Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Kristen Schaal enters ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’

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Comedy veteran Kristen Schaal had a new experience in “The Mysterious Benedict Society.”

“This is the first time I’ve done something where I have other source material to pull from,” Schaal, 43, told The Post, referring to the books on which the Disney+ series is based. 

The whimsical family friendly adventure series follows four orphaned children recruited by an enigmatic boarding school known as the Institute — where a Willy Wonka-esque benefactor named Mr. Benedict (Tony Hale) needs their help to stop “The Emergency,” a global involving mass societal depression and anxiety. 

Kristen Schaal as Number Two in "The Mysterious Benedict Society"
Kristen Schaal as Number Two in “The Mysterious Benedict Society”
Disney+

Schaal and Hale are joined by a slew of eccentric staffers including Number Two (Schaal), Milligan (Ryan Hurst) and Rhonda (MaameYaa Boafo).

“I loved getting to read the books,” Schaal said. “The fact that I was gifted with clues into who Number Two is was great. I dug in and highlighted [traits] like, ‘Oh, she eats a lot, she never sleeps — what else!’

Tony Hale as Mr. Benedict in "The Mysterious Benedict Society."
Tony Hale as Mr. Benedict in “The Mysterious Benedict Society.”

 “Ryan Hurst is so funny, and he’s like a comedy nerd like me,” said Schaal. “So that was a revelation. We sort of adopted Tony Hale into our family because we were filming in Canada and we weren’t allowed to go back and forth [because of the pandemic]. So he spent the holidays with my family.” (Schaal is married to TV writer Rich Blomquist, with whom she has a 3-year-old daughter, Ruby.)

“This parallel timeline [in the show] takes place where the whole world is bracing itself for something bad to happen,” she said. “We get into what that means…but everyone is under duress in our story. And then in the real world that I was living in, everyone was under duress dealing with the pandemic.

“So playing this role was really easy.’”

The orphans recruited by the Institute: Kate (Emmy DeOliveira), left, Reynie (Mystic Inscho), Sticky (Seth Carr) and Constance (Marta Timofeeva), right.
The orphans recruited by the Institute: Kate (Emmy DeOliveira), left, Reynie (Mystic Inscho), Sticky (Seth Carr) and Constance (Marta Timofeeva), right.

Schaal’s lengthy comedy resume encompasses shows aimed mostly at adult audiences — including “30 Rock,” “BoJack Horseman” and “Bob’s Burgers” — which is why “The Mysterious Benedict Society” appealed to her, she said.

“This is one of those tales where they take a special quality in kids — their innocence — and kind of make that their superpower. I thought that was really special, and it resonated with me. I like [a project] if it’s unique and weird and offbeat. I once did like an indie short about a woman who falls in love with a microwave. I was like, ‘Yes, sign me up!’ I’ll do anything that catches you off-guard and is surprising.”

MaameYaa Boafo as Rhonda in "The Mysterious Benedict Society."
MaameYaa Boafo as Rhonda in “The Mysterious Benedict Society.”

Schaal’s career dates back to the late ’90s, though there’s one series for which she’s most frequently recognized.

“Surprisingly it’s ‘Flight of the Conchords,’ which is from 10 years ago, but it’s never died,” she said of the HBO comedy. “It’s a cult thing, which is pretty cool. And when I was in Toronto a couple years ago, I got recognized for ‘The Last Man on Earth’ because it was on one of their streamers up there,” she said of the Fox comedy in which she co-starred opposite Will Forte. “People were loving it in a way that I never felt in the States. I had to e-mail the cast, like ‘Guys, guess what — people like the show a lot up here!’

“It’s always a surprise what resonates,” she said. “You just don’t know what’s going to tickle people.” 

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