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Lena Dunham Talks Success, Image Misconception, Franco, Fey and Poehler in New EW

by Beth Hanna
January 31, 2013 2:32 PM
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Cover detail of Entertainment Weekly's February 1, 2013 edition
Cover detail of Entertainment Weekly's February 1, 2013 edition

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly (on newsstands February 1), "Girls" creator and recent Golden Globe winner Lena Dunham talks her surprise meteoric rise, the misconception that she comes from a rich family, James Franco as a TV critic, Globes hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and more. Highlights below. Miranda July also interviewed Dunham for Interview magazine here.

Dunham on James Franco accusing "Girls" of being "another show about white people":

“I think someone told James Franco that it’s his duty to have an opinion on everything that happens in culture. We are going to find out that he’s in the CIA, he’s a fireman, and he’s going on the next moon mission with Lance Bass.”

On her Golden Globes comment that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler inspired her during middle school:

“It came from the most earnest place. But I’d forgotten that we’re in Hollywood, where the rules are that you should not acknowledge that anybody has been around longer than you by more than three years.”

On the misconception that she comes from a rich family:

“This mythology sprung up that I had these rich parents, but it’s like, we all lived in one room! I worked at the dog shelter for $4.50 an hour. I worked at the video store. Babysat. I did go to private school in New York, and I did know a lot of rich kids. But I always had a job.”

On her success and the future:

“I think my perception was: I’m gonna be a writer and a teacher who occasionally makes movies that go to film festivals. I didn’t have an ‘I’m gonna take over the world’ mentality… Just because you have a TV show and a book deal doesn’t mean the Red Sea parts and your path becomes clear. You still have to ask yourself, ‘What is important to me? Who do I want to spend my time with? Can I take care of a dog?’ Those big emotional questions.”


  • Bill Gill | March 13, 2013 10:10 PMReply

    She is so full of shit. She should consider herself extremely lucky considering how extremely mediocre her work is.

  • Ian Peterson | March 13, 2013 8:41 PMReply

    I'm just enjoying Dunham and Franco go at it... Hope there's more! I feel they are both part of the same narrative. Pretentious, "artistic" (yes, with quote marks), super self-conscious - making them ultimately very boring to watch.

  • vik reed | March 13, 2013 6:15 PMReply

    Lena TOTALLY gets 'it'. By it, I mean being very young, very single, very all over the place in the coolest place in the world- NYC.
    She gets not being perfect, being obnoxious and self centered and foolish and humiliated and lost and being locked into great friendships full of moral and doofus conflict. How a long day can turn into the next morning and living on no money at all and spending your days looking to get laid, get high, get important, get loved.
    Having no satisfaction with your parental units and probably not going to.
    She gets it so much it could've been my life when I lived the "GIRLS" life in 1986-89.
    Not even exaggerating.
    Okay, lots of white chicks and boys. That's who she's mainly known, that's who her character is mainly close to. You know if you own a house you're likely to have a more intimate relationship with your next door neighbor than your oldest friend from school simply because you see them every day and night. That's the universe of Hannah. Swimming in a soup bowl in Brooklyn with the same basic ingredients. We all jump out of that soup eventually and expand our 'menu' so to speak. This show is not about dumb foolish desperate insecure people feeling out life with a highly intellectual and mature eye on the future. THey are just being wreckless and self centered and it's as brutal and honest as it gets. Add to that it is freaking hysterical, the dialogue is crystalline, the cast breathing through my tv screen they're so valid and fully drawn as who they are-both as unlikable and irresistible as they are. Lena is following rule one: write what you know. As time goes on you know and experience more and write about that. How many mind numbing years did people watch Sex In The City-a show that reflected the lives of people who don't actually work, who have apartments way bigger than their income would dictate, who are constantly dating, who are never hungover despite being on IV drip top shelf liquor, who have 'break ups' and get together with a pout because they realize that girls gotta be there for their girlfriends....following the saga all the way to the grotesque and offensive last movie. Are people crapping on "How I Met Your Mother" which has been on the air for EONS...despite having no urban influence, despite the characters having no life outside the bar they hang out at, having apartments way bigger than their incomes and being a shadow of the uber charming fantasy 'Friends'. I'd love to know what it is James Franco watches on his DVR? How he can look down on anyone after taking the Oscar hosting gig then not caring or trying to do ANYthing with it? Okay, you're soulfully sexy, not a bad actor at all, sometimes a beautiful actor, Franco. We get it. Maybe though YOU don't get what it's like to be a young person struggling in NYC since you've been a young person famous for so long, sleeping through NYU and it not mattering. You are a character from Girls the more I think about it.... Please can Miss Dunham have a standing O for doing (fully freaking nailing it, in fact) what several thousands of young chick writers and filmofiles dreamt about doing well into the years that no longer can be described as girlish? She's not even afraid of Howard Stern calling her Jonah Hill. What was the last thing that JF directed that was all about a bunch of non white people? She grew up in Manhattan which is one of those wild places where you can be sitting on a curb getting high and Woody Allen walks by and looks spooked, or you can bump into the most beautiful movie star on the planet without bodyguards or cameras around, where you can go to a speakeasy and meet the worst boyfriend of your life and get the most killer job of the year in one hour. It's in your face and what it is and it isn't cheap to live in NY and it's pretty unforgiving of your poor little feelings....all of which and more GIRLS does to perfection. Please.

  • Shae | March 11, 2013 12:48 AMReply

    I'm not a fan of Lena's either, but I'd like to point out that she never said she grew up poor. She said she didn't grow up rich.

  • Mia TC | February 25, 2013 5:31 PMReply

    I haven't seen her films or her show, and I was in my late-20's watching UCB when it first aired. Her material doesn't speak to me. However, I find it fascinating that a publisher would pay a few $million for the memoirs of a 23-year old who gets along with her parents. I'm coming to believe that no memoir can be truthful/honest while one's parents are still alive. But hey, good for her for hitting the jackpot. And hey, industry, maybe level out the massive over payments to super young people so they have something to work towards throughout their lives/careers. Jennifer Lawrence said she has enough money to buy a couple houses, but doesn't want to. She doesn't feel she's old enough to take on that responsibility. And Lena says you still have to think about being someone who can take care of a dog. Shows these young women have some sense of grounding. Phew.

  • Kristy | February 8, 2013 8:13 PMReply

    I think Lena Dunham doesn't get it... no one cares that she's younger than them, they care that she particularly crafted a sentence to call out how young she is compared to the women she is in her category, in some guised compliment that was really a slight. Also, a lie. I'm Lena Dunham's age, and while I watched Upright Citizens Brigade in late middle school, the only person she would have heard of at that time was Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. The rest came to prominence while we were in late high school. They weren't inspirations until I was in college.

    She could have just said "I adore those women, it came from earnestness, but I probably worded it a bit wrong. Oops!" instead of again insulting them by saying they're just touchy because they're old. No, they aren't even touchy... you made a faux pas and don't know how to roll with the punches without again insulting people and calling out how preciously young you are!

    Also, just because she had a crappy job that paid poorly doesn't mean she didn't come from a rich family. Having a work ethic is great! And she has a great one! That she should be applauded for. But no, she did not financially struggle to get where she got, she just worked hard and had a lot of financial help. If she financed her movie with her $4.50 an hour wage, that would be another story, but her parents fronted $50,000 for it. I worked A LOT of jobs in high school, but that money went to buy crap I didn't need, it didn't support me. When I was in college, I had to work two jobs TO SUPPORT myself. There's a big difference between a part-time job for spending money and one for survival.

  • Danielle | March 13, 2013 6:36 PM


    I couldn't have said it any better. I am screenwriter, same age, who makes movies just like Lena, and only reason I am still working all my part time jobs and not attending award shows or getting backed by an Exec Producer like Judd Apatow (who I tried to get intouch with countless times since 2006 with the same kind of pitch about girls in their twenties, to no prevail ) because I don't have parents who know people, or rich friends who have parents who know people, or parents with an extra $50,000 dollars to toss my way to follow a whim I have about wanting to make a movie.
    And when you are a screenwriter, contantly worrying about how to pay the rent or things like will my power be shut off today, can I afford dinner, let me tell you it's a LOT harder to focus on the creative stuff. What a lucky girl she is. The thing is, she now has power, lots of it. So she can spin things however she wants to in interviews, and the interviewer is going to kiss her ass, of course.
    In my opinion, the show should not be called "Girls" because it's not relatable to all girls.... It's more about one type of girl, her character. It should just be called the Lena Dunham show.
    And she needs to back off of James Franco. So it's okay for her to tweet or share her opinions on everything, but others should keep their mouths shut if she is not in agreement with them? She talks about not wanting to "take over the world". Then stop trying to take over HBO by creating another boring and uniteresting piece of crap. Hypocrite?

  • alish | February 14, 2013 3:00 PM


  • CP | February 8, 2013 11:44 AMReply

    I've been to her house before. If you consider punching a hole in the floor to connect your two floors of lofts in TriBeCa "not rich" then please tell me what is. And this was pre-Tiny Furniture which, I'm told by close friends of hers, her parents financed. She's part of this whole twenty something scene of kids in manhattan that are financially loaded but pretend to be street kids. Embrace it! If my parents were rich I would get them to finance my films too!

  • sharah | February 8, 2013 11:34 AMReply

    not that there is anything wrong with coming from a "rich" family... there is however something wrong with coming from a "rich" family and pretending you don't. i don't know of any kids who come from a not "rich" family who ever went to private school. my babysitting money went to my mom for buying milk and bread. not to paying for private school. at least be honest about where you come from. you'll get way more respect that way.

  • CLuny | February 6, 2013 12:21 PMReply

    I think she's very funny, but I don't like it when she's all glammed out and is portrayed as being the voice of American young women. A case when ironic hipness meets lameness. Not a good mix.

  • shelly | February 1, 2013 10:07 AMReply

    calling your huge artist loft apartment one room is i guess one way to put it.

  • NotafanofGirls | January 31, 2013 6:31 PMReply

    The same way she has an opinion, is the say way James Franco is entitled to give his opinion also on any subject matter. Whether the person is a star or not opinions are always given. She just didn't like it because what he said was right. The likes on that article he wrote speaks volumes.

  • Roy Munson | January 31, 2013 10:37 PM

    What are all the movies James Franco has made about people of color?

    I'm trying to think of some

  • 12er | January 31, 2013 8:36 PM

    "The likes on that article he wrote speaks volumes."

    Everything wrong with social media, the internet, and a whole generation in one sentence.

  • nightgoat72 | January 31, 2013 3:41 PMReply

    Lena Dunham is one of the best things in the entertainment world right now.

  • LenaDunham4ever<3 | February 2, 2013 6:18 AM

    Dont be mad she wrote a great show. Its really entertaining, the coke episode was awesome.

  • NIGHTGOAT71 | February 1, 2013 2:30 PM

    The show has a specific audience. Her character to me is incredibly unlikeable, but others may like her and that's fine. That's really what the entire show hinges on and that's why it's so polarizing for people.

  • TT | February 1, 2013 1:58 AM

    No, she isn't. She is unfunny, and incredibly mediocre.

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