Watch Lena Dunham Talk About That Time HBO Fired Her


Before Girls was an award-winning mega hit for HBO, Lena Dunham was an aspiring actress and filmmaker, coming off the success of Tiny Furniture, a film festival darling. In a recent interview with Bill Simmons, Dunham shared a rather embarrassing anecdote about one ill-fated job she had with the cable giant, before she became their marquee star.

In 2011, Dunham landed a gig on the Todd Haynes-directed mini-series Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet. If the prospect of seeing Dunham and Winslet on the small screen together makes you simultaneously go “YES” and “but wait, I don’t remember her being in Mildred Pierce,” there’s good reason for that. Via Vanity Fair, Dunham’s recounting of how she lost the job is quite charming:

“I got fired off of the one day I did on [Mildred Pierce],” she told Simmons. “‘Fired’ might be [a] rough [word] but I got sweetly dismissed from the one day I acted on Mildred Pierce,
the HBO miniseries. […] They told me it was a three-day shoot and
halfway through the first day, they were like, ‘We got what we needed!'”
“I was given a smaller part as a nurse who was in attendance while
Kate Winslet’s child dies . . . I didn’t practice. I looked over the
script with my mom. [The project] takes place in the 30s so I was like,
‘Am I supposed to do any kind of accent?’ My mom was like, ‘They are
hiring you to be you. Just go for it.'” So, instead of interpreting her single line of dialogue–”Her fever
spiked around eight. We don’t know if she’s going to make it.”—as a
1930s nurse might, Dunham delivered the line as Hannah on her HBO series
would, with hand motions and inflections at the end of the line making
it sound as though it were a question.

Needless to say, that did not go over well. “You could just see everybody’s faces drop,” Dunham said. “It was like I was Ricky Gervais in Extras. They were like, ‘This is a fucking disaster…I know I didn’t do well because the producer of Mildred Pierce, Ilene Landress, now produces Girls and she said to me that she was auditioning extras in the basement to replace me because that’s how bad I was.”

Anyway, the whole thing is an adorable hot mess. Because who among us hasn’t been humiliated at work, fired and then went on to become the biggest and brightest star in the company that gave us the boot? AMIRITE? [crickets]

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