Kristen Wiig and Ricky Martin Admit the Palm Royale Characters Are ‘a Little Bit Delulu’

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Minor spoilers below.

In Apple TV+’s new series Palm Royale, former pageant queen Maxine Simmons is determined to claw her way into the highest rungs of Palm Beach’s high society in 1969. She’s so determined, in fact, that she literally scales the wall of the city’s most exclusive members-only club, The Palm Royale, to mingle with the wealthy, well-dressed women of influence, in hopes of becoming one herself.

But would Kristen Wiig, who stars as Maxine and executive produced the series, stand a chance at entering the Palm Royale in real life? (After all, the actress is beloved for her laugh-out-loud work on Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids, and more.) “No! I don’t think they would let me in,” she laughs.

Her co-star Ricky Martin (yes, that Ricky Martin), who plays war veteran and vigilant club employee Robert, agrees. “First of all, they don’t let us in. That’s it. Bottom line.”

But Wiig admits, the beach club would “be a great place to people-watch”—that’s not just for the guests, but for the viewers at home too. The series Palm Royale is chock-full of stars, including Laura Dern (a fellow executive producer), Leslie Bibb, Kaia Gerber, and the comedic icon Carol Burnett. And with vibrant, glamorous ’60s fashion (courtesy of costume designer Alix Friedberg), it’s a feast for the eyes. On set, everyone had to take a moment “looking at everyone’s wardrobe, because it was like one was better than the next,” Wiig says.

Loosely based on Juliet McDaniel’s novel Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, it’s not all gowns, gossip, and galas; Maxine is hiding a few secrets beneath her twang and happy-go-lucky facade, which her skeptical new acquaintances are eager to uncover. Here, Wiig and Martin walk us through making Palm Royale and why one has to be a little delusional—or delulu—to survive in its world.

Ricky, I read that you got this role after dancing with Abe [Sylvia, writer, executive producer, and showrunner] at an Oscar party. What was that like? What was the dance? What was the song? I feel like some of us could use this strategy for our job searches.

Ricky Martin: I was not dancing with him, he was dancing alone. He was cruising around the dance floor, and he was dancing in a very theatrical way, very beautiful, beautiful lines.

Kristen Wiig: He’s an amazing dancer.

Martin: To a hip-hop song, which was great. Obviously, I met him that night, but it was just, “Hi, nice to meet you. Such a pleasure.” Then he called my agent, and then, two weeks later, I had the script in my hands. Then, three or four days later, I was traveling to L.A. to meet with [director] Tate Taylor.

And he was so wonderful. Abe has been such a maestro for me, because he’s just so caring and so nurturing, and I really needed that this time.

ricky martin as robert in palm royale

Apple

Ricky Martin as Robert in Palm Royale.

Palm Royale is set in the upper crust of ’60s-’70s Palm Beach society. What kind of research or prep went into your roles?

Wiig: Honestly, talking with Laura [Dern], who had had the book and the project for such a long time, and [discussing] what was important to get across for her, Abe Sylvia, and the writers. I feel like all of the answers were in the script. Coming up with Maxine with all of these people, and getting the hair, the costumes, being in the set, it helps you become that character. It was a group effort to get there.

Martin: I think that the core of what Robert is made of, it doesn’t matter the decade, it doesn’t matter the year. It’s something that men are struggling with nowadays still, and I just focus on that…For me, the core of it all was, emotionally, what he stands for, what he’s made of, where he’s coming from.

Wiig: It doesn’t even matter the year [the show is set in], especially with our characters feeling like we don’t belong and that we have to hide who we truly are, wanting to be something we’re not. It’s such a subtle thread throughout that people can relate to no matter what decade.

Kristen, you touched on this a little bit, but I’m curious how you crafted Maxine, from the mannerisms to the voice. You’re such a comedic master, I feel like I saw hints of your background in SNL and your other roles in Maxine.

Wiig: I think one thing, as far as her mannerisms, that I really tried to focus on to keep with her throughout all the episodes was just her relentless positivity. Even if she’s saying something that’s either unkind or sad or whatever, she still says it with this bubbly sunshine energy. And I think she almost has to, because, if there’s a crack in that, then I think her vulnerability and her pain and insecurity would come out. So I think there’s a lot of, “Keep it together, Maxine.” And it looks exhausting, because she’s just going, going, going.

kristen wiig as maxine in palm royale

Erica Parise//Apple

Kristen Wiig as Maxine in Palm Royale.

It’s funny you mentioned that, because I feel like she goes to extreme lengths to be a part of this world, lying to other people and sometimes to herself. I’m curious if either of you are familiar with the phrase “delulu”?

Wiig: What is it?

Delulu.

Wiig: Delulu?

Martin: Like delusional?

Yes, exactly.

Martin: Delulu.

Yeah. That came up on TikTok a lot in the past year, and I feel like Maxine is a bit delulu, but in a positive way.

Wiig: I love that. Wait, so delulu just means–

Martin: Delusional.

Like, you feel like everything is in your grasp, even if it’s not.

Wiig: She’s delulu.

But in an endearing, charming way.

Wiig: I think there are a few people on the show that are delulu.

Martin: I think all the ladies, all the characters are a little bit delulu. When they see and judge everybody, and they talk about their plans, it’s all delulu.

Wiig: Yeah. [Laughs] That’s my new favorite word.

palm royale

Erica Parise//Apple

Julia Duffy and Kristen Wiig in Palm Royale.

Speaking of the ladies, the legendary Carol Burnett is in this show. In the first few episodes, what was it like sharing scenes with her when she’s mostly lying down, unconscious in bed?

Martin: That was the hardest, because you try not to laugh, and it’s a sad moment. She’s in a coma. You’re supposed to be there with her, and she would make you laugh because that’s her, that’s her energy.

Wiig: To have that, I don’t even know what the word is, while you’re sleeping is pretty extraordinary. Her eyes are closed, but you gravitate towards her.

Did she ever try to wake up and scare you guys at all, like catch you off guard?

Martin: She’s still very professional. But, in my case, I would be giving her a hand massage, and I would be telling her, “I’m here to protect you,” and she would just open her eyes, and that’s it. It’s like, “Okay, let’s do it again.” It was great training, I guess.

carol burnett

Apple

The one and only Carol Burnett guest-stars in Palm Royale.

Then what about you guys? What was it like sharing scenes with each other and playing friendly nemeses in a way?

Wiig: It was so fun, because it’s like when they say, when you’re younger, the person who’s mean to you likes you. I feel like we had that sort of Sam and Diane [dynamic, from Cheers].

Martin: Yeah, it is.

Wiig: It was just like, we didn’t like each other, but the audience knows we’re the only ones that really know each other. We spend so much time trying to hide things, and when we’re talking, we don’t hide them, so it’s a little bit of a relief for us and the audience.

I wanted to ask you a little bit about the world that Maxine is living in in the ’60s. You have high-society women juxtaposed with feminists in the women’s movement. What was it like exploring different sides of womanhood on this show?

Wiig: We felt that that was very important. I don’t think you can tell a story, especially in 1969, about a bunch of wealthy people at a country club without acknowledging all of the things that were going on with women’s rights and the Vietnam War. I think story-wise, too, to have the feminists at the bookstore, just completely the other side of the coin to the women that are at the Palm Royale, but they do exist in the same world, and some of them do know each other—to have both of those things happening at the same time was such a reminder that the women in the club are just living in a bubble, and it’s shocking that they’re not really talking about anything that’s going on that’s important. So I don’t know. I think we felt it was really important to shine the light on how ridiculous they look, because they’re not acknowledging it, and to just really say what’s going on in the world that’s actually important.

palm royale

Apple

Maxine ends up in a feminist meeting group, co-hosted by Virginia (Amber Chardae Robinson).

Do you have any hopes for viewers diving into this series?

Wiig: Oh, gosh. It’s hard to describe the show in a few sentences, and I know, right now, it’s simplified into my character trying to get into this world. And it is so much more. There are A, B, C, D, E, F, G storylines. There is so much going on. It’s really poignant. There are some really beautiful scenes, funny scenes.

Martin: Laughter. Tears. Uncertainty. Drama. It’s everything, this show—and a lot of everything.

Wiig: A lot of everything. That should go on the poster. And I think [the show can] remind people just to be okay with who we are [which] sometimes can be difficult in this world. That’s a lesson that so many characters in the show learn.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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