Why Hollywood Won't Cast Jane Lynch Anymore

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Jane Lynch had been around for years before catching her big break as the lovably villainous Sue Sylvester on the groundbreaking musical comedy Glee in 2009. At the age of 49, this iconic, fan-favorite role made her a household name, cemented her place in pop culture history, and led to a number of accolades, including Golden Globe and Emmy Award wins for her work.

When the hit Fox series went off the air in 2015, Lynch was in perfect position to cast off her signature tracksuit and rule Hollywood. But her on-screen career hasn't exactly flourished as much as her adoring Gleeks might have expected.

From personal woes and failed projects to charity work and expanding her resume, there's a lot about Lynch's career that people may have missed since her time terrorizing the kids of McKinley High. So, let's answer the question on everyone's mind: Why won't Hollywood cast Jane Lynch anymore?

She became Hollywood's go-to host

Following Lynch's successful hosting gig at the 2011 Emmy Awards, she was tapped to take on Hollywood Game Night in 2013 — launching her new career path as Hollywood's go-to host. 

As an openly gay woman, Lynch became an anomaly in the entertainment industry's hosting game — and she was well aware of it. "I think there's kind of a firm mindset that it's a male job, but that's been loosening up a little bit," she told Entertainment Tonight in 2017, just before she helmed National Geographic's Earth Live event. "Maybe we'll get past the point where it's just lesbian women that they'll allow to host things," she jokingly added in reference to herself and Ellen DeGeneres. "And extend it to the straight girls too."

During an appearance on the Today show, Lynch likened her Hollywood Game Night job, for which she's won Emmys for outstanding host, to "a silly excuse to have people over to the house and have a lot of fun." She added, "[I'm] very grateful for it, and everything's different, and I don't get bored. It's a lot of fun."

And it turns out, it's not actually such a departure from acting. "It's a role as well," the Role Models star explained to NBC News. "You define your limitations and how you operate in it."

She penned a memoir

At the height of her Glee fame in 2011, Lynch switched focus to write her autobiography, Happy Accidents.

"I wrote it myself with my wife," she told TheWrap at the time of the memoir's release. "I really step outside my life, which I've started to do lately, because so much has happened. I got married, my career is where I never imagined it would be. So I started looking at it, and connecting dots throughout my life, and I found it to be a pretty entertaining story."

While the popular book reflected on her successes, it also explored Lynch's struggles, including her childhood anxieties, her difficulty coming out, and her successful battle with alcohol addiction. 

This unique balance, marked by the actress' refreshing honesty, garnered rave reviews. As The New York Times noted, "It's one of those startling and rare celebrity memoirs that manage to be funny and touching and even inspirational, without making you want to hurl. Because it's about failure and fear as much as it's about success. Perhaps more so."

She went through a pricey divorce

Lynch shared a seemingly perfect marriage with her wife of three years, Dr. Lara Embry. But when they filed for divorce in June 2013, citing irreconcilable differences, the actress was forced to focus her time and energy on her personal life rather than her professional endeavors.

"Lara and I have decided to end our marriage," she released in a statement at the time (via People). "This has been a difficult decision for us as we care very deeply about one another. We ask for privacy as we deal with this family matter."

Luckily, as Lynch later told Larry King, she and Embry remained on good terms. "It's two people who decided it's better to go apart than stay together," the Party Down star said (via the Huffington Post). "We have to remain adults, which we have. We keep everybody — especially [stepdaughter] Haden's — good in our mind."

While the former couple had what seemed to be the most amicable divorce ever, it was certainly costly. Once it was finalized in January 2014, the actress ended up with a whopping $1.2 million property settlement. Additionally, Embry was entitled to half of her Glee royalties.

But it was just as well to Lynch, as she told PopCrush, "[California] is a half and half state, as well as it should be, so that's fine... It's just money."

She went on tour with See Jane Sing

Lynch couldn't quite shake the singing bug after Glee wrapped, so she refocused her energy on making music and developed a touring cabaret show called See Jane Sing in 2015. This musical-comedy variety show featured Kate Flannery of The Office, Glee's vocal coach Tim Davis, and the Tony Guerrero quintet.

"It's a bunch of songs that I just like," Lynch told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. "In fact, I say at the beginning of the show, 'Join me on a musical journey through a world of songs that have very little to do with one another.'"

The following year, the cabaret group reunited for the release of Lynch's A Swingin' Little Christmas! album off of her own label, KitschTone Records. And they, of course, brought the record on tour in 2016 and 2017. 

In between these holiday seasons, Lynch got her live performance fix by singing the Great American Songbook with symphony orchestras across the United States. "You show up with your orchestrated songbook — which I'm working on right now — and the symphony learns it in a frickin' day — they're like amazing musicians — and you perform it that night," she told NBC News just before she hit the road. "I'm nervous and excited."

Angel from Hell totally tanked

Lynch's first major post-Glee role was on Angel from Hell, a short-lived CBS sitcom on which she starred opposite Maggie Lawson as a rough-around-the-edges guardian angel.

While the show premiered with a decent 8 million viewers, it was panned by critics. With a score of 41 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the site's general consensus read, "Banish thee from the airwaves, oh Angel from Hell, for sins of commonplace sitcom triteness and obnoxious use of an iconic comedic lead." Perhaps the most brutal review of all came from Variety, which noted that the "grating" series "does a remarkable thing: It makes the viewer want to avoid spending time with Jane Lynch and Maggie Lawson, both of whom are very appealing and talented performers." Ouch.

As ratings began to drop, the comedy series was accused of blasphemy by One Million Moms, which claimed that its "crude humor, foul language and distasteful dialogue" was disrespectful to Christianity. The group successfully campaigned for one of the show's sponsors, Sleep Number, to pull its financial support.

Between low ratings, negative critiques, and this unforeseen controversy, Angel from Hell was unceremoniously canceled after only five episodes had aired in February 2016.

She turned to the stage

Lynch further distanced herself from Hollywood by getting back to her roots and pursuing work in the theater.

In 2012, she portrayed conservative social commentator Maggie Gallagher in Dustin Lance Black's play 8, which portrayed the federal trial that overturned Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage. The star-studded production, featuring Lynch's Glee co-stars Chris Colfer and Matthew Morrison, as well as the likes of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, raised money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. As the actress told Access Online, "I was really touched and moved to see all these really big stars with fire power up there and advocating for our rights."

The following year, Lynch made her Broadway debut as Miss Hannigan in Annie. Her two-month stint as the beloved musical's scheming orphanage matron garnered rave reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called her "a delight to watch," noting that she "claims the role as her own."

Getting back on stage was something in which Lynch had reveled. "The live stuff, it surprised me how much I missed it because I hadn't really missed it," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. "When I [did Annie,] I had such a blast. I love theater, I love theater people, I love putting on my own makeup, I love the schedule, I love everything about it."

Is she being typecast?

It's no secret that Lynch has a knack for stealing scenes as authoritative, harsh, or simply eccentric characters who are played to comedic effect — this has been a running trend throughout the course of her career. But in a post-Glee world, the actress has remained so synonymous with Sue Sylvester that she's run the risk of being typecast.

In Happy Accidents, Lynch expressed her confusion as to why she's "so frequently cast in the role of an authority figure, since the core of these characters does not match [her own]" (via Slate). "I don't have that kind of confidence," she added. "...But authority is so often projected onto me, in art and life." Musing that this could be because of her 6-foot height and stern affect, the actress admitted that she still doesn't "understand why people see me as so absolutely self-assured."

But if Lynch has found herself typecast into these roles, it's no skin off her nose. "Oh no, I don't mind!" she told WebMD in 2013. "I like having the work, for one thing. And I also sort of love extreme characters. It lets me explore that wacky side of things and have fun expressing extreme opinions."

She's focused on charity work

Lynch is a longtime activist devoted to using her celebrity to foster real change. While she's a supporter of a number of charities, the causes closest to her heart include LGBTQ rights and the arts. The L Word star's unabashed efforts and influence in the fight for the former were recognized by The Trevor Project in 2013, when she was awarded the Trevor Hero Award.

However, her focus on the latter has often happened at the local level. As she told the Huffington Post in 2011, "In California we're basically bankrupt in our public schools; we don't have arts, music or drama, so I help raise money for my own child's school so that we can have our art teacher and music teacher. I'm also part of a larger [organization in] that we do it for parents who don't have that kind of money."

That said, Lynch has made it a rule to not make career choices to push any particular agenda. "Never. Never. Never," she told SF Weekly in 2018. "I've never done something or accepted something because I thought it was going to further something. I just always do the best job I can and let all that stuff happen itself."

NBC passed on Relatively Happy

In 2017, Lynch landed a starring role in the NBC pilot for Relatively Happy, playing divorce attorney Bobbi Martin, the boss and mentor of Jon Rudnitsky's character, Henry.

"She defies labels. Max Mutchnick wrote it for a guy: a womanizing, Scotch-drinking guy. And then he cast me instead, and we decided to make her kind of a Marlene Dietrich in drag," the actress told NBC News of the unique part. "She's very come-hither with both men and women. She loves to drink, she loves to smoke cigars, she wears men's suits — but she's also very sexy in a feminine way."

She added, "She's never tried to be one thing or another — she's always been purely an original. She's just herself."

Despite Lynch's history of playing roles originally written for men, she was particularly thrilled about this gender-switching casting, as it's still a rarity in television. "I think people write authoritarian parts, sort of knee-jerk, as male," the actress explained, adding, "And if you ask if it can be a woman, it's thinking outside the box. It's off the beaten path."

Unfortunately, Lynch's excitement about the multi-cam project just didn't catch on with the right people, and the network opted not to pick it up to series.

Turning it around

Jane Lynch may have become better known as a writer-singer-host extraordinaire in her post-Glee career, but her acting prospects seem to be shifting back into place.

Between 2016 and 2018, she guested on various TV shows, like Will & GraceThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Manhunt: Unabomber. She also went on to star as producer Olivia Vanderstien on Amazon's Dropping the Soap in 2017. For her work on the sitcom, which followed a long-running soap opera's on- and off-camera drama, she earned an Emmy Award for outstanding actress in a short form comedy.

But that doesn't mean she had decided to hang up her hosting hat, as Hollywood Game Night was renewed for its sixth season in March 2018. And the multi-hyphenate couldn't have been happier to strike this balance in her work life. "It is the most amazing killer job," Lynch told NBC News. "I love to act; it's my calling if there's such a thing."

While the future of Dropping the Soap is unknown at the time of this writing, it looks like Lynch's acting career on the small screen is already back on track!