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JAN
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2 YEARS

'Bunheads': Sutton Foster on Michelle's Paradise Return and Acting With Her Brother

The Vegas showgirl-turned-ballet teacher with "a loser complex" won't be at the top of her game in the ABC Family winter premiere: "Several" people "make her see that she has so much more to offer," Foster tells THR.

Bunheads Jan 7 Sutton Foster - H 2012
ABC Family
"Bunheads"

When Bunheads returns to kick off the remaining episodes of season one, several months will have passed since the Nutcracker debacle that found former Las Vegas showgirl Michelle accidentally sending the young ballet dancers to the hospital.

Now she's back in Nevada, crashing at her friend's place and working as a dancer for a D-list magician. Back in Paradise, Fanny's dance academy has closed down, forcing its students to find other activities to keep themselves occupied.

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"We left off with Michelle massively screwing up and walking away," star Sutton Foster told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's a pretty sad existence [when we find her again], but through a series of events, she finds her way back to Paradise and the dance academy."

When the ABC Family drama returns Jan. 7, Bunheads viewers should expect a lot more backstory about Michelle's past ("about why she is who she is," Foster said) and the introduction of several new characters. In a chat with THR, Foster waxed poetic about how Michelle finds herself returning to town, her romantic forecast and acting alongside her real-life brother.

[Warning: Minor spoilers ahead.]

The Hollywood Reporter: How does Michelle get lured back into Paradise?

Sutton Foster: She values herself pretty lowly. Michelle has a bit of a loser complex; she has low self-esteem and she thinks she's useless and that she doesn't have much to offer. What brings her back is several different characters make her see that she has so much more to offer. She has greatness in her that she doesn't even know. That's what ultimately brings her back.

THR: Your brother, Hunter, is dropping by the show as Michelle's sibling. How did that opportunity come about?

Foster: We've worked two weeks together. It's been awesome. Earlier this year, [executive producer] Amy Sherman-Palladino, when we first started filming once the pilot got picked up, mentioned that she wanted a brother character to come on the show. She had some ideas on what that would be and then halfway through the first 10 episodes, she was like, "I want your brother to play your brother." I was like, "OK! That would be amazing." It all came from her. It's been awesome to work together. It's been fun because we bring so much to the table inherently because we're already brother and sister. We had never really acted together [before this].

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THR: How would you describe their dynamic?

Foster: Michelle and her brother Scotty are like two of a kind. Scotty is a bit like a male version of Michelle. They're both a bit wayward, they're both wanderers. He's coming to visit after his fourth failed marriage. Neither one of them has settled down. They used to get into trouble together as kids. There's a reason why they're that way. You think of Michelle as this singular entity. You don't think of her as having a mother or a father or a sister; she isn't a family type of gal, a lone ranger. It's neat to see a family figure come in and what that does to her and brings up.

THR: Has there been a scene that you've shot recently that sticks out for you?

Foster: There is a pretty major scene between Scotty and Michelle that happens in episode 14 that I can't wait to see. There are two moments in particular I'm looking forward to seeing.

THR: Are they more dramatic scenes?

Foster: One of them is definitely more emotional.

THR: What is her romantic outlook?

Foster: For Michelle, what I hope for her is that she finds strength, stability and meaning without a guy. What brought her to Paradise was marrying this guy Hubbell and thinking maybe he'll be the answer. I don't think for Michelle that a guy is going to ever be the answer, or I don't want that to be the case. I'd like for her to find her way on her own and then find love. For now, I don't know what her romantic forecast is, but she's going to have a little bit of fun. I don't see her settling into a relationship. But I could be so wrong.

Bunheads returns 9 p.m. Monday on ABC Family.

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube