Arts & Entertainment

Kathryn Hahn on harassment and desire in Hollywood

Actress Kathryn Hahn speaks onstage at Point Honors Los Angeles 2017, benefiting Point Foundation, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in this October 7, 2017 file photo.
Actress Kathryn Hahn speaks onstage at Point Honors Los Angeles 2017, benefiting Point Foundation, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in this October 7, 2017 file photo.
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Point Honors

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Actress Kathryn Hahn has made a name for herself playing gutsy, brash women in Hollywood. She played a stay-at-home mom looking to spice up her marriage by hiring a strip club dancer as a nanny in "Afternoon Delight." In Amazon's series "I Love Dick," she plays Chris Kraus, an artist who makes her desire for a local artist known all over a small Texas town. Hahn also portrays the naughtiest of the three mothers in the film franchise "Bad Moms."

In the latest edition, "A Bad Moms Christmas," Hahn's character Carla leads her mom friends in a campaign to take back Christmas. She successfully persuades the moms to rebel against the pressures they face to make the holiday a perfect one. 

That stress is one Hahn knows about firsthand as a mother of two kids. She spoke with KPCC's Alex Cohen about the differences she experienced in playing moms once she became one. 

The two also had a frank conversation about the many allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and what makes Hollywood different as an industry. 


You played a lot of moms long before you became a mother in real life. Was there anything about parenthood that surprised you that you were able to tap into as an actor after becoming a mom?

The apathetic response to being a parent, which I didn't expect to feel. Sometimes you just don't want to be a parent.

It was like your life before and after were completely different. I just didn't quite know the through line. My emotional, intellectual, sexual life that would actually still be carried through to this next chapter. I always think I had held parenthood up as this sacred cow.

Your new movie comes out at a time when gender in the media is front and center in conversation. As an actress working in the entertainment industry, what's your take on sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood? 

There is no excuse for that behavior in any industry. This business just happens to be an industry that its currency is emotions and looks. And has leaky boundaries. You're not like in a 9-to-5 office job. It's a different bird.

I think so much has been allowed for so long it's just been accepted. And I'm so excited that this [acceptance] is no longer. Not that it's not going to happen, but certainly there's going to be a lot of accountability, and certainly people are going to be more brave about saying anything. I'm sure a lot of people are still shaking in their boots... they should be!

You call it an industry with a "currency of emotion." Sex and Hollywood have always been linked. Many of the roles you take on are women who are very honest about their desires. Why do you keep doing it and what's it like to take on these roles?

What's wrong with me? Honestly! There is something about their bravery. There is something about Chris Kraus and her desire, that she keeps debasing herself over and over and over again without shame. And there is something that is so engrained in us, I think, as women, that shame and sex have so long been intertwined. At least I was brought up to feel like some of my self-worth had to do with how I was seen, and not from within. So I am all for exploring those questions of "Why? Why do we get our self-worth from the outside?"