Hilary Duff’s already had a long and impressive career in her young 28 years. In person, she’s as self-effacing, charming, and poised as she appears onscreen, with the focus of someone who knows exactly what she wants and what she needs to do to accomplish it. Her character Kelsey in TV Land’s Younger is perhaps less self-assured, but working to find her way in a modern career world that often makes less-than-realistic assumptions of women and young people. We visited Duff on the set of the show, where she shared her thoughts on Younger’s smart take on secrets and expectations, and what surprises might be in store when it returns with an hour-long premiere on January 13 at 10/9c. Watch she and star Sutton Foster invite you to catch Season Two in the video playlist and then read our interview with Duff below.
What drew you to and most excited you about playing Kelsey Peters in Younger?
I think first of all, the opportunity to work with Darren [Star]. I’m such a big fan of his. And the script—the pilot—was so good. It really spoke for itself. And I read a lot of pilots.
And, you know, the fact that I feel like he really wanted me for the role. He called me and I was like, “I don’t want to move to New York! I have a two-year-old that’s starting school, and, you know, other personal things going on.” He was like, “Just do it. It’ll be good for you. I want you to do this.” And that was very flattering, you know? And then just talking about where the show’s going to go…it’s very high concept. And that scared me at first, because I was like, “Where is this show going to go?”
But we pull it off. The writing is so great, and Kelsey is a very relatable character to play. She’s…I haven’t totally figured her out yet, to be honest. But I do love the fact that the show deals with so many issues. The feminism, the ageism—but the ageism from both perspectives. My character’s kind of fighting to be taken seriously. She knows her worth, and this season she gets really strong. And then she also is like kind of crumpling under the pressure. Which is so relatable, you know? Young people that are really sticking their neck out to be heard and feel like they know their market, or whatever they’re fighting for people to take seriously. And then underneath it all she’s like, “I’m not good enough. I don’t know what I’m doing, I actually can’t do this.” But she can and she is strong and I love that I get to play a strong character…who’s also making pretty bad choices in her personal life. Which is what you do, it’s what women do. And I feel like everyone sees it from the outside and can’t tell you, you know? And she’s doing that and that’s one part of her that I love, too.
Younger’s been getting some attention for tackling the often-unrealistic expectations and standards placed on women as you hit on.
Juggling a family and a work life…
Absolutely! And while it’s oversimplifying things to compare it other “young women” series like Girls or Broad City, those comparisons are inevitable. What do you think it is about Younger that sets it apart from what else is out there right now?
Some of the shows you brought up…which I’m a big fan of…are I think a little quirkier than our show. We’re little bit more mainstream. I would say our format is a little more…
Yes! I mean, we deal with the same issues, we’re a half hour, it’s quick… I think our show is completely original. And it’s crazy to me that the writers do seem to tackle so much in such a short show. And still keep it light. This season’s even a bit more emotional than last, which is great to have those layers where it gets a little meatier, which I think is great for the show.
To that end, what do you think might surprise viewers in Season Two? Will Kelsey ever get to find out Liza’s real age? Would you have to kill us if you told us?
I know, it’s tough to not give stuff away. It’s so juicy, I just want to spill all the details and I don’t even know everything yet. Every one of our characters this season has their own arc, which is very cool, but also our worlds are blending, which gets really interesting.
Obviously, you know Josh knows the secret; so one thing is that he’s really struggling being around all of us knowing the lie. And having to live the lie with her. So that puts a lot of pressure and strain on their relationship.
Kelsey gets some really exciting news with her work stuff. Kind of a big step…forwards, backwards, maybe forwards again in her personal life. And you see that Maggie and Lauren are having like a fling. Diana Trout gets a bit of a sex life, which is awesome. So funny—she needs it, right? We’re like, “Please someone sleep with that woman!” And she’s amazing, I love working with her. Miriam [Shor]’s great.
Between you, Sutton Foster, and Miriam, the Younger cast is full of singers! Will we ever get to see a musical episode? (Though Sutton has gone on record saying she thinks Liza can’t carry a tune…)
I feel like Kelsey would think that she could sing, but is probably pretty tone-deaf. I think we’ve all decided that our characters would be not-good singers. But everyone wants to see it happen. They’re like, “Darren, just write an episode where we all karaoke or something?” We’re always singing on set, if it makes you feel any better. We’re always getting a song stuck in each other’s heads. I’ll be like, “Sutton, don’t sing that song!”
It’s such a great cast. Are there any particular guest stars you’d like to see join…or that maybe are appearing this season that you can tell us about?
We have amazing people… Camryn Manheim was just on the show. She was great. Justine Lupe…she’s an amazing actress. She really effed up Kelsey’s world for one of the episodes. She screwed her over big time. Kathy Najimy’s on the show again this year, which is great. Seriously they choose some of the best guest stars and I’m so happy to be in their company because I’ve grown up watching so many different characters they’ve played. To have them here is really exciting. And I always feel like I want Sarah Jessica Parker to come on the show because of Darren.
Will SJP ever make an appearance? Set your DVR for the Season Two Premiere of Younger, January 13 at 10/9c on TV Land to find out and and catch up on all of Season One now On Demand at home or on the go with DIRECTV Everywhere!