How would you describe Lou, your character in Trollied?
A sandwich short of a picnic! She’s scatty, opportunistic and not very able, with a limited understanding of where she is, what she’s doing or what people’s expectations are. She probably had a drugs accident in the 1990s that rearranged her brain. I love playing her.
As the new night manager for the supermarket, does she make like Tom Hiddleston and foil arms dealers?
I wish. Unfortunately, she can’t even stack a shelf properly.
Lou gets the gig in spite of a terrible interview. Have you had any memorably bad interviews or auditions?
There was one the other day. I was filming an episode of Vanity Fair for ITV and the director, Jonathan Entwistle, told me I’d auditioned for his show, The End Of The F***ing World. I had no memory of it at all but then it came back to me that I had a bit of an attitude that day: I walked in and saw every woman in British comedy there. I don’t respond to competition well, I just go, ‘You have it.’ Apparently I did it in a Scottish accent and wouldn’t take the part unless I could wear an eyepatch.
You’ve also gone for a few big Hollywood films, haven’t you?
Oh yeah. I’ve done motion-capture auditions for Robert Zemeckis and they’re always weird. He had this idea with Beowulf that Grendel, the monster, would be played by a woman. I went into this massive hall with some Americans at one end and me at the other. The first page said: ‘Grendel roars.’ So I did. Then I turned the page and it said: ‘Grendel roars again.’ So I did. The thing is, these tapes never die…
How was doing Bridget Jones’s Baby, more than a decade after the last film?
We got the rapport back immediately. It was lovely to be together again. I found everyone’s crumpled faces quite moving. We had proper news: marriages, divorces, kids. I did the first one when I was 29 — the years since have been very full.
I did Gangnam Style in Lip Sync Battle against Robert Webb… It may be the most racist thing that’s ever been on TV and that includes Donald Trump
You keep returning to Veep to play the Finnish PM. Have you had any feedback from Finland?
I have. They’re proud of me, although there are some pedants who reckon my accent is more Swedish than it ought to be. I get sent little tokens from Finland — I recently got a coin from the Finnish ambassador. They’re a very classy people and it’s such a brilliant show. I get to tango with the best comedy actress in the world and not look s***.
After the taster on Red Nose Day, what are the odds of a Smack The Pony reunion?
We’d love to do it and we’re always pitching something — it’s the commissioners who aren’t keen. There’s still an attitude of, ‘We’ve got a female comedy show so we don’t need another’, although people ask us about it all the time. Things with women in are still seen as a women’s thing, rather than just a thing.
Is there anything you’d rather scrub from the CV?
I did Gangnam Style in Lip Sync Battle against Robert Webb. I genuinely believed I could learn Korean but I was having a hard time at home, didn’t get any sleep and couldn’t remember any of it. It may be the most racist thing that’s ever been on TV and that includes Donald Trump. Me mouthing random Asian-sounding vowels… It got pulled because Robert was doing George Michael, who had just died. I’m very tense about what it’ll come out like. The great thing about the bad stuff is that people generally forget about it. But you have to earn a living. Someone had a go at me for doing an advert the other day but I was OK with that — here’s a photo of my disabled child [her eldest son, Olly, has Down’s syndrome], suck on that with your integrity!
Most people do adverts, don’t they?
It’s the Bill Hicks thing: if you perform for a product, you lose your artistic integrity. I sort of agree with that — you knew with The Fast Show that those characters were dead when they started selling stuff. So I feel that a bit but then I did a car advert with Jessica Hynes and we had a nice day and took our families on holiday off the back of it, so there you go.
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?
To do some exercise. I haven’t done any for ages and I hate it but I’m not of an age where that’s OK any more. That and go to Finland. And start writing thank-you letters again. Is that unrealistic?
Trollied is on Sky 1 on Tuesdays at 10pm