Lucky Hank Q&A — Meg Quigley Is Just the Kind of ‘Complicated Gal’ Sara Amini Loves to Play

From the executive producers of Better Call Saul and The Office comes Lucky Hank, starring Bob Odenkirk and Mireille Enos. Meet Professor Hank Devereaux (Odenkirk), the English department chairman at an underfunded college in a ho-hum town where mediocrity prevails. Life’s been throwing him some curveballs lately with his wife Lily’s (Enos) new career goals, constant chaos at work, and the return of his estranged father. With that, Hank spirals into a midlife meltdown taking everyone with him. In this interview with we speak with Sara Amini about the real reason behind Meg’s dalliance with Russell, Meg’s very complicated relationship with Hank, and the dichotomies that really excited her about this character.
Q: Meg is a bit of an enigma all the way through until the final two episodes of the season when we learn a lot more about her motivations and history. What was it that initially drew you to this project? Was it the character herself, the scripts, or maybe you were a fan of the novel? 
A: I think it was a combination of a lot of things. Initially it was the writing for me. Reading the scripts and seeing the world that Aaron and Paul had created. These characters in our show are all so flawed. They're really these three-dimensional human beings who are all facing real challenges. They're questioning life choices and marriages, and really trying to find out who they are. That humanity aspect of it all really drew me in from the beginning.
As far as Meg is concerned, I felt like I connected with her very quickly. What I really appreciated in the writing for Meg was that I found her to be so compelling. There were so many dichotomies with Meg, like her mom is an alcoholic but then she works at a bar! Which I found fascinating. She wants to be taken seriously in her professional life and yet she's reckless with her personal choices, where she can be quite self-destructive. She’s really brilliant and can be sexy and playful, but then is also really incredibly lonely and fragile a lot of times. Those were all things that I found so compelling! And I really wanted to dig in deeper with her. There were a lot of parallels to my life too. Meg’s got that complicated relationship with Billie, her mom, and I don't have that same exact relationship with my parents, but I am the daughter of immigrants. There’s this sense of duty to your parents that maybe contrasts with your desires to leave the nest, which is what Hank was trying to get Meg to do. That really resonated with me. I think fundamentally she's a character who desires a life bigger than the one she's been given, and I think that's really relatable.  
Q: Meg’s drunken proposition to Hank at the beginning of the season feels a lot more loaded now that we know that her and Julie are pretty close in age and Hank, Lily, and Billie raised them alongside each other. Were you given a lot of information about Meg’s backstory from the start to help you flesh out the character or was her backstory something that you built up as filming progressed? 
A: That's a great question. Initially I had the book, which is what I was going from. Which was a great foundation because you can just go straight to the source. But Meg is not in the book a whole lot. So as an actor you flesh out what's on the page and you take what works for you. For me I was like, "Okay, she's smart, she's passionate, and she's got complex parental relationships. That I can glean from the book and take that." Then for stuff that I wanted to do differently from the book, that's where I started to create that backstory at least for the first half of the season. Since the book is through Hank's POV and a male gaze from the '90's, it felt like Meg was seen as this young seductress. I thought it would be more interesting for them to have an intellectual attraction, I think for her more so than for him. I don’t think Meg ever quite understood who Hank was to her. Like, is he the father that she never had? Like you said, she’s known him her whole life. Or is he her mentor, someone she trusts and seeks advice from? Is she a protégé in a sense? Or is she in love with the guy and she wants to connect with him on a deeper level? Or is it all of the above? I like to explore the ‘all of the above’ and those boundaries of who Hank was and who he wasn't to her. It made it very complicated but also much more interesting to me than her just being this looming seductress.
Then you start making choices and as the scripts get developed, especially in the first season, you have an idea but then you also have to be fluid with your choices and adjust as you're getting more details. So, when Billie's having that plea in the office in Episode 8, when she's like, "Remember when we used to do that and remember how close we are? We raised our daughters together." I read that and I was like, "Yeah, if I sit down and I think about it, I was probably Julie's babysitter and I probably bought Julie her first bottle of alcohol!" It makes it very sticky, which is good writing! There's so much more at play here. So, it was fun to learn new details and go, "Okay, I kinda gotta adjust what I was thinking."
You definitely reiterated a lot of what the cast has said about the book being a good resource, but it’s true that Meg and Lily aren’t in the book much. Those are two really interesting characters that have been purposefully fleshed out for the show and I feel like they're bringing something totally different to the mix that would be lacking if they weren't as well-rounded and present in the scripts.
I 1000% agree, especially with Lily. Mireille's [Enos] arc on this show is so interesting and compelling. She wouldn't have been satisfied with just being the wife who's like, "Oh my husband's just a curmudgeon." We've seen that before! I think this is much more interesting to really flesh out the women in Hank's life. He also has a lack of a father figure in his life, so his mother's important to him, his wife, his daughter, his protégé, and his work wife. It's fun to watch it and go, "Wow, the female characters are just as compelling as Hank's storyline!"
Q: There are a couple of relationships in Meg’s life that obviously mean a lot to her. Her relationship with Billie of course, but also her relationship with Hank especially since her biological dad doesn’t seem to be in the picture. Can you talk a bit about crafting those very different relationships with both Nancy Robertson and Bob?  
A: Ah! Another great question and one that I thought about quite a bit. I really wanted the dynamics between me and Nancy and me and Bob to feel very different. For Meg and Billie, I think Meg is just much more serious with her mom. There's this thing that I suffer from — again, I'm the oldest kid of immigrants — you kind of become a caretaker for your parents in a way, and I really feel like Meg is Billie’s caretaker. I call it parenting a parent. Billie's been an alcoholic for years. No one's dealt with it more than Meg, and I think that when that sort of responsibility is put on a kid when they're younger, they grow up to be a little more serious with their parents. I think you have a loss of childhood in a way. You've been given responsibility much younger than you should be. So, I would say that in my scenes with Nancy I always felt like there was a heaviness to them.
In my scenes with Hank, I think you get to see a lighter side to Meg. She's more playful. She's more trusting and she's more vulnerable. She actually lets her guard down with Hank in ways that she doesn't with her mom. I think that she's got a lot of walls put up. I think a lot of people have let her down! She's grown up. But she loves Hank and there's just a different dynamic there. That, with me and Bob, was really easy. We quickly fell into that sort of mentor/mentee buddy thing. I mean, we're both writers so I think we sort of speak the same language when it comes to story, plus we both have comedy backgrounds. I also got my start writing sketch comedy at The Second City in L.A.! And of course, I respect the hell out of him. We really fell into that Megan/Hank rapport quite early on — in a platonic way! We have a great rapport and friendship. That was very easy. And what's so wonderful about Nancy — I mean, she's fantastic — but you're right, we haven't explored a whole lot about who Meg's dad is and is he in the picture? Is he going to come into the picture in future seasons? Because it's such a complicated relationship with her mom, I think that we really have an opportunity to dig deeper, which I would love to do with Nancy because I think she's so great.
There's a lot more to mine with Meg.
Oh, for sure!
Q: In Episode 8 when Hank is back at the bar, he’s finally able to talk to Meg and he asks her “Who were you trying to hurt?” referring to her dalliance with Russell. Her silence and the look on both of their faces says a lot. What do you think Meg's real motivations for sleeping with Russell were? Does she really have a hard stance against the institution of marriage or was this just her way of hurting Hank for not offering her a job at Railton?   
A: It's definitely the latter, you're right. I think that him lying to her and setting in motion — maybe temporarily, we'll see — the derailment of her career made her put her walls up with him. I think it's one thing to not sleep with Meg. It's actually noble. Hank did the right thing; he should not have slept with Meg. But it's quite another thing to screw with someone's career. Because as soon as she finds out that he had lied to her, she starts to go back in time and you go, "Okay, he never read my dissertation." We learn that in Episode 2. He only skimmed it. And he's reluctant to write this recommendation letter. He's kind of holding it over her head. It’s seemingly so easy for him to lie to her about the job. And she's going, "Well, okay, does he actually believe in me? Am I a good teacher?" I think that she spiraled a little bit because she was so trusting of Hank in a way that she's not with anyone else. So, I think when it came to Russell, to me it just was really impulsive. She was mad at Hank. I think that Meg regretted it as soon as she did it. It's not like she has feelings for Russell. He's a decade younger than she is. It felt more to me like the sort of self-destructive behavior that Billie has with drinking, that this is just Meg's version of that. Obviously too in Episode 7, she didn't think that Hank was going to show up at her house! It wasn't like she was trying to actively get caught, but she does. And that monologue at the end was more about her not wanting to admit maybe that he actually really hurt her, not wanting to admit that she's got feelings for him. She's a complicated gal, that one! That's what makes her human.
I feel like Russell was just low-hanging fruit.
Oh, for sure! I don't think she was like, "Oh, I'm going to parade around that I slept with his son-in-law." Because in Episode 3 when she tries to sleep with Hank, it's much more of a "hey man, I've had a sh–tty day, I really connect with you, maybe we can connect on a different level, I'm really vulnerable here." It was never like, "I'm going to seduce you and now I'm going to seduce your son-in-law because you didn't sleep with me." I hope that's the takeaway for the audience.
Q: I’ve been asking all of the cast this final question and the answers have been so great. In Ep 1 Hank talks about “the misery business” always outperforming the “happiness business,” and it’s a concept that stuck with me. How do you disrupt “the misery business?” What are the little day to day things that bring you joy? 
A: Oh, I love that everyone's answering this question! Honestly for me it's really small things. I have my routine in the morning where I meditate, I journal, and I drink Earl Grey tea. I look forward to drinking Earl Grey tea every morning! It's such a weird thing. Or on sunny days just sitting in my backyard. I love being active. I love dancing, rollerblading, and yoga. These are the things that help me get out of my head and into my body. For me, it's the tiny, tiny things that you can be grateful for and remind yourself that it's not the huge things, but also really small things that mean a lot to you as a person.

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