On Younger, Nico Tortorella plays Josh and Peter Hermann plays Charles, two-thirds of the show’s fan-favorite love triangle. I sat down with both of them at the recent ATX Television Festival to talk about their responsibilities as actors in the changing political climate, what’s coming up in season four and what exactly is a meme. Check out the interview below!
In the panel, you all were talking about how Younger subtly addresses what is going on in the real world. Specifically, you were talking about truth being explored on the show. I live in DC and it’s been an overwhelming four years there, to say the least. A lot of times I turn to television to escape the real world, but I also don’t want my favorite shows to completely ignore reality either. As an actor, do you feel any sort of responsibility to approach your role differently even though Younger is not outwardly political?
Nico Tortorella: I think when I’m reading new scripts I’m definitely reading with a different eye now than I was last year. I’m just a lot more conscious of the social impact of the script, and what is the impact of the story that I could be telling, and why is it important that now is the time to tell the story? But in terms of the show that I’m on right now, I think the show does such a good job of having the underbelly be so current.
Peter Hermann: Subtly topical.
Peter: And I think that we’re, in a sense, in a fortunate position because we’re not a show that’s about politics and so we can thread issues of truth in. Obviously, the truth is a character in our show and so the volume can be turned way up and way down on that. And obviously it’s turned way up in the first episode back and Darren [Star] said he didn’t want to put out that show without an acknowledgement of the fact that we live in a different world now. But there’s a lot of press recently about how the political climate is affecting shows like House of Cards or VEEP because the actual political theatre is so much more deeply and disturbingly absurd than anything that anyone is pitching in a writer’s room. So that is troubling for television shows.
Peter, you were talking in the panel about how you feel there has been a little less polarization of the team Josh/team Charles debate. But I’m curious, in the beginning, and even as recently as the season three finale, had either one of you ever seen such passion from fans in a project you had been a part of before?
Peter: I think I certainly haven’t. I think there is a sincerity to the show, and I don’t mean that pejoratively, I actually mean that as a very positive thing. There is a depth of feeling to the show and that somehow makes the show — I also think Sutton’s character, Liza, there is a degree of, I don’t want to say vulnerability, there’s something that people feel very protective of and that I haven’t experienced before. So I think it’s the nature of the show that leads to that protectiveness and I also think that there is so much content out there in the television landscape right now that when fans latch on to a given show they feel that their task is that they have to take up arms in a more serious way in order to defend their show because there is so much.
Nico: I don’t know. Uh —
Peter: You’re like, “Uh, no.”
Nico: No, I’m trying to think about other stuff that I’ve worked on. The Following had an intense audience, completely opposite of this show, and a totally different type of fan that would come up to you and talk to you about Joe Carroll murdering people than Liza Miller lying to somebody. But, I would say [they were] equally as dedicated. Scream fans, next level. Like I have Scream fans that have Ghostface tattoos up their arm, and Nico tattoos on their chest; it’s like a thing. But it’s just different. This is a happy, light-hearted show that is positive and I think that’s what is special about this.
Peter: No Peter tattoos.
Nico: No Peter tattoos?
Peter: Not yet. [laughs] Maybe they exist, but I haven’t seen them.
Nico, obviously Josh and Kelsey were friends before, but the common denominator was Liza. Now that neither one of them is happy with her, or really even speaking to her, how has that dynamic and friendship changed?
Nico: I really haven’t worked with Hilary [Duff] at all these first few seasons. We’ve had a couple of scenes together, but nothing really one-on-one. And I was really excited about the opportunity to have so much material with her this season. I think Hilary and I have a funny relationship. We represent very different things, but find so many common grounds and I don’t know. [laughs] There’s definitely some sexual tension between the two of us and that goes into our characters. She’s a hysterical person, so much fun to work with.
Has there ever been a millennial reference that you had no clue what it was or questioned whether it was even a real thing?
Nico: Well I think he [Peter] probably has questions about millennial references and I have questions about the lit[erature] references. [pauses] No.
Nothing off the top of your head?
Nico: No. [laughs] I can’t really think of anything. What other things are you thinking about?
I was thinking about the moment in the second episode [of season four and the first look trailer] and they’re talking about memes and Kelsey’s trying to explain what it is and Liza’s trying to relate it to the older generation. So I was just curious if there had been a moment like that off-screen with you when you read the script.
Nico: I feel like memes —
Peter: I still couldn’t explain a meme.
Nico: I don’t know if I could really properly explain a meme. I feel like if I saw a funny thing, I could be like, “Yo, that’s a meme. That’s not a meme.”
But defining what it is?
Nico: Yeah, no.
I don’t know what it is either. I don’t think anyone really does.
Obviously we’re here at ATX celebrating the world of television. What are some of your all-time television shows?
Nico: Sex and the City, forreal. The Sopranos, Breaking Bad was next level.
Peter: Deadwood. I just started watching Transparent.
Nico: Ugh, so good.
Peter: I had never seen an episode. [It is] remarkable.
Nico: Six Feet Under.
I don’t know that one. Is that one I should add to my list?
Nico: Old school HBO? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I really want to start American Gods.
I’ve heard really good things about it.
Peter: Togetherness on HBO is great. It had a very brief, but fantastic season. Then there is sort of the iconic stuff like Cheers, Seinfeld, All in the Family. I go back and watch those every now and then.
Nico: I Love Lucy. If there is ever a Lucy episode on, I will watch it.
Season 4 of Younger premieres June 28 at 10 pm on TV Land.
Photos by Waytao Shing