As Stevie Budd, the beleaguered manager of the Rosebud Hotel on the popular sitcom Schitt’s Creek, Emily Hampshire has perfected the art of looking exasperated. Budd is the local most often tasked with dealing with the Rose family (Eugene Levy, Dan Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and Annie Murphy), a once-wealthy clan forced to relocate to the small town of the title after going bust.
With the final season of Schitt’s currently airing on Pop and a Tide commercial airing during this year’s Super Bowl, Hampshire is experiencing a peak career moment in this peak TV era. We spoke with her about her Nickelodeon beginnings and what’s next after the Schitt’s family takes their final bow.
I did the lazy thing and looked at your filmography before getting on this call. I stopped as soon as I saw you were on two episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Then you didn’t get very far. That was the first thing I ever did. I remember it very well. I played Girlfriend Number One. My only scene was to go over to the boy’s house and make out with him. I wanted to be very professional, so I remember going up to the director and asking what he wanted. "Should it be full mouth? Open mouth? With tongue?" He must have been horrified, this 12-year-old describing different ways of kissing.
It must have gone well, since they asked you back. You wound up doing two episodes.
I played Girlfriend Number Two. It was kind of a demotion.
I would also add that one of the episode titles, “The Tale of the Vacant Lot,” does not sound all that intriguing. Not as much as “The Tale of Cutter’s Treasure.”
I would say it’s a lot more compelling!
Fair. You did a lot of series television as a child actor but the Super Bowl Tide Power Pods spot is your first commercial, which is surprising. It seems like kids go out for commercials all the time.
I auditioned. I just didn’t get them. It’s not a moral thing, I would gladly have taken the money. I was just horrible at it. I’m just really bad at selling anything I don’t actually use or like. It sounds like I’m trying to smuggle something at customs. But this commercial came along and they basically wanted me to be me, which [Schitt's Creek co-creator and co-star] Dan Levy calls “on brand.”
Laziness and procrastination. Everyone knows the best time to do laundry is later. When I get something on me, everyone starts trying to stab me with a Tide to Go pen. Now I can tell them to wait and do it later. It’s my first commercial, and it happens to be a Super Bowl commercial, which is insane. And it’s with Charlie Day. He doesn’t know this, but I’m maybe the biggest Charlie Day fan of all time.
Schitt’s Creek is ending after the sixth and current season, which seems like something Charlie Day would consider a warm-up. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has gone 14 seasons and counting.
I hope it goes on forever. Most shows don’t know when they’re going to end. They just get canceled. Dan had the luxury of doing it right. I’ve seen the ending and I respect Dan’s decision to end it now and in a way that stays true to the characters. What Charlie’s show can do that our show can’t is they can do anything. It’s not really the same kind of show. They can go on adventures.
Schitt’s Creek seemed to follow the same trajectory as Breaking Bad. It aired on a network for a few seasons before getting picked up by Netflix and exploding in popularity. Was there a moment when you realized that was happening?
It was kind of overnight. The last season, when I came back to Los Angeles [from Canada, where the series is shot], it was a whole different experience at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I was recognized nonstop in there. Over Christmas, it seemed like everybody was watching Schitt’s.
It’s funny, because I loved doing the show and loved the characters. We all loved them in spite of no one really watching or caring. Then we’re suddenly at the SAG Awards and Nicole Kidman wants to take a picture with us.
Did you have any input into where Stevie ends up?
Dan knew how he wanted to end the show from the beginning. I didn’t have any input. I was as shocked as anyone when Stevie would up in Cabaret last season.
Aside from Stevie, is there a character you were the most curious about in terms of where they wind up?
Stevie was really the only one I was curious about. Everyone else, I could kind of imagine where they wound up. The Roses might go home, or they might learn to love the town and stay. Stevie is the only one I had no idea about. That’s her ultimate struggle. Who is she, and where does she fit in?
What shows have stuck the landing, in your opinion?
Honestly, the only television I watch is Forensic Files, Dateline, and murder mysteries. No, wait, that’s not true. Fleabag. Fleabag was great.
Post-Schitt’s, you’re doing a horror movie called Home.
We shot that, yes. It’s the first movie I’ve ever executive produced. We’re cutting it right now. It’s very cool. It’s a Hereditary kind of horror. The script came to me, and when a horror script comes to me, I expect it to be the worst thing I’ve ever read. But this was good. It’s about postpartum depression.
I imagine you went back to Are You Afraid of the Dark? for reference.