Before she was the star of your TV obsession, Annie Murphy was just another kid trying to get to her cousins’ house so she could play their Mario Kart. Fast forward a couple of decades and the Ottawa native is back to her gaming roots, starring in a new Nintendo Switch campaign about her perfect rainy day. The Schitt's Creek actress and recent Emmy winner and just-announced Golden Globe nominee (woot!) says the new gen of gamers are more than just basement-dwelling man boys (and also that getting the girls together for a Just Dance party is the pandemic equivalent of karaoke night). Here, she talks to Refinery29 about her post-Schitt’s Creek career plans, the text she sent to Dan Levy about his upcoming SNL hosting gig, and what she can’t wait to do when lockdown is over.
Okay, first things first. You have a co-star in your new Nintendo Switch commercial and I have to know: Is that your real mom?
It is so much my real mom. At one point there were some discussions of using an actor mom, but Deborah Murphy would not stand for that. A lot of people have asked me the same question. I think maybe because she’s quite good. We did some rehearsing, we ran lines the night before, and I think she knocked it out of the park.
Does acting run in the family?
No, very much not. She’s run many a line with me, but my mom was a teacher and then worked for the Canadian government, so there’s no acting blood running through her veins. And now she’s a massive, massive handful. She won’t take my phone calls.
Was she the kind of mom who had strict rules around video games growing up?
I don’t think it was a rule or a strict thing — video games just weren’t really in my orbit when I was younger. And then my cousins got Nintendo. They live in Kingston, ON and every time we would go to visit family, I would pick their house as the house to sleep over at and then just gobble up hours and hours and hours of Mario Kart.
Were you a big gamer in your teenage years?
I wasn’t really. It was only when I got the Nintendo Switch right before the pandemic that it came back into my life and thank god for that. It has evolved so much since my Mario Kart days. The Ring Fit Adventure gives me a chance to get off the couch and get some exercise. I have taken a great shine to Just Dance 2020. Video games used to be kind of a man-boy-in-the-basement thing, but now I see so many women and young girls loving Nintendo Switch, not just playing it, but killing it.
A lot of people are using video games as a way to spend time with people while we’re all under lockdown.
Definitely. My weekends aren’t what they used to be. Friday night isn’t like Friday night! anymore. But to wrangle a group of friends together, open a bottle of wine and play Just Dance 2020. That’s sort of the equivalent of going to karaoke and watching everyone embarrass themselves. (My group of friends aren’t the most coordinated people on the planet.)
Other than playing a lot of video games, what has lockdown life been like for you?
I was mostly in Toronto. I spent an insane amount of time thinking about all of the new hobbies I would take up, all of the amazing food I would cook… and then I ended up mainly just watching a lot of 90 Day Fiancé and ordering food from local restaurants.
Hey, they need the support.
Yes, that’s what I was doing. I was being a philanthropist.
You recently auctioned off a dress to raise money for charity.
I had been clearing out my place and I came across the Wayne Clark dress that I hadn’t worn since my first red carpet, that uncomfortable sweaty night at the Canadian Screen Awards in 2015. I figured it could be more beneficial outside of my dark closet, so I auctioned it off and someone very generously bid $7,000 USD. Half of that is going to the Toronto Encampment Support Network and half is going to a charity that the buyer chooses.
Can you tell us anything about the lucky winner?
She’s a lovely lady who lives in Washington. She was a big Schitt’s Creek fan. She said that her goal is to one day wear the dress to the White House. I don’t think she has any connection to the White House, but that’s her wish and I hope it comes true.
Well, the dress certainly brought you luck.
Yes. I think that dress could help her get there.
Schitt’s Creek has totally exploded over the past couple of years. Even since the finale it just keeps getting bigger. Is it frustrating to be stuck at home when you should be basking in the buzz, taking back-to-back meetings at Chateau Marmont…
Well of course it would have been great to go to the actual Emmys, but there are far larger problems and I feel very lucky. I booked a job right before everything shut down, so I felt some sense of having something to move onto. I have been in Quincy, MA, near Boston, filming. That’s where I am right now.
What can you tell us about the new project?
It’s a new dark comedy that’s going to be on AMC. It’s called — can I swear?
It’s called Kevin Can Fuck Himself. The premise is like — you know the sitcoms that are about this schlubby, beer-drinking, sports-loving gom of a man, who has his group of friends and then he has his wife to wag her finger and be the butt of his jokes.
Sure. The King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond…
Exactly. So this show, instead of following the schlubby husband, we follow the wife and into this secret life that she’s living when she’s not, like, making sandwiches. It’s really cool. When she’s with her husband it’s like “sitcom world” so it’s canned laughter, really bright sets, and then when she’s by herself it’s this really beautiful, gritty, single cam world. I'm super excited and proud of it.
It must be weird adjusting to a new city at this particular moment.
In an ideal world I’d be out exploring on the weekends, but I have to say it’s been weird. I flew in from Toronto where there is a pretty intense lockdown situation. Boston is in lockdown too but people are at restaurants, they’re having a drink at a bar. As deeply jealous as I am, every fibre in my being is telling me no, no, no, no, no — this is not good. I’ve been sticking pretty close to home, ordering groceries.
Your new Nintendo Switch ad is about how you’d spend your perfect rainy day. What about your perfect "the pandemic is over, you can go anywhere, do anything" day?
Ohhhhh. I will go to New York or Paris. Or can it be both?
It’s your day.
I would leave my house and get a delicious breakfast. I would walk and walk and walk and whenever I was hungry or thirsty I would stop off at a cozy restaurant or a bar and do that all day long until nighttime when I would go to a sweaty dance club or a concert where I would kiss everybody on the mouth.
Sounds like a good time.
You can come. It’s going to be great.
I’m not sure if you saw, but Kate Winslet is the latest celebrity to reveal herself as a Schitt’s Creek super fan…
Oh my god. Kate Winslet is one of the coolest women alive and to think that she knows my name is just devastatingly wonderful and exciting and I don’t know what to do about it. It kind of feels like when I was at my very first concert, the Backstreet Boys, and I was up in the rafters and Brian Littrell was on stage. I knew that we were supposed to be together and he was supposed to my husband but I couldn’t contact him so that gave me a lot of anxiety. I kind of feel that way about Kate Winslet being my friend.
I have. I sent him a text that I now feel like it maybe wasn’t the kindest thing. I asked: “Are you so nervous? I’m so nervous.” Maybe I should have sent something more supportive. He sounds like he’s doing okay. He said he’s going through peaks and valleys of extreme terror and eerie calm. I’m sure he’ll do a good job, but I’m so full of anxiety.
Any chance of an Alexis cameo?
I’m waiting by my phone. Nothing so far, but we’ll see.