For Ellie Kemper's new Netflix interactive special, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend, premiering Tuesday, May 12, the former Office star filmed what is essentially a feature-length movie in under 30 days while pregnant with her second child.
But this isn't just any "movie." Instead, viewers will get a chance to decide specific plot points—a choose-your-own-adventure conceit that meant Kemper and the cast shot various outcomes for most scenes.
"There are so many iterations that you can watch it 100 times and never really repeat the same options," Kemper tells me from St. Louis, where she's quarantining with her husband and two boys. "It felt like [we filmed] 80 shows within one show. I think all of our brains were getting a little bit pretzel-like because we couldn't keep track of where we were within the story, but we had an excellent script supervisor who kept us on track."
Even though she had a blast on set with costars Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Jon Hamm, and more, Kemper says bedtime is her favorite part of the day. "I don't love the work that comes with it," she says of her nightly routine, "but once I'm in bed, it's the best."
Still, nighttime is a bit different now that she's not in her New York City apartment. "James, my three-year-old, climbs into our bed around 3 a.m., and because the world is really weird right now, I let it go. But once this whole thing is over, I definitely need him to stay in his own bed because I can't keep waking up at 3 a.m. every morning."
It's for that reason and more that the 40-year-old says she's putting more effort into her nighttime routine. "Taking care of yourself feels so much more important now," she says. Joking that every day feels like Groundhog Day, Kemper says she wants to feel like she's repairing her skin and body during the night. "I used to doze off, like, 'Eh, this isn't important,' but now it's more important than ever to take care of myself."
In Glamour's newest installment of Bedtime Stories, Kemper explains how she manages to get a full night of sleep, the skin-care products she swears by, and why a humidifier in the shape of a hippo is her saving grace.
How I get seven hours of sleep a night with two small kids:
My bedtime routine has not changed that much since quarantine because I like to stick to a very strict schedule to help me to feel like things are normal. My husband and I watch TV around 9 or 9:30 p.m., and then I start to drift off by 10, wake myself up by 10:15, and start my nighttime routine. I get into bed at 10:30 p.m. every night, and then look at Instagram or read the news until about 11:00 p.m. Then I'm up at 6:00 a.m. I've been trying to exercise before the boys get up at 7 a.m. It's not always working, but I am trying to do something so I can clear my head before beginning what is the same day over and over and over again.
My hair-color secret during quarantine:
I miss my colorist, Nikki Ferrarra, so much right now. During quarantine I just have not been washing my hair that much, but when I do, I use Biolage Colorlast shampoo and conditioner. But until I get back into Nikki's chair, I've been using L'Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up spray in red after I dry it because there's so much gray. I'm basically showering myself with this spray. And I wash my face in the shower with Cetaphil gentle scrub, so when I apply my nighttime skin care later, I don't have to wash it again.
Matrix Biolage Colorlast Shampoo
Matrix Biolage Colorlast Conditioner
L'Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up
Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
The comfiest sweatpants to sleep in:
Thank goodness I packed my Old Navy sweatpants with me when I came to St. Louis. Those are my favorites. And then I wear an oversized Star Wars T-shirt that I took from my little brother about two years ago at Christmas.
The moisturizer that transforms my skin:
Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Night Cream really transforms my skin. It drinks up the moisture, and I know I sound like a spokesperson, but I love, love, love that lotion. Then I use the Sara Happ Lip Scrub, Brown Sugar, which tastes like sugar, exfoliates my lips, and is very refreshing and effective. After, I slather on the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm. Finally, because I've been washing my hands nonstop, I use another Elizabeth Arden favorite—their Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturizing Hand Treatment—before I go to bed. It is rejuvenating and really effective. Oh, and of course, I can't forget my teeth, so I always floss and then use Arm & Hammer's toothpaste.
Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Night Line Smoothing Cream
Sara Happ The Lip Scrub Brown Sugar
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturizing Hand Treatment
The bedtime sheets I swear by:
Cariloha Resort Bamboo Sheets are the most comfortable sheets that I've ever slept on in my life. My mother-in-law gave us these sheets when we moved into our new apartment two years ago, and I'll never go back. It's heaven. As far as mattress and pillows go, everything needs to be very firm, so I love a Tempurpedic pillow. I'm really 86 years old, but that's what I love.
Cariloha Resort Bamboo Sheets
The nighttime snack that reminds me of simpler times:
A year ago I loved eating ice cream before bed, but maybe because of the stress of the current world right now or what, but I've been eating Stauffer's animal crackers—high-fructose corn syrup and all. I'll kind of binge-eat them as I'm binge-watching TV. The crunching helps relieve whatever anxiety I'm feeling, and it's a delicious way to end the day. Also, here in St. Louis I found that they have a chocolate variety. It's killer. And then I just drink water to wash down the corn syrup.
Stauffer's Animal Crackers
Stauffer's Chocolate Animal Crackers (Pack of 4)
My go-to sound machine:
I use a Dohm sound machine, which I have on, like, half volume because I do need to be able to hear the baby if he cries. But I also have a humidifier going because it cuts in half the number of colds I get each winter. I actually use a kids' humidifier which is shaped like a hippo. My son James has the exact same one, which is embarrassing and also not at all embarrassing. The brand is Crane and I bought it on Amazon. I tried to get a normal, grown-up humidifier for me, but I found it was not as good. It wasn't as easy to empty; I didn't see the moisture coming up. So now the hippo seems to work better than anything. It's great—it gets the job done.
Dohm Natural Sound Machine
Crane Filter-Free Hippo Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
My quarantine TV binge obsession
My husband and I have been bingeing Mad Men. During this stressful time in the world, all I want to do is look at beautiful costumes and set dressing and performances. I don't even know what season we're on and I have seen it all before, but I love, love, love the show. I'm too embarrassed to tell [Kimmy Schmidt costar] Jon Hamm. But now I'm telling you and it will be out there, so I'm indirectly telling him. He's the nicest.
What I’m reading now
I got an advanced copy of Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld, which comes out on May 19, and it's basically if Hillary hadn't married Bill Clinton. I've been devouring it. It's an amazing novel and I love Curtis's writing. Also, I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I want to read Stephen King's new collection of short stories called The Fifth Step.
“Rodham” by Curtis Sittenfeld
Watch Ellie Kemper in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend, now streaming on Netflix.
Jessica Radloff is the Glamour West Coast editor. You can follow her on Instagram @jessicaradloff14.
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