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The next big thing: 'Downsizing' star Lukita Maxwell talks improv, pursuing comedy with Harrison Ford

Lukita Maxwell had always wanted to work in show business, but didn’t know it wouldn’t be possible without industry connections. “I think actors are babies of nepotism,” Maxwell said. “If you’re born to act, you’re born to royalty, and I can’t act because I wasn’t born to be an actor.”

Now, she and Jason Segel ) and Harrison Ford on the Apple TV+ comedy Shrinking, coming to 1 Monthly Premiere . Maxwell stars as Alice, the strong, independent daughter of Segel’s Jimmy, a grieving therapist who lost his wife in an accident.

Created and co-written by Bill Lawrence, Brett Goldstein and Segel Shrinking contains a huge industry power. “This is the most intimidating triple comedy I’ve ever seen,” said the Indonesian-born actress 550, remember her audition process. “I don’t think I’m going to get the part. I don’t think I’m capable of doing it.”

But after meeting Segel, the actress said the co-creator “really responded ’” she had a natural reaction to taking on the role. “The character of Alice brings a little bit of grounding and humanity to the show,” she says. “In that sense, [she] is kind of an anchor … it’s pretty obvious from Alice’s character off the page, and it came naturally to me because, not so long ago, I was going through most of my adolescence. “

Lukita Maxwell in Shrink Apple TV+

After performing in HBO Max’s coming-of-age drama Generation

— — She studied Shakespeare as a young man before making her screen debut on ABC at Speechless in — Maxwell remembers the “nerves” she felt during her first week on the set of Shrinking. “Comedy freaks me out,” the actress laughs. “I hang out with these experienced, great comedians. But after seeing them work and witnessing their craft, it got me a little excited.

Maxwell’s character shares several one-on-one scenes with Ford, who plays the blunt but down-to-earth therapist Phil Rhodes. “He’s legendary for a reason,” Maxwell said. , and called him “the most incredible on-set partner.” She said their scene—Alice meeting Phil for therapy—didn’t require much preparation. “The energy was constantly fluctuating between us,” she said. “We would do this improvisation, sometimes for five minutes after a take. ”

Lukita Maxwell in Shrinking

Harrison Ford and Lukita Maxwell in Shrinking

Provided by Apple TV+

As conversations around mental health become more normal , a role in Shrinking

therapy, in a way. After spending her teenage years in St. George, Utah, the Los Angeles actress said she Glad to see times – on and off screen – are changing.

“As a queer teenager growing up in a super repressive, highly religious town, it was really It was about being out and about, dressing the way you were, expressing yourself, being scared every day of being attacked,” recalls Maxwell. “I just went back for Christmas and I saw a lot of really beautiful signs and beautiful performances of self-expression. “

She added, “Watched the [ Shrinking

] episode, and that’s when it really cemented ‘Oh, this show is What it means to a lot of people’ and want to spread the message that help is out there.

Inspired by Segel, Maxwell said she hopes to continue working in comedy. “I wanted to be a comedian like [Jason],” she explained. “He found pain in comedy , but he also found moments of light in dark times and was able to bounce back and forth. “

Next she will appear in Tayarisha Poe’s Netflix series The Young Wives

with Sheryl Lee Ralph, Judith Light, Kiersey Clemons with Kelly Marie Tran. “I just want to keep digging into juicy characters,” Maxwell said. “If the writing is good, if the character is alive, then I’m going to crave it. ”

This story first appeared in January Issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine. Click here to subscribe .

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