Meet 'Portlandia's' Carrie Brownstein

Will the real Carrie Brownstein please stand up? Fans have come to appreciate Brownstein and her ability to brilliantly play many different people on the sketch comedy program, IFC’s “Portlandia.” So, who is she?

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
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More: Congratulations on season three of Portlandia.
Carrie Brownstein: Thank you. We all feel very lucky to be doing this show, and we certainly don’t take it for granted. The show seems to have found its audience, and for that we feel very fortunate.

More: Not everyone has magic and on-set chemistry with their costars, yet you and Fred Armisen—your costar and cocreator—really light up the screen. How did you know the spark for a successful team was there?
CB: We started off making little Internet videos for our friends. It was so under the monitor. After we made about 10 to 12 vignettes, we realized we’d developed an onscreen chemistry and spoke the same language. We also saw that the sketches had a real sensibility. From there we decided we wanted to formalize the process by being more ambitious about it and elevate it into a television show.

More: You play a slew of different characters on this series. Which persona do you relate to the most.
CB: I really like Nance. She is part of a couple along with Peter [played by Armisen]. You first see them at a chicken farm; then they go through a midlife crisis, and in this season you will watch their journey as they try to open a bed-and-breakfast. I just find Peter and Nance to be the complete opposite of how I am in real life in relationships.

More: Some of your Portlandia characters stick around, while others tend to fade away. Do you feel it’s like trial and error in terms of seeing who the audience will respond to?
CB: I don’t think you can ever predict that. The characters that survive are the ones that Fred and I feel the most kinship with, the ones we want to get to know better. We take a leap of faith that those characters will be the ones the audience will be drawn to.

More: You were nominated as one of Time's most influential people of 2012. How did you respond to that?
CB: I am flattered. Those kinds of accolades are very wonderful and abstract. For me, I am just trying to find an audience for the work I do.

More: Do you like being on top?
CB: As for the notion of being on top, I don’t feel that much entitlement or accomplishment or accolades, because when you do, you tend to lose perspective. The objective for me is to enjoy it while it is happening.

More: What are the downsides of being so famous?
CB: I don’t know if there are any downsides, because my life is in a place where it is not directly affected. For me, I still live in Portland, Oregon, which is a humble place with a lot of creative people.

More: You like to dive into the lives of your characters. As you write your own biography, you dive into your own personal life and reveal things you never talked about before.
CB: I was reading the David Byrne book about how music works, and I was very inspired by how he was able to talk about the process of how he used his talent to never talk about the salaciousness of his life. I would rather have the personal, more intimate details be the basis of broader ideas for the story. It will not be a tell-all. I feel there is a nice balance between mysterious and transparency. I would like to err on the side of honesty and truth telling without being overly exposed.

More: You touched upon your childhood. Was it a happy one?
CB: For the most part, it was very happy. I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, and I had supportive parents who were interested in taking me to piano lessons and nurturing my creativity.

More: You are now 38 years old. What do you see as the benefits of being this age?
CB: Perspective, valuing graciousness, generosity and appreciating all things, especially those that are here and now.

More: How do you continue to challenge yourself?
CB: I have my music, which is a real challenge. Writing my book is a real challenge, as is writing more elaborate episodes of Portlandia. Every project always presents a new challenge.

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