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'Divorce' Scene Stealer Molly Shannon on Diane's Decision in Season 3

Molly Shannon plays Diane, one of a triumvirate of middle-aged divorced or separated women starting over. (Sarah Jessica Parker's Frances and Talia Balsam's Dallas are the others.)

Introduced as a rich, self-centered wife on the HBO dramedy Divorce, Diane is now "at rock bottom with no home, no husband, no money," says Shannon. In Season 1, Diane took her cheating husband back (after she nearly murdered him) but finally decided to ditch him now that he's incarcerated for financial misdeeds that left her penniless. "I've always played that she truly loved Nick," the actress says, "and now she's heartbroken and destroyed."

Where You've Seen Her

Standing out on Saturday Night Live (1995–2001) with such memorable characters as Catholic schoolgirl Mary Katherine Gallagher (based on herself as a kid) and limber 50-year-old Sally O'Malley (based on her "really tough" father!). Shannon's string of sitcom roles includes annoying neighbor Val on the original and revived Will & Grace (1999–2019), badminton teacher Brenda on Glee (2010), and, lately, supersupportive stage mom Pat Dubek on Comedy Central's breakout The Other Two.

On the big screen, her varied résumé encompasses broad comedies (Talladega Nights), a sexy, funny bio (Wild Nights With Emily), and an award-winning family drama (Other People).

(Chris Haston/NBC)

Why We Love Her

Shannon's indelible characters share an underlying humanity and a grounding in reality. "I feel like the comedy plays so much better if you have emotional truth in what this character desires," says the former drama student, who once aspired to be a "very serious" actress like Jane Alexander.

"You can add the funny," Shannon notes, "but I always start with 'What does her heart want?'" With that in mind, she finds the wit in Other People's dying mom and the realness behind an easy stereotype like Diane.

Decision Time for Diane

After years of dependence on her wealthy hubby, the fiftysomething finds herself bunking with her girlfriends and toiling in a department store, where she serves entitled women like the one she used to be.

"Diane took having money for granted. Now she's very humbled," says Shannon. Her next move? "Should she try to be strong and independent, or date a bit and assess her opportunities?"

Divorce, Mondays, 10/9c, HBO

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