'Younger' Star Sutton Foster on Liza's Premiere Choice and How Long Her Double Life Can Last

Foster, who plays a 40-year-old posing as 26, talks to THR about the third season and why the TV Land series is "eye-opening" when it comes to ageism.
Courtesy of TV Land
Liza (Sutton Foster) and Josh (Nico Tortorella) in 'Younger'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the third season premiere of Younger, "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss."]

Liza has gotten herself into a bit of a pickle.

After a kiss from her boss (Peter Hermann) and a vow from her on-and-off boyfriend (Nico Tortorella) that he's "all in" in the season two finale, TV Land's Younger returned with Liza's boyfriend(ish) Josh delivering on his promise and boss Charles asking her on a date. Liza (played by Sutton Foster) agreed to meet Charles, but when the arrival of a mutual friend threatens to blow her cover as a 26-year-old, she bails. (Liza is actually 40 with her own twentysomething daughter.)

Her decision to reject Charles' somewhat-indecent proposal could put her job in jeopardy. But the Josh-Liza-Charles love triangle is something that will continue to play out through the entire season, Foster says.

"Liza’s priority is a struggle," the star tells The Hollywood Reporter. "The reason she’s doing all of this to begin with is to get back into publishing and to reestablish herself as a working individual — so these boys are causing problems!"

For the second time in the series run, Younger earned an early renewal and is already confirmed to come back for a fourth season. Season three's 12 new episodes kicked off Wednesday, with the Darren Star-created drama's move to the fall TV season.

How long, though, can Liza's secret remain at the heart of the story, and could the show go on if she is fully revealed? Foster gives her answer to that question in the below chat with THR. She also explains why Younger is erasing misconceptions about ageism ("We’re all just trying to figure things out"), why Charles feels "inevitable" and names the one character she's dying for Liza to tell.

Welcome back! How does it feel to already be renewed for a fourth season before season three even premiered?

We're back! In this business, where there’s no job security, it’s always nice that at the wrap party we can say, “See ya next season!” It’s exciting.

The Josh-Liza-Charles love triangle continues after last season's finale. Josh, who already knows Liza's secret, is now proving to Liza that he’s all in. Is she impressed with Josh 2.0?

Josh is really stepping up to the plate and showing her that he’s more than just a fling. It’s really making her question whether or not this relationship has long-term legs. She's sort of figuring this all out. But of course, she’s got a little bit of her heart and her eye set on Charles as well. But I will say, Josh really is impressive this season.

We see through the exercise at work that Liza is still hung up on Charles, even though she seems back with Josh. Will Liza be torn through the entire season?

This season, she’s really trying to get her priorities straight: What’s really important here? Throughout the entire season, she’s weighing all these options and it’s not an easy choice or easy decisions. Some real adult things come into play between her and Josh. They have to face their future and the possibilities of their future together, what they both want and don’t want, and that really comes into play as well.

As an actress, how much fun is it to play being torn—

Between two hot guys? (Laughs.)

Well, yes. But also, to be toying with what your real self wants, compared to your fantasy self?

Liza is an interesting character because I always have to keep everything in play. I get to sort of live vicariously through her and that’s really fun. I always think that Liza’s doing all the things we wish we could do or we hope we could do, but we’re either to scared or don’t have the opportunity. She’s awesome to play. I get to have all these different dynamics between the characters, and the cast is beyond. We genuinely have such a great time together on set. And it’s fun to do a comedy. It definitely has some substance to it and it has heart, but it’s fun and light and sexy and it’s not too deep. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and that’s really fun as an actress to be able to go to work to everyday. 

Since Liza is lying to a lot of people, you’d think she’d be unlikable. But she’s the opposite, since her motives are in the right place. Do you relate to the ageism that is at the core of this show? 

I’ve been thinking about it and talking about it a lot more now than I ever have, probably because of the show. When I talk about the show, I realized that up until now, I hadn’t really encountered it in my life. I guess I’ve been lucky.

There’s something about Younger that even obliterates my point of view, as far as ageism and how I look at the younger generation and the older generation. It evens the playing field. Before, maybe I would have thought X, Y and Z, but now I’m like, "You know what, we’re all just trying to figure things out here." That’s what’s been so great about the show, for me personally, and I hope that might be one of the things it’s doing for audience members too. This idea that age is just a number. We all might have these preconceived ideas or notions about Generation X or Millennials or the Baby Boomers, but it’s all just generalizations. This show’s been sort of eye-opening to me in that regard. 

When Charles (above) runs into his attorney, the friend makes some good points about him going after his 26-year-old assistant. Charles has been framed as this knight in shining armor, but at the end of the day, isn't he kind of making a questionable professional decision?

You’re absolutely right. We see it from Liza’s point of view, and that scene is actually really important because it conceptualizes that and makes you say, “Oh, right. And he kissed her last season!” He is her boss. And we forget about all those things and that’s really important. The show deals with that a bit and how it is a working relationship, but sometimes you can’t help it. He’s just so tall and so cute!

If she had gone through with meeting him at the bar, do you think she would have kissed him?

Yes, I think so. She made herself look really good heading into that by saying she had her priorities on, but she can’t help it with him. I think they would have.

In the second episode, we see that Charles doesn’t handle Liza’s rejection so well. How will this impact her at work?

I think he’s just trying to deal with it: How do we reestablish this relationship? Ultimately with Charles and Liza, I always feel like they are inevitable. It feels very inevitable, like it’s going to happen at some point. As characters, there is this pull that they have towards each other. But it’s nice to see different colors of Charles and that he isn’t always Mr. Perfect. We see different sides of Josh this season, too. It makes the choice complicated. The writers are really smart. With every episode you’re saying, “I don’t know which one!” As opposed to there being this clear winner. It makes it more fun.

If it did lead to her losing her job or walking away again, do you think Liza would ever lie about her age again?

I doubt she would ever do it again. In my mind, I don’t think she would do that. This was a crazy thing that ultimately got out of hand. The web that was woven was way more than she ever anticipated or thought and I don’t know if she would ever consciously do that again.

The next episode also introduces a young Silicon Valley investor. Is there something Millennial-ish you enjoyed learning while filming this storyline?

Noah Robbins, who plays Bryce, is so fantastic. We were joking with him on set because we love working with him and were asking, “Why do you have to be such a dick?” (Laughs.) He’s the most delightful, wonderful guy. But it was really fascinating with his episodes and introducing him into Empirical. One of the things I love about some of those coming up is that it forces us to look at the future of, of course publishing and books, and also this hold onto the classics and what it means to the literature. The show ends up saying a lot. Yes, it’s funny, but we make a few points along the way and that’s fun to be a part of. 

How long can the show really continue on with Liza maintaining this lie? Upcoming scenes seem to hint that living a double life is catching up to her.

I know. I hope that there is a Younger world that exists, we’ll see. Every season, more and more people find out. Darren [Star] and I talk about it and ask, “Can the show exist if more people, or if everyone knew?” And I actually think it could. Because the writers and Darren have created all these characters and the show has, in a way, moved beyond that initial conceit. So, we’ll see. Who knows. I don’t know how long we can feasibly do it, but I hope it’s for as long as it can! Kelsey is the one who kills me. I’m like, “She’s gotta know! Liza's gotta tell her!” I hope that happens soon. 

Younger airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land.

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