Ilana Glazer is ready for her next chapter
In Ilana Glazer's debut starring film role, the writer-actress spends a lot of time covered in blood. You may watch and think, "Wait, that's not Ilana from Broad City, is it?" and the answer is both yes and no. Her upcoming horror thriller, False Positive, marks a major departure from the absurdly hilarious and sharply observant Comedy Central series she co-created and starred on with real-life best friend Abbi Jacobson from 2014 to 2019. But back to the blood.
"It was so gross and so bad for your skin," Glazer, 33, tells EW. "It was a real horror experience to shoot [False Positive]." That had as much to do with her character's traumatic arc as the icky red corn syrup. The film tells the story of Lucy (Glazer) and her partner Adrian (Justin Theroux), who, on a quest to become pregnant, end up working with a fertility specialist, Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). As Lucy's belly grows, so do her suspicions that not all is as it seems at Dr. Hindle's disquieting clinic. "It's about how the patriarchy is expressed through medicine," says Glazer, who EW can confirm is, in a bit of providential timing, pregnant with her first child. (Dad is husband David Rooklin.)
In the film, Lucy assumes she has some agency. "Part of that is because she is white [and] financially comfortable, and [part is] because of the aesthetics of her relationship with her partner," Glazer says. "Lucy believes that, at a base level, she is free and in charge of her own decisions. But she's not." Fans of Glazer's work know that exposing the patriarchy is a longtime passion project, but a few years ago, she became particularly transfixed on its role in pregnancy medicine and IVF. "I think about women in America, supposedly the wealthiest nation in the world," Glazer says, "and yet our maternal death rate is growing."
It just so happened that Glazer's friend John Lee — they met when he directed episodes of Broad City — had co-written a story with author Alissa Nutting that explored those themes. "John had a fever- dream version of this movie," says Glazer. "I'd read it and kept check- ing in about it." More than two years ago, Glazer and Lee co-wrote the script, Lee signed on to direct, and False Positive was born; at last, it's coming to Hulu on June 25. "This was not supposed to happen this way, but it's just so eerie and cosmically funny that it has," Glazer says about the timing of her pregnancy and the film's release.
Glazer supposes that had she been pregnant before making False Positive, it would've been an entirely different film, but Lucy's journey into motherhood has now educated her own. "I'm lucky; I'm in control, unlike our protagonist," she says. "I don't feel like I'm having the rug pulled out from under me in any way." Glazer's gotten a sense of security via the "amazing role models for pregnancy and parenthood" surrounding her. "I'm not afraid to ask a billion questions," she says. "There are certain trends in society of how pregnancy should look — the shoulda coulda wouldas that are put on women all the time but are so amplified in pregnancy. I'm specifically seeking out the most spiritually healthy and welcoming experience."
Less welcome were her husband's joking comparisons between her pregnancy and Lucy's in the movie. Due to COVID restrictions, Rooklin has attended ultrasound appointments via FaceTime, prompting him to liken Glazer's sonograms to Lucy's high-tech experience in the super-modern Hindle Clinic. "He keeps being like, 'Ah, False Positive!' And I'm like, 'I'm not even going there!'"
Nonetheless, things are overwhelmingly...positive...for Glazer right now, with one major pandemic-related exception: performing for live audiences. "I'm desperately missing sharing [my pregnancy] through stand-up," she says. Fortunately, since wrapping False Positive in spring 2019, she's at least been able to flex her funny bone. The New York native is currently filming the Apple TV+ series The Afterparty with Dave Franco and Sam Richardson in Los Angeles. "I've been feeling damn privileged and grateful to be able to play and create comedy in this time," she says. Broad City obsessives can rest assured that there are more laughs to come from the wonderfully weird minds of Glazer and Jacobson, too. The duo have "two, maybe more" projects in the works, Glazer says, including the animated series Malltown USA at Comedy Central. "We have such a great rhythm as producers," says Glazer. "It's almost like making love with a partner; you don't have to figure out how to do it after you figure out how to do it. But man, I'm really enjoying the novelty of having the majority of our interactions be about our friendship rather than work."
Indeed, Glazer is venturing out more on her own professionally. She hopes to continue building Starrpix, her creative development and production company. Her goal is to collaborate with like-minded creators who have diverse identities and to harbor safe and nurturing sets. "A set is a magical space that is a microcosm of the world," she says. "I learned on Broad City how to run one with humanity and respect and dignity for everyone who's there. Running a set is political."
Actually, when Glazer reflects on it, most of her work — Broad City, her stand-up, and now False Positive — has a political thread running through it. "The process of birth is so traumatic and painful, and yet it's the most miraculous, surreal, real thing," she says. "It's like this perfect canvas for the paradox that is our country." Since 2016, Glazer has also worked with Generator Collective, a nonprofit she cofounded with former WeWork executive Glennis Meagher to encourage Gen Z'ers and millennials to become more involved with American politics and government.
For the future, Glazer wants to continue to unravel that thread in projects on and off screen, especially because it's now less common for creators to intentionally keep politics out of their work. "Individuals are becoming more cohesive and less compartmentalized, dismantled, and separated," she says. "I'm thrilled to be alive in a moment when that's happening — to be a part of this." Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.
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