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Spotlight on Jane Lynch

The ”Glee” star talks about her memorable roles in ”Best in Show,” ”The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and more

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The Second City-trained actress steals every scene on Glee. Lynch, 49, talks about the hilariously sinister Sue Sylvester and some of her other memorable roles.

BEST IN SHOW (2000)
Christy Cummings
Christopher Guest’s improvised comedy was Lynch’s breakout role. She played the arrogant dog trainer (and eventual girlfriend) of Jennifer Coolidge’s hapless trophy wife. ”Jennifer was a delight to work with. We were both nervous because it was our first Christopher Guest experience and we didn’t exactly know what was expected of us, so we kinda held hands through it. We actually did talk a lot about [Christy and Sherri’s] relationship, and [spent] a lot of time laughing and going through scenarios.”

THE L WORD (2005-09)
Joyce Wischnia
Her recurring lesbian attorney character on the Showtime drama ended up in a romance with newly out lesbian Phyllis (Cybill Shepherd). ”Joyce is one of those supremely confident, stop-at-nothing-to-win kind of people. You take Christy Cummings, grow her up about 20 years, and put her through law school. And about 20 years of therapy, too, where she builds up her self-esteem.”

THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN (2005)
Paula
Her role as Steve Carell’s aggressively flirtatious boss was originally written for a man, but Carell’s wife, Nancy — a friend of Lynch’s from her days at Second City — recommended the actress. ”My audition was improvising with Steve, and we came up with my deflowering him. That wasn’t in the script. We ended up putting it in the movie.”

CRIMINAL MINDS (2006-08)
Diana Reid
Lynch has a recurring dramatic (and dramatically different) role on the CBS procedural as Spencer Reid’s (Matthew Gray Gubler) schizophrenic mother, who has helped her son with some cases. ”Like Spencer, she’s a genius and too smart for her own good. I kinda get put through the ringer in almost every episode. It was a completely different energy. I slowed down a lot.”

JULIE & JULIA (2009)
Dorothy McWilliams
Playing Julia Child’s sister, Lynch matched Meryl Streep’s exuberance. ”I showed up on the set right when I got into New York, because Nora [Ephron, the director,] wanted me to see where Meryl was living in terms of the character. It was just a joy, if on one level intimidating, but I really tried to shut that part of it out.”

GLEE (2009)
Sue Sylvester
Lynch has become a favorite among fans and critics with her portrayal of the tyrannical, tracksuit-loving, and perpetually Stair-Mastering cheerleading coach. ”She wears her evil right out in front. There’s no hiding it, and she enjoys it. She loves the shocked look on people’s faces as she says the most heinous, politically incorrect things. She finds her own evil quite delicious.”