‘4th Man Out’
Kate Flannery is most celebrated for her portrayal of Meredith Palmer in the nine-year-run TV series “The Office.” Flannery is currently playing the role of Karen in her new film “4th Man Out,” a comedy about a car mechanic in a small town who comes out to his lifelong, unsuspecting friends, who are now forced to adjust to the situation. The film will be released February 5.
As Adam’s mom, who after years of trying to find him a girlfriend discovers her son is gay, she tries to support her son in a humorous and sensitively convincing manner. The film stars Chord Overstreet from “Glee”; Parker Young from “Suburgatory” and “Arrow”; Jon Gabrus, Evan Todd, Brooke Dillman and Jennifer Damiano. It has won 15 film festival awards for best feature.
Besides “The Office,” Flannery has appeared on stage several times, including playing the role of Neely O’Hara in the off-Broadway hit “Valley of the Dolls.” She is an original member of Chicago’s “Annoyance Theatre,” where she created “The Miss Vagina Pageant” and “The Real Live Brady Bunch.” Her comedy act, “The Lampshades,” has been running in Hollywood for over four years. Currently she is touring as Jane Lynch’s sidekick in the cabaret act “See Jane Sing” and is in a new film, which is about to be released shortly, called “Tenured.”
In between her busy array of projects, Get Out! spoke with Flannery about her new film and future projects. I found her to be a lot of fun, humble, candid and very warm.
I loved the movie, and I thought you played the most perfect mother ever.
I really loved the movie. Those guys were great. Sometimes indie movies are tough, but they were lovely and really in it to win it. They were really committed.
In real life, had you had a gay son who came out to you after 10 years of knowing he were gay, do you think your reaction would have been similar?
I have to tell you, one of my best friends from high school came out when I was in college, and we had the same exact conversation. He told me that he saw the movie in Chicago. I said the same thing to him: “You left that whole part of your life out of our relationship.” So interesting I had the same reaction as Karen. It’s ironic.
That’s a coincidence.
Isn’t that wild? I think that this happens where there is a fear of disappointing the family when you come out, and it’s not about that at all for the family. They just love you and want you to be honest with them, because they want to know everything that’s going on with you, because they love you.
Exactly. They want to be a part of your life. You know that you have a pretty big gay fan base?
I do, I do. I was really lucky, I got to do a very cult gay theatre experience when I did “Valley of the Dolls” on stage.
You have done quire a bit of comedy, films, television, etc. What haven’t you accomplished that you would still like to achieve?
I’m starting to write. I mean, I do write for my comedy at the Lampshade, but I’m starting to write other things. I think that’s next for me. I’m not quite sure if I’m going to write a movie or a TV show, but something’s coming up for me—maybe even a book.
I usually do research on whoever I’m going to interview. When I did the research on you, I feel like I now know more about Meredith Palmer than Kate Flannery. So what is the one thing you would want your fans to know about you that they don’t already know?
Well, my dad owned a bar, so I understand Meredith very well. But this is the thing, I’ve been really lucky. I have been around for a long time, but I really didn’t get my break until “The Office,” until I was 40. But I was really doing everything I wanted to do up until that point. I feel like I have only done projects that have really spoken to me, so I was fine to wait tables through the first years of “The Office.” I would rather do something that really speaks to me than get stuck in something that I don’t really love doing, that I don’t love the work, or that I don’t love being an actor. I am picky in that respect. I didn’t realize that until looking back. I really didn’t compromise, which is why I was a 40-year-old waitress. And that’s OK.
How much did you love the role playing Adam’s mother in “4th Man Out”?
I did. I think that that movie is so well written. I think that it is so real. I think that those are the conundrums of the modern coming-out story. How great the evolution of coming out has changed so much. So quickly. Twenty years ago when I was doing “Valley of the Dolls,” that was not the experience at all. It’s a wonderful discovery for everybody to watch this movie and to realize that this is more of the American experience, coming out now. I know in other countries it’s a lot harder to come out, and in certain parts of the country, but I think they are way more options, way more open-mindedness, and just a lot more acceptance.
It’s about time.
It is about time. What’s nice about this movie is it is not preachy at all. It’s a really funny movie that happens to cover the topic of coming out to your straight friends and your mom.
You know, I loved the movie, but I felt a lot of it was serious.
Well, some of it is.
In any case, I thought it was really well done. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t suffer over the jobs that you don’t get, because it just means that you’re supposed to be in a different place. Sometimes that place is usually better than what you originally wanted in the first place.
How did you begin your career? What made you choose the entertainment Industry?
I was always interested in being an actress. I loved musicals as a kid, and then when “Annie” came out, I was 12. I kind of lost my mind. I wanted to be in it. I went and auditioned for the touring company, and my mom was appropriately protective. I worked in a dinner theater when I was in high school, and “Bye, Bye Birdie,” I think, was my first professional play. I also worked in a variety show nightclub when I was 15. I just had a few one-shot deals, and I was very pushy, because I really was attracted to this business. Now, I feel like the art of making people laugh became really important, especially after college. I went to college for theater, and when I graduated my aunt sent me a ticket to check out “Second City.” My first night there, I learned later, because I did not know at the time, Jane Lynch was actually an understudy for Bonnie Hunt that night. It was the night that Bonnie Hunt got married, and she came back to do the rest of the show in her wedding gown. I wanted in on this. Chicago was such a great place to start my career. I worked with Joe Soloway on two shows, “The Vagina Pageant” and “The Real Life Brady Bunch.” I took a leave of absence from “Second City,” because of two shows that I just had, but it was just a great time. I felt like we were kids acting so much with the audience. It was a pretty magical time for that level.
In “4th Man Out,” did you have a favorite part of the movie?
I think the scene in the kitchen with Adam. I think that was my favorite scene with the mother. I think it was nice to be in a comedy, but to also be in a place where there was some drama—not tragedy, but there was pain that we have to address, and disappointment, and healing. I loved that scene. I loved the relationship between the four guys; they were just so real. They obviously really cared about each other.
Do you have any up-and-coming projects that you’d like to talk about?
I am actually touring with Jane Lynch, singing with her and her cabaret act, and touring the country. We were just in Scottsdale on Saturday. We had eight shows in New York this past summer at Joe’s Pub. We’re going to be at the Kennedy Center in June. We have a lot of dates coming up in June. We are playing Atlantic City. Then I also have my comedy act, “The Lampshades.” We’re playing that in Anaheim, House of Blues, next month. I am also working on a Cartoon Network show. We just started it. I love doing animation. It’s such a blast.
Is there anything else that you’d like to promote for yourself that I haven’t covered?
The thing about Twitter and Instagram is, it’s such a really fun way to connect with people. The gift of “The Office” is that there are such smart fans. I feel like it’s just so nice when you feel like people “get you.” I have really great fans. I feel really fortunate. Life is so interesting. I’m so lucky, because I really still have fun at what I do. I have another movie coming out in February called “Tenured” that did really well at the Tribeca Film Festival. It might just be on Netflix.
What kind of character do you play?
I play an assistant principal that is trying to get this fifth-grade teacher fired, because he’s using his class as a therapist when his wife breaks up with him. They were great people, and I had a great time with that movie too.