Broadway darling Sutton Foster (“Bunheads”) stars as Liza in the new sitcom, “Younger,” premiering on TVLand on Mar. 31, 2015 at 10:00 PM ET/PT. Liza is a suddenly single and broke 40-year-old mom who finds that she can’t get a job because she’s under-qualified for positions that are age-appropriate and over-qualified for jobs at the bottom.
Her best friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar), convinces her that she can pass for 26, and they make Liza over. With her fake resume and ID in tow, she immediately lands an entry-level job, but her boss, Diana (Miriam Shor), is a bit of a “Devil Wears Prada” type who is 43, recently divorced, and bitter.
The result is hilarity, including moments when Liza forgets herself and makes time references that don’t make sense for someone who’s just 26.
“Younger” was created by Darren Star, the master mind behind “Sex and the City,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” and “Melrose Place.” Like “Sex and the City,” “Younger” is shot in New York, and the city – both Manhattan and Brooklyn – becomes a character on the show.
Earlier today in New York, I sat down with Sutton, Miriam, Debi, and renowned “Sex and the City” costume designer Patricia Field, who also serves as the costume consultant for “Younger.” (Sutton, incidentally, is making her Carnegie Hall concert debut Friday night with the New York Pops orchestra.)
What follows are some of the highlights of our fun conversation.
On what they each like best about their characters:
Debi: I like that my character’s honest, that she’s a great friend, and that she lives her life as an artist. She’s free. She’s not as pressured as I am in my life.
Patricia: I think you sell that honesty aspect very well.
Debi: Thank you!
Miriam: I feel like you’re the friend everybody wants.
Sutton: Yeah, everybody wants a friend like Maggie….
Miriam: My character’s so different from me. She’ll just say exactly what’s on her mind, and it can just be the cruelest thing ever. And I would just never do that because you shouldn’t! As a human being, you probably oughtn’t! But at the same time, that freedom to just do it and to do it with impunity because then they yell cut, and it’s not really me; it’s the character.
And then, the necklaces! Amazing pieces of jewelry that are incredible. It’s just really, really fun….
Sutton: The thing I love the most about my character are the different types of relationships I get to play with Diana, with Maggie, wth Kelsey, with Josh. It’s so specific….
But I also understand Diana. I know who this woman is because I have the maturity to understand her, so I have a compassion for her. We sort of become friends.
Miriam: There’s an interesting friendship….
Sutton: I’m able to tolerate Diana.
Miriam: Whatever reason makes people act like that towards other people, I find that really interesting to explore. What kind of pain are they in that they need to cause pain in everyone else? Also, the humiliation she must feel for some reason, I find that interesting and fun to play with.
Sutton on how long she thinks Liza can keep up her lie:
Well, we’ll see. As of now, Maggie is the only character who knows. At the end of the first season, another character finds out. Hopefully, audiences fall in love with the characters and are willing to go with us wherever the story goes.
Patricia on her process when dressing actors:
There will always be a fashion element in what I do. However, I learned that this is about storytelling. There is a script, and there is the story, and there are the characters. These young ladies are the real human beings – the actors. I get this script, and the script gives me the characters to a certain degree. It introduces me to the characters….
It’s very important for me to establish a relationship with them as human beings – who they are, what they think, what’s their taste, what is their comfort zone, what is their body about? Because my job is simply to support the actor who is representing this character in front of the camera…. I’m there to make the actor feel comfortable and real and not be distracted by anything they’re wearing and believe in what they’re wearing so they can go and strut their stuff.
Debi: She’ll give you the shirt off her back, literally!
On the prospect of lying about your age:
Sutton: No, I’ve never lied about my age. I’m actually really proud.
Miriam: Yeah, me, too!
Sutton: I’m turning 40 in a week!
Miriam: No, I get angry. I don’t feel like we should have to lie about our age. It really pisses me off. I mean, I think when I was like 15, I lied and said I was 17 to a dude. But pretty much other than that, I’ve always played older, even when I was in my 20’s. So, it’s nice to be the age that I’m supposed to actually be, as opposed to being 30 and I’m playing 40. [In this show,] I’m 43, and I’m supposed to be 43….
On whether they would relive their 20’s if they could:
Miriam: I would go back to Sutton’s 20’s.
Sutton: No, you wouldn’t! My 20’s were awful!
Debi: Mine were great.
Miriam: I was working so hard to figure it all out and screwing up so much.
Sutton: Yeah, if I could hold on to the knowledge I have now. That’s what’s fun about playing Liza is that I can do that. And I can still hold onto the maturity and all of the things I’ve learned.
But I feel very content with where I’m at. Even all the mess-ups and everything that’s led me… It seems so polyanna and woo-woo-ey, but I really am proud of all the steps that got me to where I’m at. As 40 is [looming], I’m doing a lot of reflecting and thinking about all these things.
Debi: I miss the freedom of being younger. I miss that freedom of not having to worry about bills and kids and school and schedules.
Miriam: And just thinking that everything is going to work out.
Sutton on shooting her first sex scenes:
Sutton: You know what’s great is that Nico’s amazing, and he’s a wonderful guy. We have a really great rapport and a great relationship.
It’s a weird thing. “Bye, Honey, I’m off to do my sex scene! Just another Monday.” The weirdest thing is you’re like, [speaking like a robot] “I don’t even know how to touch. I’m incapable.” Suddenly, I reverted back to 14 years old. I went WAY back….
We shot two episodes at one time, so I knew it was coming. It was the last day of the two weeks. So, I was a nervous wreck the whole two weeks. I was like, “Why am I acting so crazy?” And it was because this thing was looming at the end of the week. But oddly, it was great. Our director was fantastic. She took really great care of me. And I told her, “Don’t just leave me to improvise or to my own devices. Don’t think that I know what I’m doing at all. Just tell me exactly what to do. Don’t leave me alone in the room to figure it out. Just map it out.” So, it was great, and Nico’s a great guy.
Patricia: Everybody loves Nico.
TVLand has already released the pilot, so you can watch it now here. And check out the trailer below.