Though you might remember Anna Chlumsky as the perky child star of “My Girl” and “Gold Diggers,” you can stop pretending that the 29-year-old actress is still a kid. After some years off from acting, during which she pursued a different career altogether, Chlumsky resurfaced on both the small screen (with appearances on “30 Rock” and last year’s “Cupid”) and the big one (the Oscar-nominated “In the Loop”). Next up for her is writer-director Julio DePietro’s romantic dramedy “The Good Guy,” starring Alexis Bledel as an urban conservationist in Manhattan who is torn between two Wall Street traders (Scott Porter and Bryan Greenberg), one of whom works for the other. In a brief but memorable supporting role, Chlumsky plays one of Bledel’s upwardly mobile friends who has just been burned in the New York dating game. In support of the film, Chlumsky called me to discuss dating, bars, what brought her back into acting, and how a TV theme song used to get her through the day.
When there are so many smart, artistic professionals in New York City, why do women still complain about how hard it is to date here?
I’ve been lucky to not have had to do the whole dating fiasco in New York because I’ve been with my husband for quite some time. But a lot of my girlfriends talk about how difficult this city is for them to find good men. In New York, people are driven and ambitious and they know themselves really well as far as what their goals are, so I think they turn love into a goal: “I want this, this, this and this,” as if they would order from a menu. Then they get angry that that order comes burnt. [laughs] New Yorkers are used to getting what they want, and what the best of relationships teach us is that sometimes it’s not necessarily about compromise, but freeing yourself up for the things you haven’t thought of. It’s not a control-driven game, romance and love.
Some of your scenes take place in bars, and in another interview, you jokingly referenced your past as a “boozehound.” I’m curious what your favorite New York haunts are in real life.
My favorite place, Circus, is now closed. It just got shut up and we don’t know what happened to it. For a cheap dive, I enjoy hanging around in Hell’s Kitchen, especially if it’s after a show. I also love our new neighborhood place, The Brooklyn Public House — it’s fantastic. Sometimes, when you want to partake in this whole cocktail culture that they’ve got going now, [my husband] Shaun and I like Freemans. I’m also appreciating the resurgence of bourbon bars and rye. I’m talking like a boozehound still, but maybe I’m refining myself a little more. [laughs]
The movie’s soundtrack is packed with indie rock. Does that mesh with your own musical tastes?
I’m such a square. I’m not as hip as anybody who’s over the [Williamsburg] Bridge. I might be totally behind the times — like, they may have been cool two years ago, I don’t know — but I really like The Coral, out of Liverpool. There is an amazing Brooklyn band that we love, The Budos Band. We played them on our iTunes at our wedding. I always have a lot of Brazilian music on my iPod, like Daniela Mercury, and also Columbian stuff, like Carlos Vives. Oh, and Lily Allen, I love her!
Anybody who writes about you always feels the need to use the phrase “former child actor.” As an adult who still acts, do you feel there’s a stigma to that term?
I certainly do, but you just have to embrace what you can’t control. How am I going to control how people refer to me? I used to be an editor, I considered journalism — and even more marginalized, entertainment journalism. It has its own rules and style. The first thing that I think journalists do, and you can tell me this or not, is to remind people exactly what they would know this person from. So it’s just another variable: “Oh, we can stick that one in there so people can put her in context.” I learned not to take it personally that people still want me to be ten years old. [laughs]