Seeing Martin Sheen In Apocalypse Now Inspired Natasha Lyonne’s Character Creation Process

Sheen was far from Lyonne’s only influence as an actress, but she did gravitate more often toward male performers.

“[As] much as I love Bette Davis and Mae West and Gena Rowlands,” she admitted, “I often found myself identifying with the Peter Falks and the Joe Pescis and the Jimmy Cagneys — all the boys. Certainly, by the time I was writing ‘Russian Doll,’ I saw a character who was the perfect mix of feminine and masculine.”

For her character in “Poker Face,” Lyonne and series creator Rian Johnson were both heavily inspired by Philip Marlowe, the gritty private eye of Raymond Chandler’s novels most famously portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in “The Big Sleep” as well as Elliot Gould in “The Long Goodbye.”

“It’s such an iconic character type that we’ve seen permutations of it for, probably, seven decades now,” Lyonne explained, so she and Johnson thought it was about time that a woman embodied this legendary role. The actress also found another way of avoiding trivial characters — hiring female writers.

“The best part is not having conversations eat up a lot of time about how a woman can have a classic hero’s journey,” Lyonne confessed to The Wrap. Or you know, ‘Why is she wearing black clothes’ or ‘Why aren’t we seeing her shower?’ That’s disturbing. You would never ask that of, like, Elliott Gould’s portrayal of Philip Marlowe.” Both seasons of “Russian Doll,” which Lyonne also co-created and produced, had a writing staff made up entirely of women. The actress insists that this choice wasn’t intentional, but rather a “happy accident.”

“I’m always trying to assemble the Avengers obviously, you know, (creators) Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler, Allison Silverman, true blue-chip geniuses,” Lyonne admitted. “And they’re f***ing hilarious.”

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