Interview: Beth Dover on ‘Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later’, ‘OITNB’ and more

Beth Dover
Photo Credit: JSquared Photography

In anticipation for ‘Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later’ we spoke to actress Beth Dover about the Netflix reunion series, looking familiar, motherhood & so much more!

Known for the charismatic and sometimes hilariously problematic characters she has brought to life on-screen actress Beth Dover has made a name for herself through her undeniable comedic timing and her ability to play in any situation thrown her way.

Reprising her role as Shari (Neil’s girlfriend from High School) Dover was one of the new cast members added to the already massive list of talent in Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp playing alongside her real life husband Joe Lo Truglio. Though you’ll also likely recognize Dover from her roles on Orange is the New Black as Linda Ferguson (aka Linda from purchasing) and as Blanche in Comedy Central’s Another Period.

We had a chance to speak with Dover about everything from what to expect from the Wet Hot American Summer reunion, that CollegeHumor Batman sketch that she did back in 2012 with Pete Holmes, as well as being a new mom – and still a total dog mom (we bonded over having dogs with the same name)!

Beth Dover
Photo Credit: JSquared Photography

Standing out in these huge hit shows with tremendously talented actors isn’t easy and joining in the middle of shows that have such a rich history would seem intimidating but Dover is a total pro though the actress admits the first day on the set of Season 5 of OITNB felt like “the first day of school.” Coming off the previous season where all her scenes were with Nick Sandow’s Joe Caputo it was a bit overwhelming at first both because she’s been a fan of the show and because the cast is such a tight unit of friends. Once the initial shock wore off, Dover found herself welcomed into the fold describing her costars as, “truly amazing women.” They recently had brunch so she’s not just saying this they really do all love each other.

Comparatively Dover was already familiar with many of the cast members from Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later through other series and personal relationships, which made shooting “fun because it genuinely felt like getting together with friends.” With such a large ensemble Dover expressed disappointment in not getting to work with more of the cast though she did share she recently completed another project with Sarah Burns (who is one of the new additions to the reunion series) adding, “It was nice to finally be able to work with her.”

Delving deeper into the characters she plays we tackled Linda’s unexpected transformation from a bit of sociopathic sorority girl to getting caught up in her lies during the Litchfield riot.

“Maybe it’s because I play the character but I sort of feel like I understand why Linda does the things she does. I don’t know if she’s as defendable as I’m making it sound but I like to think she means well…Or yeah, I’m probably just a Linda apologist.” Dover added, “But I really didn’t expect to discover that part of Linda we see in her flashback. Orange is always surprising like that.”

Speaking of things we didn’t expect, I mentioned my own theory after the Season 4 finale revolving around Linda sneaking her gun into the prison. Dover agreed saying “I remember reading the script and thinking that too considering they make a point of showing she always has it on her.” Which fit nicely to her response when asked where she saw Linda in Season 6?

“I could only guess what’s coming. Maybe she advocates for the prison system after her ordeal or maybe the experience didn’t change her at all. But I’m looking forward to finding out!”

Bringing up how funny it is to see Dover’s current recognizability since OITNB, I mentioned Pete Holmes’ “Badman” series for CollegeHumor. In the “Batman Blows His Cover” webisode Dover plays Rachel Dawes. And despite being filmed about five years ago the video continues to go viral though now it’s amusing to check the comments and see many wondering why the actress looks so familiar. Dover believes it’s because when OITNB is in season after all the binging we have her face stuck in our heads and she had this fun behind the scenes fact to add, “The actress who was usually in it was working on something else so they actually called me last-minute.”

The conversation then moved from Linda’s place of privilege despite her current circumstances to Dover’s role in Another Period as the long-suffering Bellacourt family servant, Blanche. Heading into its third season some time soon, despite the setting following the lives of the obscenely rich Bellacourts in Rhode Island in 1902 the actress feels the series is very current in its simultaneous analysis and parody of celebrity culture, politics and women’s issues. Dover for her part has the most amazing facial expressions but works very hard not to break character.

“I’m one of those people who has a tendency to get the giggles,” she revealed. “So if I start laughing there’s a chance I might never stop.”

As a standout among the array of comedy show choices available, there is something incredibly authentic about the timing on the show. Dover revealed that improvisation is definitely encouraged and a few of the actors (such as another Wet Hot American Summer alum Michael Ian Black) are absolute “improv geniuses” but that the scripts are also just really well written.

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Because Dover’s real life pregnancy was written into Another Period‘s Season 2 script, she explained how other series were able to work around it.

“I worked throughout pretty much my entire pregnancy. For Orange we just sort of went with it because I didn’t really start showing until seven months.”

We also had a very candid conversation about balancing work and new-mommyhood.

“I was relieved to find out that all of my fears about having a baby were unfounded. I was hesitant for a long time because I was afraid of how getting pregnant would affect my career but I actually never worked more. Shortly after I gave birth Joe was in New York filming Brooklyn Nine-Nine and I was getting ready to film season five of Orange so we rented an apartment for about six months because I was breast-feeding at the time and I couldn’t leave my son for more than 24 hours.”

Though having children hasn’t changed the fact that she is still very much in love with her furbaby rescue dog, Floyd, who she takes to agility courses and throws parties for joking that it’s a very “Best in Show vibe.” But back to her human 16 month old son Eli, “Overall it’s just been a really special year. He’s great, he’s running around now and there’s just been so much joy. I definitely feel that he’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

To further complicate things, Dover was going back and forth from NY to LA for a day at a time to shoot scenes for the Wet Hot American Summer reunion. She was so jet-lagged that she didn’t have any funny behind the scenes stories to share with us but when asked to describe the season in one word she said “Silly!” But being a fan of the movie and then getting to be in the series she continued, “It’s just, it’s silly but it’s Wet Hot silly.”

Joe Lo Truglio as Neil and Beth Dover as Shari in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp
Photo: Netflix via Netflix Press Media Center

“David Wain and Michael Showalter are like no one else…And they did a really good job of keeping with the tone you expect from them and Wet Hot while still moving the plot forward. There’s a real appreciation for everything that makes it so adored. I mean I remember watching the movie with friends over and over again so it’s been really exciting to be apart of it.”

I did try and get a hint about what brings Shari back. Dover didn’t want to tell us too much because we’re going to watch it soon but promises we find what everyone is up to in the 90’s. And in case anyone was wondering, if Shari was okay about returning to Camp Firewood after she was ridiculed by the other counselors at a staff party, despite being mistreated she wasn’t completely soured on the experience reminding us that she and Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) did end up having that magical moment under the stars, which for the record the actress described as, “A mind-blowing sexual experience!”

Wrapping things up we did a series of rapid fire questions just for fun. If Dover could be on another Netflix show she would pick Glow.

“I don’t think [Orange is the New Black creator] Jenj (Kohan) would let me crossover but I’d really like to be apart of the gorgeous world of lady wrestling.”

Her favorite TV show that she’s not in is Veep. The movie she saw most recently in theaters was The Big Sick (which she said we should all go see). She’s not entirely proud of the fact that her favorite emoji is the winky face. And as a self-confessed karaoke addict her go to songs range from stuff by Salt-N-Pepa to country. It all really depends on her mood. “I also like to sing rap but like nerdy rap. They just added Hamilton so that’s been one I’ll be doing a lot.”

Oh and if anyone wants to let us pitch a script for a sequel to Best In Show we’re both obsessed with dogs and have a great idea!

You can follow Beth on Twitter and Instagram!

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later premieres on Netflix on August 4. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and all current seasons of Orange is the New Black are currently streaming on Netflix. Another Period Seasons 1-2 are available on Comedy Central’s website and look for Season 3 to premiere sometime this year.