

“Growing up, my mom took me to a lot of vintage stores. I always wore these thrift shop clothes from other eras,” Dennings says, about falling into her personal style by feeling that her body wasn’t really catered to in fashion. “Like it wasn’t for me. But whenever I went to a vintage store, and tried on dresses from the 1940s and 1950s, everything fit perfectly. Just because a curvier shape was more, like, of the time. And I figured out in that moment, ‘Fine, I belong in this style. It feels like I am included in this.’”

Kat Dennings Dollface
Aaron Epstein/Hulu

In addition to executive producing Dollface, Dennings also plays its lead, Jules, a woman who has to completely redefine herself, after her longterm romance abruptly ends, and she finds that she has pulled away from all of her female friends along the way.

“What drew me to this project initially was that I have done this, I have lost myself in a relationship, more than once,” she acknowledged. “That has been my pattern, to fall for someone and then I am just gone from the world. One of my best guy friends actually says, that I fall off the world. Which is true! It’s something that I didn’t even realize I was doing. Men and women do it. It’s just a natural thing to do when you fall in love.”

The comedy series has many insights into the importance of close friendships (or the pitfalls you can run into without them), as Jules struggles to rebuilt relationships with a click of girlfriends she's lost touch with over the years, played by Brenda Song and Shay Mitchell, plus one coworker going through an identity crisis who quickly becomes an oddball addition to the squad by basically being everyone's hype woman (Esther Povitsky).

“Friendship is so important; feeling like you can make mistakes, and that person will still be there for you, that’s incredible. It can be so much stronger than those romantic relationships. Friends really can be forever — sometimes romantic relationships just don’t last, but friendships do.”

Margot Robbie Dollface
Ali Goldstein/Hulu

Academy Award and Golden Globes nominated Margot Robbie is also an executive producer on the series, and Dennings describes her as “an absolute fearless genius.” Those who’ve already watched Dollface probably enjoyed Robbie’s cameo as a hilarious yoga teacher-cum-lifestyle guru who seems ripped straight from the Goop universe.

“Margot is so young; because of her poise, people forget just how young she is,” Dennings noted. “She has accomplished so much and is so focused and so professional. She was very hands-on during development. During shooting, she was watching the dailies and giving notes and really involved, all while shooting three movies at the same time.” Robbie stars in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, out now; and recently completed another addition in the Harley Quinn series and a Peter Rabbit sequel.

“I think that was the main thing that I was so impressed by, because I am such a mess and can only do two things at a time before I start freaking out. She just handled things so elegantly, and manages to excel in her career,” Dennings says.

As for her own storied career, one role Dennings would like to revisit In the future, is Max — her Two Broke Girls character.

“Maybe in another five or 10 years, it might be fun to take another look at the show. It ended in a cliffhanger, which was frustrating for people. I would love to close it out properly for the fans who watched the show,” she says.

She has already come back to her Thor character, for WandaVision, an upcoming Disney+ series. “I think fans are really going to enjoy that ride, too!”

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