'Younger' star Molly Bernard on her friendship with Hilary Duff, season 5 and more
Throughout five seasons of TV Land's runaway hit, "Younger," Molly Bernard's Lauren has proven time and again to be the show's undisputed scene-stealer. Thanks to Bernard's fast-talking, larger-than-life delivery, every scene that her character is in becomes a memorable one -- and in the show's current fifth season, things are no different.
What has changed is that the focus is less on Lauren's adventurous love life and more on her career growth. This season Lauren starts her own PR firm and grapples with the ups and downs that inevitably come with going out on one's own and starting a business. And that's what "Younger" does so well: It honestly captures the oftentimes messy and challenging realities of being a career-driven woman in the digital age, and the ways in which romance and friendship complicate those realities even further.
For Bernard, her time on set with the likes of Hilary Duff, Sutton Foster and Debi Mazar for five years has in some ways reflected her character's experiences, as well: The cast has served as some sort of combination of a classroom, a sorority and a summer camp, where she's been able to form long-lasting friendships and learn from the powerful women around her.
Molly Bernard recently caught up with AOL's Gibson Johns over the phone to discuss season five of "Younger," the evolution of her character, Lauren, and her friendship with Hilary Duff, which she called "the most profound relationship of the past five years of my life."
Read our full conversation below.
We're a couple episodes into this fifth season of "Younger" -- where do we find Lauren right now?
This season she’s really focused on starting her own company, and her love interest this season is herself and starting her PR firm and making sure it goes swimmingly. She’s no less creative than we’ve seen her be over the last five years. She’s so bold and ridiculous. I wish she was real and I could be like, "Let’s hang out tonight." [Laughs]
It's so refreshing to have female characters like Lauren (and the rest of the cast, really) put work first and not have it be about just about her love life.
It is really cool, and it’s a bit of a turn for her. This season for Lauren, it’s really a follow-through from what she said last year in The Nest with Kelsey when she said, "I’m not going to leave here until I have enough contacts to start my own firm," and then she said, "Failure is not an option," and we really see that play out. She’s so cool and over-the-top to the point where she will stop at nothing until it’s killer.
Lauren is a unique queer character in that she’s not a sad character, as a lot of queer characters on television tend to be. She’s so confident and unapologetic, and her sexuality is part of her but it doesn’t define her. Was that always the way she was going to be as a character?
Yeah. Darren [Starr, who created the show,] really wanted for her to just be pansexual and for nothing to ever really be said about it and for it to be just as much a fact about her as the fact that she has two arms and two legs. It’s one of my favorite things about her: She didn’t struggle. Her parents raised her to be whoever she wanted to be, which is obviously a privilege and an entitlement thing, but it’s still important. The fact that she loves herself unconditionally and that she approaches her sexuality as fact rather than question is so inspiring to so many people -- not to mention the woman who plays her! She inspires the f--k out of me, and my own spectrum-ness.
Five seasons into the show, do you get to have any more say over Lauren and where the show takes her?
It’s such a good question, and it’s one that’s asked frequently, but we have a really unique set in that none of us know or put input in. It’s such a thrill to see where they’ll take us, and we’re all just on the ride. We don’t really influence the plot line, and I know that it’s so fun to get a script and just ride with it that I wouldn’t want to take that away from us.
One thing that I love about "Younger" is that it's full of messy female characters that aren't perfect and that talk to each other about more things than just their love lives. What's it like being a part of this and working with so many amazing women?
The first word that comes to mind is that it’s a gift to be on this show. I thank my lucky stars every time I’m on set. The characters are only as strong as the women who play them, and I don’t think they’d be as strong to the viewer if, you know, Miriam, Sutton, Hilary and myself were meeker. I could go on a 40-minute monologue for each person and give you explicit examples about how fierce these women are. This is my first really big job, and it’s gone on for so long. I’ve grown up as a professional with these women, and I’ve learned so much from them about how to stand up for myself and for other folks on set.
Talk to me about the filming experience. Throughout the winter and spring I always stumble upon the set around New York City and, following it on social media, it seems kind of like an adult summer camp -- everyone looks like they're having so much fun!
It is so fun. Most of us live in New York, except for Hil, so it’s nice that we can just get picked up from our places and go to work. It really is like summer camp, though. I actually had a week during shooting where I wasn’t as focused on set, and I was forgetting my lines a lot, and it was A. because I was working constantly, but also B. because I couldn’t stop having fun on set. I had to remind myself that I’m at work, not at summer camp.
We all really genuinely like each other, and what a miracle, because we’ve been together for five years. That’s a long time to know your cast mates and all of their stuff. It’s a joy. Hilary and Nico and Sutton and Debi have all really helped me get over some of my early career anxieties: Am I doing it right? Am I doing it wrong? For me, it’s not even about doing it right anymore -- it’s about how it feels. I just have to trust that I put in the work, and it’s there.
You and Hilary really seem to have cultivated a special bond on set over the years. This past season, especially, I remember you guys hanging out a ton during filming. Talk to me about your friendship and how it's grown over the years.
She is the most profound relationship of the past five years of my life. We worked really hard to make this friendship [work] -- we live on different sides of the country -- and I love being in scenes with Hil. I think our friendship developed by accident on set when we noticed we were having fun together [while filming]. She’d be like, "Oh, my God, little one, I’m so happy to see you today!" and I’d say the same. She has taught me so much about relationships -- I went through a bad breakup in season one -- and she would call me periodically to check in, which she really didn’t have to do, and call me out. She’d ask if I was checking in deeply enough with myself. She’s a really deep thinker, and she’s one of the most emotionally-grounded people that I know, and that, I think, is the most profound thing about our friendship. She really takes care of the people that she loves, and she taught me how to do that for myself and for others.
When I haven't been the best friend to her, she’s like, "Hey, I think you can do better next time," and that’s such a great way to talk to your friends. In short, I love her because she challenges me and supports me.
What can you tease about where Lauren goes the rest of this season?
This show has always been about women who loves her jobs, but Lauren becomes less of a publicist and more of a businesswoman and entrepreneur and that development is really exciting to watch. She has a tiny little love hiccup which if funny, but I also think that Lauren shows up as a friend to a lot of the characters this season.
"Younger" airs on TV Land Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST
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