Ellie Kemper on that NYC subway ride that proved she has the ‘same instincts’ as Kimmy Schmidt

There are many similarities between Ellie Kemper and her “Unbreakable” character Kimmy Schmidt: They’re both round-faced, wide-eyed redheads, according to Kemper, and they call New York City home.

Kemper, 36, thinks she also has the “same instincts” as her Netflix character, and shared one of her earliest NYC memories to prove it. The actress, who lives on the Upper West Side with her husband Michael Koman and son, first moved to the city when she was 23 years old.  

“I was trying to be really tough on the subway once and I felt like this guy was looking me up and down in a way that was inappropriate. So, I put on my tough guy voice and I said, ‘Can I help you?’ and he said, ‘um … I’m just riding the subway,’ and I said ‘yeah, but your eyes were looking someplace else,’” Kemper recalled at The Roxy Hotel in Tribeca on Friday, demonstrating her her best “tough guy” facial expression.

Calling the encounter “embarrassing,” Kemper said she could feel the entire subway car looking at her.

“I said it really loudly,” she continued, “and the guy was like, ‘don’t flatter yourself, I wasn’t even looking at you.’ Well, he didn’t say that, but that was the unspoken truth.”

According to Kemper, her outspoken character wouldn’t hesitate to react the same way if Tina Fey decided to drop Kimmy in a similar subway situation.

“I think she would do something very similar, which is why it’s mortifying, because I have the same instincts as Kimmy Schmidt,” Kemper said.