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An Interview with Maria Thayer

October 20th, 2016 by Raef Harrison

A quick chat with one of the stars of ‘Those Who Can’t’

Maria Thayer has a voice that makes you instantly want to be friends with her. Light and energetic, she sounds as if she just walked in the door and has stories to share, as opposed to being on a conference call taking questions about her show, Those Who Can’t, while getting ready to do press and attend a screening party for its season two premiere.  Maria Thayer also has a face that instantly looks familiar, and with reason. She’s been popping in hit movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and TV shows (Cougar Town, 30 Rock, Eagleheart) for years. But when she popped up in two Hulu Originals – The Mindy Project and Difficult People – we knew we needed to get a hold of her to see what she was up to.

The daughter of bee farmers in Boring, OR (a town that sounds like something straight out of a sitcom’s writers room) Thayer spent her high school days in Minneapolis before moving on to study acting at Juilliard in NYC. “I didn’t do all that well in high school. And it was the only college I got into that people reacted to, so I went” she claims. After graduating with a newfound background in classical theater, it was a chance spotting in a school play by actress/comedian Amy Sedaris that gave Thayer her first real acting role. Sedaris wrote a part for her on Sedaris’ experimental show for Comedy Central, Strangers With Candy.  A role that set her on a professional course of farcical comedy. “Leaving Juilliard I thought I would be playing Juliet on stage. But now I’m doing comedy, which is great. I love comedy” says Thayer.

And comedy loves her. Thayer’s latest role as Abbey, an accidental librarian who’s the on-again-off-again fourth wheel to a band of misfit high school teachers in Those Who Can’t seems inherently perfect for Maria. Her natural delivery and perfect blend of intensity and apathy gives the character credibility when she’s roid raging over the lack of red vines in the teacher’s lounge or loudly shooshing whispering students in the school’s library. “She’s the loudest one in the library, for sure” Thayer says of Abbey.

While we had her, we got to dig in a little deeper into the role of Abbey, and what to expect from this new season.

Abbey is paired with a pretty incompetent threesome – do you consider her part of their gang?

She’s probably the most intense of all four of them. I feel like she’s on the inside and outside of the other three – she can’t decide if she’s part of the gang. Sometimes they’re too stupid for her and sometimes she’s the dumbest one, getting in all the trouble.

Why were you excited to do this show in the first place?

It was so funny. It’s so well written. People ask if we do improv on set, and we do, but the scripts are amazing in themselves that we don’t really have to. It’s all there on the page.

Season Two – what’s on deck for us?

I really think that this season is better than the last one. It’s more exciting, it’s funnier, it’s faster paced. I honestly think we topped season one. I’m just excited for people to see the crazy directions that we go in.

You have some pretty great guest stars this season…

We do! Cheri Oteri is on this season for a couple of episodes. Will Sasso is coming in, who is just one of the funniest people. Everybody loved working with Will.

Do you have any memories from high school or high school teachers that relate to the show?

I guess I more had situations that were similar that I could draw from. If anything I thought about how badly I behaved in high school and how patient my teachers were. I would not last one day in a high school. Not one day.


Those Who Can’t airs Thursdays at 10:30pm on TruTV. Season 1 is available to watch now, only on Hulu.