I don’t think I’d ever been more excited or nervous for an interview in my life. I was about to jump on a call with Tina Fey and Margot Robbie, the stars of this month’s satirical comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and wondering how my list of fashion questions would go over with the duo. The film, an autobiographical tale of a female reporter awkwardly navigating the journalistic world in war-ridden Afghanistan, is hardly a style-conscious narrative, but nonetheless, 10 minutes with Fey and Robbie is 10 minutes well spent, so I went for it. The result: a hilarious account of high school fashion choices, “very expensive Issey Miyake tarps” in the desert, and the wisest fashion advice we’ve ever heard. In other words, it was totally worth it. Keep reading for my exclusive interview.
WHO WHAT WEAR: Tina, why did you want to bring this story to the big screen?
TINA FEY: Well I really liked Kim Barker’s book [The Taliban Shuffle]. I thought it was well-written and funny and interesting and so specific. I had not seen a movie about this topic before, about journalists working over [in Afghanistan], in way that wasn’t super serious and political and important. It is so much more human and funny, so I just thought it would be a good movie, and I thought it would be a part that I could get away with playing, which is always part of the scam.
WWW: I loved how fearless both of your characters were in order to get the story. What qualities do you think you share with them?
TF: I think real Kim is a lot braver than I am, to really have gone to these places and done that. I have a lot of fake bravery, like, I’m not afraid to be embarrassed. I think of Margot as fearless.
MR: I think you are more fearless than I am.
TF: I think Margot, if you told her, I’ll give you $5 to get in the cage with this lion, she would do it.
MR: Yeah, I really like doing the adventure stuff like that, but I’m the biggest wuss when it comes to being outspoken and going against the grain. A lot of qualities my character has I enjoy playing so much because I could never do or say those things in real life. I’m not brave in those ways, which is always fun to play.
WWW: Did anything funny happen while shooting the film?
MR: I gave you [Fey] that massive bruise on your arm. I was watching the movie, and when you wake up in bed, you have that massive bruise on your arm, and I was like, Oh my god! I felt so bad.
TF: We have this scene where Margot goes, “We’re going out tonight,” and she punches me in the arm. And you know, she was training for Suicide Squad at the time, so she’s strong. And we only did it like two or three times, and the next day I had this massive bruise on my arm that we ended up leaving and not covering because it was perfect, because it was the kind of bruise you would get if you were drinking too much the night before and woke up and were like I don’t even know how I got this bruise. It was the gift that kept on giving.
WWW: Kim changes her life course on a whim for this job. If you could do the same, where would you go and what would you do?
TF: Well, I feel like I already have my dream life, so I could only dismantle from here. I would like pick up and go live in the desert by myself. That would be the only left turn from here, just doing iowaska and writing some really amazing club tracks.
MR: I always dream of going to a tropical island and being a scuba instructor and just living the island life, working at a beach bar at night and scuba by day. It’s not a terribly ambitious dream, but…
TF: Well, when you are living a life where you are working hard, that becomes the dream, like, What if I don’t do anything?
MR: I think about it all the time.
WWW: What would you pack for this trip?
TF: When I move to the desert? I would love to bring a lot of very expensive Issey Miyake tarps. That kind of thing doesn’t look good on me, but that’s what I’d like to wear in the desert.
MR: You’d be dressing like you’re going to Coachella. That would be the way to do it.
TF: But really high-end Coachella. What about you? What would you pack on your beach trip?
MR: I guess I would need bikinis and not much else, because I’d be living on a beach. I actually have this really cool wetsuit from Cynthia Rowley. Wetsuits are normally really ugly, and I usually detest them, but this one is really cool; it has really cool patterns and long sleeves and then a bikini cut on the bottom.
WWW: What’s your fashion motto/mantra?
TF: Hmmm. Get these shoes off me? I had a friend once who was just another comedian, and he would always say to me, “Don’t wear what fashion designers tell you to wear. Wear what they wear.” I always thought it was good advice, because if you look at actual designers, they wear like a beautiful white shirt and black pants, and then they want you to wear a skort, like a fuchsia skort.
MR: My general beauty tip is—I read it somewhere once—if you have to ask someone if you should wash your hair or not, it means you should.
TF: That’s a good one.
MR: I literally always do that.
WWW: What’s your most memorable fashion moment—good or bad?
TF: I’m going to try to think of something good, because I do not want to think back on something bad.
MR: Well, hopefully we are about to have one. We’re going to the Oscars next week.
TF: When I was a senior in high school, I bought a white denim skirt suit at the mall. And it was fierce then, and I stand by it, and I wore it to award night at my school, and it was amazing. It zipped up the front.
MR: In high school, we had a graduation dinner, and everyone was buying really expensive dresses and things, but I couldn’t buy a dress. So I found this old kind of like a cha-cha skirt in the dress-up box at home, and I pulled it up above my bust and put a belt around my waist, and it looked, I thought, awesome, and actually everyone else thought it was awesome too. They would come up to me and be like, “Oh, where did you get your dress?” And I just lied through my teeth and said, “It’s Willow,” which is like a cool designer brand in Australia. I wasn’t like going crazy and saying it’s Chanel, and I wasn’t saying it was like Zara, which didn’t actually exist back then, but I was like, “Yeah, it’s Willow.” And everyone was like, “Margot has a great Willow dress on tonight.”
TF: That’s brilliant!
WWW: Okay, time for a pop culture snapshot. First, what are you watching?
TF: I’m watching the OJ miniseries [The People v. OJ Simpson] and am very much enjoying it.
MR: I’ve been watching stuff for work really. I just watched this brilliant movie called Mustang. I’m kind of obsessed.
WWW: What are you listening to?
MR: I was just saying earlier for some reason I’m obsessed with “Rubberband Man” by The Spinners right now. It’s inexplicable, I don’t know, but I’m listening to it like 10 times a day.
TF: I got sick of all the music I had on my phone, so I started listening to Pandora radio more. And I like to do this thing with my kids where when we put on Pandora, we put on ’60s French pop. And then my older one was like Let’s play a game where we try to lip-sync to it, even though we don’t know the song or the language. It’s really funny, and they look very French when they do it.
WWW: What are you reading?
MR: I just read this book that I was looking into called The Book With No Name by Anonymous, which is very vague but a really fun read.
TF: I just started reading Diane von Furstenberg’s biography, which is very compelling right out of the gate—very juicy life.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is in theaters nationwide March 4.
Opening Image: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures
What’s your most memorable fashion moment—good or bad? Tell us in the comments below.