Lena Dunham on quitting acting: “I'm not the best at being a public figure”

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Kayleigh Dray
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In just a few weeks, fans of HBO’s Girls will be forced to say goodbye to their favourite show after almost five years. And it seems as if Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the show, is likely planning on bowing out with the show’s big finale.

Though she recently said she’d love to do a Girls film, speaking to Rolling Stone, she said she wasn’t going to pursue acting as a career: “I have no interest in doing it for the sake of doing it. I really started by accident because I didn't know who else could play this sort of specific archetype, and I've had an amazing time and amazing luck with it.

“My dad still laughs: ‘How the f**k did you win a Golden Globe for acting? You were cast as a bouncing ball in your school play and you wouldn't stop waving at your mom and me.’ So I don't think that that's really where my future lies.

“Maybe I'm retired.”

Dunham continued: “I don't have the kind of patience, focus and spiritual drive that actors need to have to do what they do. Also, people have a short memory and I'm not the best at being a public figure in that way.

“I was really close with Nora Ephron, and she could take the train and people would recognize her for her writing. They'd be excited to see her, but a lot of people just recognized her because she was like a regular in their deli. I don't want the life that being on screen for your whole 30s, 40s, 50s gives you. I really want something different.”

However, if you think Dunham is going to stop working completely, you’re mistaken; the Girls creator fully intends to pursue her career as a writer.

“I really wanna keep writing,” she said. “I've been working on a book of fiction for two and a half years. That's something I'm gonna be putting out in the beginning of 2018, called Best and Always. It's a novella and short stories, [and] Jenni and I are gonna continue working on Lenny – I'm so proud of the world of writers and thinkers that we've built, and I don't think there's currently anything else like it on the Internet.”

She added: “And then I'm going to make movies, which is my hope. I'm not trying to get a big box-office movie, not that I think that's what anyone thinks I'm good for. But as much as I've loved my job I'm a little excited to let somebody else be the poster girl for white liberalism. That will be a nice transition if it can happen.”

Dunham has struggled with health issues in recent years, and has previously spoken about the pressure to work through illness – last year revealing some of the criticism she’d received for having to pull out of a book signing.

She shared a screenshot of the message and captioned it: “This was a response yesterday when I said I would be cancelling an appearance at a bookstore because I was sick.

“At first it made me laugh a lot – like, oh, I'm sorry, I left your award in the car. But then I really contemplated how dark it is that our culture prizes these speedy recovery narratives, because guess what? They're actually ways to keep women from feeling f**king pissed that they don't have proper maternity leave or medical and family care resources.”

She finished: “We may not have an imminent policy change on the way, but we can change the way we talk about this stuff, and treat childbirth (or fatherhood! Or illness!) as the serious and personal journeys that they are. #leftyourawardinthecar #nooffense#paidfamilyleaveforall

Images: Rex Pictures


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.