'Russian Doll': Leslye Headland talks about working with an all-women crew and why such powerful stories interest her

In an exclusive interview with MEAWW, Leslye Headland talks to us about working in an all-female crew and how the work environment was different from what she was used to.


                            'Russian Doll': Leslye Headland talks about working with an all-women crew and why such powerful stories interest her

Wondering what to binge-watch over the weekend? Want to watch something that is funny yet deals with real-life issues? Not just your regular hopeless romantic female lead looking for a boyfriend? Don't worry, we've got you covered. New series 'Russian Doll' releases all eight episodes on February 1 and is perfect for your binge-watch this weekend. It's thoughtful, entertaining, different and will give you something to think about. 

'Russian Doll' is a new Netflix series starring Natasha Lyonne who plays Nadia and Charlie Barnett who plays Alan. Created, directed, produced and written by an all-female crew consisting of Amy Poehler, Lyonne, and Leslye Headland, this new series will leave you spellbound. It delivers a bit of everything, thrill, humor, drama and plot twists in ways you would have never imagined. 

MEAWW got talking to Leslye Headland and she told us the upsides of working in an all-female crew and how the work environment was different from what she was used to. She also reveals how it was to work alongside Lyonne and Poehler. 

Leslye Headland attends 'Russian Doll' Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)
Leslye Headland attends 'Russian Doll' Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)

The series may be a thought-provoking one, but as Headland reveals, there was a lot going on behind the scenes as well. She spoke to us about the crew and how though she loved working with an all-female crew but did mention that she would still like to work with men equally. "I think that when you have an all-female writing and directing team, there's a shorthand there that is not present when you are working with a co-ed team. I think a lot of time expressing your experience as a female in the world can sometimes be a little difficult to do when you're pitching to male showrunners or male director. Whereas I think working with women just made the process kind of smoother and easier for a show that was very difficult to write narratively and varying. You know like obviously, it was a very complicated and very satisfying narrative. But I think if we had also had to kind of explain why we were making certain choices and why we felt strongly about certain things I think it would slow the process down. So I think for this particular project, it was really wonderful to have that type of representation," Headland explained.

But she also added, "I don't think it's how I would prefer to work moving forward. I think working with men is great. And I think that with this show it just kind of ended up happening that way and it was really an exciting kind of fun thing to do, but I do think that yes, it would be great to have men on the team. Male writers, male directors lot of men that I admire in this industry who I think are incredible." 

VP Original Series, Cindy Holland, Netflix, Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, of Netflix, attend 'Russian Doll' Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)
VP Original Series, Cindy Holland, Netflix, Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, of Netflix, attend 'Russian Doll' Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)

'Russian Doll' is not your regular female lead who is in search of her perfect match or other relationship issues. It deals with real-life issues. This is not the first of its kind from Headland. Previously in 'Sleeping With Other People' which one of Headland's work, also revolved around the same storyline of real-life issues. So when we asked her if this is the kind of work that is synonymous to her and if we will be seeing more such work from her, Headland revealed, "I certainly hope so. I do make an effort to get my character. Who already know what she/he wants and needs and dreams that are not directly connected to finding a partner or material success or motherhood or any of those things. I kind of like to try to get something dealing with existential or spiritual issues as opposed to what we usually see in pop culture as being women. I felt like 'The Favorite' is a very beautiful film that I really loved last year. Because it's very rare that you see a story where women, their main want is power. You don't usually see that and I found it to be quite refreshing and so I would like to try to continue. I hope my work is that way and I would like to continue in that vein. Moving forward for as long and people will let me." 

The night of the party and rebirths were shot over and over again. Talking about the hardest part of shooting it all and how they went about it Headland said, "I think what was the most difficult thing about shooting is using night exteriors in New York, East Village. Just because that is a difficult area to shoot in it's not the most friendly area which is why you don't often see it in movies or TV. But I think that what really helped us is that Natasha had lived there for her entire adult life basically and so it really was shooting in her neighborhood. And I think that made other New Yorkers feel like it was their neighbor basically and I think it really helped."

Branden Wellington, Ritesh Rajan, Rebecca Henderson, Greta Lee, Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley, Leslye Headland, Jocelyn Bioh and Brendan Sexton III attend 'Russian Doll' Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)
Branden Wellington, Ritesh Rajan, Rebecca Henderson, Greta Lee, Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley, Leslye Headland, Jocelyn Bioh and Brendan Sexton III attend 'Russian Doll' Premiere at The Metrograph on January 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Netflix)

Talking about working alongside Poehler and Lyonne, Headland said, "I mean, I don't know if I've ever worked with such brilliant people especially Natasha being, you know, a writer, director and actor on the show. It was really exciting to work with someone who would jump out and be more invested in the project. It's very exciting to have that sort of an ally and I think what's cool about Amy is she is blowing on up and said she was someone that was not just a cheerleader, but also someone that kept their words. I don't think that I ever would have worked on something that was that innovative and this challenging on my own. I just think that they pushed me to become a better artist and I will always be really grateful to them for that too. I just didn't even know that I was capable of some of the work that I can on this show. So yeah, it was really an incredible experience."