Parenthood is a one-hour drama that is a re-imagined and updated version of the box-office hit of the same name. Returning for its second season on NBC on September 14th, the very large, very colorful and beautifully imperfect Braverman family will continue to explore all the ups and downs of life, at all ages.
While at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, actress Mae Whitman talked about what it’s like to work with this amazing ensemble of actors, how true to life the show and the relationships on it are, and what she likes about her not-always-likeable character. She also expressed her excitement for her role in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the opportunity to work with director Edgar Wright, whom she was such a fan of. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What’s coming up with your character on Parenthood?
Mae: They don’t tell me too much. We’ve only shot two episodes. But, generally, I know that’s she’s going to be making a friend and their relationship becomes a little dangerous and weird. I swear to God, that’s actually all I know. Girls are kind of weird at that age, anyway. There’s a lot of weird stuff there, so I think they’re just going to go with that, which is cool. I’m excited about it.
Will there continue to be drama between your character, Amber, and her cousin, Haddie (Sarah Ramos)?
Mae: I don’t know. So far, we’ve been okay. We’re good with each other, but I’m sure there will be some allusions to it. I’m hoping that if she gets another boyfriend, I’ll be able to have a line like, “Don’t worry, you can introduce me. I won’t steal him this time.”
Has anything like that ever happened, in your own life?
Mae: I had a friend where it turned out that she hated my guts, all through our friendship. I thought she was my best friend, and then, in high school, she turned on me and had sordid affairs with all of the people that I’d dated. It was less hurtful because I was in high school, so it was more like, “What’s wrong with you? Gross!” It was more just about the drama. The painful stuff, I’ve actually managed to avoid.
What do you love most about your character?
Mae: What I really do appreciate about Amber is that she’s smart. They allow her to be smart, and nobody on the show is insisting that she be typecast as the angry kid or that she has to dress a certain way. None of that has happened. It’s really a collaborative effort, and I really wanted to make her against type. I didn’t want her to just be angry for no reason. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s artistic and she has good moments with her mom. It’s not just all angsty drama. That’s what makes it different, and that’s what makes it cool.
Does that relationship ring true for you?
Mae: I think what makes it ring true is the fact that we have good moments and bad moments. Especially when I was a teenager, for the most part, I had a really great, easy relationship with my mom, but there are those occasional mom/daughter things that are unavoidable. That’s what makes it more upsetting and more true to life. We have great moments, and then we have terrible moments as well.
What’s been the most fun thing about working with this ensemble? Is there anyone on the show that you’d love to get to work with more?
Mae: Yeah. It’s funny, but because it’s such a huge ensemble, you don’t get to work with everybody very much. Some of my best friends are on the show. I get to work with Miles Heizer (who plays Drew) a lot, which is good, and there’s Sarah Ramos.
I love to work with Dax Shepard because he’s one of my best friends, but I haven’t gotten to work with him much. I’ve literally been in no scenes with Dax. They’ve kept us away. I think it would be cool if I got to do something with him because I’m the outcast of the family and he’s the outcast, and I feel like we could have some cool stuff in that realm.
I’d love to work more with Peter Krause, too. I’m such a huge fan of his acting and I never get to work with him very much. And, Craig T. Nelson is a genius, so I feel like I’m blessed every time I get to be in the same scene as him. He is so smart and funny. We’ll see. The possibilities are endless.
What has this whole experience with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World been like for you? Did you have any idea what you were getting into when you made that film?
Mae: No. It’s wild! I loved Edgar Wright’s movies so much, before I knew him, and Michael Cera is one of my best friends, so I was excited to work with him and I was just excited to be a part of it. But, I had no idea that it would be a big thing. Going to Comic-Con, where it’s the exact target audience, it was probably misleading because everybody loves comic books there, but it was pretty wild. Comic-Con was amazing. The film was really well received, and I’m really proud of it. I think Edgar, and everybody who worked on it, did an amazing job.
As the one girl ex, did you have to do fight scenes with Michael?
Mae: Oh, yeah. There were a lot of fight scenes.
What was that like to train for and do?
Mae: It was crazy! We did two or three months of training, before we even started the movie. There were a lot of small injuries. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Ramona, got pretty hurt a couple of times. It was a harrowing experience. I’ve never done anything like that, in my life. I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I really loved it.
Having been a fan of Edgar, what was it like to get to work with him?
Mae: It was insane! After seeing Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, I remember having the specific thought of, “This movie is well-directed.” It’s rare that you have that kind of thought, so I was so excited to meet him and then work with him. It all flowed really well. We got along really well, right away, and we wanted to work together, right away. He’s amazing. He’s got an amazing vision and stayed true to it, throughout the whole thing. It really paid off.
Did you do another movie before you started Season 2?
Mae: I didn’t get to do another movie. I was just focused on doing a lot of Scott Pilgrim ADR, and doing some voice-over work.
Are voice-overs fun for you to do?
Mae: Yeah, they’re great. I love doing voice-over. It’s one of my favorite things.
What are five books that made a difference to you, in your life?
Mae: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Catcher in the Rye, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Stranger by Camus and then probably my book of poetry. I really love poetry. I’m a big E.E. Cummings fan and a big Walt Whitman fan, and I have a big book of poetry. And, anything by Ray Bradbury.
What do you love most about reading?
Mae: What don’t I love? You get to go places in your own mind, and it’s not visual. You can make up your own imagery. It’s as big as you want it to be, and that’s something that I always find really freeing.
Parenthood returns for Season 2 on NBC on September 14th.