Sex And The City creator Darren Star's new series, Younger, premieres this week on TV Land, telling the tale of a 40-year-old woman who poses as a 26-year-old to score an entry-level job in publishing. We recently spoke with star Sutton Foster about the show, working with Star and costar Hilary Duff, and the show's Brooklyn setting, now that Star's finally moved his characters off the Upper East Side and plunked them next to Bedford Avenue.
Let's talk a little bit about Younger. How did you get involved in the project?
My agent sent me, back in—I guess at the end of 2013—called, said there's this really great pilot written by [Sex And The City creator] Darren Star, he wants to meet with you, read it. I sat down and read it and thought, "This is awesome, this is something I could totally do." And then I met with him, we had lunch, and then a couple weeks later I tested for the part and then I got it.
It just felt like a really fun script, and when I read it I knew—I want to play this part, how do I make this happen? So it all worked out.
How has it been working with Darren Star?
Daren is so talented and smart, and creates these amazing worlds and awesome female characters, and really knows how to entertain an audience. He's been wonderful. The great thing is that he created the show and he's also been really hands-on, and has been there throughout the whole process, he was there the entire time we were shooting. Darren, he has a power.
I watched Bunheads a few years ago and I know you've been transitioning from musicals to television. What is it like moving from Broadway to a TV show?
The biggest change, of course, is the pace, and the scheduling. I love live theater, that's what I've primarily done for the last 20 years of my life. Honestly, when I'm looking at projects and work, it isn't about one or the other or preferring one or the other. It really is about what seems exciting at the time, and an opportunity to work with great people, or a character I think is really interesting.
That's how I felt about Bunheads and that's how I feel about Younger. It seemed like the right next move. And I still feel like I'm learning so much, just in general, especially in television and being in front of a camera. Bunheads was an incredible experience and I learned so much just by virtue of doing it, being able to do eighteen episodes. And then coming into Younger too, being able to come in with more knowledge than I came into with Bunheads, but still just learning, and coming to hopefully grow in this medium. It's been so much fun and I absolutely loved shooting this show. Everybody—the whole entire cast, we are all just crossing our fingers that we get to do more.
Did you do most of the filming in Brooklyn?
Yeah we did, we had a stage in Brooklyn, in Willamsburg, and then we shot on location quite a bit in Brooklyn with a couple of locations in Manhattan. Brooklyn really is a character in the show, so we used it as a backdrop quite a bit.
Had you spent much time in Brooklyn before doing the show?
No, I had a few friends who lived out there, but I had no idea about the cool factor. We went out there when we were filming, and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is what the young people are doing! I had no idea!" It's such a cool, cool, cool place. We shot at some awesome locations and restaurants—it's where it's at, it's really just an awesome place.
Is it hard to shift from playing a 40 year old to a 26 year old? Or do you keep it the same?
Well, the good thing is my character is 40 trying to be 26, so my own failings at attempting to be 26 are very useful. I really have all of a sudden become the 40 year old that's going: "Oh wow! I had no idea that's what people are wearing!" I have no idea where I've been for the last 10 years, clearly under a rock.
My costars Hilary [Duff] and Nico [Tortorella ] are in their 20s, so that is helpful too. I feel like when you're in your 20s, you have sort of a youthful exuberance, and a naivete and a hopeful outlook on the world. And maybe in your 30s and your early 40s, you have mortgages and kids, and more responsibilities, which can weigh on you. It's the beginning of your life, your twenties , [the beginning of] your adulthood. It's just sort of a shift in attitude and perspective, and you're a little more green and a little more open and maybe a little more, like, "I got this, and I'm going to rock it!" as opposed to, "Oh god, I'm so tired, and I have so much I have to deal with." It's a little more carefree, I guess.
Do you think the show is putting your 20s on a pedestal?
The show's going to bring up a lot of things. We talk about ageism, we talk about—the way I look at it, is that Liza is in a predicament in her life, and she needs to make money. She needs to raise her daughter, she doesn't want to work at Starbucks, she's passionate about publishing about writing about books, and she's like, "Okay, this is a game I have to play, I'll play it. Because I need to support my family." I don't know if it's putting your 20s on a pedestal I think she gets caught up in her "lie," and gets caught up in reliving this part of her life that she gave up.
She gave up her 20s to be a mom, to stay at home while her husband was working. And now it's her chance to relive it and reclaim [her youth]. I think it's empowering. She's taking your life in her own hands and creating her own rules. I'm sure there will be an interesting discussion about it. Can you restart your life? She is, she is restarting her life at "40," but is doing it in an unconventional way.
I thought it was interesting to see what kind of mistakes people are making in their 20s, like with Hilary Duff's character Kelsey, that Liza's able to spot, so she can look and go, "Don't do that, I'm telling you now."
And that's what's interesting too, is that I think Liza sees Kelsey and goes—Oh my gosh, I was you fifteen years ago. Or, you're like my daughter, so I want to protect you, and please dear God don't make those mistakes. But [Kelsey], in many ways, has to make the mistakes, because that's just part of it. It's part of figuring it all out.
What's it like working with costume designer Patricia Field?
It's awesome. I don't know how she keeps her finger on the pulse of fashion and is always eight steps forward. I am not a fashionista. I'm a jeans and t-shirt gal, and when they first met with me, I was like, "I am a blank canvas, you can put me in whatever. I am so cool with whatever you put me in. You can dress me in anything, I don't care."
And it's been really really fun because I get to wear crazy clothes and wear things that I would never wear or feel like I could even pull off now a day, it's just really fun. And so much of my 20-something persona comes from those clothes, because of how they make you feel.
Has there been a particular favorite outfit that she's dressed you in?
The first thing that came to my mind is, I think in episode 5, I have these really great black jeans and these hot pink stiletto booties, with a sweatshirt with jewels all over it and this really cool coat. That's probably one of my favorites. All of these mixed matched textures and styles. I was like—I don't know how you put all of this together but it all works.
There's been some talk about Flight of the Concords either coming back in television form or as a movie or a musical, do you think you would be a part of that if it happened?
I hadn't even heard that! That would be amazing. Those guys are just awesome. If my phone was ringing and they were asking me to do that I would say a million times yes.
What else is coming up for you?
So much of it depends on Younger?. I'm doing a bunch of concert work. I'm just, waiting to see how Younger does and then we'll go from there.
Are there any Broadway or Off-Broadway shows you recommend right now?
I just saw Hamilton at the Public Theater. I don't think it needs my recommendation, but it's one of the greatest things I've seen in a really long time. It's just incredible. And Fun Home is about to start previews on Broadway at Circle In The Square [Editor's note: It's now running.]. I saw that last year at the Public and it's not to be missed. So those are probably my two biggest recommendations.
How has it been working with Hillary Duff? I was a big Lizzie McGuire fan back in middle school.
Lizzie McGuire was after my generation so I didn't watch it. But of course I knew about Hilary Duff. She's just a smart, awesome woman. And she obviously had enormous fame and still has enormous fame from being very young and being in the spotlight for such a long time, and she just navigates things incredibly beautifully.
She's the most mature 27 year old I've ever met. She just has her shit together and I admire her so greatly and we had such a great time working together. I think the whole cast, we're all very different. Miriam [Shor] and Debi [Mazar] and Hilary and I, we're just very different women but we all get along so well, so I think we're all just hoping that we get to work together for a long time.
Younger premieres March 31st with back-to-back episodes tomorrow at 10 p.m. on TV Land, though the pilot is currently available for free on Amazon.