Welcome to Next Question With Michael Musto, a regular feature in which Musto uses his time-honed skills to interrogate big celebrities, former celebrities, and wannabe celebrities. Musto is a pop culture icon, regular TV presence, and the author of four books.
A two-time Emmy winner for 3rd Rock From The Sun, Kristen Johnston is back for another season as divorce lawyer-slash-den mother Holly Franklin in the sitcom The Exes on TV Land. And she has Guts—her book (now in paperback) is about conquering addictions, self-esteem issues, and bad press. As hilarious as she is as an actress, Kristen (@kjothesmartass) is dead serious about trying to help save teen addicts through slamnyc.org.
Hi, Kristen. Thanks so much for supporting me on Twitter when I was laid off. You told off the two haters!
You’re like the shit. You represent New York for me. Is nothing sacred?
I know, right! But back to you. Why is Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster not on your Wikipedia page?
I don’t look at it. How do you get that changed? When I have free time in the next year, I will—or when I care. [laughs]
The book has really struck a chord for being harrowing yet hopeful.
Thanks. I wrote every word myself, and I’m not a writer. It’s been the most life changing…Forgive my voice. I don’t usually sound quite this manly. We’ve been doing a lot of press.
You sound like Lauren Bacall. It’s a good thing.
Thank you. The rest of America thinks I sound like a man. Anyway, many people have said my book has inspired them to save themselves or helped them understand addiction. People can’t understand why someone would do that. They think it’s a reflection of how that person feels about you. People finally get that it has nothing to do with you! They’re gone. Their brains are in prison. You have leukemia—that’s the way you have to look at it. And so many people think that’s an excuse. "Of course it’s a disease. You chose to pick up that drink." I didn’t choose to pick up that pill. I was given it because I had a migraine! It’s not always because we’re looking to get obliterated every four minutes. The challenge is making people understand that I’m not some yutz with a 10,000-square-foot shoe closet that throws brushes at maids. People tend to put the Courtneys and Whitneys in a box. "Oh, that’s so sad. Fame ruined them." But the bottom line is they’re your sister, your mailman….
That’s some funky mail.
I used to think I’m here to be an actress or be funny, but it’s much bigger than that now. I haven’t turned into some Angelina Jolie save-the-world kind of person, but I’m someone much more aware of the agony people carry around every day.
Were you an addict when you died on Sex and the City?
Uh huh. I was snorting baby powder or something. Look at me [back then]—I’m a fat, puffy mess! But that was also a great time in my life. It doesn’t mean every moment was miserable.
True, but your powderless tomorrows are definitely brighter. The Exes is a whole new chapter.
We shoot it right next to where we shot 3rd Rock. I’m working with Wayne Knight again. It’s like being given a second chance and being able to finally enjoy it. I’m not even talking about the success level of the show, I could give a crap. I’m talking about the opportunity to have joy every day.
Who’s the little person on the show?
Kelly [Stables]? She could fit in my pocket. She’s not an official little person, fyi—she could probably go on Space Mountain by herself—but she’s very sweet. Seeing them all this morning for press, I was so excited. I’m so used to the New York attitude of "I hate L.A. Take the money and run." I find myself going, "This doesn’t suck when you enjoy yourself." Maybe when you’re sober, you’re not sitting on your coach weeping.
And they keep renewing it.
It’s a cult hit. People love it. In the new time slot, following Hot in Cleveland, hopefully we can reach a much broader audience. Now it will be not just 75 year olds, but 30 year olds. I didn’t! [laughs]
On 3rd Rock, did you see Joseph Gordon Levitt as a future hottie?
He and I are great friends. He’s my brother. It would never occur to me that he’s a hottie, but I get why people think he is. I thought he’d become a director, he’s got that kind of mind.
I’m very proud. And proud that he’s remained a great human, not become a druggie mess. He was raised really right and he doesn’t have that gene. My brain has a different serotonin level. If you took Vicodin, you’d feel pleasant, maybe a little itchy, and move on. For me, it’s like “Yes!” We’re not hellbent on destroying our lives. Maybe Amanda Bynes, poor thing.
[Photo by David Khinda]