“A lot of people try to be what they think people want and not who they are — it’s a huge shame,” Cristin Milioti tells Gold Derby in her exclusive interview about acting in the comedy anthology “Modern Love” (watch the video above). She plays a woman who “keeps meeting up with these men who don’t respect that” she can be more than “this ideal version of what men imagine women are.”
Milioti calls the characterization “very human” and notes about being drawn to the role on the Amazon Prime series, “I felt for her with that, that she’s so clearly dumbing herself down.” She explains broadly, “When you meet a little girl, usually the first thing out of a stranger’s mouth is, ‘Oh my god, you’re so pretty, you’re so cute’ — never ‘Oh my goodness, you’re so smart’ and it’s a conditioning of society you don’t want to be too much.”
Milioti’s “Modern Love” story is mostly depicted in the opening episode titled “When the Doorman is Your Main Man” that is based on the autobiographical essay of the same name by Julie Margaret Hogben that appeared in The New York Times. The central relationship between her Hogben stand-in Maggie and her much older doorman Guzmin played by Laurentiu Possa is a platonic one, which surprised viewers who anticipated a romantic conclusion for the pair. The actress responds, “It’s funny; I never caught that vibe from it, but I’ve heard that from many people. I never felt that — not when I read it, not when we were shooting it. I wonder if that’s because people are very uncomfortable in the grey; people are so quick to label things.” Milioti reveals that what she “really loved about it” is that “it actually is very hard to label what they have.”
“Modern Love” reunited Milioti with writer and director John Carney, who had written and directed the Oscar-winning 2007 film “Once,” which was adapted into the Tony-winning musical that she led in 2012. Milioti herself went on to win the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. She learned of the victory while rehearsing after a matinee and recalls, “We weren’t allowed to go to the televised ceremony, which really sucked because I forget why, but we did a show that day. I don’t know if it was a budget thing or whatever, but they were like, ‘You guys can’t go’.” Milioti admits that Carney “wasn’t that involved” with the musical, so they did not meet “in passing” until the Tonys. “I got an email from him out of the blue,” she says about the offer to star in “Modern Love,” which was followed up by the script. She recalls, “He sent it to me and I read it and I said yes and it was that simple.”
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