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Kathryn Hahn All Along: A Guide To Her Best Roles

Whether or not you’re one of the many former Marvel Cinematic Universe skeptics who have recently found themselves hooked on WandaVision (the comic book giant’s arguably most successful foray into the television arena), you can probably agree that Kathryn Hahn is the sitcom’s standout performer.

Hahn plays Agnes, the scene-stealing nosy neighbor in WandaVision, and just when you thought this might be another sidekick role for the character actor to play (and she does play every iteration of that character well in this Disney+ show that plays homage to decades of American sitcoms before it), it is revealed that there may be more to Agnes than meets the eye.

But doesn’t Hahn really just steal just about any scene she’s in, regardless of the project? Everyone knows it’s delightful to see her turn up, whether she’s starring in indie dramas like Private Life, supporting the show in slapstick comedies like Step Brothers, or lending her voice to animation like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. If you haven’t seen those yet, it might be worth asking yourself where you’ve been for the last two decades of Hahn’s career, but let’s say you want to do a deep dive into Hahn’s oeuvre. Where do you begin?

The Best Friend Era

Hahn’s early cinematic career began with her often playing the supportive best friend in a handful of romantic comedies. Think How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!, A Lot like Love, and The Holiday. Her roles in these may have been small, but memorable nonetheless. (While Hahn knows the “best friend chapter” of her career may have been an instance of typecasting, she’s also had the brilliant idea to star alongside Judy Greer, another rom-com bestie staple, in a film that subverts the character trope by making it so that “every so often you see Kate Hudson running around [in the background]” and we seriously hope someone develops this into a feature one day.)

The Episodic Entertainment

This is where you’ll find I Love Dick and Mrs. Fletcher, both of which showcased Hahn’s unique talent for playing a complicated woman at the center of her own narrative. In I Love Dick, Hahn plays the autofiction antihero Chris Kraus (who wrote the book upon which the series is based) and in Mrs. Fletcher, the actress takes on the titular role of the sexually frustrated suburban mom going through a bit of an awakening. (It should also be noted that in Transparent, though her role as Rabbi Raquel may have been on the smaller side, she certainly stands out, and won an Emmy Award for the performance). And of course, any Hahn scholar knows you should go all the way back to her first television appearance in 2001 as Lily Lebowski on Crossing Jordan, a character that was apparently written just for her by the series creator. More recently, she stars opposite Mark Ruffalo (times two) in I Know This Much Is True, and if you really want to dig into Hahn’s television oeuvre, there’s also Parks and Recreation, in which Hahn played the prickly political mastermind Jennifer Barkley. Of course, if WandaVision lends itself to spinning off into another MCU project, we could be seeing more Hahn in Marvel movies in the future, too.

The Indie Dramas

If you’re looking for something more meditative, look no further than the off-beat Private Life and Afternoon Delight. Joey Soloway’s Afternoon Delight sparked the beginning of a creative collaboration between the two (Hahn went on to star in I Love Dick and Transparent, both of which were created by Soloway). In the 2013 indie drama, she plays an unhappy stay-at-home mom who invites a young stripper to be her son’s nanny. And in Tamara Jenkins’s 2018 film Private Life, the actress gives a devastatingly realistic performance as a woman struggling to have a child. In each feature, Hahn was given the space to flex both her comic and dramatic chops at once.

The Gross-out Gags

Before Hahn entered the MCU, there was another cinematic universe in which she dominated: the Bad Moms franchise. Try to resist the unabashed foolishness of these movies all you want, but Hahn’s performances in Bad Moms and A Bad Moms Christmas are clear examples of the Yale grad’s range. She’s also especially good at the nailing the silly slapstick tone of Step Brothers, We’re the Millers, and both Anchorman movies.

And if you’re still not convinced of Hahn’s brilliance in Bad Moms, there’s always this clip to change your mind.

Related: Kathryn Hahn on Mrs. Fletcher‘s Cathartic Finale


Source: W Magazine

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