The second season of Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here is underway, and if you’re not watching it, do yourself a favor and give it a shot. The show, which chronicles the struggles and triumphs of young stand-up comedians in 1970s Los Angeles, stars East Hampton native Melissa Leo as comedy club owner Goldie Herschlag.
In this video, released by Showtime before the new season premiered on May 6, Leo offers insights into her brilliantly acted character. At least loosely based on Comedy Store owner Mitzi Shore, who died in April, Goldie is a tough, chain smoking, booze drinking businesswoman who doesn’t suffer fools, but she has a deep love for the comics she takes under her wing.
“I guess a simple way to put it is that she’s the comedians’ mother,” Leo says.
She goes on to explain the depth of her relationship to these talent young people. “Goldie, in her own way, really respects what these people do and does her best to help them,” Leo continues. “She adores her comics. They’re her life,” the actress adds, revealing a matter-of-fact confidence in her character’s feelings and motivations.
Leo also can’t help but crack a warm smile when thinking about Goldie’s affection for her comedians, even when they screw up or fail to understand her. “Nine times out of 10 the comedians misinterpret her actions, but she doesn’t hold that against them.”
Best of all, she says, “Goldie is a human being and it’s one of the most beautiful thing about all the characters on our show is they’re very three-dimensional characters that all have flaws as well as great strengths.”
Leo won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, a Golden Globe and a SAG award for her role as Alice Eklund-Ward in 2010’s The Fighter. She also won an Emmy in 2013 for her guest appearance on Louie starring Shelter Island’s Louis CK.
Watch I’m Dying Up Here Season 2 on Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime. To catch up, stream Season 1 on Showtime on Demand.