'Girls' Cast, Producers Talk Getting Their Act Together

Girls premiere - H 2014

In the third season of HBO's Girls, set to premiere Jan. 12, Hannah Horvath and Co. are trying more than ever to get their act together.

"This year they're like, 'We are a quarter of a century old, and we have to get on this,' " star-writer-executive producer Lena Dunham told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet on Jan.6, ahead of the show's New York premiere.

VIDEO: 'Girls' Season 3 Trailer

Dunham's co-showrunner, Jenni Konner, concurred. "I just think they're all starting to get a little bit afraid about the real world…they're trying in unique ways for sure, but they're all, I think, trying to get to a more grown-up place."

But sometimes, you have to fall down in order to grow up. At least that's the case for Shoshanna and Marnie this season. Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams explained that their characters begin the next crop of episodes with their lives in a bit of disarray.

"Marnie actually starts off the season a total mess, and she's devastated and really heartbroken because Charlie's left and she's just sort of falling apart, so to that end, what you root for is for her to fully fall apart and be aware of it and then build herself back up again and be bigger," Williams told THR.

Mamet said Shoshanna starts off "falling apart a little bit" as well. "At the end of last season, the breakup with Ray really sent her into a bit of a tailspin, and this year she's embracing her youth," Mamet said. "I think hitting the bottom is sort of a bit of a catalyst for her to sort of get her shit together."

STORY: 'Girls' on Snapchat, 'The Mindy Project' on Tinder

But while viewers saw Shoshanna and Ray's breakup, Marnie and Charlie ended the second season happily reunited. Then actor Christopher Abbott decided to leave the show, forcing the writers to alter their planned third-season storyline.

"They had been planning on him being there and a storyline with the two of us, so it required some quick thinking on their part," Williams explained.

But both Williams and Konner said they were happy with the solution they came up with. "[Abbott leaving] was a challenge; we had to scramble," Konner said. "But I'm happier now with what it's become, so it's fine, and it all worked out and I actually liked the story. Sometimes when that stuff happens to you, you're forced to get creative, in a way; you're really forced to stretch, and that's always really fun, in hindsight. But it worked out great. "

Although the show resonates with many people in their 20s, both Dunham and fellow writer-executive producer Judd Apatow said they just come up with stories they find interesting, without feeling a need to illustrate the experiences of a certain age group. "I kind of do my own thing and then hope that it resonates for other people," Dunham told THR.

STORY: 2013's Top 10 Scripted TV Moments

Apatow said, "I just think in terms of human stories and the types of problems that I encountered and people in their 20s encounter as they try to figure out what their job's going to be and who their spouse is going to be and having it figured out before it's too late…you always feel like there's a ticking clock to get your shit together."

Based on conversations with cast members and guest stars, other things to expect in season three include a fling between Mamet's character and her real-life boyfriend, Evan Jonigkeit, and the return of Andrew Rannells' character, Elijah, this time accompanied by a boyfriend played by Danny Strong.

But Rannells said the best part of his season three storyline was the fact that his character was able to return at all. "I mean, that's like the most exciting part, because he didn't leave on the best terms with the girls, so it's nice to get him back, and he tries so hard to be on his best behavior," Rannells explained. "He's in a relationship, so we get to see a little bit of that, which is fun. And he's trying to be a grown-up and trying to be responsible. I'd like to say that he's totally changed and evolved, but he's not really."

Rannells, who left his starring role in The Book of Mormon on Broadway after he was cast in the now-canceled NBC sitcom The New Normal, said he definitely misses doing theater, something that he was particularly reminded of when he attended his former castmate's final Mormon show on Sunday. But he told THR that he's currently working on moving back to New York, "which is weirdly harder than I remember," he said. So perhaps he can soon return to Broadway, as well.