If you loved her as Sue Sylvester on Glee, you will find similarities in the irreverent persona that Jane Lynch adopts in her new role as host of Weakest Link, NBC’s revival of the international game show.
Weakest Link differs greatly from Lynch’s other game show Hollywood Game Night, which has a lighter, fun-filled atmosphere.
Rather, the hourlong Weakest Link gets tense as eight strangers play a high-stakes game – the top prize is $1 million – trying to bank as much money as possible while answering rapid-fire trivia.
Then at the end of each round, the players vote off the person they feel is the Weakest Link until, in the end, only one is left, and that person gets to walk away with however much money was earned by all.
Jane Lynch on Weakest Link
“We picked some really bright lights to be on the show,” Lynch told Monsters & Critics in this exclusive interview. “That is why I think it is such a wonderful show. It is educational.”
Lynch says she was a fan of the original series, which was hosted by Anne Robinson, and she revisited it on YouTube when she was hired for the reboot.
Since then, though, she has made it her own, thus, the Sue Sylvester connection.
“Anne was certainly a master class in how to host this show,” Lynch said. “She had her own unique take on it, so I was just inspired by that and did my own thing.”
Lynch also spoke in more depth about how the contestants do when it comes to voting, how they overestimate their own performances, how much trivia she has stored in her brain, and what she is looking forward to when the world returns to normal.
Jane Lynch interview
Monsters & Critics: Do you get involved in any of the writing? Some of the bon mots before the vote are hysterical.
Jane Lynch: The writers came up with a list of about 200 or 300 of those [sayings]. We go through them, and I pick the ones I like. We eventually cull them down to a smaller list and a smaller list, and we are keeping them all in our back pocket.
I made some of them up, but the writers do the lion’s share.
M&C: When you’re interacting with the contestants, isn’t that you?
Jane: Yes. That’s not scripted.
M&C: How would you do at answering the questions, do you think? Do you have a lot of trivia stored in your mind? Is there a difference between the younger and older players?
Jane: Some shows I maybe know 70 percent, but I probably average 55-60 percent. You can see the young people kind of rippling through the files in their minds to get to the answer.
There are a lot of old people who have that stuff at the ready. Also, older people have a wider reference level than a lot of the kids on the show.
But I am always so impressed with how they know things that they certainly weren’t born around. Meaning, they know their history.
I always lose faith when I talk to young people who have never heard of Clark Gable, but these people do know who Clark Gable is. And they know a lot of other things, too.
M&C: What have you noticed about how the contestants vote? Do they always vote out the Weakest Link, or do they sometimes try to save themselves by voting out the biggest threat?
Jane: That happened once, and it was strategic. Although I don’t know that they knew that he had four degrees, and one was from MIT.
I have seen it done before where they will vote off the one who is a little more of a threat. But, I think, for the most part, they aren’t using that strategy.
They are basically, “Let’s get the Weakest Link out of here, so we can win as much money as possible.”
We have a statistical Weakest Link, and the woman who is doing the voice-overs lets us know who that is, but sometimes the players don’t notice, and they vote somebody off because they thought they took too much time, they don’t seem confident enough, maybe they don’t like them.
It is interesting to see. Sometimes they vote off the strongest link, which happened a couple of times. Or, they will vote somebody off who has banked all the money.
M&C: Are you a people person? There is such a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life. Is that part of the enjoyment of doing this?
Jane: Absolutely. I love it. I love the fact that there is no small talk. It is only while we are shooting.
Because of COVID, we are not meeting each other beforehand, and I love that. I love just walking out and doing the show. And that is basically what I do. They get them at their podiums, and then I come in, and we start the show.
I am socially awkward, but I do enjoy meeting people in a format like this game show, and I enjoyed each and every person on the show. I am glad I didn’t have to say hello to them before the show and goodbye to them afterwards.
M&C: What is the best part of giving away someone else’s money?
Jane: I would love it if it were mine, too. I like making people happy. And even if it isn’t the $1 million, sometimes it is up to $100,000, and that is nothing to sneeze at.
And it is really exciting to see how these folks react to winning this money. It is a tragedy that only one gets to win it, but that’s the game.
M&C: What about tears? Are we having a lot of tears this season?
Jane: Not really. But it is interesting to see that every cast is different. We’ve had a couple of casts that were very compassionate and hated voting each other off.
I said, “There’s no crying in the Weakest Link.” And then there are those who are so cutthroat, “Thanks for nothing. See you later.”
M&C: Watching their reaction and what they say when they’re voted off, so many of them don’t have a clue as to how they actually did.
Jane: To see how people rate their own performance is always interesting.
M&C: What are you looking forward to when we have a normal world?
Jane: I don’t know if a vaccine will do it. I think wearing a mask like the head of the CDC said, the mask is more effective, and it is available now.
We don’t know if the vaccine is going to be a lifesaver. But what I will look forward to is performing live, because I don’t think we are going to be able to do that for a while.
I have a band, and I perform along with Kate Flannery, and we go all over the country. We do a show called Two Lost Souls, and we have a Christmas show that we had to cancel.
We tour all over the country with that, and we have an album, so people can buy the album. It is called Swinging Little Christmas, and it is late, great ‘50s and early ‘60s swingin’ renditions of traditional Christmas songs.
So, I miss that, and I miss going inside a restaurant. But I live in L.A., so many restaurants have an outdoors, they have the capability that they broke out a little bit, so I don’t miss that so much.
Weakest Link moves to its new day and time tonight at 10/9c on NBC.