Olivia Munn has an amazing career. She’s never delivered a memorable performance, and yet she is everywhere all the time. Most of the time, it’s because she is dating someone. Sometimes, it’s because she’s “clapping back” at a hater on Instagram who talks about her “cottage cheese thighs.” Lately, it’s because she is having a baby with comedian John Mulaney, which people have a lot of feelings about.
While Munn isn’t particularly talented at acting (if you watched The Newsroom, I am not interested in your opinion), one could argue that her biggest talent is somehow remaining relevant enough to stick around through numerous news cycles. Her latest tactic? Pretending she is not “playing the game” in an LA Times profile published Tuesday. Whatever you say, Munn.
This kind of profile is my favorite type: one that features a celebrity who claims to value privacy while doing press that unveils intimate details from their life. In the interview, Munn is understandably nervous about strangers (such as us) dissecting her every word, especially as she’s been cast as a villain in Mulaney’s very public divorce. The headline blares that Munn is in a “no-win situation,” and the actor expresses a desire to avoid getting into specifics regarding her relationship.
“If I try to say anything, I run the risk of being called messy or not telling the truth,” she says. “The only way to win, for me, is to pull back and to not play the game at all.”
Ok, so that should be the last we hear about her relationship with Mulaney or her pregnancy with their child. Only her definition of pulling back and not playing the game is very confusing.
For Munn, “pulling back” means she hasn’t shared her pregnancy online or gone through one of contemporary celebrity’s “most sacrosanct rituals,” as writer Meredith Blake puts it: the Instagram baby bump reveal. She hasn’t invested in cute maternity clothes, she explains, instead repeatedly washing and wearing the same ASOS sweatshirt and Asian American Girl Club sweatpants she has on during the interview.
Those are some specific details for someone who doesn’t want anyone to know anything about her baby. Then she goes on to speak adoringly of Mulaney, who is now incorporating their pregnancy into his standup routine:
“He’s so funny, and he’s so articulate, and he’s so smart. The first time he made that joke, I remember laughing. I’d be with him on the road, and I would hear him tell this joke, and I did feel a sense of healing with it,” she says. “It’s hard to be pregnant for the first time and have anybody say anything besides, like, ‘Congratulations.’”
And thus almost the entire profile, which is to promote her upcoming role in Justine Bateman’s Violet, is about Munn’s personal life that she refuses to talk about but keeps talking about. Thankfully, the piece shifts slightly towards how being extremely hot has been hard for her career, but that it’s getting easier for women to be hot and smart:
“It was very much like, ‘Yeah, we want diverse women [on The Daily Show], but not that woman,’” Munn recalls. “Because I was on the cover of Maxim, it was like, ‘How does this girl go on to The Daily Show?'"
She suspects things would be different today:
“There are many women who really embrace their sexuality, especially with social media, and are still seen as smart and don’t feel like they have to wear a cloak to be taken seriously.”
Even Aaron Sorkin agrees that her hotness is an obstacle for many:
“Olivia is an outspoken woman. She’s a brilliant and talented actress who also happens to be a knockout, so of course that’s going to drive a few people crazy.”
Wow, I feel bad for Munn. I’m imagining a world in which she was not hot, and how she would’ve been taken more seriously. Life surely would have been easier had she steered clear of the Maxim cameras. Maybe people would be happier about her having Mulaney’s baby. But probably not.