Kathryn Hahn loves 9 Elements, the vinegar-powered line of home cleaning products that help prevent inconveniences like yellow underarm stains on your favorite white t-shirt, faded colors on your nicest pair of black jeans, and white spots on your expensive glass shower doors. The brainchild of scientist duo Sunny and Sarah, 9 Elements quickly intrigued the Emmy-nominated actress for the way the products simplified her cleaning routine while giving off comforting aromas of lemon and eucalyptus that reminded her of home whenever she was away from her kids. But most of all, Hahn, a brand ambassador, appreciated that it was developed by a pair of women scientists. “9 Elements is something I’m really happy to support,” she told NYLON. “I’m so happy that it was two women scientists that started this company and I’m so proud to be backing it.”
Last week, NYLON hopped on a Zoom call with Kathryn Hahn to talk about 9 Elements as well as the huge moment she’s been having this year. Calling in from the “ridiculously gorgeous” locale of Greece, where she’s a month into production on the upcoming sequel to Knives Out, Hahn opened up about her recent Emmy nomination, the surprising success of WandaVision, the joy of reuniting with old scene partners on new projects, her upcoming Apple TV+ series The Shrink Next Door, working with Rian Johnson, and how she perfected her evil witch cackle.
Hello! You’re in Greece now, correct?
Yes, I am. Mamma Mia! [she laughs] I feel like I landed and immediately turned 67, had long white hair, and just felt like turning an old barn into a hotel and never coming back.
You were recently nominated for an Emmy for your work in WandaVision. What were you doing when you found out about the news and how did you feel in that moment?
Oh my God. I was driving home from work. I knew it was happening around that time but I was driving home, so I had my phone around me but I wasn't checking it. And then, it just erupted with a bazillion exclamation points from my dear publicist Bryna, so I knew it was good news. But I still didn't know how many nominations the show had gotten. So I called her and she told me, which was just bananas. My head was just reeling from it and I immediately started texting with Lizzie [Elizabeth Olsen], Paul [Bettany], Matt [Shakman], Kevin [Feige], and everybody over there.
It was just a blur. Then I got back here and I was able to come home to a cocktail. I had an Aperol Spritz and a little thing of salted cashews waiting for me with a couple Post-It notes from my daughter just saying “Congratulations,” which was really cute. I was shaking, I was so excited. Not in a bazillion years would I have thought that this show would have gone that distance. So yeah, we were all just really, really beyond tickled and just so grateful for all that.
You say you couldn't imagine that the show would “go that distance,” so what initially drew you to the character of Agnes and Agatha Harkness? Especially since both of your roles — a straight-up sitcom “nosy neighbor” archetype and a power-hungry witch — were so different from what you have played in the past.
I mean, I think you just nailed it. It was the witch. When I first heard “witch,” I was like, "Witch? Witch! Yes." I was so excited to play a witch in the MCU. And the fact that it was that trope, the fact that I was going to be able to play so many different iterations, the fact that I was essentially playing an actor because I was playing somebody that gets to play such a long game [was exciting].
I was in on it from the very beginning — from the first meeting I had, I knew where the story was going. [The MCU producers] gave me a full rundown — from episode one to the final reveal, with the big fight and Wanda [becoming] the Scarlet Witch and putting the final hex back on me to be in sitcom mode. I knew exactly where I was headed, so I knew that I was going to be able to play with where she peaks up and where she delves down. I just knew that I was going to have such meat on the bone to play with through the whole series and that I was going to be able to be over-the-top, which I just loved having the ability to do. I'd been playing such small neurotic women for a chapter there — who I really love, but I also love being able to stretch out sometimes and spread my wings size-wise. So [I was drawn to this role] for all those reasons — to be able to be allowed to do that, to take up that kind of space. I was excited to put down the neuroses for a second and just be big, and not feel worried or nervous or like I’m being judged for being big. All that was undeniably fun and just to be able to do it was thrilling.
I’m assuming the entire on-set experience was drastically different than what you’re used to as well. I imagine that a Marvel set is a lot more intense than smaller indie sets, just in terms of sheer size and the way things are being filmed.
Stylistically, it always has to come from the same source, the same place, but it was just putting more foot on the gas-pedal, I guess. It was just more push. Matt Shakman, our director for WandaVision, comes from the theater, and the first episode was directed in front of a live studio audience, so the whole experience felt very theatrical from the beginning. It felt like we were building an ensemble. The first episode felt very much like we ran through the whole show without stopping, so it felt very much like we were putting on a play. So the stakes and the size [of the production] was baked in from the top, which made it easier.
Then, there's the “Agatha All Along” song, which is genuinely so good. I’ve personally listened to it so many times, but it also ended up becoming a bonafide hit and topping charts. When you got pitched the idea to do a theme song and ended up recording it, did you ever think to yourself, “This song could actually maybe have legs in the real world?”
No! No. I knew I was going to have a theme song, but I actually didn't know I was going to be singing it until we were midway through shooting it and they were like, "Oh, we're going to need you to sing." I was like, "Great," but I had zero expectations that it was going to be the thing that would pop out. I was like, “Wait, what?” It was really like it was [happening on] a different planet — it was like another us or another me, just this other thing that was happening. Someone was like, "You topped the Biebs!" And I was like, "What are you talking about?" The whole thing was so very, very surreal.
You have a few new projects in the pipeline, including The Shrink Next Door, which comes out on Apple TV+ in November and reunited you with stars Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell, who you worked with on Anchorman over a decade and a half ago. Your career is in such a different place now, so how did it feel to partner up with them again?
It was really moving to sit in the table read with them and just be filled with, Wow, what a journey it's been to actually be here with you guys in this context. I'm just so grateful that it's you two, after all this time, sitting here with me again. It’s the same thing with Knives Out — to all of a sudden, be with Kate [Hudson] again after all this time. She was the lead in the first movie I was in, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, so it's so crazy to just see her be this much older, have had this much track and this much life behind both of us, and meet on this movie after all this time.
Life is just so weird. My friend described it as a ferris-wheel and it really is — those carts are going to keep coming. You never know when the high is the high, you just have no idea. It just keeps moving. So, that's what it felt like. I'm very excited for everyone to see The Shrink Next Door though. I'm very excited for people to see both of their performances in this show. I was very moved by both of them. They're very deep and really true. It's a nuts story.
Obviously, things are being kept very under-wraps for Knives Out 2, but I'm curious: What was your connection with the first film and how did that impact your decision to get involved with the second one?
Well, I love the ensemble of the first one. I was really turned on by, A) Rian Johnson's filmmaking, B) that he has an impeccable reputation as one of the nicest humans, and C) the ensemble. It just looked like every character was so specific and that it seemed to be a lot of equal ball-passing in a really fun way. It just looked like a blast to be on the set because it looked like there was no ball-hogging — just everybody passing the ball to each other with such generosity. And so far, it seems like the same thing on this one. It’s a really delightful, beautiful ensemble.
You famously don't use technology or social media. How do you think your disconnect from the online world has impacted the way you're taking in all of this “moment” right now? After all, so much of the "Oh my God, Kathryn Hahn is a genius" discourse is happening in places like Twitter and Instagram. Are you able to engage with it at all?
Oh my God, it's so weird. If I can just be able to continue to work, to continue to do this job that I love so madly that I can't even imagine doing anything else (and have never imagined doing anything else), to continue to be able to play the breadth of parts that I've been able to play in all these different genres, I would be so happy. So the fact that I never had known that there were people watching or taking note to the degree that they had been, I've been able to really slip under the radar. So I've been very moved by the response that I've heard about. It really is buoying to know that I don't have to quit my day job.
On a similar note, there have been a lot of calls for you to appear in different kinds of projects, where people are like, “I want to see Kathryn Hahn partnered with this specific actor in a buddy comedy” or something similar. Have you heard about any of those suggestions? If so, did any strike your fancy? And if not, do you have dream collaborators?
Oh my gosh, I haven't heard any of those. Or have I heard any of those? I don’t know. But I mean, there are so many people I want to work with. There are so many women I'm dying to work with. I love Julia Louis-Dreyfus so much — I mean, just a goddess and so brilliant. Bill Murray, I'd love to work with. I would love to work with Paul Thomas Anderson in something. I would love to work on a Wes Anderson movie. There are so many humans. A million.
I love all of those suggestions.
Let's make it happen!
I think that, with the way WandaVision wrapped up, there definitely seemed to be some room left for your character Agatha Harkness to appear again. If ever given the opportunity, is this a character and a world you’d like to revisit someday?
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, they run a really [tight ship] so I have no idea what's happening, but I would for sure love to [return to that character]. She's a ball.
Finally, how did you perfect your evil witch cackle? Did you just wing it or had you been practicing in preparation?
I definitely practiced. But we actually didn't know that it was going to [be shot] that day — it kind of just happened, so I'm glad I had it locked and loaded. But I did practice, just to have it in case. At first, we didn't know if it was going to feel too on-the-nose, but then we found a perfect place for it and I was glad we had it. I was so happy they used it.
And now we’ll always have that moment, which I’m certainly glad about.
I know, me too! We realized that it was maybe going to be too much really, and that was the only place to put it. But I'm so glad he did it, that it happened the way it did. It was kind of perfect.
Find more out about 9 Elements here.