Rita Wilson, actress, producer, singer and Huff/Post50 editor-at-large, will be joining the cast of the HBO hit dramedy "Girls" in its second season, which premieres Sunday. She sat down with Huff/Post 50 to talk about her role as Marnie Michaels' mother and about the show in general.
Huff/Post50: OK, it doesn't get much hotter than "Girls." This is a seriously Big Deal. There's just so much buzz about "Girls" being the cultural voice of 20-somethings. So, as everyone is anxiously awaiting the premiere of the second season, let's start with the juicy stuff. What can you tell us about your new character, Marnie's mom? Is Marnie anything like her?
Rita Wilson: Absolutely not! They couldn't be more different. Marnie is a very controlled person. Her mother is totally out of control -- very uninhibited -- and has reached the point in her life that she doesn't care what other people think! Marnie's mom is a person who said, "I'm done!," then goes on to leave her husband, lose 35 pounds and is now dating a cater waiter.
HP50: Uh, a cater waiter?!
RW: Yes, you know the guy who passes around the drinks and hors d'oeuvres at parties? Him. Marnie's mom is a cougar! The cater waiter is very handsome and very much younger. In one scene, where her mom is kind of saying to Marnie, "Look, we're both adults here. Let's get real," Marnie responds with "What does he do again?" and I look at her and say, "He's hot." That kind of says it all, right?
HP50: What are your thoughts on your character's back story?
RW: I'm thinking that maybe the cater waiter and Marnie know one another from grade school, or he looks familiar to Marnie because he worked at one of her mom's parties! "Girls" is so great at capturing these so very real and uncomfortable moments of life. The honesty and rawness of these situations are just at the core of the show.
HP50: Before we stop talking about your character, we're just curious about Marnie's dad. What's he like and who would you cast to play him?
RW: Well, we're separated. He's lost his job and is kind of depressed. I think at one point I say he hasn't come out from under the covers. As for who to play him . . . hmmmm . . . Larry David!
HP50: What's the take-away for Post50 readers about Marnie's mom?
RW: I think the best part about Marnie's mother is that she just doesn't care what anybody thinks anymore. That happens when we turn 50, I think. Other people's opinions matter less to us and we are more comfortable doing what we want to do. It's our time. I have so many girlfriends who come out of bad marriages; they start to get themselves in shape and look and feel better and start dating someone. They say they've never been happier.
HP50: You have a daughter who is 30, a bit older than the four main characters in the show. But based on your daughter's experience, would you say that "Girls" accurately depicts the reality for that generation?
RW: Absolutely! I saw my daughter go through the same issues that [show creator and writer] Lena Dunham gets into. They get out of college and it's, "What do I do now?" I watched my daughter go through it all, the entry-level jobs, the relationship struggles, the emerging adult. Totally on point. And yes, I do think it's real. I think this is a very sophisticated and smart generation -- just like my daughter. They have so much self-awareness and knowledge about the world around them. There is an honesty about their relationships with each other and their search for companionship that is just very refreshing in an odd kind of way and, at same time, kind of confusing.
HP50: As a mom, does any of the show's rawness bother you? Did you have any moments where you cringed over the sex or language?
RW: I love the honesty of it! Seriously, I wish I had that freedom when I was younger. I was more of a rule-follower. I grew up on the tail of feminism and Woodstock. Those people were right ahead of me. I could see options, but I was raised more straight-laced. "Your reputation is very important." I love Lena's attitude of "What could possibly come back to haunt me?"
HP50: I read that you wouldn't do any nude scenes. This is a show with a lot of nudity. How will you reconcile it?
RW: I can tell you it was never an issue. That story came about because of something I said jokingly at an Emmys party. No, I'm not comfortable with on-screen nudity for myself. I love that you can Google "Rita Wilson and nude" and nothing comes up!
HP50: Are you comfortable with how Lena Dunham has portrayed the parents on the show? In the opening scene of the pilot, her character's parents tell her over dinner that they are cutting her off financially -- without notice. Her mom says she wants to get a lake house with the money they've been using to support her. In later episodes, her parents want her to spend their wedding anniversary with them. Does that feel a little pathetic to you?
RW: I love the fact that this couple wants to do this. Her parents are still married; I think that says a lot. They are quirky, not vanilla parents, and yet they are doing the right things to push her into adulthood and self-sufficiency. They have a different style, but I like them as as they are shown.
HP50: What was the dynamic of working on a set with much younger actors?
Rita Wilson: It was so much fun! I loved it. And that speaks so much about Lena. Age doesn't come into the mix when you are engaged artistically. If someone has talent, you are excited about being around them regardless of their age. Lena has so much bravery, courage and humor -- you aren't conscious of an age difference. It's what I loved most about her.
HP50: Lena Dunham has been called this generation's Nora Ephron. Nora was a close friend of yours. What do you think?
RW: I was struck by how similarly Lena directs on the set [to what Nora did]. They both have the ability to communicate to an actor in a way that makes everyone comfortable -- everyone is having a good time. It's so much fun to work on a show like that. And as for Nora, I know that she sensed the similarities too. One reason Nora responded so much to Lena was that she was speaking for a generation -- in a different way. They both illuminate the issues in very funny, intelligent ways. Nora was a relatively private person. Yes, her opinions on things would come out, but in a less sexual or physical way in her movies.
HP50: How did you get this role?
RW: Lena came to me. We met casually at a party and stayed in touch. I've known Allison Williams (who plays Marnie) since she was in high school; we met through her parents. She was always the kind of girl who you hoped your son would bring home! We were kind of her go-to family-in-case-you-need-us when she was in L.A. And yet we also related to each other as actors. We had this common ground. So at about the time they started shooting and were having such a good time, Lena and I had started to be pals. She once said to me, "If I were casting Marnie's mom, it would be you."