Cecily Strong On Staten Island Summer, Ghostbusters, & Chris Hemsworth

The summer after Cecily Strong's first season on Saturday Night Live, she and a bunch of her SNL compatriots ventured across the Hudson to make Staten Island Summer, a coming of age movie written by the show's current Weekend Update host, Colin Jost. Strong's profile has grown considerably in the two years since she played a surly lifeguard who tries to throw an epic party with her friends. She has headlined the White House Correspondents Dinner and landed a role in Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot. During a recent chat a few days before the release of Staten Island Summer, which is also currently available on iTunes and will hit Netflix July 30, Strong spilled about Ghostbusters haters, gushed with us over her costar Chris Hemsworth, and shared her thoughts on whether her Correspondents' dinner set made a difference.
Making Staten Island Summer seems like it must have had a summer camp feel. It was filmed in 2013, right?
"We did a little bit last summer too, but only like two weeks or something. Mainly it was filmed the summer before. It was really my first movie and coming right off the first season with a lot of people that I really liked and looked up to from the show. I had worked with Colin a lot, writing. What’s nice about it is you all really trust each other and know each other well so Colin let us improvise a lot. So we got to really play around to find what we thought was the funniest and to find our own characters." You don’t go with a full-out Staten Island accent. What was the thinking behind that?
"I didn’t even try for a little bit. Even though I’m from Chicago and I have a very thick Chicago accent, every now and again when I’m around people, I’ll pick up how they talk. I just didn’t want it to be fakey and seem over the top. A lot of people that we met there don’t necessarily all sound like that stereotypical accent." You get a makeover moment, which is a hallmark of teen movies. What was that like?
"That one was nice because I finally got to wear lashes and I love wearing lashes. I don’t wear a lot of makeup in the movie. That made it really fast prep time which is nice. I think we spent about 10 minutes on my hair at the most every day, if that. As a woman, that’s very nice in movies because you always take so much longer than the men." Right now, it's the summer and SNL isn’t on the air, but there’s a lot of news that would make for great material. Is there anything you are dying to do?
"I don’t write as much of the topical stuff, so anything that I find amazing over the summer I take notes on my iPhone. It’s just like a character idea or a scene idea. It’s more on the writers to do that topical stuff, so I’m lucky in that sense. Especially because impressions are a little tougher for me. So I’m always like: 'Whew, off the hook,' because if someone looks like me in the news I’m going to wind up having to play that person. If someone looks like me and does something crazy, I’m in trouble." Donald Trump will presumably still be talking by the time September rolls around.
"I assume he’ll be talking. He doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop talking ever. I don’t know how you stop him. He doesn’t have a limit." I really liked your mantra about Hillary Clinton from the Correspondents' Dinner: "I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary's appearance because that is not journalism." Do you think people have stayed true to that?
"For the most part I’m sure they will not. I made sure that one stayed in. That was a really important, fun joke for me. I think it will at least be on people’s minds and if someone does it someone will at least call them out for it. But I think they will still do it of course. I don’t think I beat sexism because of this speech, unfortunately. I couldn’t defeat it. I tried." I saw you posted a Dubsmash Instagram with Kristen Wiig. Was that Ghostbusters-related?
"That’s Ghostbusters. I gave away the plot of Ghostbusters in that Dubsmash. Yeah, we did it in Boston. We did that Fourth of July." I have to ask you about Ghostbusters. Are you still filming? Are you still in Boston?
"Right now I’m in New York, I’m going to L.A. for a bit. I go back to Boston for a couple weeks." How has that been? I know you can’t reveal that much, but Paul Feig has been tweeting a lot. What is the environment like on set, with all of the media attention?
"I’ve never worked on anything that’s so secret. I do feel like I have that little red laser light pointed at my head at all times whenever I do interviews about it. I just don’t really talk about it. But it’s been super fun and it’s all people I really like and I have wanted to work with Paul for a long time. It’s a very, very nice set to be on. Really great people. Really talented, funny people." One of the rumors that has been circulated was that you are playing an “authority figure.”
"There were so many rumors out there. There were rumors that I met with him, and I was like when was this meeting? Everything that was out there and that’s been out there, that Paul hasn’t done, a lot of that is all rumor. I was cast in this movie on the Internet way before I was cast in this movie." What was that disconnect like? How early did you hear that you were involved before you were actually involved?
"I heard something in October, which was insane. Because of the show I’m used to seeing things written online. The way people will just pick up a story and run with it without ever checking anything is mind-blogging to me. Because of SNL I got kind of used to it." When did you officially find out you were going to be in the movie?
"I was like, the day I show up and film then I’ll know I’m doing it. I’m very new to the movie industry but that’s how it feels like they all kind of are." When the news came out that there were going to be female Ghostbusters terrible things were said online and I saw Paul combating that on Twitter. Obviously that’s so separate from what you’re doing, but what is your reaction to that?
"They’ll go away. They’ll crawl back into their holes and die. Especially online — that’s where, like, all the creeps come out to scream, and everybody wants to be offended and it’s all just like, why even? I’m of the [opinion] that if you’re already someone that’s going to say something misogynistic online, I’m not interested in having a conversation with you. It bores me. The fact that it’s female leads, that has people going crazy? That’s nuts, and they look stupid in the end. They'll do it to themselves. I don’t need to make them look any dumber than they are." I was so excited to hear Chris Hemsworth was going to play the secretary.
"I love him. He’s so funny. He worked on our show. He was in my top five [hosts]. I really thought he was so funny. I was a little bit shocked by it, and I told him that. Only because I thought he was just an action guy, and then it's like, oh you're very funny. And he’s just a nice person."

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