Debi Mazar is the spitfire that shakes up every production.
The 52-year-old actress, whom you might know as Vincent Chase’s blunt publicist Shauna on “Entourage,” or Henry Hill’s smart-mouthed, coke-snorting girlfriend Sandy in “Goodfellas,” brings her signature attitude and charm to the role of Maggie on “Younger.”
On the TV Land comedy, filmed in Brooklyn’s glorified Williamsburg, the NYC native plays Liza’s (Sutton Foster) best friend and roommate, an older, lesbian artist, who in some ways feels like the only real grownup and straight shooter on the show. Although it was Maggie’s idea that Liza lie about her age (40, not 26) to get her job in publishing, Mazar says it was a necessary fib.
“You gotta hustle in life. It’s New York,” she explains. “[Liza] has a teenager in college! She’s got a deadbeat ex-husband who gambled away the money. She’s trying to get a job. Who cares if she lies?”
When we chat, Mazar is headed to Ireland to film the “Younger” Season 4 finale. She lets us in on the fact that it’s going to be “dramatic”: At the close of Season 3, Liza came clean about her real age to her other bestie, Kelsey (Hilary Duff), and Season 4, out Wednesday, June 28, is about the repercussions of that.
“The truth’s coming out,” Mazar says. “Liza’s been spinning her little web, and things are starting to unravel.”
The Windsor Terrace resident talks about the times she’s lied to get jobs, what bugs her most about Brooklyn today, and while she thinks “Younger” is “pro-women,” it has a ways to go when it comes to diversity.
So, have you ever lied to get a job?
Oh, hell yeah. Oh god yes. Early on, one of my first crazy jobs, I open up the NY Times and see a Madison Ave job for a great paying dental assistant. I thought, ‘OK, I love Madison Ave.’ I called up my friend Bob who was a dentist, and said, “Give me some terms.” I went to my “audition,” and I get the job. Lying through my teeth. I cut my uniform almost up to my crotch, wearing like, a nurse’s outfit, with white fishnets — it was the 80s, I had lime green pumps, I looked really cute. The dentist says, “Oh, Debi, can you pass me —” some dental instrument. I had no idea what he was talking about. I’m like, “Oh, you mean the picker?” He cocked his head over at me and realized that I had totally lied about being a dental assistant. Good news is, I was smart and he was like, ‘Look, I’ll train you.’ That didn’t last long because I wasn’t interested in doing extractions at 8 in the morning.
This season, there’s the Kellyanne Conaway-esque pundit (played by Kristin Chenoweth), a “Washington spin doctor” who’s pitching a book that’s basically about alternative facts. Is “Younger” getting political?
Not at all. She’s not like Kellyanne Conaway, she’s like Kristin Chenoweth. The reason “Younger” is a success is because it’s not about politics. We don’t need anything more about politics. If you want that, turn CNN on. [Younger] is light, refreshing fun.
Speaking of, we read that you once compared Trump to Morrie from “Goodfellas” which is hilarious. Would you still make that comparison?
[Laughs] That was a hair comment. And because his character is also really brazen. But yeah, sure. Definitely. I don’t care to elaborate, I don’t want to give Donald Trump any more air time.
You grew up in NYC and you’ve lived in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn for a while now. How is the Brooklyn depicted in the show different or similar to the Brooklyn that you know?
When I moved back here from Los Angeles, it was a very different Brooklyn. I work in Williamsburg, we shoot there all the time, and I feel like I’m living in a new place. I never went to Williamsburg. Why would I go there? For what? I never went to Bushwick. Why would I go to Bushwick? I had been to Bed-Stuy, I lived in Crown Heights in the ’80s, which, no white girls lived there at the time. It’s different now. It’s quite lovely. The drag of it all is I never bought and now it’s really expensive.
I don’t live the Brooklyn life that’s on the show. I’m not a hipster, I’m a mom. I stay home, I run my errands, I see my friends, but I don’t live that life. On the show I get to do that. They’ll say, you’re not in the next two scenes, so I’ll get two hours on location in Williamsburg. I take myself out for lunch, I go to little shops. I feel like I’m on location in a different country, almost. [Laughs]
What bugs you the most about the “new” Brooklyn?
There are many elements of New York I miss but one of the things that pisses me off more than anything is how much construction is going on. We’re losing sunlight. I want to be able to see some sunlight for Christ’s sakes! The subways are actually amazing, when they work. My ex-boyfriend back in the day was a graffiti artist, so I’m very tied to the subway. I’ve always been proud of the subway and how efficient it is. I would always rather take the train on a Friday than get in any kind of car.
What do you think makes “Younger” relatable?
What women tell me is that they’ve been through exactly the same thing. They took some time off, or had kids and then tried to come back to work. It’s an experience that I as an actress have somewhat felt in aging, but I have always managed to work. I’m like, “OK, I can’t be bitter.” I keep my chin up and say, “F— everybody, I’m gonna own it and figure it out.” I think some of my best roles are yet to come.
This show is very pro-women. I’d like to see more color in the show, quite frankly, but [my character] seems to have affairs with mostly black and Latin women, so I’m responsible for bringing some color. [Laughs]
What’s next for you? Will there be another season of “Extra Virgin”?
No, “Extra Virgin” is over. We did six seasons, we won a James Beard award and then they decided not to renew the show. We’re now pitching another [cooking] show and hoping something sticks. I have my second cookbook, “Super Tuscan,” coming out on Oct. 3.
Season 4 of “Younger” premieres Wednesday, June 28 at 10 p.m. EST on TV Land.