This Guy In "Russian Doll" Should Have Given The Twist Away The Whole Time
Here's why you should have realized it.
This is actor and comedian Yoni Lotan.
You may recognize him from Netflix's new series Russian Doll.
However, it's not quite that simple: eagle-eyed viewers of the addictive show might have noticed that Yoni actually played a bunch of different people throughout the show.
Yoni played one of the guys who asked Nadia where the best place to party in the neighborhood was...
...Nadia's boss at her coding job...
...and a guy with a unibrow who bumps into Nadia in Tompkins Square Park.
Sure, the fruit started rotting, the attendees of Nadia's party kept dwindling, and by the end of it all we even saw multiple Nadias in the show's final scene.
But Yoni was the thread that held it all together, you guys.
If you didn't notice him right away, don't feel too badly.
I've personally known Yoni for nearly a decade and STILL didn't pick up the connection. I literally said to my husband, "wait, didn't Yoni's character have a beard in the last episode?" and later after even more episodes, "maybe it's like a play where they just had a small ensemble so people play multiple roles." Yeah, I WAS SO WRONG. And you probably were, too.
So, I reached out to Yoni learn more on how the role came to be and what it was like playing multiple versions of the same character in multiple universes.
BuzzFeed: Did you know you were auditioning for a role that encompassed multiple versions of a character or did that come later on when you read the script?
Yoni Lotan: I did not but I had a feeling that this was going to be a different type of audition. I received three sides for three different roles, all for three terrible men. It wasn't until the actual room when I realized that there was something much more layered going on. They saw three people at a time and would have them switch each role. Leslye Headland, the co-creator, was also in the room. Now, normally it would be nerve-wracking to have THE CO-CREATOR in there watching you, but Leslye is Leslye. She’s such a positive and fun person. She was on her feet improvising with us, throwing curveballs and jokes. It was by far one of the most playful and creative auditions I’ve ever been a part of. It felt like we were auditioning for an entity more than a specific role.
Fun tidibit, after the audition, the two other men I auditioned with — Ken Beck and Max Knoblach— and I, all got cro-nuts together because it was next door, also why not. As luck would have it, We all ended up booking [the roles] so we now call ourselves the “Cro-Boys”.
What was it like working on a set that had to look the same/or similar in every shot/timeline? Were there extra precautions taken?
YL: Two words: Script Supervisor. Her name is Melissa Yap-Stewart and she was the MVP. Anytime anything was moved or improvised, Melissa was there, binder in hand. There would be multiple times when we would have to stop and just wait while she, Natasha [Lyonne], and Leslye made sure all was kosher. I mean, there are possibly hundreds of Easter eggs and connections in this show... it’s mind-blowing.
What was it like portraying so many versions of one character?
YL: Well, who’s to say they’re all one character... WINK WINK. (I’m actually winking, you just can’t see it because, you know, the computer.)
For each character I played, I created a small backstory based off a specific type of terrible person. (For the record, this was just for me and in no way connected to the story of Russian Doll.) For example, Wall Street guy with the beard, that’s a Murray Hill bro that’s really close with his sister. You know, the one where people think they’re dating and then find out they’re siblings and you’re like “oh, that’s gross.” There’s also unibrow guy. He’s a senior at NYU Stern whose dad owns a popular electronics store. In the park scene, he’s carrying a wheeled suitcase with a Fabergé egg inside that he bought at an estate sale...so to answer your question... it was fun.
Do you have any cool or "stereotypically New York" stories from working in the East Village of NYC?
YL: We shot one of the bodega scenes on the first warm Friday of the year so it was absolute madness. Multiple people tried to come into the bodega, clearly disregarding the you know...expensive equipment and crew members that were blocking them. When PAs would try to get them to leave, they would scream “BUT THIS IS MY BODEGA!”
Were your character's unibrow and beard personal requests, or were they revealed to you as a part of each day's costume?
YL: It was a team effort on all fronts. With the extremely talented hair and makeup/costume team, they pinpoint accurate vision and descriptions from Natasha and my freakish ability to grow hair in all places (shout out to my Ashkenazim), they were able to create four distinct, terrible men. Seriously, the HMU and costume team on this show were out of this world. They knew exactly what type of people they wanted us to portray and it clearly resonated with a large audience. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me and say, I KNOW THAT GUY. I HATE THAT GUY... and truth be told, it’s an honor to portray “that guy.”