Emily Mortimer, Star of HBO's Doll & Em, Explains The Perils and Joys Of Working With a BFF

Emily Mortimer
Photo: Mischa Richter/HBO

You may know Emily Mortimer best as the cool and confident MacKenzie McHale on The Newsroom, the executive producer who navigates thru media storms in pencil skirts and silk blouses without ever breaking a sweat. In the new comedy show, Doll & Em (airing on HBO Weds nights at 10 pm), audiences are getting another glimpse at the British actress -- and this one is much closer to the real-life Mortimer, almost uncomfortably so.

Created together with her life-long best friend, actress Dolly West, the show explores what happens when one successful friend (Em) attempts to help another (Doll) through a rough patch. The result leads to bubbling insecurities, fragile emotions, and many hysterically awkward moments around a Hollywood movie set. Imagine Girls meets a low budget Entourage. InStyle spoke with Mortimer as she reflected on the surprise success of her new series, the next (and final) season of The Newsroom, and what it feels like when you and your best friend show up wearing the same skirt.

In Doll & Em you are following in the footsteps of the likes of Larry David and Ricky Gervais, playing a version of yourself in a show. What is that like?

Both [Dolly and I] are grappling with the weirdness of this thing being seen by a lot of people. At first it was just going to be on in London and I thought 'that’s okay, it’s not really going to affect my life in any way.' And then HBO bought it and suddenly it’s like ‘Oh my god!' It really was an extraordinarily fun thing to do. It was one of the best experiences of our working lives.

How long have you and Dolly actually been friends?

Our parents remember us meeting around the age of four, but we really got to know each other when we were about seven. We went on a skiing holiday together. We all -- me and Dolly and another best friend of ours Polly -- were thrown together and got up to all sorts of mischief.

On the show your characters have very similar styles. Is that true in real life?

Doll and I can look very similar in the way we dress. We sometimes turn up to things looking exactly the same and it’s so bizarre. But at times, she is more hip and more original than me. Everything looks good on her ‘cause she’s about ten foot tall and tiny.

It sounds like there’s a potential for jealousy there.

Definitely. We have had moments of that in real life. People always ask if any of the stuff in in the show is based on real life, and none of it is. If anything as painful as what happens in the show happened to us in real life, I don’t think we’d be able to write about it, much less see each other again! It's all imagined, but the one thing that we wanted to fit in but we didn’t was a time when we both were wearing the same leather skirt. It was just clear that Dolly’s leather skirt looked so much better on her than mine did. It was depressing and annoying. We wanted to get that [experience] in the show but we didn’t.

Do you ever dress like MacKenzie on The Newsroom, say for example, when you want to look polished and professional?

Long before MacKenzie, I knew that pencils skirts are where it is at if I ever wanted to look smart and feel good about myself. For tops, I always buy things from the men’s department. My staple is a men's small cashmere sweater from JCrew. MacKenzie’s button down shirts are an extension of what looks good on me, but they are a little more luxurious looking than what I would naturally wear. I love The Newsroom costumes. They are strong without being overwhelming and they feel real.

What is it like working on the final season of The Newsroom?

I love knowing that it is coming to a conclusion. I’m so excited about it. I am making sure to savor every second.

The last two episodes of Doll & Em air on Wednesday, April 2nd on HBO. Don't miss them!

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