"Our" Girl! Anna Chlumsky on Surviving Child Stardom, Body Shaming and Balancing Broadway and "Veep"

News   "Our" Girl! Anna Chlumsky on Surviving Child Stardom, Body Shaming and Balancing Broadway and "Veep"
 
After making her Broadway debut as part of the eccentric Vanderhof family in You Can't Take It With You, Anna Chlumsky is now part of the cast of the new Broadway comedy Living on Love, alongside opera star Renée Fleming.

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No one can accuse Anna Chlumsky of slacking off.

The actress, who achieved fame at the age of 11 starring alongside Macaulay Culkin in the drama "My Girl," has made her mark on the current Broadway season by appearing in not one, but two, plays.

Chlumsky made her Broadway debut replacing Rose Byrne as Alice in the acclaimed revival of the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy You Can't Take It With You. Playing a member of the eccentric Vanderhof family, Chlumsky co-starred with comic heavyweights Annaleigh Ashford and Kristine Nielsen as well as award-winning actor James Earl Jones.

Anna Chlumsky
Anna Chlumsky Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Even before You Can't Take It With You concluded its run at the Longacre Theatre, news broke of Chlumsky's next Broadway role: Iris Peabody in the new Joe DiPietro comedy Living On Love, which received its world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2014. Adapted from Garson Kanin's final play, Peccadillo, the play pairs Chlumsky with Jerry O'Connell, Douglas Sills and acclaimed opera star Renée Fleming, making her Broadway debut as the diva Raquel De Angelis, who becomes jealous when her husband Vito (Sills) hires Iris (Chlumsky) to write his autobiography. Egos clash (and silverware flies), and a few songs may be sung as well. Read Playbill.com's feature about the origins of the word "diva" and the comedic talents of Fleming here.

The animated actress, who peppers her sentences with expressions like "Oh, Jesus" and "Holy cripes," comes to Broadway after several seasons of the hit comedy "Veep," where she stars as Amy, the chief of staff to Vice President Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

After a childhood spent on screen, Chlumsky left show business to attend college at the the University of Chicago and worked as a fact checker and editorial assistant following graduation. She returned to the business in 2005 in several films and appeared on "30 Rock," "Cupid, "Law & Order" and "Hannibal."

The actress made her Broadway debut following years of experience in the industry, some of which she shared with Playbill.

"The worst [advice] is that you have to lose weight or that you have to look different for somebody," she said. "That’s bullsh*t. Who gives a sh*t? If they don’t want you, you don't need them."

As she matured, her response to being told to change her appearance evolved as well. "I have [responded when people have said that to me] both times of my life. As a kid, being told that, I think really hurt me, as it would any adolescent. And then as an adult, when I came back to it and I was told that again, I went, 'Yeah. Kiss my butt.'"

Anna Chlumsky
Anna Chlumsky Photo by Andrew Eccles

Her years of experience on screen have helped Chlumsky develop the skill of keeping a straight face, despite some extremely entertaining antics taking place around her.

"I was really lucky to not break at all during You Can’t Take It With You," she said. "It’s the same thing that goes on in 'Veep.' If you feel like it’s happening, you just have to remind yourself, 'My character would not be amused right now.' And I am lucky enough to have characters who would not be amused by some seriously funny things."

When asked for the best advice she'd been given, she said after a pause, "I think the best is: Know what’s in your control and what’s not. And just tell the truth."

(Carey Purcell is the Features Editor of Playbill.com. Her work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillCarey.)

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