One of my career highlights in 2018 was when I was asked to moderate Busy Philipps’s Chicago book tour. During our on-stage conversation, we got into her new book This Will Only Hurt A Little, which became an instant best seller, but we mostly talked about life. Like, I’m talking the hard stuff too many people don’t have the courage to share. Guys, this bitch is BRAVE. She’s unfiltered, self-aware, as authentic as it gets and a captivating storyteller. We covered the expected — Dawson’s, her BFF Michelle Williams, who, along with Tina Fey, served as moderators for her Book Tours in New York City, so no pressure on me or anything.
We also dug into the ugly side of Hollywood, mental health, motherhood, and so much more. The night was intimate, even though there was a big crowd. We learned that Busy is infatuated with babies (I wouldn’t be surprised if she does a sketch on her talk show where she’s holding a baby) and is pretty much up for anything. She happily indulged an audience member’s request to do a tequila shot with her onstage! Here are highlights from our conversation that included funny, hard, poignant, and emotional moments.
Q: When you set out to write the book, did you have the intention of exposing yourself? Were there times when you questioned whether or not you should put it on paper?
A: I am fundamentally not interested in bullshit. I want to know why people do the things they do, how they’ve gotten there and what they’ve overcome to get there. It was also post Donald Trump’s election, and there’s been a collective shift in conscientious, especially if you’re a woman in this country in terms of value and things that have happened to you. When that happened, I had this reckoning. I was 37, had two girls, was in an unhappy marriage and felt like I’d been brutalized by men my entire life. I was like fuck this. I’m not gonna do it anymore. I’m not gonna hold onto these things anymore because it’s not my job. I want to be a part of the next step forward for my girls in which they don’t feel like they have to hold onto things in order to protect other people. It was never a question of if I’m not gonna share these things or say these names. I’m not gonna protect people who have been terrible to me. That’s not my job.
My biggest fear in writing the book was that things would be taken out of context and turned into clickbait like “Abortion at 15, “ “Raped at 14” or “Michelle Williams Saved Her Marriage.” No. Marc fucking Silverstein saved our marriage but guess who doesn’t get a headline. These things fucking mean something to me (getting choked up), but I I’ll fucking take it to put the book into the world and to have the kind of interactions it has enabled me to have with people. I’m glad somebody can identify with something in the book that means something to them. I’m strong enough, and I’ll fucking take it.
Q: You started doing Instagram because you felt alone and insecure. Do you still feel insecure?
A: Sure. But when I took the thing I was feeling outward to the people and saw that other people were relating to me, those connections I felt with people were everything. The most empowering thing I find for myself is when people connect with something I say or something I’m doing. Sharing has alleviated some of the stress of whatever I’m going through. Women are taught from a very young age to hold onto their stuff. Even if it’s post-partum…you feel isolated and not comfortable talking about it. I think the conversation is shifting, and I’m excited for that because when someone says they’re dealing with something and you are too, you feel better knowing you’re not alone.
Q: Do you read your follower’s messages?
A: I read every DM. I do 98% of my Instastories in one take. I try to be cognizant of being snarky or putting bullshit into the world that doesn’t need to be there and resist that urge. I think the social media thing is tricky. On one hand, there’s the Keeping up with the Jones’s thing. Full disclosure: I don’t use Facetune — ever. It didn’t even occur to me that people I love and know and trust use it all the time. Like when you take a selfie with a really close friend, and she’s like, “You’re not posting that until I Facetune it.” So I understand all of that stuff that can get in your head. But I also think there is something great about releasing yourself of the burden of holding onto things. Especially with anxiety, I just found that as soon as I say the thing I’m fearing it gets a little bit easier and lighter.
Q: When you were a teenager how did you keep yourself going? How did you know things were going to get better?
A: I have to be really honest with you. Sometimes I didn’t know that. I really held onto this idea that I was going to do this nearly impossible thing. I was going to be a professional actor. It wasn’t fun for me in high school. I did a lot of drugs. I had a goal. I had a thing I was holding onto and that was what was propelling me forward. In high school I thought if I can just get to LA. I got to LA and it wasn’t emotionally better for me, but I was on a path. And I thought, if I can just get the TV show. I got a TV show, and things were a little bit better. It’s just a step at a time. I will say that I have gone to most of my high school reunions…the 10 year and 20 year. It got better for everyone. The only people it doesn’t get better for are the people who peak in high school.
Q: You dated Colin Hanks. What was that like? Did you go to Tom and Rita’s for dinner?
A: We were college boyfriend and girlfriend. We totally loved each other. He was so cute. We both wanted to be actors. I was like, “You have the advantage in this situation.” I met them (Tom and Rita) shortly after we started dating. They were always really wonderful and supportive of me. To this day Colin and I are still really close friends, and our little ones are best friends.
Q: Did you guys know Freaks & Geeks was going to be a huge hit?
A: No. We were kids and just happy to be there.
Q: Are you glad there was no social media when you were growing up?
A: If I had social media in high school, I would have put everything out there. I always wanted to be seen. I felt like people weren’t seeing me or knowing me. I’m glad TMZ and those outlets didn’t exist when I was a younger actor like when I was on Dawson’s because I was very messy at that time. As messy as I ever was, I never missed work. I know other actors and actresses from that time who were messy too but didn’t stick around because they didn’t do the job.
Q: Do you feel the pressures of Hollywood in terms of beauty?
A: No. I’m better looking now than I was in my 20s. Michelle (Williams) and I were talking about this the other night…aging in Hollywood.
Q: How do you juggle it all?
A: I don’t. It’s a disaster. We have a nanny, and my life doesn’t exist without her.
Q: What tips have you gotten for being a talk show host?
A: Tina Fey said, “You’ll be fine.” There are actors who can talk and actors who can’t. I’m an actor who can talk. I really love acting. But the thing about acting is it will always break your heart. In the same way it saves me, it crushes me. After my last pilot (Tina Fey was behind it) didn’t get picked up, I was crushed. It was so awesome, and I thought this is what I’m doing next. I was like, I can’t go through this again; I need to pivot. So I got stoned in Palm Springs. It was at a birthday party at the Merv Griffin estate. I was looking up at the sky, and then I turned to Marc and was like, “I’m supposed to be the first female host of The Tonight Show.” I need to be a female voice in late night. “ He genuinely looked at me and said, “Yeah, if you wanna do that, you can do that.” I was like, yeah I do.
To see more behind-the-scenes from my conversation with Busy, watch the “celebrity interviews” highlight on my Instagram.
WHAT I WORE
When preparing for this event, I thought about how I wanted to present myself. Of course I wanted to have a professional edge, but I also wanted a stylish vibe that felt authentic to me. I chose this Gucci jacket that I rented from the ByFashionaholic showroom in Chicago. Instead of pairing with black pants, which felt too business-y, I wore my own jeans and accessorized with my classic black pumps that I’ll have forever. You can shop my look below!