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Ellie Kemper: Kimmy Schmidt an inspiring character for tough times

By
Karen Butler
Ellie Kemper arrives to discuss Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt with reporters in New York on Sept. 6. Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Ellie Kemper arrives to discuss "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" with reporters in New York on Sept. 6. Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Sept. 17 (UPI) -- When times are tough, we all need a little Kimmy Schmidt.

Ellie Kemper's "unbreakable" character has boundless (naive) optimism in the face of life's challenges -- making friends, finding jobs. (Sexually harassing co-workers by accident, being kidnapped).

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"It is a tough time in the world right now and I think whenever I feel a little depressed or hopeless, I think of what Kimmy might do in that situation and I do feel a little better," Kemper told UPI in a recent interview.

"Bad things happen. It is a tough world, but you have to keep moving forward."

Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows Kimmy as she starts a happy life of freedom in New York City after being held in a bunker by the leader of a doomsday cult in Indiana for 15 years.

"I think this show tackles a very specific subject brilliantly and I think that is one of the rules of comedy, which is to help us deal with things that aren't funny," Kemper said.

The series -- which was canceled in May -- goes into Monday's Emmy race with a Best Comedy nomination and a nod for Best Supporting Actor for Kemper's co-star Tituss Burgess.

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The second half of Season 4 is to debut in January and the first 3 ½ seasons are currently streaming.

Now that she has finished filming her last episode, the Bridesmaids and The Office alum is adjusting to life without Kimmy.

"I feel sad not to be able to play the character any more," said Kemper. "I'm hoping that there might be a movie on Netflix, which would be very cool and give us one last chance to visit them. I think it's a good thing to be sad about this because it means it meant something."

But the show isn't over yet and the 38-year-old actress shared that there's an upcoming, Sliding Doors-style episode, which imagines different fates for Kimmy and her friends played by Burgess, Jane Krakowski and Carol Kane.

"It explores what would have happened to everyone had Kimmy not been kidnapped. I think it goes to show you how important it is not to blame external circumstances for your own life and your own choices," she said.

The first half of Season 4 tapped into the #MeToo and #Time's Up movements against sexual harassment -- Kimmy was accused of acting inappropriately toward her co-workers and Krakowski's Jacqueline stood up for her stepdaughter Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula) when her boyfriend sullied her reputation by lying to his pals and saying she cheated on him.

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The midseason finale saw Titus trying to sell Kimmy's children's book to TV producers. The story -- about how boys are born with monsters inside them and how they need to learn to tame them even though society continues to feed them -- attracts the interest of an executive's young son, putting Kimmy on what looks to be a new career path for the show's last chapter.

"I had a baby two years ago and reading that (storyline)... gave me goosebumps. You've got to get them early and I think that is so noble, the challenge that she undertook, and I think that is how you do start," Kemper said. "You have to start with children and teach them how you behave and how to be a good person and that falls on all of us grownups."

Season 4 guest stars for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt include Busy Philipps, Greg Kinnear, Bobby Moynihan and Aidy Bryant. Previous guests Jon Hamm, Amy Sedaris, Mike Carlsen, Zosia Mamet and Derek Klena also return for the final episodes.

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