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Maya Rudolph and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez Unpack the Importance of Reinvention in Apple TV Plus' 'Loot'

Plus, Maya Rudolph sounds off about her latest take on 'Hot Ones.'

Danielle Turchiano
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From left to right: Michaela Jaé Rodriguez and Maya Rudolph in 'Loot'

Apple TV+

Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph) may be a billionaire in Apple TV+'s new comedy Loot, but even billionaires need a fresh start sometimes.

For Molly, the need to change comes after she learns her husband (played by Adam Scott) has been cheating on her and they embark upon divorce proceedings. While she at first spirals, including privately binge-eating in her candy room and publicly (and drunkenly) mistaking some random man for Sting, she gets a call that changes her life. Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez) summons Molly to her office to talk to her about her recent behavior because it is affecting her charity foundation's image. This opens Molly's world up because she didn't even realize she had a foundation, but with it, suddenly she finds a new purpose.

"I love that we're talking about something that isn't always easy. Divorce is painful and difficult and also, elements of being a woman and feeling like, 'Will I find love again? Do I feel lovable? This is not how I thought my life is going to be. I have to date in middle age, yuck, and have I realized what I want in my life?' I think these are great conversations to have," Rudolph tells Metacritic.

The idea of Molly having a foundation wasn't part of their earliest discussions about the show, Rudolph recalls, but when creators Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang added it, it opened the possibilities for the character, as well as the actor and executive producer.

"The idea of philanthropy and doing good and helping, or feeling all the frustration of everything that's going on in the world and thinking, 'I have to do something,' I definitely connected to that immediately," Rudolph says.

Through the foundation, Molly also finds a new partnership with Sofia — one that will prove to be much better balanced than the relationship she had with her husband who bought her ridiculously expensive things (see that candy room and also a new yacht for her birthday as prime examples), but constantly underestimated her.

"On paper, it was so clear that there was going to be that great push-and-pull the first day in the office that was like, 'I'm gonna stop you right there, I don't care about how you feel,'" Rudolph says about Molly and Sofia's first on-screen interaction. But as time goes on, "I see a real softening and opening up between the two of them that's so nice and so very simple. And it really is just about the way they look at each other like, 'OK yeah, you're safe. You can be here.'"

While Molly has lived an extremely privileged life for the last few years, it has mostly come because of her husband's advancement in the tech world. He is the one who has been featured on the cover of magazines, written books, and been heralded as a genius by his peers. While she certainly aided his journey, she has been in his shadow. Now, it is her time to step forward into a spotlight and craft herself in her own image.

Meanwhile, Sofia has spent a lot of time already crafting an image of who she is. As a leader in the foundation, she is poised and impeccably dressed, but also extremely rigid and serious about her work, which is perhaps best evidenced by her telling Molly she doesn't care about Molly's feelings when they first meet.

"She comes from struggle, but through her struggle she became this callous individual: You can always put a little corn thing over to get rid of the callus, but takes it takes a while," Rodriguez tells Metacritic of Sofia's journey. "It's like a seesaw effect with Sofia because there is this image that she wants to be, but she struggles too because she's trying to climb the ladder as well. And I'll speak for myself, but there's this image that we can't be at the top of the top of the top. And I think Sofia is like, 'I have to do this.'"

As the two women work together, they naturally influence each other, even if they also get under each other's skin from time to time. 

"It looks like Sofia works those people to death until Molly comes in," Rodriguez points out about the foundation staff, which includes Molly's cousin (played by Ron Funches) and a mild-mannered accountant (played by Nat Faxon). 

Molly (and her assistant, played by Joel Kim Booster) enter the scene, and she's almost immediately planning a trip to Miami on one of her private planes for the team and hosting dinners so they can all get to know each other better.

"She's the breath of fresh air, weirdly enough, to come in and just really reshape the whole group," Rodriguez continues.

"I noticed in the episode where Molly suggests everybody goes out for a drink and everybody gets to show each other, that emotional connection is really the first glimpse you get of the beginning of their relationship being more than just coworkers, but also people who actually are learning from each other [and] need each other," Rudolph adds.

For Sofia, that means "loosening up a little bit and not being so tense, not being so straight-laced, not having all the seams just pulled completely together," Rodriguez says. For Molly, it means really digging in and doing the work to be taken seriously. But because Loot is a comedy, that is easier said than done.

A particularly memorable moment of humbling for Molly (and a memorable moment for other reasons for Rudolph) is when Molly decides to eschew straight-forward interviews about her foundation for something she think is a little more her "speed," i.e. light-hearted and fun. But that — an appearance on Hot Ones, which marks Rudolph's second time having fun with that YouTube talk show after a Saturday Night Live sketch in 2021 — turns out to be anything but.

"I loved how it's not even a slow ramp that she she fails; she fails so fast that it's just funny to me. I've seen a lot of the episodes where people really are having these out of body experiences [and] are looking like they're truly like, 'Is this death? Are we dead?' I find that very funny," Rudolph says.

After, though, becomes a poignant, teachable moment for Molly. "She has to admit it was the wrong choice," Rudolph continues. It's "having that humility, but then taking that correct step forward, which is being big enough to say, 'You're right, I made a mistake' and trying to correct that.

"A lot of people experience [this] and it just feels good to just dive into that and talk about, yeah, things aren't always one way. She does happen to be a billionaire, but she's got a lot of other things going on in her life."


Loot is

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Get to know Maya Rudolph:
The performer best known for comedy actually got her start playing a nurse on the dramatic Chicago Hope (Metascore: 77) in the late 1990s. However, she then went on to star on Saturday Night Live, Up All Night (64), Forever (77), and even her co-headlined variety show Maya & Marty (48). She also lends her voice to animated series from Big Mouth (86) and Human Resources (72) to Bless the Harts (70) and has a production company (Animal Pictures) through which she produces several titles across film and TV.

Get to know Michaela Jaé Rodriguez:
Rodriguez is an Emmy nominee for her lead work on Pose (Metascore: 76), but she has also appeared on screens big and small in series from Marvel's Luke Cage (74) to Nurse Jackie (75), A Black Lady Sketch Show (89), and tick...tick...BOOM! (74). She is also a singer, with a forthcoming album from Access Records.