CableTV sat down with Mara Marini the actress who plays Brandi Maxxxx on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” She’s appearing on two upcoming Parks and Rec episodes and we wanted to know how she prepared for her role as fictional adult film star Brandi Maxxx. Mara talks about Amy Poehler’s dance parties, her self-appointed Real House Wives’ tagline and who she’s voting for in the 2016 election.
Click play to watch the interview, or read the transcript below.
CTV: So thanks for joining us here at CableTV.com’s blog.We’re here with Mara Marini.
She plays Brandi Maxxx on Parks and Rec. As your Twitter says, you just play an adult film star on TV, but you’re not actually an adult film star.
Mara: (laugh) Yes, that’s true, that’s true.Sorry, I don’t know how, I turned my phone off, but I’m getting dings on my computer. Is that, do you hear that on your end? ‘Cause I don’t know how—
CTV: I haven’t heard any yet.
Mara: Thank goodness, okay. So, I think we’re okay.
CTV: Yep, we’re good, no dings here yet.
So, you know, one of the questions I was wondering is, you not being an adult film star, how did you kind of prepare for this role, ’cause it’s a little bit unique. Did you watch some old reruns of the House Bunnies with Hugh Hefner or, I mean, what?
Mara: (laughs) Well, I’m semi-, well, not semi-embarrassed, I mean, I watched all of that, like I was always…
It’s so funny, I was always very fascinated by that world, partly because I could never really do it, but I was always interested in it from afar.
Not actually, that sounds bad, not actually like watching the actual productions, but behind the scenes of it and how someone, what prompts someone to get into that and all that kind of stuff.
So, I’ve read so many books on the history of the industry, and I’ve met some actual porn stars and…
I’ve watched a ton of documentaries. My Netflix queue, when I got the role, was just a lot of documentaries on the industry. So, I think I’ve watched every single documentary that’s out there on the industry.
The writing team is so absolutely fantastic on this show, and I didn’t want, ’cause it’s so easy to go in, I think, as like a one-note on that kind of role, like, she’s just a ditzy porn star, but I love what they did with her.
She has a heart of gold, and she loves Leslie, and wants to be like Leslie, so it’s not just like one-note at all which I appreciate so much, because it was just so much fun to play.
Does that answer your question, I’m sorry. (laughs)
CTV: Absolutely, it segues right into the next question as well which was, you did a Refinery 29 interview and you noted that you thought that Brandi Maxxx was actually a feminist and she could be this great feminist, but she was also okay with her sexuality, and I was wondering, how much of that relates to you as a person as well?
Mara: I definitely relate to that, because as much, on a smaller scale, obviously, I’m not doing adult films or anything, but as much as I am of a feminist, my mom was a big feminist growing up, so I learned a lot because of her, and that kind of women’s rights, equality, as much as I love that, my mom never had to date during that time, my mom was married right after high school she’s still with him, and they’re the most adorable, my parents are so adorable.
But there is this level of a man is a man, and a woman is a woman, absolutely. Obviously, different things work for different people.But, I really appreciate, I’m so feminine, I like a very masculine guy.
So, for me, I could definitely see where I appreciate a little bit more, I appreciate my sexuality, and I love being a woman, but I also want to be treated like a lady, I don’t want to have to…
I like it when they’re chivalrous and they open a door and they’re men, so, I can relate to that a little bit in that department, you know, I think.
CTV: Yeah, absolutely, so along the same lines, Brandi runs against Leslie Knope in an election and I’m curious, would you ever be interested in doing something similar?
Mara: Well, I think that is very, very fascinating and really awesome to play.
I don’t, politics, as much as I’m definitely very liberal, and as much as I will rally, I hope, you know, Hillary 2016, I don’t know if I could…
I’m very, I’m very Italian, so it’s hard for me to sometimes not show what I’m feeling in my face, kind of situation, so I’m scared that if I was ever in politics, I would blow up if something was really unfair or ridiculous and that would be the end of it.
CTV: At least you’d be honest, right, you’d be a horrible liar, so it would be a good-
Mara: Yes, I’d be a horrible poker player, yep.
CTV: Well, and I have another quote from the L.A. Times, I found on your website, actually, and it described you as an “awesomely empty-headed statuesque siren”.
CTV: And I’m imagining they were going off of your role as well with Brandi Maxxx, but I’m curious, if you could kind of create your own quote that painted a picture of you as Mara, what would that be?
Mara: Oh my goodness, that’s a hard question, just one quote. I feel like it would be like, “What is your ‘Housewives’ tag?”
You know what I mean?
CTV: Absolutely, perfect.
Mara: I was thinking about it, I don’t know what mine would be. I mean, I often get, you know…
This is very flattering, I don’t know if this is true. But I get like I’m a mix of Dolly Parton and Betty White, which I think is like the nicest compliment ever.
But it’s kind of been an ongoing funny little thing. So, maybe something like that?
I don’t know, I’d have to craft my perfect housewife quote.
CTV: I like that though, a mix between Betty White and Dolly Parton, I think that works, that’ll be your headline–
Mara: Yes! (laughs)
CTV: On our web, okay, perfect, I like that.
CTV: Do you have any surprising facts or little secrets about Amy Poehler or working with Amy Poehler that some of our fans might be interested in?
Mara: Oh man, I mean, she’s just…
I just don’t have enough nice things to say about her.
Surprising, I think I’ve said this before, and I’m sure a lot of people do know if they are very in tune with Amy, but she’ll have really fun dance parties in the makeup trailer during lunch break of the show which is the best thing ever. She just creates such a wonderful environment, and what a generous actor.
What an amazing comedienne and writer. She’s just, she’s got everything, and she’s so kind.
She doesn’t have to be as wonderful as she is, but she is, on top of all of that.I can’t say, there’s not enough words to describe how wonderful she is.
CTV: Great, I mean, that’s what we picture her as, so it’s good to hear affirmation for that.
So, when are you on Parks and Recs next?
Mara: Next I’m on next Tuesday, the tenth.
I pop in, and I’m also in the finale.
And I can’t say anything ’cause, even at the end of the day when we were shooting the finale, even Amy had to give in her sides.
It was on lockdown about like anyone giving any information about what happened.
All I can say is that the writers did exactly what I wanted them to do with my character, so I’m so thankful. I think it was just a wonderful, yeah.
I don’t want to say too much, but it was really awesome.
CTV: And do you have any other upcoming shows that you’re popping in on, or anything you want to talk about?
Mara: Yeah, I’m gonna be on Black-ish, we just shot that, which was so much fun, what a hilarious show. They’re doing really well and I think they’re gonna, obviously, continue to do well.
Just such a funny, funny cast. Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are phenomenal together; that was a hoot. So I think that’s coming out, they just took a bit of a hiatus, you know how ABC kind of, they’ll take a couple weeks off there.
So, I think now it’s gonna air like early March. The episode’s called “The Real World”.
It’s very, very funny. They enhanced my appearance, you’ll see, I don’t wanna say too much.
And then I’m gonna be on an upcoming episode of “Schitt’s Creek”. It’s a Canadian show, it’s on the CBC, but it’s gonna start airing in the States soon as well.
And that’s with Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy and, again, like, comedy legends I grew up with, so it’s so much fun working with them.
CTV: Well, we’ll definitely keep an eye out.
Mara: One last question that I think our cast, our fans would love to know is, if you could guest star on any show or be a repeat role on any show, what would it be?
Gosh, that’s so hard, there’s so many good shows out there. Oh gosh, the pressure’s on, the pressure’s on.
CTV: You can list the top three if it makes it easier.
Mara: Okay, um, well, Modern Family is so amazing.
I’d love to be on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, what a great show, so funny.
Oh gosh, oh gosh.
I know I’m gonna get off with you and be like, “No, there’s so many more that I wanted even more than those shows!” Oh gosh, well I’d love to go back on Black-ish.
That was such a hoot.
CTV: Well, where can people find you, on Twitter?
If you remember it, maybe you can tweet it out, and everybody can…
Mara: Oh, good, thank you, social media, bring everyone together. I’m @popgloss on Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat and everything, which is p-o-p-g-l-o-s-s.
CTV: Perfect, well thank you so much Mara, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Mara: Thank you, it was so fun.
CTV: Looking forward to seeing you on Black-ish and Parks and Rec.
Mara: Thanks so much, thanks Jessica, have a great day!
CTV: You too, see ya.
Mara: Bye! (laughs)
Jessica fills the void the West Wing left when it ended by watching other politically charged dramas. She'd call Mindy Project and Nashville her guilty pleasures if she felt they were worthy of feeling guilty for. Favorite TV watching snack is apples and peanut butter.