‘Loot’ Star Maya Rudolph Finds Her Groove As A Philanthropic Billionaire And Looks Good While She Does It: “She Gets To Be Everything”

In Loot, Molly Wells has what Maya Rudolph describes as an “unrelatable amount” of wealth. While that may seem enough of a draw for an actor looking for a role with the promise of incredible outfits, the real interest for Rudolph was the character’s drive to use the money for good — while still wearing amazing costumes. Creators Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang brought a story of a woman wanting to give back to the world, but it’s Rudolph’s comedic style that brings the Apple TV+ series to life as Wells tries to get her life back on track after a divorce.

DEADLINE: What drew you to the role of Molly Wells initially?

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MAYA RUDOLPH: Molly is such a fun character because she gets to be everything. The initial dive into the idea of playing Molly is you get to play a billionaire, and that just feels like endless fun — the dream of all dreams. If you had all the money in the world, what would you do? What I liked about this particular project is Molly has all the money in the world and wants to use it for good. It’s a combination of those two things. I like the ridiculous and I also like the heart. Those are really my favorite two things, and it feels very fortunate when I get the chance to balance the two because I’m happy playing either. They don’t always mix, but in this particular case she feels like a nice combination of the two.

I think sometimes our fantasy among the writers is like, do you think any billionaires are watching? Maybe they’ll get influenced by some of the good that you see, or these larger ideas. And I feel like if anything, part of the creation of the show is the catharsis that happens when you get to pretend that you’re solving a crisis or solving a problem. That is an element that is always really fun, that we can pretend that our heroine is this person who is solving the unhoused crisis in Los Angeles. I didn’t realize it at first, but I think it’s deeply affected me. It makes me feel like, yeah, this does feel possible. Why aren’t we doing this? We just need one person to try, just one person. And I know nothing’s that simple, and it’s easier said than done, but I like adding an element to the conversation. In the way that things are going these days, it just feels like the right thing to do.

DEADLINE: Season 2 begins with Molly wanting to just give all of her money away, but it’s interesting seeing the series grounded in the idea that the solution is not that simple.

RUDOLPH: Yeah, we definitely want to see the human error too. It’s like those things where you learn very quickly as an adult that life isn’t as simple as it seems, and I think we’re learning a lot too about the world of billionaires. I mean, it’s a world I know nothing about, and I’m certainly not well-versed in. There’s a lot to understand and to uncover, but there are certain notes we hit that feel like we’ve gotten them right here and there, or at least that’s the feedback that we get, and that’s really exciting.

May Rudolph interview
Maya Rudolph as Molly Wells in Loot.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about where Molly is in Season 2. She is really out of touch when she first comes into the Wells Foundation, but tell me about where she is now.

RUDOLPH: I think Molly has really made a world that she is ready to live in. She’s finally letting go of her old life, and the vestiges of her old life, and wants to be present in her own life and make the life that she wants. She’s asking herself the hard questions, but she’s also enjoying getting to know the people in the Wells Foundation and it’s also so nice to get to know Molly through the relationships that she’s investing in now.

It says a lot about what kind of a person she is. What I like seeing about her journey is that, the show has a lot to do with philanthropy, but you also see that she really is a good person. Getting to know her has been a nice journey as well, because it’s not just about what you can do for other people. It’s also about understanding yourself and, through that, I think she’s really discovered a lot. I’ve discovered a lot about her, and I like who she is.

DEADLINE: We’ve also gotten to see a lot more of the relationship between Molly and Nicholas [Joel Kim Booster].

RUDOLPH: I love their relationship, it’s such a fun game now. We really understand Molly and Nicholas, and I feel like the possibilities are endless. We always joke that on one day, one of them is mommy and the other one’s baby. And on another day, one of them is baby and the other one’s mommy. And then sometimes I feel like they’re both mommy. And sometimes I feel like they’re definitely both baby, and that’s so fun. Joel is such a great person to play that with, and he always knows the places to go in there. He’s such a great partner for those scenes. It’s really fun.

Their relationship also embodies the opulence and the wealth of her old life, and we never really want to lose it because it’s where all the shiny, glittery fun is in the world. So, we get to play that when we’re together and you see just the ridiculous side of her, the side of her that just hangs on every word. She’s in love with Nicholas. She loves him, he’s her everything. I think it’s a true love between the two of them. I think they’ve been there for each other through so many different parts of their lives, and it’s the longest, most loving relationship she’s had in her adult life. It’s ridiculous, but I think that’s what makes it so great.

DEADLINE: There’s like a codependency there that’s just …

RUDOLPH: Its beyond whatever codependent is. It’s worse.

DEADLINE: It’s toxic, but also kind of beautiful at the same time.

RUDOLPH: Yes, beautiful toxicity. A beautifully toxic romance. I feel like I want to coin a phrase for it, because it really is the relationship that is truly codependent and you frown upon, and yet, you wish you could have it. It’s an aspirational toxicity.

Maya Rudolph interview

DEADLINE: Speaking of opulence, we have Molly’s gorgeous array of outfits throughout the series. Tell me about working with costume designer Kirston Leigh Mann for this season.

RUDOLPH: I finally get to be on a show where I get to wear all the clothes I wanted to wear. I’ve worked with Kirston Mann, our costume designer, for so long and she’s such a good friend. She knows me too well. We just enjoy looking at the costumes through the lens of Molly and what she would wear. My favorite description of that was something that came early on in the first season when she realized she was the boss and she was going to come to work and take it seriously, or so she thought she did. And her idea of being the boss was asking herself, “What would Beyoncé wear?” And well, she would wear this outfit that she wore in the “APESH*T” video. So that’s what she wore.

I love how literal it is, and I also love that she feels good in it, so she can pull it off. It’s that fun thing of whatever you feel good in, if you’re owning it, you can pull it off. I find that very charming, and I think I find that very fun. We got to have a fashion show episode in this season, and that’s the epitome, the biggest, but also just the everyday. Whether it’s walking the dog or going to bed, it’s always an outfit. And these are the things that make me so happy. I really, really, really love it.

DEADLINE: To me, the outfits kind of reinforce the idea that even though she is trying to give all the money away, this woman just has infinite wealth.

RUDOLPH: I think it’s an incomparable amount. It’s an unrelatable amount of money. Something we tried to touch upon at the end of the first season was, even when she thinks she’s giving it away, her money is still making money. She’s trying to give it away and she’s making money, and just how ridiculous that sounds. The word ‘billion’ sounds pretend to me anyway, so the concept that there’s multiple billions is unfathomable for most of us.

But I think it’s also a drop in the bucket when it comes to a dress, if I’m being honest. I think she can still keep the wardrobe and walk the walk. I like the combination of the two, I like that she has not given up fashion for philanthropy. I think they can both live together. I mean, there have been some people over time, that you say like, “Oh wow, they’re a criminal lawyer, but they dress like a million bucks. Good for her.” It exists, and I just think it’s fun. In the world of make-believe, it’s just the most fun.

DEADLINE: The season ends with Molly saying that billionaires shouldn’t exist, where did that idea come from?

RUDOLPH: It came from the writers. Like I said, it’s been a really interesting experience thinking about these larger issues, thinking about the responsibility that people with indispensable wealth have, and what they could be doing with it. We tried to look at what do billionaires do? They’re always going to these summits, talking about things and I think it came very organically from this idea of what would this person say? What would her take be on it in the world of all of these summits amongst all these billionaires, that this feels like too much of a gap? It’s too profound of a gap in wealth.

I like that she gets to be the voice of reason. Somebody that’s given that much money overnight would probably have a conversation in her own head like, ‘This is wrong.’ Because she’s digesting everything in real time that the audience is as well. It just came from the brilliant minds of our showrunners really.

Read the digital edition of Deadline’s Emmy Comedy magazine <a href="https://issuu.com/deadlinehollywood/docs/deadline_-_emmy_preview_-_comedy?fr=xIAEoAT3_NTU1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:here;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">here</a>.
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DEADLINE: And what about the idea for Space for Everyone, of spending money to renovate hotels for unhoused people to live in?

RUDOLPH: I was very excited learning about this idea from the writers. It definitely came from the writers room in talking to people about the city, and ideas, and what can be done. It was terribly exciting to hear that thought. I know very little about city planning… I know none, by the way. I don’t know anything about city planning. I’m the last person to ask about the reality of something like that happening, but the optimist in me really loves the idea and loves the thought of, “What if three major cities embrace this idea? What would that look like?” I’m sure there will be problems. I’m sure there’s always red tape. I’m sure city planning is not a quick and overnight easy thing, but I love the idea of it. And like I said before, the thing we get to do on this show is we get to bring things into the conversation.

Even if it’s not perfect, even if it’s not exactly how it goes, I do love the optimism of that idea, and it feels less hopeless. There’s just so many times where I feel like a lot of us have felt terribly hopeless, but this idea of helping people is also a salve for your own soul. I think there is an incredible catharsis in the idea of, wow, maybe this could work. Or wow, maybe this is a great solution. It’s better than doing nothing.

There’s always going to be a problem with anything. I don’t know. I always feel like no good deed goes unpunished in life. I feel like you do something and you’re like, “Why did I do that? That just bit me in the ass.” But I do appreciate the idea of this character trying. I think it’s something that we need. I think we need to have a lot more optimism, and I’m here for it. I have no shame in trying to fly the optimism flag, because lord knows, we need it.

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