You may know Kat Dennings as the brat on Sex and the City who hired Samantha to publicize her bat mitzvah, or as the smart-ass daughter of Steve Carell’s girlfriend in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. At just 22, Dennings — whose real last name is Litwack — has been labeled the Next Big Thing by every magazine that says things like that. Exit Interview has no idea if Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, her comedy opening October 3rd, will be a hit. But based on her witty charm and self-deprecating tales of a traumatic half-day at Friends’ Central and the absurdities of Hollywood, we hope those mags are right.
Where did you grow up? Bryn Mawr, but I basically grew up in the woods. There were deer on my lawn. It was totally awesome. That’s why I’m so socially weird.
I’ve read that your mom is a poet. What does your dad do? My dad’s a molecular pharmacologist. [laughs]
I love that stories about you mention your poet mom and how you were homeschooled and all this artsy stuff, but your dad was a scientist. People used to tell me that my dad was the king of pharmacology. I deduced in my little-girl head that I was the princess of biochemistry, and I felt extremely superior. [laughs]
Where did the name “Dennings” come from? I didn’t want to use my family name because I thought, A, it was a little hideous, and B, I wanted to know when someone really knew me or they didn’t. I was a precocious youngster.
Kat Litwack has a certain ring to it. No. No, it doesn’t. [laughs] It’s a sturdy Polish-Jewish name. I used to be really touchy about it, but I couldn’t care less now. And Katherine has Katie, Kat, and if you want to die, Kathy, but no one can go there — no one.
Ever attend a traditional school? I spent one half-day at Friends Central, and it almost broke my spirit forever.
Did you get stuffed in a locker? Victimized by a bathroom swirlie gang? I was yelled at. People made fun of my outfit. I filled out some questionnaire and realized I spelled “friend” wrong. That was a word I mastered, eventually. I remember feeling so stupid, and I thought, fuck this. I’m going back to the woods. [laughs]
What were your early acting gigs? Oh, I did commercials. Let me tell you, not everything we commercialized ended up on the market. Do you remember those potato chips that had that poisonous ingredient? I was like 10, and I got the part with this boy I had a huge crush on. Nothing came of him, unless he changed his name to Joseph Gordon-Levitt or something. But I don’t think so. They had a different jawline. On the shoot, they wouldn’t let us eat the chips.
That would seem to be a red flag. They knew they were bad for you but they made them anyway, so fuck ’em. God, I’m terrible. I’m talking to someone from Philly and it just comes out.
How is life in Hollywood? Shit is crazy out here. I tried being anorexic for four hours, and then I was like, I need some bagels. I’ll never feel comfortable in L.A., really. I knew these nice girls that lived in the Valley. I had no idea they were on meth. They don’t realize this is the worst possible thing you can do to yourself.
Doesn’t anyone watch Cops? Yeah! [laughs] I know! You can quote me and say that I’ll be on Perez [Hilton’s gossip website] in two years, coked out, but it’s not true. I will never touch that stuff.
You know why? You grew up in the woods. [laughs] Exactly! I’m more likely to snort cornmeal at a Native American camp.
So tell me why I should spend 12 bucks to see Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist instead of waiting for Netflix. Oh please. Because A, you’re not going to see Michael Cera’s dewy cheekbones unless you are in a theater. B, because, as you know, movies are their best in a theater. That’s how they’re supposed to be felt. And I’m not gonna lie, you’re going to get swept away by emotion and hilarity.
Sold! You’ve been in a hundred “hot young Hollywood” stories lately. Vanity Fair had a photo of you — black-and-white, on a boat, windswept hair, little black dress. Is that how you spend your free time now that you’re a big deal? [laughs] Clearly. I spend all my time drinking highballs on lawn chairs. It looks glamorous, but that shoot was mostly spent laughing, shivering or screaming. [laughs] Any glamorous moment you might mistake me for having is always pretend.